Collaborate to Compete: Online Learning Taskforce

Got an email this morning that started with ‘online learning needs a strategy, says new report’. it went on to assert that ‘universities and colleges need to make online learning a central part of their strategies if they are to stay competitive globally’.

I wasn’t immediately enthused as I have become ever more skeptical about the need for yet another ‘strategy’ to tell us what we already know about learning and technology or the changing global context of higher education. However Collaborate to Compete surprised me with 6 concise, clear laudable and I think achievable recommendations:

  1. Technology needs to enhance student choice and meet or exceed learners expectations.
  2. Investment is needed to facilitate the development and building of consortia to achieve scale and brand in online learning.
  3. More and better market intelligence about international demand and competition is required
  4. Institutions need to take a strategic approach to realigning structures and processes in order to embed online learning.
  5. Training and development should be realigned to enable the academic community to play a leading role in online learning.
  6. Investment is needed for the development and exploitation of open educational resources to enhance efficiency and quality.

So in summary students deserve better; universities need to start working together; resourcing online learning needs to be a strategic priority not an afterthought; academics need to be centrally involved in the design of online learning (working closely with IT and institutional management); and not before time universities need to share and further develop the wonderful digital content that has been created with public funds but gets locked away from students at other institutions.

Can’t really argue with any of that. The report has been commisioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England but its recommendations should be taken forward across the UK. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Scottish Funding Council responds. I think it should accept all of the recommendations and then focus on out how best to fund and take them forward in Scotland.

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