Harper, Barry M.; ODonoghue, John; and Oliver, Ron, 2003, Institutional Implementation of ICT in Higher Education: an Australian Perspective, in J. Seale (ed.), Learning Technology in Transition from Individual Enthusiasm to Institutional Implementation, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers, 101-116.
Australia is a country that has a long history of providing flexible learning opportunities for students in higher education. It has a distance education record that goes back further than most other countries and is one of the countries where quality in teaching and learning has been an item on the Governmental agenda for some time. Currently Australia is a country with a high degree of expertise and capability among its university sector in the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT). Tracing the history of the uptake of ICT in higher education provides some insights that reveal the various influences that have led the sector to its current position. At the same time, a study of the history suggests a number of issues that could be addressed to advance these activities even further. We have seen considerable change in the way ICT has been used in higher education with time (Singh, O'Donoghue & Betts, 2002). If we exclude the use of ICT as an administrative tool for managing and organising education, there have been a number of stages that appear to describe the use of ICT. Prior to 1990, the use of ICT as an instructional tool in any Australian university was likely to be as a consequence of the dedicated and often individual efforts of early technology adaptors seeking learning gains within their own teaching. More recently ICT has become an agent and transformer supporting moves to flexible delivery. The purpose of this chapter is to trace the development of ICT in higher education in the Australian context and to map some of the significant events along the way.