Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 4 April 2006   Thursday, April 27, 2006

ISSN 1748-3603

Cover Page »
Feature article
The changing role of Becta
Case studies
Design for multimedia mLearning
Virtual Clinics: online places for problem-based learning
Coaching students for success
Assistive technology: developing a loans scheme for all
Using a Virtual Learning Environment to motivate learners
Project updates
Designing Spaces for Effective Learning
Conference reviews
International workshop on wireless and mobile technologies in education
ALT news
Director's report
Executive Secretary's report
Subscribe / Remove
Privacy policy

ALT Website

ALT-N online
Past Issues
Issue 3, January 2006
January 30, 2006
Issue 2
October 24, 2005
Issue 1
August 5, 2005
The changing role of Becta
by Christine Vincent

The last twelve months has been an extremely exciting and challenging time for Becta, moving from being a government agency that has supported the development and delivery of ICT and e-learning for schools and the learning and skills sector, to an agency that directly supports government in the leadership and co-ordination of the e-strategy “Harnessing Technology”. The original “Harnessing Technology” policy, published in 2005, is the foundation for the priorities of the DfES Technology Group. The priorities have been clustered into 4 main themes:
  • e-maturity: looking at how education as a whole ransforms itself to be ready for systemic change which will include the maturity of the institution, workforce and the learner.
  • Strategic technologies: ensuring that sound, robust and value for money foundations are in place that are sustainable for ICT and e-learning.
  • Personalised content: developing high quality tools, applications, systems and content designed around learning and teaching practices and environments that enable individual choice.
  • Knowledge architecture: articulating a clear roadmap for the future direction of information, data and knowledge that enable transactions across and between education systems that will enable an individual lifelong learning plan to be established.
The vision of the e-strategy is to enable ”each individual to maximise their potential through the personalisation of their learning and development”.

Becta will work with the DfES Transformation Directorate to lead the co-ordination, evidential base, strategic advice and direction and where appropriate the strategic delivery of the strategy. The strategic delivery and implementation of the strategy will be led by institutions, partners, industry and key agencies. Becta is working with all sectors to establish the right partnerships and relationships that will enable the delivery of the 4 themes. We are already working in partnership with JISC to ensure that co-ordination is established across the whole education sector and we are establishing relationships with children’s services which is the other key component of DfES.

HEFCE already has an e-strategy that maps extremely well onto the 4 themes of the e-strategy and this is really the exciting part of the ‘joined up’ system-wide thinking that is starting to emerge. Examples of where Becta and JISC have brought together changes include the use of JANET as the network backbone for schools, FE, ACL and HE. We are working with JISC on taking the work established in HE for a ‘single sign on’ to a range of institution online systems and services for the learner to create through ‘Shibboleth’ a ‘single sign on’ process for the whole education sector. We are also working closely on e-assessment, e-portfolios, authentication, procurement and interoperability standards for content and data.

Becta's inclusion team works closely with Techdis to review the provision of assistive technology across the system. There are significant inconsistencies between each stage of education which often leads those who need assistive technology to find themselves without the support which is so vital. By drawing the key partners across all phases we will address these inconsistencies so that transition can be smooth and transparent.

What differences will individual members of ALT in England see in how the work of Becta will help them on a day-to-day basis? As a practitioner, often faced with the challenges of limited resources, and technical and pedagogic support, government policy can often seem abstract and something ‘in the future’. However, the basis of the e-strategy is to ensure that this is not the case and that the priorities of the 4 main themes directly benefit the learner. To do this, we must support the development of a workforce that feels confident that they have the right tools, resources, environments, capacity and capability to exploit all the potential that new and existing technologies will bring. We will work with the Training and Development Agency, LifeLong Learning UK, Quality Improvement Agency, Learning and Skills Council, and the Higher Education Academy on this, in part by supporting the development of their quality frameworks so as to allow institutions and the workforce to see where they are in terms of their own progress, set against the framework provided by a national e-strategy.

Each theme of the e-strategy has a series of outcomes which are being developed into key messages for a range of audiences. There will be many opportunities for ALT to be involved in consultation processes as we intend to work with partners to disseminate and collect information through your communication channels rather than Becta creating new ones.

These changes will mean that Becta’s role working directly with practitioners will change. We have already moved away from direct delivery of programmes to the sector (such as the ILT champions and the Ferl Practitioners programmes). This work is now being undertaken by LSDA (soon to be replaced by the Learning and Skills Network and the Quality Improvement Agency) and the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE). We have successfully established Learning and Skills Web and we are in discussion with QIA to look at how this ICT and e-learning oriented online service to practitioners can be incorporated into their development of a broader learning oriented national service for practitioners. In making these changes it is hoped that it will become clearer to all involved which agency is taking a lead in the transformation of ICT and e-learning.

Finally, this year will also see the establishment of a national e-strategy practitioner conference which will replace the post-16 ICT and e-learning practitioner conference. ALT and its individual and organisational members’ support for and involvement in this conference will be invaluable in ensuring representation from colleges and Higher Education in the area of learning technologies and research and evidence.

Christine Vincent
Director of Learning and Teaching, Becta
Millburn Hill Road, Science Park
Coventry CV4 7JJ, UK

Printer Friendly Version »
Created with Newsweaver