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Posts Tagged ‘university’

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

Strategy for tech-enhanced learning launched by Higher Education Funding Council for England

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has published ‘Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology – a revised approach to HEFCE’s strategy for e-learning’.

This revised approach follows an independent review of the strategy and is designed to provide further support to higher education institutions as they develop their own e-learning strategies.

The new approach is intended to support institutions in considering where they may wish to prioritise their technology-related investment over the next few years, and to develop appropriate institutional learning and teaching strategies. Support and guidance is available from the Higher Education Academy and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). Findings from the review, which was carried out with the support of the Higher Education Academy and JISC, suggested the strategy has been useful in motivating institutional activity, but that some of the information has become outdated, given the current level of maturity in e-learning in the sector.

In order to assist institutions in achieving their strategic aims for enhancing learning and teaching through technology, the document suggests a framework focusing on: pedagogy, curriculum design and development; learning resources and environments; quality; and research and evaluation.

John Selby, HEFCE Director (Education and Participation), said:
‘Our emphasis is on recognising that technology has a fundamental part to play in higher education, and that it should now reflect commitment from senior management in institutions within an institutional context. Our revised approach to e-learning will contribute to the Government’s aim to position the UK at the front of technology-enhanced learning internationally, and continue to build a knowledge-based economy.’

David Sadler, Director of Networks at the Higher Education Academy, said:
‘The Higher Education Academy is pleased to have been involved in this review and the revised policy statement, and its emphasis on enhancement is one that highlights how technology can be used by practitioners to support students in their learning. It focuses on the benefits and the outcomes from using technology to support learning, teaching and assessment, which will be different in each institution, and could make a real difference to the learning experience of students across all higher education institutions.’

Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary at JISC said:
‘JISC welcomed the opportunity to work with its partners to contribute to this review, and suggest how technology can enhance teaching and learning to assist in the delivery of higher education institutions’ strategic missions.

‘Part of this strategy is already beginning to take shape through the current investment being made in the open educational resources pilot. This work aims to open access to high-quality education resources on an international scale. It shows a new approach to virtual education, and will help to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in online learning.’

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) distributes public money for teaching, research and related activities. In 2008-09 HEFCE will distribute over £9 billion to universities and colleges in England. The Higher Education Academy works with universities and colleges, discipline groups, individual staff and organisations to help them deliver the best possible learning experience for students.

JISC is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

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

British government has invested more than any other government in Interactive Whiteboards

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

UK – 5 September 2008 – This fact was highlighted in a  recent research study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and carried out by Sara Hennessy and Rosemary Deaney, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 8PQ.

‘These IWBs(interactive whiteboards) have had a meteoric rise in popularity in schools,’ says Sara Hennessy who carried out the project with Rosemary Deaney of Cambridge University. ‘But, until recently, assumptions about how they have transformed teaching were not based on hard evidence.’

The system consists of a computer linked to a data projector and a large touch-sensitive board, which displays images, graphics, animations and videos. You can write captions directly onto the board and instantly convert your handwriting to type. You can create suspense by hiding and revealing text and graphics.  They can also be used with a special camera so that pupils can develop their own written ideas and images, and then share them with the class by projecting their work onto the IWB.

‘We explored how teachers might use projection technology to give space, time and status to pupils’ contributions to lessons. We wanted to look at the ways in which it could be used to challenge and develop pupils’ thinking,’ Dr Hennessy says. The research also discusses the dangers of technology-driven teaching and warns that time constraints can lead to superficial use of the technology.

In the study, English, history, mathematics and science teachers used interactive whiteboards and data projectors in various ways.

  • Circling and highlighting make complex ideas more concrete and draw attention to particular features
  • Spotlighting, enlarging and zooming can help to investigate detail and keep attention on key concepts
  • Dragging and dropping are used to classify objects.

A unique strength of IWB technology is that it allows teachers and students to revisit previous sessions of saved activity, which helps to reignite and build on earlier learning. The researchers also found that using IWBs can:

  • Provide new opportunities for learners to express themselves publicly, receive critical feedback and reformulate their thoughts.
  • Stimulate discussion.
  • Allow teachers to adapt to individual learning needs.

The project has provoked interest from academics, trainees and teacher educators. A series of 5 interactive CD-ROMs have been developed for teachers. These are designed to stimulate debate around key issues rather than offering models of ‘best practice’ and they are already proving influential in teacher education. The researchers are confident that the project will be welcomed by policymakers seeking a return on investment.

‘We have shown that in the right hands the IWB can be a motivating and immensely powerful tool,’ says Dr Hennessy. ‘It allows teachers and pupils to build and test complex ideas together, and supports active learning in new ways.’

Further information about this study can be found on the Cambridge University website, Faculty of Education by clicking here.

Skills Survey Reveals Cutbacks in Public Sector Training

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

UK – May 12th, 2008 – The skills survey report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reveals that in 45 per cent of public sector organizations there has been a cut in training budgets over the past 12 months. The indications are that the continued post-Gershon squeeze is encouraging employers to reduce the head count and to cut costs across personnel activities.

Voluntary sector organisations continue to spend more per employee per year on training, compared with both the private and public sectors.  With 77 per cent in the sector reporting that funding for training has remained stable or increased, compared with 75 per cent in the private sector and 54 per cent in the public sector.

The report also shows a disconnect between what government is offering employers and what they feel they need from young people coming out of school, college or university.  Literacy and numeracy are still concerns for employers, but also there is a need for the so-called soft-skills.  Two thirds of respondent organisations feel that new employees lack both communication and interpersonal skills and over half report a shortfall in management and leadership skills.

Learn Skills can offer employers web-based skills and compliance training to address these key concerns, by giving them access to a comprehensive course catalog”, said Sean Griffin, Co-Founder of Learn Skills, “and the Learn Skills platform can deliver both cost savings and consistent quality instruction to all employees and management resulting in increased and enhanced performance.”