An Information Systems Design Theory for E-learning




Jones, David Thomas

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This thesis seeks to offer an answer to the problem of how to design, implement and support information systems that effectively and efficiently support e-learning within universities. This problem is increasingly prevalent and important to the operation of universities. It is also a problem where existing solutions are limited in terms of variety, quality and explicit theoretical guidance. This thesis formulates a specific Information Systems Design Theory (ISDT) “An Information Systems Design Theory for Emergent University E-learning Systems“ as one answer to this problem. The ISDT is formulated using an iterative action research cycle that encompasses the design, support and evolution of the Webfuse information system at Central Queensland University (CQU) from 1996 through 2009. The Webfuse system was used by tens of thousands of staff and students. It is the knowledge gained through this experience that, in two separate stages, is used to formulate design theory. The final ISDT recognises that diversity and rapid on-going change are for a number of reasons, the key characteristics of e-learning within universities. Consequently, the ISDT specifies both process and product models that aim to enable the e-learning information systems to be emergent. In particular the ISDT proposes that emergent e-learning information systems will encourage and enable greater levels of e-learning adoption in terms of quantity, quality and diversity; as well as providing a level of differentiation and competitive advantage for the institution. This thesis makes two additional contributions. First, the Ps Framework is developed and used to analyse the current, dominant practice of providing elearning information systems within universities. The resulting analysis reveals a significant mismatch between the requirements of e-learning within universities and the characteristics of the product and process models used by the dominant approach to supporting e-learning within universities. It is this mismatch that the ISDT seeks to address. Second, is the formulation of an alternate method for specifying the components of an ISDT. This alternate specification arose from difficulties faced with using existing ISDT specifications.



ISDT, e-learning, design research, design theory




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