Open Eye: Improving teaching in HE across the UK

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The Independent Online
Hefce, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (with the Department for Education for Northern Ireland) has an ambitious project to improve the quality of teaching in higher education spending pounds 83 million over the next three years through its Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund.

As part of this initiative, it is already supporting 91 projects in most UK universities and colleges funded through two Funding Council initiatives - the Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning and the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme.

These projects are supported by a team of ten at the Open University led by Carole Baume in the Centre for Higher Education Practice.

The idea behind the first initiative is simple. Departments that have already shown, through Quality Assessment, that they are excellent teachers of their subject, are funded to share their practice more widely. This may involve the further development of teaching materials and methods. It certainly involves each project working with many other universities to widen the use of these ideas.

As all universities, departments and groups of students are different, it is rarely enough just to show some new teaching method or materials. These projects are specifically designed to help academics work out ways to adapt proven good teaching ideas and new materials to their own setting.

The Teaching and Learning and Technology Programme aims to harness information and communication technologies to boost the quality and efficiency of teaching and learning.

The first phase from 1992 developed much original technology-based teaching and learning materials in many subjects. The current phase now helps academics across the country adapt and use these new materials.

The national co-ordination team at the Open University visits projects and works with them on effective ways to embed best practice in other institutions, and helps them to monitor their progress and to work closely with related projects. The team also runs workshops and an annual conference.

"We are delighted about the imagination and courage the projects are showing in developing new and better approaches to student learning," says Carole.

"These projects are working really effectively to spread new ideas across higher education." The national team has a website at: