Problems and possibilities of integrating ICT in European Union's higher education: Perceptions of people inside and outside the European Commission's <i>e</i>Learning Programmes
In this dissertation I take a look behind the scenes of the eLearning Programme and eLearning actions under other European programmes by developing a more in-depth understanding of their national agents, the academics at universities in the EU (in three principal countries and six secondary countries), who have participated in or have knowledge of the logistical and administrative burdens of European eLearning projects. Through a series of in-depth, open-ended interviews, I investigated the interactions of academics and researchers with the European funding programmes in eLearning. In addition, a number of interviews with members of the European Commission offer an inside look into some of the practices employed in the drafting of the programmes. I used the personal accounts to build a "composite picture" of common themes related to the processes involved in developing and conducting projects under the eLearning Programme and other European programmes.
Within the primary line of inquiry, I found that the principle of subsidiarity, on which the eLearning programmes are based, is broken down to the lowest levels of decision-making regarding e-learning projects. It is individual academics or researches who engage in projects, with the backing of their respective home institutions. Their involvement puts a human face on the formal national-supranational governmental mechanisms that rule European policy-making. Regarding the budgetary and logistical nature of the eLearning Programmes, the academics' view points to the financial insufficiencies and to the limited applicability of these programmes. Finally, this study suggests that some of the best incentives for the academics' participation in eLearning projects rest in the professional opportunities and networking possibilities available through the eLearning programmes.
Within the secondary line of inquiry, I explored the information society discourse in the EU, in relation to the eLearning programmes, based on the academics' conceptualization of the term. This study reveals a mixed picture of the perceptions that the academics have of the information society in their respective countries. I concluded that an integrated European information society, promoted by the Commission partly through its eLearning programmes, is a concept destined to remain a motivational instrument for driving ICT policies throughout Europe.
0710: Educational software
0745: Higher education