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Table of Contents

Table of Contents 1

Phase 1: The Strategic Context 4

1 Business Needs and Desired Outcomes 4

1.1 Strategic Environment 4

4…. 1.1.1 Organizational Overview.. 4

4…. 1.1.2 Business Need.. 5

4…. 1.1.3 Drivers for Change. 5

4…. 1.1.4 Business Outcomes. 6

1.2 Strategic Fit 6

1.3… Detailed Description of the Business Need. 6

4…. 1.3.1 Problem/Opportunity Statement. 6

4…. 1.3.2 Prioritized Requirements (High Level). 7

4…. 1.3.3 Assumptions. 8

4…. 1.3.4 Constraints. 8

4…. 1.3.5 Dependencies. 9

1.4 Scope 10

4…. 1.4.1 Boundaries. 10

4…. 1.4.2 Stakeholder Analysis. 10

Phase 2: Analysis and Recommendation. 12

2 Preliminary Options Analysis 12

2.1 Evaluation Criteria 12

2.2 List the Possible Options 12

4…. 2.2.1 The Status Quo.. 13

4…. 2.2.2 Describing the Option.. 14

Category of choice. 14

Description.. 14

Option 1- Retain Blackboard.. 14

Status quo.. 14

Blackboard serves as the baseline and the benchmark against which other option are measure. 14

Option 2 –implement globally.. 14

Implementation.. 14

Option serves a global market that has varying characteristic’s. 14

Option 3 – Outsource VLE.. 14

Service delivery, build, and customization.. 14

This option explores the product offering of the VLE. The premise to this option involves whether building own system or outsourcing will serve the specific needs for Botho University.. 14

Option 4 – Affordability.. 14

Cost structure. 14

This option deals with financial implication of the option subject to the product offerings. 14

2.3 Screening of Options 14

2.4 Rationale for Discounted and Viable Options 15

3 Viable Options 15

3.1 Alignment 15

4…. 3.1.1 Strategic Alignment. 15

4…. .1.2 Alignment with Desired Business Outcomes. 16

Blackboard.. 16

open source software. 16

Moodle. 16

Quality learning and teaching.. 16

Cost structure. 16

Strategic goal for internationalization.. 16

3.2 Costs 16

3.3 Cost-Benefit Analysis 17

4 Justification and Recommendation. 18

4.1 Comparison Summary. 18

4.2 The Preferred Option. 19

4…. 4.2.1 Recommendation.. 19

4…. 4.2.2 Deciding Factors. 19





Table 1 List of Possible Options. 14

Table 2 Overall Summary of Usage of (Blackboard, 2014) 14

Table 3 Description of Option. 15

Table 4 Screening Options. 16

Table 5 Rationale for Discounted and Viable Options. 16

Table 6 Alignment with Desired Business Outcomes. 17

Table 7 Cost Benefit Analysis: Blackboard. 18

Table 8 Cost Benefit Analysis: Moodle. 19

Table 9 Comparison Summary. 19


List of Internal Documents Used

  1. Quarter 1 Management Report 2015
  2. Qtr4-2014 Management Report
  3. Blackboard vs Moodle functionality
  4. Blackboard Mobile Analytics as at 8 September 2014
  5. Blackboard Mobile Survey Report_02_Nov_2013
  6. Blackboard Mobile Survey Report_02_Nov_2013
  7. Botho Learning Teaching And Assessment Strategy 2013-2017 (1)
  8. Botho News Online – volume 15
  9. Botho News Online – volume 16
  10. Botho Strategic Plan 2013 – 2017
  11. Botho University Dept Structure
  12. Email conversations with Botho as at 13th February 2015
  13. Moodle quotation
  14. Overall Summary of usage of Blackboard Jan-Dec 2014







Phase 1: The Strategic Context

1 Business Needs and Desired Outcomes

1.1 Strategic Environment

  • 1.1 Organizational Overview

Integrating technology in education has become the current practice adopted by the Botho University, an aspect that is not only in consistent with the university’s organization’s strategic plan, but also one that put it in the global map as an premier educational destination. Botho University’s mission is to do business in a model that is not only viable but financially stable with a view of providing quality education that transcends the national interests to production of graduates with international competence in the global market. The university’s vision is focussed on being an institution of higher excellence in the provision of higher education that will inspire positive economic and social changes in the society (Botho Strategic Plan, 2013-2017).

The corporate culture of Botho University is based on the values of doing more, innovation, integrity, leadership and excellence (Botho Strategic Plan, 2013-2017).  The strategic plan of Botho University remarkable focusses on the quality education that is accessible to all, nationally as well as globally, and one that meets and exceed global standards in infrastructures, teaching and learning methodologies, technology, human resource, research and development as well as value creation. The business model of the university is purely based on establishing a superior educational product that satisfies different educational needs in the local as well as global market. Integration of advanced technology seems to sit at the helm of the organization’s strategic vision and plan (Botho Strategic Plan, 2013-2017).

  • 1.2 Business Need

The need for Botho University to find alternative Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) system has been driven by the internationalization concept to be adopted. Opportunities for such need have been presented by the availability of advanced technologies that are either more need-specific in terms of satisfaction or cost effective.

  • 1.3 Drivers for Change

One of the drivers for change educational systems currently applied is the cost factor. According to an email correspondence dated 7th January, the licensing cost for both the Blackboard ranges between 25000 and 30000 GBP whereas the annual marginal benefit of enrolling an additional student is 350 GBP. The availability of cheaper options such as the Google Classroom definitely creates a differential demand for cheaper alternatives.

The other driver to changes is the global penetration of Internet. The Internet penetration through mobile phone is increasing by the day and surpasses the broad band internet coverage. An email from Brighton dated 7th January confirms this fact and indicates a 30% penetration for broadband internet and 75% for mobile phone internet in the sub- Saharan Africa. The decision to choose one system over the other depends on the extent to which the system requirements and specifications are consistent with the Internet penetration platforms for a specific market.

  • 1.4 Business Outcomes

The expected benefits or outcomes from the change from the current teaching and learning educational systems is the efficient and effective provision of quality education through a platform that is convenient, cost effective and satisfaction of the both the national and international educational needs.

1.2 Strategic Fit

The change from the current virtual learning environment (VLE) to a more cost effective, more accessible and widely used platform is quite consistent with the University’s strategic plan on internationalization of its educational product (Botho Strategic Plan, 2013-2017) as well as the distance learning strategic program (Botho Distance learning policy, 1997).  . The new VLE will not only enable accessibility by international student who hail from different regions with varying technological advancements and Internet connectivity but also greatly enhance virtual learning for the students on a distance-learning program.

1.3  Detailed Description of the Business Need

  • 3.1 Problem/Opportunity Statement

The need for Botho University to find alternative Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) system has been driven by the internationalization concept to be adopted. Opportunities for such need have been presented by the availability of advanced technologies that are either more need-specific in terms of satisfaction or cost effective.

  • 3.2 Prioritized Requirements (High Level)

The contemporary learning and teaching methods require application of educational technological tools for all the different types of student enrolled in the university. There different types of students include, national students, international students, and distance learners within Botswana as well as distance learners engaging in e-learning from abroad. The point of connection is through Internet by use of personal computers, tablets and mobile phone.

According to Faruque (2012) as well as the correspondence from Brighton in the email dated 7th January 2015, for a learning management system or VLE to serve the specific educational for the above named varying types of students, certain core requirements have to be fulfilled. These core requirements include the ability to automate and centralize administration, support portability as well as standards, deliver content fast and easy to use. The core requirements required by the tutor includes the system’s ability to facilitate assessment, loading of information, admission to class, track student’s progress, generate reports, and receive feedback. With regards to accessibility, the core requirement for the learning management system must be accessible on a number of commonly used devices such as mobile phones and PCs and should be designed for the web 2.0 e-learning.

The marginal benefit for an additional student ought to be higher than the current 350 GBP for a VLE that satisfies all the above global requirements. Return on investment will also be higher if the VLE is cost effective and facilitate efficient e-learning and educational e commerce.  According to Bach, Haynes and Smith (2007), there is increasing demand for e-learning and educational e-commerce. In this regard, there is a great business need to tap into this rising global demand and an appropriate VLE will go a long way in ensuring the university’s business strategic goals are achieved.

  • 3.3 Assumptions

Internet Connectivity – the first assumption is that there is Internet connectivity for the students enrolled in the VLE. Even though the impact of this assumption is not very significant for full time students, the implications on distance learning is quite significant especially considering distant learner who are abroad heavily rely on internet for everything task.

Business Potential – It is also assumed that the adopted VLE will be capable of handling the growth potential of the university. Growth in depth and breadth in the local as well as global market can be sustained by the VLE without increase in cost. The implications of this assumption are that further enrolments can be handled efficiently with the new VLE system.

Quality and Cost – The assumption is that the quality of service provide by VLE will not be affected by the effectiveness in cost. In most cases, the two variables usually share an inverse proportional relationship. However, cost effectiveness in this case imply the ability to handle a larger number students, diversity and huge number of tasks.

  • 3.4 Constraints

Internet Connectivity – the parity in Internet connectivity and penetration is a major limiting factor especially in some countries in the sub Saharan Africa. Virtual learning is purely based on the Internet connectivity. This factor constraints the adoption of distance learning especially with international student who hail from poorly connected countries as well.

Compatibility Issues – system requirements for each VLE are not the same and some devices may be incompatible with the learning management system. This may actually be the case for VLE system designed by the university.

Programming expertise – According to the email correspondence between Botho and Brighton enlightens on the fact that; while there are good programmers in the Botho University, their experience level and expertise in large projects such as the VLE is quite limited thus a constraint towards development of learning management system by Botho University.

VLE solution providers and hosting companies – There are few providers of solutions in VLE systems such as the Moodle. Further, there are few hosting companies especially in Africa that can handle cloud hosting of such magnitude. This constraint has been well articulated in the email response from Brighton.

Privacy and security considerations the constraints regarding privacy and security involves back up and prevention from abuse and intrusion as well as faultiness.

  • 3.5 Dependencies

Economies of Scale – the profitability and return on investment for the project is highly dependent on the economies of scale. Cost effectiveness for the new learning management system is not simply based on the price but also the ability to handle huge number of stakeholders and tasks.

Learning Management System – the achievement of Botho University’s strategic goal of internationalization as well as distance learning using e-learning is highly dependent on the effectiveness and efficiency of the new virtual learning system adopted.

Internet penetration – the achievement of the strategic goal of providing education especially to the sub Saharan market through e-learning highly depends on the extent to which there is sufficient internet penetration whether from broad band or mobile phones.

Hosting – the choice of hosting, whether internal or cloud hosting, id dependent on the choice of VLE system. The type of hosting will also determine the type of new hardware to be purchased to support the new system.

1.4 Scope

  • 4.1 Boundaries

The scope of this project falls in the boundary involving e-learning. The return on investment also falls in the

  • 4.2 Stakeholder Analysis

There are several stakeholders in the new VLE system. They include; the different types of students, the lecturers and tutors, the internal systems administrator, VLE’s support, quality assurance personnel, the university’s management, hosting consultants and the University’s Management Board.

The lectures and the students are the main end users of the VLE’s in the e-learning. The lecturers provide course material and students use them in the learning process. The lecturers can track progress and continually assess students. The internal system administrator is responsible for maintenance and resolving internal system issues. The internal systems administrator is responsible for liaising with VLE’s support and hosting company (who provide hosting solutions) to address any emerging issues. Quality assurance ensures that the highest level of quality is maintained considering that Botho University is an ISO Certified Organization. The responsibility of the University Management Board is offering support in terms of funding.


Phase 2: Analysis and Recommendation

2 Preliminary Options Analysis

2.1 Evaluation Criteria

A multiple evaluation criteria that encompass both the screening criteria/deal breakers and essential evaluation criteria will be applied in choosing the best available option. The choice of the evaluation criteria is based on the assertions of Kurilovas and Dagiene (2010) who indicate that a multiple evaluation criterion is a sure method ensuring maximum optimization of the learning management system as well as quality.

Under the deal breakers criteria, the following factors will be assessed: automatic enrolments of students, grouping of students into independent batches with independent instructors, support for central administration, non-repudiation services, analytics, support for mobile learning, assessments, reliable technical support from vendor and support for collaborative tools (Kats, 2013: Canada Business Case Guide, 2009). Essential criteria will be based on cost-benefit, cost, capacity, implementation and standard considerations.

2.2 List the Possible Options

Category of Choice Description
Status Quo This option will evaluate business performance should the use of the Blackboard as a Virtual Learning Environment is retained.
Service Delivery This option explores whether the choice of Virtual Learning System is either through partnerships, free acquisition with support fee or whether service provide is in part or whole.
Build This option explores the option of designing the institution’s own VLE system
Redesigning and Customization This option explores the possibility of customizing the VLE system to satisfy specific needs without additional licensing costs or other system limitations.
Cost structure This option explore whether payment for VLE is one off installation fee, annually rent  or whether there are hidden additional charges
Implementation This option serve to measure whether the implementation will serve the business need for internationalization and distance learning

Table 1 List of Possible Options

  • 2.1 The Status Quo

The status quo for Botho University’s learning management system is the application of the Blackboard as the main virtue-learning environment. The annual cost include the licensing cost ranging from 25,000 to 30,000 GBP. The Blackboard is cloud hosted by Blackboard.

Courses Active Courses Organizations Active Organizations
2014-01 132 62 0 0
2014-02 501 372 0 0
2014-03 649 513 0 0
2014-04 690 512 0 0
2014-05 702 496 0 0
2014-06 703 409 0 0
2014-07 1003 413 0 0
2014-08 1285 621 0 0
2014-09 1348 634 0 0
2014-10 1362 628 0 0
2014-11 1368 617 0 0
2014-12 1369 511 0 0
2015-01 1370 403 0 0

Table 2 Overall Summary of Usage of (Blackboard, 2014)

  • 2.2 Describing the Option
Category of choice Description
Option 1- Retain Blackboard Status quo Blackboard serves as the baseline and the benchmark against which other option are measure.
Option 2 –implement globally Implementation Option serves a global market that has varying characteristic’s
Option 3 – Outsource VLE Service delivery, build, and customization This option explores the product offering of the VLE. The premise to this option involves whether building own system or outsourcing will serve the specific needs for Botho University
Option 4 – Affordability Cost structure This option deals with financial implication of the option subject to the product offerings.

Table 3 Description of Option

2.3 Screening of Options

Option 1 Retain Blackboard Option 2 implement globally Option 3 – Outsource VLE Option 4 – FREE VLE
automatic enrolments of students yes yes yes yes
grouping of students into independent batches with independent instructors yes yes yes yes
support for central administration yes no no no
non-repudiation services yes yes no
analytics, support for mobile learning yes yes yes yes
assessments yes yes yes yes
reliable technical support from vendor and support for collaborative tools yes yes yes no
Summary Viable and remains as baseline Discounted Discounted Not viable

Table 4 Screening Options

2.4 Rationale for Discounted and Viable Options

Screening Summary Rationale
Option 1 Retain Blackboard Viable Meets all the core requirement
Option 2 Implement globally Discounted Strategic fit for the internalization and expansion to other regions
Option 1 Outsource VLE Discounted Allows room for customization, integration with other unavailable features

Table 5 Rationale for Discounted and Viable Options


3 Viable Options

3.1 Alignment

  • 1.1 Strategic Alignment

The viable options will be based on three projects, the Blackboard, the open source software and the Moodle.

  • .1.2 Alignment with Desired Business Outcomes
Blackboard open source software Moodle
Quality learning and teaching The Blackboard is quite inflexible but has more features bulk user enrolment, plagiarism testing, easy integration with other department and system backups Ability to include all the required features may result in the best quality VLE. The VLE is quite flexible though lack most features such as online assessment, multiple content support and lacks a bulk user enrolment
Cost structure Licence cost ranges from 25000 to 30000 GBP. VLE is quite expensive. Considering the lack of experience in such huge projects, the cost of designing may be too high and requires more time. Probably the most expensive project. The cost is almost 30000 GBP. However, the project is more cost effective since this payment is a one off fee. The adoption of this method increase the marginal benefit of additional student with time
Strategic goal for internationalization The VLE is a good model for internationalization especially with regards to distance learning. However, the rigid structure limits satisfaction of some educational needs to fit different learning characteristics The in-house VLE can be customized to meet any current or future needs. It is a perfect fit for the expansion strategic plan of the university. However time factor may delay this achievement. Perfect for the expansion and internationalization strategic goals of Botho University. The integration capabilities as well as flexibility places the VLE at a position where it can serve any current as well as future needs of the university. The VLE allows for customization without any additional licensing costs.

Table 6 Alignment with Desired Business Outcomes

3.2 Costs

Cost of Blackboard

Cost of the Blackboard over a period of 5 years will include;

25000 (5) = 125000 GBP

30000(5) = 150000 GBP

The cost for Blackboard over the course of 5 years ranges between 125000 GBP and 150000 GBP.

Cost of Module

The cost operates on the assumption that hosting is done internally.

1500 (one off installation fee) + 2700 (one off Onsite implementation) + 1200 (one off content migration) +2700 (one off training) + 1799 (support) +1600 (technical support) + 3000 (data report services) + 450 (one off onsite expenses) =14,949 GBP.

In a period of 5 years = 14949 + (6399)4 = 46,944 GBP

3.3 Cost-Benefit Analysis


Expensive Accessible to most of the existing devices
Has an interface that is not flexible. Has more functional features and can hold content of any kind such as videos.
Email notification on courses not available Allows for online assessment.
Can only be done under cloud hosting which is more expensive and limited in most countries Availability of vendor support as well as analytic support

Table 7 Cost Benefit Analysis: Blackboard


The VLE does not allow batch enrolment of students Very cost effective as the VLE is free
Does not support multiple content support and thus requires plugging for integration VLE can be hosted both internally as well as outsourced.
The VLE does not support bulk enrollment. VLE has a flexible interface and can be customized to satisfy specific needs.
The VLE does not support online assessment of students. Has email notifications for course updates

Table 8 Cost Benefit Analysis: Moodle

4 Justification and Recommendation

4.1 Comparison Summary

Blackboard Moodle Open Source
Options fully contributes to the strategic vision of the University Partially Fully Partially
Option is cost effective No Yes No
Impact of VLE limitations are either negligible or unavailable Accepted Accepted Unaccepted
Organization has capacity to manage the VLE Yes Yes NO
The VLE meets the core requirement Yes Yes No
Standard and policy considerations Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable
Alignment to Business Outcomes Partially Fully Not aligned

Table 9 Comparison Summary

4.2 The Preferred Option

  • 2.1 Recommendation

It is therefore recommended that the best option for Botho University’s strategic vision, goals and business outcome is the Moodle. By shifting to Moodle as the main university’s VLE, the institution does not only get the most cost effective type of VLE, but also one that efficient and aligned with the institution’s strategic plan and vision.

  • 2.2 Deciding Factors

The deciding factors for the best VLE included;

  1. Cost effectiveness.
  2. Alignment to the university’s strategic vision, goals and plans on expansion and internationalization.
  3. The extent to which core requirement have been met
  4. Usability, accessibility and compatibility of the VLE.








Faruque, S. (2012). 10 alternatives to Moodle for e-Learning software, LMS Platform using open source/GPL. [online] Open Source Open Standard. Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2015].

GOODALL, F. (2015). Oxford University Press | Online Resource Centre | Learn about Virtual Learning Environment/Course Management System content. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2015].

Kats, Y. (2013). Learning management systems and instructional design. Hershey, Pa.: IGI Global (701 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 17033, USA).

Kurilovas, E., & Dagiene, V. (2009). Learning Objects and Virtual Learning Environments Technical Evaluation Criteria. Electronic Journal of e-Learning,7(2), 127-136.

Mukerji, S. and Tripathi, P. (2010). Cases on technology enhanced learning through collaborative opportunities. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference., (2014). Open Source Options For Education. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2015]., (2009). Business Case Guide  2 / 4. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2015].

Ward, J. and Daniel E. (2012). Benefits management: How to Increase the Business value of your IT Projects.2nd ed

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Originally posted 2017-08-11 19:22:29.



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