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Benchmarking e-learning


Benchmarking e-learning is one of the core competences of Matic Media Ltd.


The company started in 2005 a series of contracts for the Higher Education Academy to lead the BELA team, one of the two teams benchmarking e-learning for UK higher education institutions under the e-Learning Benchmarking Exercise. This was followed by benchmarking work from the Higher Education Academy to benchmark four Welsh institutions under the Gwella Programme. This in turn was followed by commercial benchmarking work for a number of UK universities and an international consortium, the Distance Learning Benchmarking Club.


Paul Bacsich is also the ongoing developer of the Pick&Mix methodology for benchmarking e-learning.


He also substantially redeveloped the MIT90s methodology for use in four institutions in Phase 1 and is also one of the few UK experts on the e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM) methodology developed in New Zealand. He was also a reviewer of the first release of the Australia ACODE scheme.

Publications and reports


One of the features of Pick&Mix is that it works in an "open educational methodology resources" mode in that key documents and updates to them are rapidly placed in the public domain using the Creative Commons copyright/IPR regime.





In addition to presentations, Matic Media Ltd has run benchmarking e-learning workshops at several national and international conferences.




Paul Bacsich first carried out explicitly named benchmarking work when he was approached by Ecotec on behalf of DfES to support the international benchmarking study of Ufi learndirect which reported in April 2001. The report was available for some years as a research report on the DfES site under the title "LearnDirect - a comparative study". The aim of the study was to "benchmark learndirect against similar organisations globally with respect to learning opportunities offered and learner support... to explore learndirect's unique and differentiating features and to identify emerging good practice [and] to provide a framework to establish learndirect's position in the developing marketplace for on-line learning."


Paul started working specifically and substantially in the area of benchmarking e-learning in January 2005. His first literature review on this was produced in April 2005 and updated in an invited paper for the EU eLearning conference, May 2005. In spring 2005 Matic Media Ltd applied an early version of the Pick&Mix methodology under a contract to Manchester Business School, comparing e-learning in MBS with 12 comparators across the English-speaking world. (Detailed competitor research was carried out by Sara Frank Bristow, a Matic Media Ltd associate with specific skills.).


However, Paul had carried out earlier work on benchmarking virtual universities in the mid 1990s. See especially the section "Dimensions of Virtuality" in Virtual Universities - Part 2, first published in Learning in a Global Information Society 12, February 1997.


Paul has worked on the link between Pick&Mix and benchmarking in the FE sector and the early work benefited from meetings with Ufi and discussion with Becta on their schools/FE methodology "The Matrix". More recently this led on to work for Sero Consulting Ltd on e-maturity in the PCDL sector.


Another key interest is to ensure commonality in international benchmarking, where the main work of direct relevance outside the UK has gone on in New Zealand and Australia, and more recently in the US (the NUTN-Hezel work). Paul was invited to present on benchmarking at the ACODE benchmarking workshop in Melbourne and at the Sydney University Teaching and Learning conference.


There is also a strand of Matic Media Ltd benchmarking activity which operates at the national level and shades into the "virtual universities" area of competence. Paul was commissioned by the Swiss Virtual Campus to speak on this topic in 2006. This has recently led merged with his earlier work on critical success factors to form a key part of the Re.ViCa project funded under the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.


Future work


Many of the key benchmarking papers that were public are no longer available on the web, or only via obscure URLs on the Web Archive - and others are scattered across a variety of repositories. As a consequence of work that was done for the 2022 OECD report Digital higher education: Emerging quality standards, practices and supports, work is under way to bring all these papers together in a new section of the new Matic Media web site


Updated July 2023