Colleges urged to get caught up in the Web of collaboration

14th September 2001 at 01:00
MANY colleges are failing to exploit new opportunities with computers because they leave the work to isolated pockets of enthusiasts, leading experts in the field have warned.

Too few colleges look to develop public-private partnerships or collaborate adequately with neighbouring schools and colleges.

Plans to improve collaboration will be debated at this year's annual conference of the National Information and Learning Technologies Association (NILTA) in Blackpool next month. In its 13-year history the conference has become the key event for experts and newcomers to information learning technologies The conference comes after a year of substantial investment in ILT. pound;74 million was pumped into the National Learning Network for further education in January and all colleges were linked up to SuperJanet - the high-speed computer network linking higher education institutions. A British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) report in the spring estimated that colleges spent a total of pound;100m a year on ILT.

But the report also warned that few colleges had incorporated ILT into their strategic plans. Nor had many reached the Government target of one computer for every five full-time-equivalent students.

Chris West, managing director of the ILT development company, Granada Learning Professional Development, and a former college vice principal, is one of more than 20 speakers at the conference. He said: "There are some tremendous collaborative developments, like the Digital Academy created by Guildford College and Reading College of Technology. But these pockets of good practice need to be disseminated more widely."

The best work was done where commercial know-how was combined with knowledge of the curriculum in colleges, he said.

The imperative to collaborate was greater than ever with the introduction of compulsory teacher training for new FE lecturers this term, he said. "In Granada, we are collaborating to put teacher training and lecturer training online."

For more information on the conference, contact NILTA on 0113 258 3029 or visit www.nilta.org.uk

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