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Fifth International Conference on Networked Learning 2006. The Higher Education Academy enhancing the student learning experience Lawrence Hamburg Associate Director and Head of (e)Learning. Outline. What is the Academy - overview What is the Academy doing in the area of e-Learning?

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  • What is the Academy - overview
  • What is the Academy doing in the area of


    • Context – learning and teaching driven
    • Subject Centres (Distributed e-Learning Programme)
    • Recent Academy e-Learning research call
    • HEFCE’s e-Learning strategy: Benchmarking/Pathfinder
    • Work with the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee)
  • Founded in May 2004, we are an independent organisation funded by grants from the four UK funding bodies, subscriptions from higher education institutions, and grant and contract income for specific initiatives.
  • Brought together LTSN subject centre network (24 subject centres) and Institute for Learning & Teaching (ILT)
  • We engage in a wide variety of activities to support our mission and deliver our strategic aims and objectives.
our mission
Our mission

Our mission is to help institutions, discipline groups and all staff to provide the best possible learning experience for their students.


Supporting the student learning experience is core to the Academy . . . .

Strategic aims and objectives

  • To be an authoritative and independent voice on policies that influence student learning experiences
  • To support institutions in their strategies for improving the student learning experience
  • To lead, support and inform the professional development and recognition of staff in higher education
  • To promote good practice in all aspects of support for the student learning experience
  • To lead the development of research and evaluation to improve the quality of the student learning experience
  • To be a responsive, efficient and accountable organisation

Currently all feeding into the development of 06/07 operational plan

our stakeholders institutions
Our stakeholdersInstitutions
  • As subscribers, institutions can collaborate with us in many different ways.
  • We provide tools, practical solutions and research evidence to help you improve your students’ learning experience.
  • Can join different network groups to exchange practices and ideas.
  • Can have institutional staff development programmes accredited by the Academy.
  • We have a direct liaison scheme with institutions to identify priorities, needs and innovative practice.
institutions examples of engagement
Institutions – examples of engagement
  • Network of deputy and Pro-vice-Chancellors and Vice-Principals
  • Change Academy
  • Support for specific groups (ie. External Examiners, PDP, e-Learning and employability)
  • Research literature reviews and surveys
  • Continuing professional development accreditation scheme and support
  • Programmes of activity on broad themes identified by institutions
individual staff
Individual staff

Individuals have access to advice, support, networking opportunities, professional recognition and development.

individual staff examples of engagement
Individual staff – examples of engagement
  • The Academy’s Subject Network
  • The register of accredited practitioners
  • Special interest groups and networks
  • National standards framework
  • Working toward professional transferability across the different educational sectors (e.g. HE in FE)
  • National Teaching Fellowship Scheme
disciplines and subjects
Disciplines and subjects

Practitioners, subject departments and discipline communities are supported through the 24 Subject Centres as well as Academy York.

disciplines and subjects examples of engagement
Disciplines and subjects – examples of engagement
  • Subject-specific information and resources (databases, knowledge banks, case studies, question banks, journals and guides)
  • Events, departmental workshops, teaching and student awards
  • Brokerage and collaboration activities include mini-project funding, establishing partnerships and special interest groups
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations address mutual concerns
  • Subject specific support for assessment, e-Learning, employability and enterprise
  • Help subject communities respond to the challenges posed by emerging policy issues
governments and funding bodies
Governments and funding bodies

Governments and funding bodies can draw on our expertise to assist with the development and implementation of policy that influenced the student learning experience

governments and funding bodies examples of engagement
Governments and funding bodies – examples of engagement
  • Engaging with policy issues such as e-Learning (e.g. HEFCE 10 yr e-Learning strategy), widening participation, the implications of competition and the global market, and the changing expectations of industry and the professions
  • Representation in the main and sub-panels for the 2008 RAE
  • Providing a voice for the sector.
  • Everything we do is aimed at improving the student learning experience.
  • This focus leads us to work on all aspects of the student learning lifecycle – including strategies for retention, the effective uses of e-learning, the development of enterprise capabilities and support for excellent research training environments
organisations and associations
Organisations and associations

Professional associations and bodies work closely with us to ensure we do not duplicate efforts but collaborate to increase efficacy and impact

organisations and professional bodies examples of engagement
Organisations and professional bodies – examples of engagement
  • Collaborative activities such as joint conferences and events
  • Corporate agreements and Memoranda of Understanding with key national bodies, e.g. JISC
  • Building capacity for evidence-informed activities
  • Subject Centres work closely with subject associations and professional bodies
  • Collaborative agreements for practitioner accreditation
he institutions
HE institutions
  • What are their key issues and core areas/themes requiring advice/support?
    • Initial feedback from institutional visits by Academy senior advisors (50% to date)
    • Feedback from PVC network and SIGs
    • Feedback from subject centres
  • A demand-driven approach
what are the key issues areas
What are the key issues/areas?
  • Feedback from institutional visits, sector consultations and internal discussions identify 4 broad themes:
    • Student learning experience – what is good learning (evidence), student satisfaction vs good learning, what is student centred learning etc
    • Curriculum Design – employability, wbl/wrl, flexible delivery (inc. e-Learning), internationalisation, sustainability, diversity, WP, innovation & creativity etc
    • Assessment – feedback to students (what and how), plagiarism, eAssessment, innovation (are we over assessing?), i.e. assessment for learning and of learning issues.
    • Research & teaching nexus – what does this mean?, strengthening relationship, how can we encourage this?, pedR capacity building.

(e)Learning in UK Higher Education

Where are we now?

- Reality check -

e learning where are we now
e-Learning - where are we now?
  • A changing HE landscape - more institutional autonomy, student fees, regional agendas/issues etc
  • We need to step back from e-Learning - toreflect, review and look at this within an overallLearning, Teaching and Assessment context . . .
  • . . . . and then see where e-Learning fits into and can support all of this.

Academy support for e-Learning in HE

  • Policy
    • HEFCE’s 10 yr e-Learning strategy, e.g. eChina, research
    • Academy & JISC named as lead partners
  • Partnerships
    • JISC
  • Institutions
    • Benchmarking/Pathfinder
  • Subject Centres
    • Support for practitioners
    • Disciplines - Distributed e-Learning Programme
  • Research
    • Focus on student learning experience within institution
    • Recent research call
e learning is a major driver for achieving transformation
e-Learning is a major driver for achieving ‘transformation’
  • e-Learning identified by institutions as a key area of interest
  • Policy and Funding
    • DfES e-Strategy: Vision for technology – ‘each individual maximises their potential through the personalisation of their learning and development’.
    • HEFCE 10 yr e-Learning Strategy: ‘Our goal is to help the sector use new technology as effectively as they can, so that it becomes a 'normal' or embedded part of their activities’.

The early days of e-learning . . . a comparison?

  • In the early days the design of railway coaches was based on stage-coach practice, and evolved slowly from there:
    • coaches were not designed with corridors to allow passengers to walk along the carriage and from one carriage to the next - that would take up valuable seating space;
    • passengers were expected to stay in their place for the entire journey;
    • if you wanted a meal on the train you had to take it with you;
    • toilet facilities were not normally available even on the longest routes!
the state of e learning in uk he
The state of e-learning in UK HE
  • What is e-Learning?
    • Not a single entity
    • A development of educational processes driven by possibilities enabled by new technology
    • Perceived benefits, DfES, SHEFC, HEFCE e-learning strategies – ‘embedding’, ‘transformation’
where are we 1
Where are we (1)?
  • ICT as a communication tool is widely used by students and staff.
  • Tools such as the WWW and email are becoming common practice.
  • Numerous examples/case studies of staff using the WWW in their teaching to provide additional resources and support for their students.
where are we 2
Where are we (2)?
  • Institutional Learning and Teaching strategies increasingly make references to their chosen VLE (and MLE as the institutional VLE becomes more embedded)
  • However, the use of ICT to deliver substantial proportions of course materials and to provide an integrated approach to student-teacher and student-student interactions is much less widely established.
why isn t it happening some possible reasons
Why isn’t it happening – some possible reasons?
  • Management commitment and organisational structure – a lack of understanding?
  • Willingness and ability to invest (what are the actual benefits – can we cost them? Do we have a choice?)
  • Competing resources – staff time and rewards (2008 RAE!)
  • Lack of skills in the emerging area of learning technology (those that can do – if they can find the time
  • Reward and recognition – what is in it for me?
  • Lack of examples of appropriate (transferable) models for using e-learning to improve campus-based learning
  • Lack of affordable, reliable tools and technical infrastructure within universities; and
  • Pedagogic effectiveness of e-learning? – uncertainty?
So how do we bring about change?

Lets step back a bit . . .

enhancing the sle student learning experience
Enhancing the SLE(student learning experience)
  • Conceptualising the SLE
  • Where do we want to go (post 2009)?
  • What part should e-Learning play in all of this?
  • How do we take this forward?
conceptualising the sle
Conceptualising the SLE
  • What is a good student learning experience?
  • What is the quality of today’s student experience . . . . . and how is it likely to change?
  • Experience . . . . or satisfaction?
academy support for e learning 1
Academy support for e-Learning (1)

Distributed e-Learning Programme

  • JISC funded
  • Involves all 24 Subject Centres
  • Round one completed (£1.3m), Round two to start (£1.45m) over 2 yrs
    • share and reuse – learning objects etc
    • e-Portfolios
    • embedding tools and resources
    • embedding JISC digitisation programme
academy support for e learning 2
Academy support for e-Learning (2)


  • Focus on HE student learning experience (institutional)
  • Complements other research funding opportunities, e.g. ESRC’s TLRP call
    • technology enhanced learning is now the term
    • £6M to support both a small number (3-6 projects)
    • Broad themes - interdisciplinary, lifelong learning, personalised learning etc
academy support for e learning 3
Academy support for e-Learning (3)

Recent Academy research call

  • Theme A - Student learning experience
    • student perceptions, role of tutor, informal learning e.g. blogs, disciplinary differences, e-Assessment
  • Theme B - The e-Learning environment
    • institutional support, staff development, QA processes, collaborative learning, blended learning
  • £200,000 total funding available
  • 5 projects max to be funded
  • 123 expressions of interest received
  • 8 invited to submit full proposals
academy support for e learning 4
Academy support for e-Learning (4)
  • Benchmarking Exercise
  • and Pathfinder Programme
  • HEFCE consultation with sector - feedback asked for benchmarking
  • First 3 yrs experiences to inform future funding opportunities
  • £8m allocated (remainder of UKeU funds), with £6m distributed to institutions for the Pathfinder (max 35)
  • Jointly managed by JISC & Academy, led by the Academy

Benchmarking and Pathfinder

Route map


The story so far

Project plan (macro)

Outcomes (expected & possible)


why benchmarking
Why benchmarking?
  • A sector request via HEFCE e-learning strategy feedback
  • Seeks answers to question of where we are with our embedding of e-learning? Where are we in comparison to others we think have a similar profile to us? What’s the picture sector-wide?
what s pathfinder
What’s Pathfinder?
  • Moving beyond innovation. Where do we need to be? – informed by Benchmarking findings?
  • How do we get there?
  • What resources and development do we need?
  • How do we overcome the challenges which arise?
  • How do we know we’ve got there?
  • How do we disseminate the lessons?
pathfinder programme
Pathfinder Programme
  • £6 million available to institutions for Phase 1 Pathfinder until 2008 (matched funding required)
  • Self-organizing institutional groupings (max 35 institutions – including the HEFCE funded benchmarking pilots - in this round)
  • Phased (a Pilot and a Phase 1 in this funding round)
chronology as of jan 2006
Chronology (as of Jan 2006)
  • Announced at ALT-C (5-8 Sep 2005)
  • EOI call (open 5 Oct 2005 close 30 Nov 2005)
  • Consultants ITT call (open 26 Oct 2005 close 24 Nov 2005)
  • Town Meeting/Workshop (York, 9 Nov 2005)
  • Revised original project plan (Nov 2005)
  • Consultants selected (12 December 2005)
  • Revision accepted by HEFCE (Dec 2005)
  • Selected and notified pilot institutions (16 Dec 2005)
  • Launch meeting for pilot institutions (Royal Society, 20 Jan 2006)
  • 23 consultants responded to the ITT to support the benchmarking exercise
  • 3 were invited to join the pilot phase
  • 56 institutions expressed an interest in participating in the pilot or phase 1 of the benchmarking exercise.
  • 12 were invited to join the pilot phase
  • 44 await phase 1

Benchmarking URL

pilot institutions and consultants
Pilot institutions and consultants

ACU/OBHE Team (Svava Bjarnason, John Fielden, Allan Schofield)

  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Coventry University with Warwickshire College
  • The Institute of Education
  • The University of Warwick

Professor Paul Bacsich

  • The University of Leicester
  • The University of Manchester *
  • The University of Staffordshire
  • The University of Chester

Professor Peter Chatterton

  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Hertfordshire
  • The University of Strathclyde * (also member of the Scottish Benchmarking ‘club’)
  • The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff *
who else is involved48
Who else is involved?


Derek Morrison

Liz Pearce: Projects Co-ordinator

Eddie Gulc: Senior Adviser (e-Learning)

Academy: Research and Evaluation Directorate

Dr Nick Hammond – Senior Adviser (Research)

Professor Terry Mayes

JISC: e-Learning Programme

Sarah Davies: Programme Manager

Craig Wentworth: Development Director (User Environments)

expected outcomes 1
Expected outcomes - 1
  • The results will inform later phases of e-Learning benchmarking for the sector

Although the benchmarking pilot is not a research project the sector will, nevertheless, expect us to come up with some concrete recommendations, based on institutional experiences and outcomes, from taking part in the various approaches to benchmarking.

Each institution's benchmarking experiences 'story' is, therefore, as important as any benchmarking quantitative and qualitative data that is gathered.

expected outcomes 2
Expected outcomes - 2
  • The results will inform later phases of e-Learning benchmarking for the sector
  • Participating institutions will have gained an insight into where they are with regard to e-learning and be able to plan more effectively and efficiently where they wish to be.
  • Institutions in the pilot will benefit from knowledge of the work of other participants.
  • Informed by the benchmarking activity, institutions will be prepared, and able, to submit a proposal to participate in the Pathfinder Programme.
  • Institutions will think ‘beyond the VLE’, beyond innovation, and take an holistic view.
evaluation of the pilot
Evaluation of the Pilot?

Dr Nick Hammond

Professor Terry Mayes

The message, so far, is that the main priority is the institutions want to get a handle on their own e-learning activity before worrying about comparisons with others.

Paucity of data is, for some institutions, the major challenge

jisc and the academy
JISC and the Academy
  • JISC and the Academy bring a wealth of complementary expertise and service:
    • JISC – development programmes, tools, resources, content, repositories, research etc
    • JISC - advisory services
    • Academy – pedagogy, overarching L&T context, resources, professional development, research, staff development focus etc
    • Academy – discipline focus through subject centre network

engagement with institutions at all levels i.e. individuals, discipline groups, staff & educational developers, senior managers (PVCs etc) . . . . . . . i.e. horizontal integration


a key challenge for jisc and the academy
A key challenge for JISC and the Academy
  • JISC and the Academy bring a wealth of complementary expertise and service:
    • JISC – development programmes, tools, resources, content, repositories, research etc
    • JISC - advisory services
    • Academy – pedagogy, overarching L&T context, resources, professional development, research, staff development focus etc
    • Academy – discipline focus through subject centre network

Vertical Integration

jisc and academy building on success
JISC and Academy: Building on success
  • Joint activities/programmes
    • DeL – phase one and two
    • Benchmarking
    • Pathfinder
    • Joint Management Board (established March 2005)
    • Next steps . . ‘joining-up’
current jisc academy e learning support model
Current JISC/Academy e-learning support model




Subject Centres

Advisory and Content Services

Learning and teaching practice and research developments


Higher Education Academy


adapted jisc academy e learning support model incorporating brokerage function
Adapted JISC/Academy e-learning support model incorporating brokerage function

Aim: to establish a seamless brokerage function both within and between our respective organisations to support the HE sector in a coherent and meaningful way.



PVC network & e-learning SIG


Advisory and Content Services

Subject Centres

Learning and teaching practice and research developments


Higher Education Academy


reality check
Reality Check . . .
  • Most HEIs have purchased or developed a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
  • HEIs are integrating this into other systems, e.g. student records – a Managed Learning Environment
  • New and innovative learning tools are being developed
  • So, e-Learning is becoming ‘embedded’ and transformation is taking place? Post 2009:
    • should we carry on as we are doing now (Academy, JISC etc)?
    • can we be sure the student learning experience will be ‘transformed’?
    • is there evidence of a shift in teaching methods?
    • can we do more to support/speed up this change process?
    • what else is needed?