e-Learning Provision, Participation and Performance

This report compares provision, participation, and student performance in courses delivered by e-learning methods with courses that do not use e-learning. This is analysed at a system, sub-sector, and field of study level, as well as by ethnicity, age, full-time, part-time, and extramural status.

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Commissioning agencies
Date of last publication
Jun 2016


Analytical approach

Internet field data is supplied through the SDR by all TEOs as part of their mandatory SDR return. For this and our earlier reports, we have taken the EFTS from the SDR returns and aggregated it by system, qualification, sub-sector, field of study, and for selected student groups. We use EFTS rather than a headcount of students as this is a standardised measure of volume, so is a more accurate indicator of provision, participation and performance than student numbers.

Calculating provision and participation rates

Using the 10 years of data available, we have constructed averages based on two five-year periods (2005-2009 and 2010-20148) as the basis for establishing how many e-learning courses there were and how many students were participating in them. We use participation and provision rates to do this. We use averages rather than year-on-year analysis for our provision and participation, and course completion rates because this is a better method of showing trends and patterns over time, which is the main focus of this report.

Calculating completion rates

Given the link between level of study and course completion rates (Wensvoort, 2011) and the imbalance in the uptake of e-learning between levels (Guiney, 2011) the difference in completion rates between the different e-learning and No ICT modes may reflect that imbalance more than the influence of the delivery method. To allow for these differences and to avoid distortion, we use a standardised course-level-adjusted completion rate, which measures successful completion rates for the different e-learning and No ICT modes as if the mix of levels between them had been the same. This is intended to remove any differences due to course level so we can focus on the effects of delivery mode on performance.

Key Results

The key findings of this report are:

  • The overall share of EFTS delivered by the No ICT mode declined from 53 percent in the 2005-2009 time period to 43 percent in the 2010-2014 time period.
  • In the 2010-2014 time period a higher proportion of overall EFTS were delivered by courses using blended methods.
  • By the 2010-2014 time period, there was little difference in the course completion rates by mode of delivery due largely to substantial improvements over time in Web-Based completion rates.
  • Extramural students' No ICT course completion rates in the 2010-2014 time period was similar to the comparable rate for intramural students. The Web-Based course completion rate for Māori in the 2010-2014 time period almost matched their No ICT rate.

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