Posts Tagged ‘online’

UK Universities plan to become world leaders in on-line distance learning

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

A new task force to ensure our universities become the first choice across the world for on-line distance learning was announced yesterday by Higher Education Minister, David Lammy.

The task force chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library will advise on a wider strategy to build on our past and present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding and new markets.

It will be backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world class reputations to access and engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future.

This is a competitive match funding initiative, with up to £10m from HEFCE and therefore worth up to £20m in total, aims to encourage universities to work collaboratively with each other and the private and third sectors, to bid for money to develop projects to help transform the way people can get a degree.

David Lammy said;
“Advances such as 3G, webcasts and web 2.0, will allow UK universities to reach out to communities as far flung as Africa and Hong Kong and to deliver high quality, student-centred higher education across the globe.

“The use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players means this can be done at a time and place that is convenient for the student wherever they are in the world.

“This Open Learning Innovation Fund will help institutions develop new initiatives and exploit new opportunities to ensure we remain at the forefront of online distance learning as the international market develops.

“I am particularly pleased that Lynne Brindley, Steve Beswick from Microsoft and Martin Bean have agreed to be part of the task force that will guide the way as this important work is taken forward.”

Dame Lynne Brindley, CEO British Library said:
“I am delighted to have been asked to chair the Task Force, and to consider the many opportunities for UK higher education to excel in online learning and meet the changing demands of students. The British Library is itself committed to innovative, high quality digital services, including public and commercial partnerships, and I look forward to making recommendations for action to stimulate growth in this important area.”

The Taskforce will include senior representatives from Microsoft [and Apple], who will join Martin Bean, the next Vice Chancellor of the Open University, the British Council, HEFCE, JISC and Universities UK. The BBC has agreed to advise the task force as and when appropriate.

The Online Learning Innovation Fund, established by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), could help groups of institutions to pursue new business opportunities and promote online learning including using open resources funded as part of the e-learning programme. Universities will also be able to develop greater expertise in on-line teaching and create centres of excellence for the delivery of online learning.

The wider strategy will broadly;
> Develop new plans for international marketing of on-line distance UK HE;
> Continue to promote the development of e-learning across the breadth of HE;
> Work to increase the quantity of learning resources freely available for all institutions to use; and
> Continue to develop the role of the Open University (OU) as a national resource, so that all universities can benefit from the OU’s specialist expertise, developed through public funding.

HEFCE will develop the Open Learning Innovation Fund in the light of the task force’s advice and then consult the sector on the practical details.

Britain is a world leader in distance learning currently attracting more than 100,000 students from around the globe and earning the sector some £200m in fees.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Parents & teachers to receive practical support to get children learning online

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Teachers and parents across the country will be able to request support and training on how to help school aged children access the internet at home for learning, from a new foundation to be set up by Becta. The foundation will provide a vehicle for all interested organisations to demonstrate their commitment and support to this initiative.

Becta, the education technology agency, will work closely with industry and other interested parties to create an independent foundation, which will administer and distribute industry funds in support of the government’s Home Access programme. The idea was proposed by Microsoft in response to the government announcement made in September 2008 and the foundation is open to other organisations who wish to get involved.

The Home Access programme, which will be piloted in Oldham and Suffolk from February, will work to ensure every child has access to a home computer and the internet for their school or college work. The pilot aims to ensure every 7- to 18- year-old in full time state-maintained education has access to the internet at home.

The Home Access programme forms part of Becta’s Next Generation Learning campaign, which promotes the best use of technology in learning.

The new foundation is expected to be launched later this year, to coincide with the national rollout of the Home Access programme. It will be charged, on behalf of the government, with supporting local training of teachers and parents, including raising awareness of the importance of home access and how to overcome barriers in the community. The independent foundation will be overseen by Becta and other organisations are being encouraged to join Microsoft in providing support for the foundation.

Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta, said:
“We need to ensure that every learner has an equal chance to tap into the benefits of the internet to enhance their learning – and the Home Access programme seeks to do just that, by offering this opportunity to all learners.

“Getting parents and teachers on board is clearly vital to the success of the programme, so we are really excited about this opportunity to support them, in partnership with the industry. I welcome the leadership Microsoft has shown and am now calling for more leading companies to join us in the drive to support parents and teachers.”

Steve Beswick, Director of Education, Microsoft, commented:
“We believe that all children should have access to the learning tools they need in order to realise their full potential. As part of a global programme, we have created an investment fund to support activities that will help ensure the home access programme has maximum impact. Our goal is now to support Becta in setting up the foundation and encourage others across the industry to get involved.”

In early 2009 a pilot begins in two local authorities, focusing on learners aged 7-18. Low income families may be eligible for support towards the purchase of an approved package consisting of a device, connectivity and support.

Online skills reduce student drop-out rate in South Africa

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

South Africa- 4th June, 2008 – South Africa’s drop-out rate from tertiary institutions is alarmingly high, with almost 50% of all students entering the tertiary education system not completing their studies. This costs the country billions in cash.

One reason cited by an HSRC study is that students are not equipped with the correct study tools in order to cope with the academic work load in the first years of their degrees.  An online study skills programme, designed to meet the needs of South African students, is one way to equip students with the tools needed to cope with a demanding study regime.
Named Masifunde, after the isiXhosa phrase “let us learn”, the study skills programme is a response to the challenges that students face in South Africa, such as the lack of study know-how due to deficient preparation at high school level and high pressure to get a job whilst studying at the same time. In fact the HSRC Student Pathways Study, conducted from 2002-2004, found that “many of those who dropped out had worked to augment their meagre financial resources, no doubt adding to their stress levels”.
Using a study skills programme developed by the Oxford University Department for Continued Education as a base for the South African version, TSiBA and Oxford University worked together to form Masifunde.   Tristram Wyatt of Oxford University has been involved in the development process for the programme in South Africa. “The programme is locally adaptable, concentrating on not-for-profit organisations to use with their students,” he says.  “It’s aim is to arm students with coping tools like good study skills in order to alleviate some of the challenges they are faced with in the quest to qualify with a tertiary education.”
Oxford University and TSiBA Education, a non-profit, free-to-student university were a perfect match to launch this project.  “TSiBA’s strong ethos of helping others fitted well with our own intention of reaching out and helping students,” adds Wyatt.  Like any university, TSiBA struggles to retain students because of the socio-economic circumstances in the country and therefore understands the importance of developing a course that will help its students to cope with the workload.
“By offering this course free to other institutions to use with their students, TSiBA’s philosophy of, `pay it forward’ is mirrored well in this programme” says Leigh Meinert., MD of TSiBA.  “We have been brainstorming a suitable structure for the programme since last year to ensure that it is accessible. By bringing in our own students to tell us what it is they need to get out of the study skills programme, we have been able to set a realistic programme that answers the needs of the students,” says Meinert.

Source: IT-Online

UK School deploys online CPD tool to to enhance staff training

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Redborne Upper School has deployed Paragon, an online Continuous Professional Development (CPD) tool, to enhance the ongoing teacher training and performance management process for the school’s staff and their assessors.

Developed by CPD and performance management specialists Vantage Technologies, Paragon supports teachers’ development and training requirements by allowing them to record evidence of their training in an easy-to-access e-portfolio, and their mentors to access and monitor the evidence to provide feedback on their progress.

A key benefit of Paragon is its accessibility. With all CPD information stored in a single location and securely accessible over the Internet at any time by both mentors and staff, performance and development is easier to monitor and manage. Subsequently, the appraisal process is continuous and more effective, and the overall standards of teaching and learning are boosted.

Paragon enables schools to follow recently revised professional standards for performance management more closely. Staff can log evidence of their performance and ongoing training in support of meeting the standards. Being able to rate themselves against the standards means teachers are more aware of their professional development needs, they can then create an action plan based on these needs, making training more focused. Furthermore Paragon’s unique Idea’s Generator feature allows them to access its library of resources to assist them in creating their action plans.

Nigel Croft, head teacher at Redborne Upper school, said: “Paragon helps individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses and make more informed decisions about their training needs. It also gives mentors and the school a clearer picture of trainees’ progress, enabling us to offer more targeted in-house training by matching their skills to a training need.

“Reports can also be generated in Paragon to see how the department, or school, is progressing, and head teachers can use the this evidence to demonstrate achievements during inspections. This system will really support school improvement and it’s something I would strongly recommend to all schools.”

Traditional performance management meetings are held annually and only allow an hour to discuss the teacher’s previous and the following years’ targets. John Gunn, director of Redborne Training School, explains: “This traditional system is fraught with problems; for some it’s the only time they talk to their manager about their targets and achievements and as it’s paper based there is no transparency or easy way for senior managers to understand CPD needs or targets across the school.

“Paragon helps people at all levels see performance management as a continuous process so discussions at meetings between teacher and reviewer are much more focussed as both parties understand where the member of staff is in relation to their targets.”

Successful initial trials of Paragon mean it has gone live to around 100 Redborne teaching staff; it will be rolled out to the remainder of school staff including, teaching assistants, laboratory assistants and admin assistants later in the year.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

New online service offers free and impartial IT advice to start-ups and small businesses

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

UK – 14th January, 2008 – A free service to help start-ups and small businesses increase their productivity and competitiveness through technology is now available to companies based in Yorkshire & Humber, the South East and the South West regions of England.

The Business IT Guide was developed by e-skills UK in collaboration with market leaders such as Oracle, EDS, IBM, Accenture, Cisco, Microsoft, HP, Smart421 and BT, and has been tested extensively with small businesses.

The Guide is a user friendly online tool that helps businesses access a wide range of high quality, independent advice to help them fully exploit technology.  Advice includes:

  • everything a new business needs to know – from complying with legislation to security;
  • where to go for trusted information;
  • how to properly introduce and manage technology;
  • how to deal with the resource implications: cost, training, time; and
  • how to plan for growth and changing needs.

There are five separate routes to advice and information via the Guide:

  1. a self help tool – designed to help those unsure of their ICT needs;
  2. facts – designed to encourage people to take action;
  3. hot tips – designed to have an immediate impact;
  4. The Guide library – with all 72 Business IT Guides listed; and
  5. search facilities.

Keri-Ann Davies, Business Adviser for the Welsh Assembly Government, said:

“In the past I have made use of the Business Link website and found the best practice IT advice very useful.  The Business IT Guide seems to provide more advanced information than was previously available through Business Link, and also includes the built in search facilities and links.  I found it extremely informative.”

“e-Learning can also greatly enhance a small businesses acquisition of skills and delivery of training”, said Sean Griffin, Co-Founder of Learn Skills, the web-based skills and compliance training company, “and it is for that reason that we are developing training programs tailored to the needs of both SMEs and new start-ups.”

Source: e-skills Passport Winter newsletter

Online Education Reaches New Heights in the USA

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

USA – Oct 22 2007 – Nearly one in five higher education students now takes at least one class online, according to a new study of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide. The 2007 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, released today by the Babson Survey Research Group, reveals that online enrollment rose by nearly ten percent in fall 2006, to 3.49 million students. Approximately 3.18 million students had at least one online course in fall 2005.

“The growth in online learning continues to far outpace that of the broader student population,” said study co-author Dr. I. Elaine Allen Associate Professor of Statistics & Entrepreneurship, Babson College. “Enrollment has increased at an average annual rate of 21.5 percent over the past five years compared with just 1.5 percent average annual growth for the overall higher education population.”

The fifth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board and the Sloan Consortium, represents the state of online learning in the United States. The complete survey report, “Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning” is available at www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/index.asp.

“The survey results speak to the significance of online learning in America today,” said Frank Mayadas, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “With online students making up about 20 percent of the higher education population, we are seeing – and will continue to see – online learning playing a major role in the education of America’s college students.”

The Babson Survey Research Group in the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurial Research at Babson College conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses and reporting.

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.

The Sloan Consortium is the nation’s largest association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Source: Sloan-C News

Learn Skills Announces Partnership with InfoSource Learning

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

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Galway, Ireland – 28th August 2008 – Learn Skills, a web-based skills and compliance training company is pleased to announce that from September they will be offering InfoSource Learning’s “How To Master” online content training libraries to corporate, academic and government clients.

With this new partnership, Learn Skills’ corporate and government clients will now have access to content training libraries covering areas such as the Microsoft Suite; including Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Access, 2000 up to 2007. These libraries feature a unique, content-rich environment of interactive, self-paced learning and testing.  Learners will gain experience, retain information, and increase productivity by training in these simulated software environments.

“This partnership will address many of the key concerns that our clients have concerning Digital Literacy by providing them with high quality, up-to-date online courses increases skills levels in this area, said Sean Griffin, Co-Founder of Learn Skills.  “With InfoSource Learning as our partner, our online training library will make it incredibly easy for our customers to start training and address key areas for improving ICT skills and performance.”

These courses can be purchased on an individual basis or as part of an overall bundle of courses for larger numbers of employees through the Learn Skills LMS delivery model.  Some of the key courses that can be purchased through the Learn Skills platform include:

  • Internet & Computing Core Certification (IC3)
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2002 (XP)
  • Windows Operating Systems & Internet

Tom Dalton, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at InfoSource Learning stated, “We firmly believe in the value of our unique training and are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with an excellent company such as Learn Skills.”

Nearly 3.2 Million Higher Education Students Taking Courses Online

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

USA – Nov 9 2006 – The Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 shows tremendous growth in online learning in America. The complete survey is available at www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/index.asp.

“This is the largest study to date and it tells us online learning is growing without any sign of a plateau,” says Jeff Seaman, chief information officer and survey director, The Sloan Consortium. “There were nearly 3.2 million students taking at least one course online this past fall, up from 2.3 million just last year.”

The fourth annual survey is a collaborative effort between the College Board and the Sloan Consortium. It’s based upon responses from more than 2,200 colleges and universities nationwide and represents the state of online learning in U.S. higher education.

“We include Sloan questions in the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges to better understand the state of online learning at our country’s institutions of higher education,” said Hal Higginbotham, chief information officer, the College Board. “The insight we gain from the survey enables us to better serve those who benefit from online courses, those who traditionally wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect to college success.”

The survey also finds a larger percentage (62 percent) of chief academic officers agree the learning outcomes in online education are now as good as or superior to face-to-face instruction while 57 percent say it is critical to their institution’s long-term strategy.

In addition 73 percent agree online education reaches students not served by face-to-face programs. “Offering courses online increases enrollment particularly among populations like working adults and others who traditionally have not been able to access higher education,” says Frank Mayadas, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Sloan Consortium is the nation’s largest association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,500 colleges through major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.

Souce: Sloan-C News

AT&F and Learn Skills Sign Partnership Agreement

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

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Galway, Ireland – 31st August, 2008 – Learn Skills the web-based skills and compliance based company has now partnered with AT&F Solutions Ltd, ‘Advanced Training & Fire Solution’, a leading compliance training company based in the UK.

AT&F Solutions Ltd have been providing low cost online training solutions for over 10 Years and has both the specialist knowledge, quality and experience that sets its online training aside from the other solutions that are currently available in the market.  By partnering with AT&F Solutions, Learn Skills can deliver quality, relevant and up-to-date compliance training that is at a reasonable price for all.

At&F have recently launched a dedicated E-Driver Safety Risk Assessment Tracker program that will allow any company the opportunity to record and track their own drivers for a complete audit trail, a must for any company employing car or van drivers.  Allied to this will be the E- Driver Safety Training module for both LGV and company care drivers

Other courses that will be available through the Learn Skills platform for individual purchase or as part of a bundle option for larger numbers of courses include:

  • Driver Safety (NEW 2008)
  • Driver Risk Assessment Tracker (NEW 2008)
  • Fire Safety Training (industry & commerce edition)
  • Fire Safety Schools (In association with the WMF Arson Task Force)
  • DSE and Office Ergonomics
  • DSE Pro (includes call centre workers)
  • Manual Handling and Risk Assessment
  • Slips Trips Falls
  • HSE Induction to working safely (employers and employees)
  • Corporate Manslaughter Induction to the new LAW
  • Risk Manager and Tracker (complete risk management system)
  • Infection Control
  • Patient Moving and Handling
  • Fire Safety HTM and Fire Code
  • DSE Clinical Workers

“The compliance training provided though the partnership between AT&F and Learn Skills will go along way to addressing and documenting Health & Safety training for all organisation.  Quality content and course materials backed with powerful features for both user and administrator can only lend itself to a successful compliance training delivery”, said Sean Griffin, Co-Founder of Learn Skills.