The University and distance learning

The University offers both on-campus and distance-learning (DL) programmes (Hope 2006). It is a ‘mega’ DL provider with 7200 DL students (Arneberg et al, 2007,p86). Most are studying for work-related or work-based Masters’ degrees. UoL is expanding the numbers and diversity of its DL programmes and increasing the provision of work-based learning in a variety of professional learning and development contexts (Leitch, 2007; DIUS, 2008, Brown et al, 2008; UoL, 2008).

New work-based learning processes

Based upon a ‘design once, delivery many times’ philosophy, the new work-based learning processes will be increasingly transparent, scalable, reliable and open to institutional QA processes. Work-based courses at UoL need to provide more effective delivery based on student-centred pedagogies and technologies, and utilise approaches that allow multiple delivery methods. These changes will facilitate the re-use, re-versioning and re-configuring of course delivery to meet employers' needs and those of professional recognition and accreditation bodies (JISC, 2008).

These imperatives are supported by new employability and DL strategies approved in July 2008, now moving into practical development and implementation underpinned by strategies for Learning and Teaching, Pedagogical Innovation, E-learning and Information Technology (IT). The Distance Learning Integrated Systems Support (DiLISS) project is centralising student administration, and the time is ripe for a more consistent approach in all phases of work-based learning curriculum. The vision is informed by a strategic and evaluative approach to e-learning benchmarking and pathfinding (supported by HE Academy see and the key challenges and solutions that emerged. The benchmarking exercises have provided snap shots and the start of trend analysis (Salmon et al in press, Bacsich, 2005, 2008)


Arneberg ,P, Guardia, L, Keegan, D, Lossenenko, J, Mazar, H, Michels, P. F., Paulsen, M F, Rekkedal, T, Sangra, A, Toska, J. A., Zarka, D. (2007) The Provision of e-Learning in the European Union: the Megatrends Project, NKI Publishing House. At:, accessed 16th July 2008.

Bacsich P. (2005), Evaluating Impact of e-Learning: Benchmarking. Invited presentation and paper to the European Union's E-Learning Europe conference, May 2005, At:, accessed 16th July 2008.

Bacish P. (2008) Higher Education Academy/JISC E-learning Benchmarking Phase 2 Overview Report by the BELA team. At:, accessed 16th July 2008.

Brown, N., Bekhradnia, B., Boorman, S., Brickwood, A., Clark, T. and Ramsden, B. 2008) The future shape and size of the higher education sector: threats and opportunities. July. Accessed 29th July 2008.

Hope A. (2006) Factors for Success in Dual Mode Institutions. Vancouver, Commonwealth of Learning, Available at:, accessed 16th July 2008.

JISC, (Infonet) (2008) Exploring Tangible Benefits of E-learning. Available at: and briefing at, accessed 29th July 2008

Leitch S. (2007) Review of Skills. Available at: accessed 16th July 2008.

Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: the Key to Active Online Learning. London and New York, Routledge.

Salmon, G. and Edirisingha, P., (eds). (2008) Podcasting for Learning in Universities. Maidenhead, Open University Press/SRHE.

Salmon, G.; Jones, S.; Armellini, A. (2008) Building institutional capability in e-learning design. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, Vol 16 (2) pp. 95-109.

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