A revolutionary scheme to help lecturers and managers share ideas at the click of a mouse is to be launched for colleges in England following successful trials in Northern Ireland.
The website allows users to share good teaching and management techniques, which colleges post on the site for wider distribution. Users will be asked to evaluate and critically appraise what is on offer.
The site is the brainchild of Justin Edwards, senior development adviser at the Belfast Learning and Skills Development Agency.
A pilot project will be unveiled at the first annual conference of the Quality Improvement Agency in Birmingham next week. Andrew Thomson, chief executive of the QIA, said the scheme would take a radical approach. He said: "It leaves quality control over the resources in the hands of the lecturers and managers, not inspectors and funding chiefs. People want to do a better job but finding time to improve and find the right material is another matter."
The web scheme, called the Excellence Gateway, is modelled on the TLC - teaching and learning communities - in Northern Ireland. When launched in spring last year, more than 100 users posted materials on the TLC site within an hour of going live. Resources get star ratings - which take account of peer reviews and their popularity. "If the QIA is to succeed, it has to be democratic in its approach," Mr Thomson said. "If you are going to make organisations work, it has to be done by the people for the people - not to the people."
The site will also have a "knowledge base" of best practice case studies from organisations such as Ofsted, the Adult Learning Inspectorate and the Learning and Skills Network. It will also give advice on the implications of government policy reforms.
"What people need is a possible solution to their teaching or management problems at the push of a button that does not then list three million answers, which is what they get from too many search systems," he said.
Barry Kruger, head of knowledge and intelligence at the QIA, said: "If you are a manager and want to find an equal opportunities training supplier, you should be able to go straight to the directory."
The QIA will call for volunteers for an advisory panel at the conference.
The panel will look to pilot the site from September and to extend it nationwide next April.