You are on page 1of 3

Mong K.

Course Number:
Assignment #1
July 11, 2001

Samosa Inc. has been a leader in the electronics industry over the past 25 years. As
advancements in technology and the need for an educated workforce increases, greater flexibility
in training options will be required to move into the 21st century. This memo outlines three
organizational structures to consider in moving toward providing online learning solutions in the

Organizational Structure Options

I. Outsource the Work

Online learning is a field that has its own issues and dilemmas to grapple with. One option to
consider is outsourcing the design, development and deployment of online learning solutions to
expert vendors or consultants. According to Lent (1990), this option has several benefits: buy
only the skills and services required, pay for quality and creativity and hire resources that can be
efficient and focus on the task at hand.

All key elements such as instructional design, measurement, multimedia production and
development would be outsourced to an outside resource, relying on the vendor resource to
provide expertise and guidance on what instructional design process to use. A point person
deemed the Project Manager who resides with the existing Training group, would manage the
internal communications and vendor relations to complete an initiative.

This is the simplest and quickest method to launch an online initiative, without extensive
monetary commitments to additional headcount or infrastructure requirements.

II. Functional Structure, Decentralized

Within each line of business, a Training group exists to supports the development for online
learning solutions for that division. These individuals could be the same individuals that design
for traditional face-to face learning experiences or could be new hires. They would be
responsible for all tasks including needs assessment, setting the instructional design strategy,
development, creating a measurement plan and collaborating across the organization as needed to
complete initiatives (i.e., working with subject matter experts, and partnering with the creative
and the technology group). Individuals in this group would need to be generalists, understanding
in-depth the specifics needs of the line of business. This group would report directly into the each
business head.

This approach allows for custom online solutions that are specific to each line of businesses'

III. Matrix Structure, Centralized

Lent quotes Kerzner as saying “ The matrix organizational form is an attempt to combine the
advantages of the pure functional structure and the product organizational structure.” (1990, p.131)
Using Tony Bates' Aspects of Quality in Technology-based Education (2000) with some
modification, a matrix organization at Samosa would encompass 4 groups under an Online
Learning Department whose focus is on:
 Content and Project Management—Responsible for content development/writing as well
as all project management-related tasks such as preparing project plans and budgets, assigning
tasks, managing work against deadlines and communicating progress to all team members.
 Media Production—Responsible for creating any graphics and flash animations needed
for course development. A further cost-benefit analysis should be done to assess
feasibility and benefits of developing in-house capabilities in audio and video
 Instructional Design—Sets the standards pertaining to all course design and
development elements including clear and desirable learning objectives, how materials
should be organized and chunked, what forms of interactivity should be designed into
learning, what media elements are required to teach toward the stated learning
objectives and how to measure that learning objectives are being met.
 Delivery and Student Support—Implements the online learning solution. They identify
facilitators to deliver synchronous sessions, giving learners opportunities to ask
questions and receive feedback in an open forum. In addition, support services such as
technical help desks and coaches to support content-related questions that come up
during learning are offered.

For an online learning project, there would be at least one individual from each of these group
assigned at the onset, responsible for bringing their related expertise to bear. The instructional
design group sets the instructional design process that will meet the needs of the business. Given
the importance of online learning, this department should reside as high as possible in the
organization so that communication to the CEO is frequent. This ensures sufficient leadership
and vision to sustain the value of online learning in the organization (O'Rourke, 1993) as well as
the role of online learning being viewed as an enterprise-wide strategy.

In this structure, individuals can have specialty areas rather than being generalists and project
managers would have responsibility for all tasks related to their project. They may still choose to
outsource some elements of the instructional design process but they have total control, baring
budget constraints, on where and how to get the work delivered.

Note: While not part of the E-learning group, the Technology group needs to be consulted to
create a technology plan describing how online learning will support Samosa's business needs
(Schrieber, 1999).


Given my assessment, my recommendation is to structure Samosa as a matrix, centralized group.

Reasons include:

 Shared Responsibility—Since everyone is working collaboratively together, there is a

greater sense of shared accountability to achieving the end product.
 Increased Flexibility and Speed to Market—Rather than working vertically up an
organization to get decisions made, project team members can work directly with the
relevant department liaisons to get work done, minimizing the bureaucracy involved.
 Role Clarity—Individuals know what they are doing and buy into the strategy because
they are involved in the planning and decision-making process.
 Develop Internal Expertise—Resources within the organization will develop
competencies and expertise that will be invaluable to the organization in the future.
 Enterprise-wide solution—By being located close to senior management, online
learning will be seen as organizational strategy to achieve Samosa's long-term goals and
not just a training event.
 Centralized resources—The organization will benefit from concentrated efforts in
design and development which the entire organization will benefit from and reduce
duplication of efforts.

Bates, A. Planning and Managing Courses and Programs. In Bates, A. (2000)

Managing Technological Change, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lent, R. (1990) Building an Instructional Design Organization. In Johnson, K. & Foa,

L. Instructional Design: New Alternatives for Effective Education and Training. New
York: NUCEA, 121-136.

O'Rourke, J. (1993) Roles and Competencies in Distance Education. Commonwealth

of Learning.

Schrieber, D. (1999) Instructional Design of Distance Training. In Schrieber, D. &

Berge, Z. Distance Training. San Francisco:Jossey Bass, 37-65.