Abstract Computer technology has been harnessed for education in UK universities ever since the first computers for research were installed at 10 selected sites in 1957. Subsequently, real costs have fallen dramatically. Processing power has increased; network and communications infrastructure has proliferated, and information has become unimaginably accessible through the Internet and the World Wide Web. However, perhaps because higher education institutions are resistant to change, educational technology in universities has not managed to match the ubiquity of technology in everyday life. The reasons for differences between everyday experiences and those of higher education may lie in higher education practice. Higher education practice reflects the wider agendas of institutions manifested through their organisation, structure, culture and climate. These factors may particularly impact upon the potential for higher education to embrace and manage change in its educational activities, especially technology-enhanced learning such as blended learning and e-learning. This paper briefly reviews the progress of educational technology, then identifies critical success factors for e-learning through an organisational perspective derived from studies of six UK higher education institutions.