Scotland's further education colleges are working together to produce online learning materials for use across the sector.
The College Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG) is a national consortium of colleges that started with a few open learning enthusiasts about eight years ago, says Iain Ovens, principal of Dundee College and chair of COLEG. "These enthusiasts wanted to exchange ideas and products to arrange a way of pooling resources. In a couple of years it was clear they had the potential to produce the entire Higher National Certificate course materials."
The principle on which the group co-operated was that if you contributed three or four units, you could have access to the whole catalogue of materials by other colleges.
COLEG has now formed a company and operates with all the Scottish FE colleges except a couple of highly specialised ones, and its packages have moved from paper to CD.
The Scottish Further Education Funding Council has commissioned COLEG to develop three online courses, ata cost of pound;180,000, which will be made available right across the FE network. "It's a big move in terms of COLEG," says Ovens, explaining that it has allowed project teams to be set up, like the one at Dundee's own New Media Unit.
The project takes off this month and will help to identify how things might be taken forward in future. Colleges will be able to use the materials for free, download them and, if necessary, adapt them to their own courses.
"These three are very much testing the water," says Ovens. "Our ambition is that the expertise developed in teams would be shared and lead to the growth of more centres for development of products and spread the word on online learning.
"I think COLEG is unique, in that it embraces virtually all the colleges and has set itself the task of addressing the whole breadth of the Scottish FE curriculum. It will identify particular parts of the curriculum that lend themselves to online learning, or parts where no materials are coming from other sources."