Engaging with users and learners
by Lawrie Phipps and Lisa Gray
£81 million of funding is available to the academic community in the United Kingdom over the next three years to support higher and further education research into Information Communication Technologies (ICT) through the JISC Capital Programme. Six programmes building on existing activities and promoting innovation have been launched in the areas of network infrastructure (SuperJANET 5), digitisation, digital repositories and preservation, e-Infrastructure, e-Learning and user environments. In this article Lawrie Phipps and Lisa Gray provide details about two of these programmes. Further information about all programmes can be found on the JISC website: www.jisc.ac.uk/capital.html.
Engaging with users
The User Environments Programme seeks to develop and enhance both technology and practice, with a remit to work across all of the activities within the JISC community and across the range of institutional activities including teaching, research and administration.
Developments in practice will be based on the experiences of stakeholders from across the sector to identify common requirements and processes that support education and research activities. Working with existing communities, from those involved in technology and staff development to users and vendors, the programme will ensure broad participation and reflect on new approaches, such as the Web 2.0 movement. Funding will be available to ensure that new and emerging technologies and practices can be integrated into the Programme’s work plan throughout the life of any funded project, allowing project teams to maintain a rolling focus based on the needs of their users.
Developments in technology will be grounded in service-oriented approaches: supporting the e-Framework and the needs of real end-users by providing the inspiration to develop practice and influence cultural change through wider community dissemination and evaluation. Projects funded will be expected to work with a broad range of the existing JISC services and projects and also, where appropriate, through the use of exposed application programming interfaces (APIs).
There are two strands to the Programme:
In recognition of the holistic nature of the programme, the JISC is investing in community development activities by providing a series of opportunities for developers and users to come together. The outcomes of these events are expected to include:
- Next-generation Technology and Practice will make best use of emergent technologies in teaching and research and provide the opportunity for successful projects to apply them to institutional contexts;
- Personal e-Administration which will support teachers and researchers to explore the implications of new and emerging technologies. In this strand the programme will be looking for projects that can ease administrative and management overheads in learning, teaching and research whilst considering wider institutional administrative technologies and processes.
Calls for the User Environments programme will be released in September 2006 and April 2007. For further information, visit: www.jisc.ac.uk/capital_user.html.
- the formation of user groups for piloting activities;
- the development of consortia who may be interested in bidding for projects;
- the creation of a JISC Ideas Bank which will provide a public space both for developers to identify the wants and needs of users and for users to suggest technology-based ideas or developments that would enhance their practice.
e-Learning: higher education in further education projects
The JISC is currently planning a suite of projects that aims to support the provision of higher education (HE) in further education (FE). These projects will be part of a wider programme of activity under the JISC e-Learning Programme that seeks to explore practical approaches to supporting the uptake of e-learning technology to support lifelong learning. Funds of up to £1 million (profiled over two years) are available within the capital programme for these activities.
The JISC will fund up to 20 projects based in FE colleges providing HE courses that aim to enhance the learners’ experience through supporting the college to pilot an e-learning technology with students. These technologies may come from areas including e-assessment, e-portfolio, e-administration and tools to support collaborative working and personalised learning experiences. The emphasis will be on funding projects that take an existing technology and trial its use in practice with students.
The call for these projects will be in September 2006. Proposals will be led by a FE college in England teaching HE to more than 400 full-time equivalent students or a HE institution in Wales in collaboration with FE partners. Further information about the proposed programme and eligibility for bidding is available at: www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/programmes/he-in-fe.
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