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e-Learning Support@The Higher Education Academy

Eddie Gulc
Last modified 19 Jun, 2006
Published 15 Jun, 2006
In this article Eddie Gulc describes the work of the Higher Education Academy and how it is working in partnership with JISC to support the implementation of the HEFCE e-Learning Strategy through a variety of initiatives.

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 more than 2 million HE students in the UK. The Academy has set out, in a strategic partnership with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) , to provide a comprehensive, integrated and coherent focus on technology enhanced learning as part of the HEFCE 10 year e-Learning Strategy. JISC and the Academy have a common vision about excellence and about supporting our institutions to provide the kind of experiences our students desire and increasingly need.

In support of the strategy, the Academy is leading the UK HE e-Learning Benchmarking Exercise and the Pathfinder Programme. The Benchmarking Pilot phase involves 12 HEIs and one FEI, and it will draw to a close in July 2006. Phase 1 will begin in October 2006 and will involve another 40 or so institutions.

A closed invitation to tender for Pathfinder project funding was issued to the HEFCE funded e-Learning Benchmarking Pilots in April. The aim of these projects is to take forward key issues emerging from the benchmarking exercise. Early indications suggest that departmental or faculty level projects will form part of the planned activities in a number of institutions. A total of £170,000 per institution is available for Pathfinder projects. Phase 1 Benchmarking institutions will be eligible to bid for Pathfinder funding early in 2007.

Planning is now well underway for the development of an e-learning brokerage function between the Academy and the JISC - this appeared in the HEFCE strategy as a virtual centre . The aim of the activity is to provide greater coherence to the sector with regard to e-learning development, advice and support. A thematic approach will be taken to the programme of work and an initial focus on e-assessment has been agreed. Consultation with the internal stakeholders in the Academy and the JISC is taking place (eg Subject Centres, JISC RSCs and other Services). This work will also tie in with other initiatives the Academy leads on and supports, including:

As well as JISC, the Academy works closely with other key stakeholders in e-learning, for example the Heads of e-Learning Forum (HeLF) and the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), to identify themes and areas for development in the future. Areas of work already being identified include:

  • ePortfolios (with the Centre for Recording Achievement)
  • Blended Learning
  • Web2.0/Social Learning (Podcasting, Blogging, Wikis etc)
  • Classroom Technologies/Learning Space.

Finally Academy Connects presents a unique set of high quality electronic services designed to help staff working in higher education. Presently, four Connects services are available: Organisations; Funding; Projects databases and a search of internet Sector Resources.

For more information:

Higher Education Academy's e-learning work

Benchmarking and Pathfinder

Eddie Gulc Senior Adviser, The Higher Education Academy


Supported by JISC Supported by CETIS
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