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Funding councils put e-learning initiatives in the incubator

Six major e-learning projects have been allocated pound;6 million by the Scottish Funding Councils for Further and Higher Education (SFC). The FE and HE projects include the development of materials so that Higher National (HN), modern apprenticeship and degree courses can be delivered in new ways.

The programmes are also intended to develop new approaches to assessment in colleges and universities, as well as encourage closer collaboration to make it easier for students transferring between sectors.

The projects will be run by several FE colleges and higher education institutions (HEIs) until the summer of 2007. They will test a key conclusion of the funding councils' joint e-learning report: that e-learning can produce efficiency gains for institutions by replacing existing processes.

Roger McClure, the councils' chief executive, said: "The business case for e-learning must be about achieving improvements in quality, while delivering real efficiency gains for institutions. I am confident that this programme will make a significant contribution to the development of approaches to learning across the UK.

"I am also delighted that the projects include substantial collaboration between FE colleges and HEIs in Scotland, and that several of the projects explicitly aim to make the process of transition between the sectors easier for learners."

The projects will be managed by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). They are:

* e-construction: pound;900,000 to Moray College (with Glasgow Metropolitan, North Highland, Inverness and Aberdeen colleges, the Construction Industry Training Board, Learndirect Scotland and Historic Scotland).

This project aims to change the experience of modern apprenticeships in construction and provide more flexibility in placements.

* collaborative transformation of course delivery: pound;1 million to Reid Kerr College (with Cardonald, Coatbridge, Dundee and Langside colleges, Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, the Colleges' Open Learning Exchange Group and the JISC regional support centre).

The consortium of colleges will collaborate in developing approaches to course redesign and re-engineering. The model will be tested in four of the most common HN courses: business, social care, social science, and administration and IT.

* re-engineering assessment practices in Scottish higher education: pound;1 million to Strathclyde University (with Glasgow Caledonian and Glasgow universities).

The project will pilot improved models of assessment (supported by technology) at the three universities. The focus will be on large enrolment first-year classes, with more than 3,500 learners involved.

* collaborative e-learning in the life sciences: pound;1.2 million to Dundee University (with Napier University, Falkirk College, the Interactive University and the Scottish Qualifications Authority).

This project will develop core curricula for degree and HN programmes in life sciences. Interactive materials will be developed for the key parts of each course, along with case studies, assignments and formative assessments.

* transforming and enhancing the student experience through e-pedagogy: Pounds 1 million to Napier University (with Lauder and Telford colleges).

The three institutions will collaborate to apply and evaluate new design models and align learning and teaching practices used in FE and HE to ease transition for learners.

* individualised support for learning through e-portfolios: pound;700,000 to Paisley University (with the University of Abertay Dundee, Queen Margaret University College and Angus, Ayr, Bell, Dumfries and Galloway, Glenrothes, Fife, James Watt and Motherwell colleges).

An e-portfolio is a tool to support personal development planning, comprising an electronic archive, and online tools for interactive learning and feedback. It can also be used to construct CVs.

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