Changing the Learning Landscape at Reading

Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell has been hosting his fourth series of talks to staff here at Reading, inviting one of the University’s senior managers to provide a short update on their area of responsibility at each event following his own overview of University-wide issues and developments.

Last week, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching & Learning Gavin Brooks took his turn to speak about ‘Teaching and Learning at Reading: responding to the rapidly changing landscape of HE’.

It was heartening to hear that there is genuine commitment now from senior management at Reading to invest in technology-enhanced learning. We have never had a formal University strategy for TEL and digital literacies before – but things are about to change.

For the first time ever, the University Learning & Teaching Strategy makes explicit mention of TEL, stating that

‘We will continue to encourage inspiring and innovative approaches to teaching and learning that capitalise on employing methods of learning that are effective and intuitive to students. In particular, we will develop and incorporate evolving technology-enhanced learning methods, where appropriate, in our programmes to ensure that students and staff have access to the best learning environment possible.’

Gavin Brooks himself is chairing our newly-formed TEL Strategy Group, with the aim to develop a digital strategy encompassing digital learning, infrastructure development, and marketing and communication.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching & Learning identified four immediate priorities:

  • Campus-wide, broadband width Wi-Fi
  • Audio/video lecture capture
  • Staff training and development
  • Design briefs for refurbishment and new build

Gavin is co-ordinating an application to bid for funding from the ‘Changing the Learning Landscape’ programme, a partnership between the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), the Higher Education Academy (HEA), JISC, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, funded by Hefce.

Changing the Learning Landscape is about enabling institutions to bring about change in their strategic approaches to technology in Teaching & Learning by offering

  • Intensive programme for leaders
  • Consultancy expertise to support institutional teams
  • Continuing Professional Development for academics and educational developers.

Furthermore, the University of Reading has signed a memorandum of understanding with Futurelearn, the company that will bring together a range of MOOCs – free, open online courses – from leading UK Higher Education institutions. The first Futurelearn courses will be launched in 2013, with a view to launching the first Reading MOOC in the Autumn.

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