Return on Investment

Costs. Technological change comes with many fixed and variable costs. All costs as well  should be made as transparent as possible and entered into the model (Bates, 2000).

Largest area of expense. Research shows that labor (e.g., faculty, Instructional designers, Web designers), not information technology, constitutes the largest area of expense in online learning costs (Johnstone S, Poulin R., 2002). That is even more true now when all teachers and students already have computers (or mobile phones) with broadband Internet access.

Moodle. Therefore, the cost of hosting Moodle LMS is the main hardware and software expense.  Cost per student can range from $1 a year to $20 a year, depending on whether in-house hosting or an outside service is used.

Cost of labor for support services such as help-desk, instructional designers, faculty education and administrative services will be the main cost of this project. Most schools already have support services, so the cost will depend greatly on how well we manage resources that we are already using.

Context.  This project has multiple objectives (new products, cost-reduction, collaboration, quality improvement, new markets, CE) and it is hard to quantify cost of labor. Instead of examining Return on Investment from a merely financial perspective, we may find it more helpful to use a framework in which the elements are contextualized and linked to organization goals (Bishop, 2007).

Better ROI. One ‘contextualized perspective’ states that with this project we will do all things we are supposed to do in the second decade of the 21st Century but we will do it together.  In that case, there is no doubt:

  • Collaboration across veterinary colleges to develop and/or share resources, experiences and educational activates will provide a better return on investment and more efficient use of faculty time (Jean-Michel et al., 2007).

In other words, instead of creating ‘28 different versions of virtually the same material, all aimed at training and educating the 2,400 U.S. graduates who enter the veterinary profession each year’ (Murray, Sischo, 2007), we can collaborate on development of  fewer but better versions while saving money (improving RoI).

Case Studies