Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)
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Opening up resources for learning

Students, academics and higher education institutions are to benefit from the combined experience and knowledge of educators throughout the country. An innovative project announced yesterday will significantly increase access to educational resources across the higher education sector.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced an initial £5.7 million of funding for pilot projects that will open up existing high-quality education resources from higher education institutions to the world.

The Higher Education Academy and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) will work in partnership to deliver the 12-month pilot projects. These will run at institutional, subject and individual level along with accompanying support services. The projects will be formally launched in April 2009.

Dr John Selby, Director of Education and Participation at HEFCE, said, 'Significant investment has already been made in making educational resources widely available by digitising collections of materials and enabling people to reuse and adapt existing content to support teaching and learning.

'This new initiative will test whether this can be done much more generally across higher education. If the pilots are successful, we will have demonstrated that we could significantly expand the open availability and use of free, high quality online educational content in the UK and around the world. This will give further evidence of the high quality of UK education and make it more widely accessible.'

Open educational resources could include full courses, course materials, complete modules, notes, videos, assessments, tests, simulations, worked examples, software, and any other tools or materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge. These resources will be released under an intellectual property license that permits open use and adaptation.

As a result of this agreement institutions will be encouraged to share and reuse learning content - enhancing productivity for educators and students. Ultimately we hope that learning materials and resources will be shared universally - locally, nationally and globally, to support learning.

Prospective students from across the world will benefit as they will be able to view content produced by an institution prior to applying to study there, enabling them to make application decisions supported by a genuine understanding of the high quality of learning materials available to them.

Dr Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary at JISC said, 'This is the first time that a project of this nature will have been undertaken on this scale, collaboratively across an entire national educational sector. We want this 12-month pilot to be a success to enable the education community to benefit from world class e-learning resources.'

David Sadler, Higher Education Academy Director of Networks said, 'A positive student experience depends on having access to resources. Students and academics will benefit from this move to make more content available. The Higher Education Academy will be taking the lead on subject-based pilots, with consortia of departments, subject associations, professional or statutory bodies being led by our relevant Subject Centres.'

Note

The project will be managed by the HEA and JISC. Invitations to tender will be sent out in December 2008 from both HEA and JISC.

Philip Walker

Corporate Communications

Higher Education Funding Council for England, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QD tel 0117 931 7363 http://www.hefce.ac.uk/

 

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