Activity-Based Costing Models for Alternative Modes of Delivering On-Line Courses

Chris Garbett []
MSc BSc (Hons) FRICS FHEA Principal Lecturer and Teacher Fellow
School of the Built Environment
Leeds Metropolitan University []
Associate Lecturer Open University


In recent years there has been growth in online distance learning courses. This has been prompted by; new technology such as the Internet, mobile learning, video and audio conferencing: the explosion in student numbers in Higher Education, and the need for outreach to a world wide market.  Web-based distance learning is seen as a solution to problems of outreach and course delivery.

This paper considers module costing models to compare the costs of delivery of:

  • A traditionally delivered face-to-face module,
  • A web-based distance learning module delivered by in-house academic staff
  • A web-based distance learning module delivered by external contracted staff.

The model uses Activity Based Costing (ABC) utilising data from HEFCE and other sources; and with assumptions made from practice at Leeds Metropolitan University from over ten years experience of delivering web-based distance learning courses. 

Using the models; different scenarios can be run.  The paper concludes that there are savings to be achieved by utilising Web-based distance learning.  This saving could, in turn, be passed on to students. Furthermore, the student experience, in terms of contact does not have to suffer and may in fact be enhanced by utilising Web-based distance learning.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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