Most institutions of higher education do not have the best information technology departments. Institutions don’t pay high enough salaries to attract the top people in a field in which competitors are often firms like Google or Microsoft or large publishers which can and do pay top-dollar for software talent. Nor are schools usually at the cutting edge of developments in the IT field, so that again they are often less attractive employers to the best software engineers or other IT professionals. Other competitors include smaller firms which build online courses and are able to attract and hold excellent IT talent by offering non-bureaucratic environments in which cutting-edge work can be done.
Generally, university and college IT departments are adept at assisting faculty, administrative staff and students in working with the IT technology infrastructure of the institution, and this is how it should be. But the creation of good online courses is beyond them. Creating good online courses can be thought of as a publishing activity. Colleges and universities generally did not seek to publish textbooks written by faculty members at the school for which they work in competition with the major textbook publishers. Textbook publishing was generally left to professional publishing firms. Similarly, building good online courses should be left to firms professionalized for that purpose.
Difficulties of many types will arise if an institution tries to create and publish online courses itself. To avoid these difficulties colleges and universities will have to spend significant sums training instructors to create courses and adding to the capabilities of their IT departments. This latter will further extend the assignments of IT departments which are already overtaxed at many institutions. Costs will be added to already over-stretched IT budgets.
Probably the training of faculty members to write good online courses won’t be fully effective. Probably, the augmentation of IT departments in terms of personnel, capabilities and budget will not be sufficient to support the development of good online courses. In these circumstances, colleges and universities will end up with a range of online courses, good to bad, with different features, and no consistency in presentation, approach and quality of content and instructional presentation.