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1. The University Strategic Plan: 2004-2009

The plan has as a Key Strategy in “Quality Learning”:

“3.6 We shall develop and implement a C&IT strategy that will further develop our use of e-learning technologies to improve the quality and flexibility of our provisions.”

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education place great emphasis on enhancement of effective learning and teaching involving all the structures and processes used by an institution to support effective student learning including, for example, support through independent learning, e-learning and distance learning. It places great importance in this on the role of “support” services in supporting effective learning, for example, in the provision of libraries and information services and the institution’s IT infrastructure. It considers that students are active partners with shared responsibilities for their own learning and achievement, and that one of the defining characteristics of higher education is the extent to which it relies on this active participation in, and student ownership of, the learning process.

The University of Aberdeen considers that there is now overwhelming evidence1 of the benefits to be gained from the use of C&IT to facilitate Learning and Teaching, such that this is now defined to be a core business objective of the University. This objective must, however, be achieved in the context of a holistic approach to teaching and learning. The pedagogic object of using C&IT in learning and teaching will be kept firmly in view and opportunities provided by the use of C&IT will be used to enhance the quality and range of personal contact with students.

The University wishes all students to benefit from the capability of C&IT to provide students with diversity of experience and information, in the belief that the wider the opportunities for students, the more fulfilling, and hence more effective, the learning experience. The University also considers that C&IT has the capability to meet the differing requirements of a diverse student population and, if used appropriately, can be a key tool in ensuring that disabled students have full access to the learning and teaching environment.

Our strategy for enhancement of learning and teaching has at its core the objectives of achieving awareness by all academic staff of the benefits of using learning technologies; and of implementing a programme to provide academic staff with the skills they need to utilise C&IT in their teaching in an appropriate and accessible manner. In addition, a C&IT Strategy such as this makes a significant contribution to furthering the University’s widening access objectives as well as enhancing flexibility in learning and teaching.

We are, nevertheless, committed to achieving the optimum balance between traditional and technology-enabled resources that will maintain the University's reputation in research and the full spectrum of learning. In a research-led University, it is particularly appropriate for academic staff to develop research-based approaches to teaching, and this can be greatly facilitated through the integrated use of C&IT tools to support learning that takes place in “open” settings. Researchers require the skills of analysis, the ability to make and discern structure, and such skills can be fostered with the help of C&IT tools that require learners to give meaning and value to information. The ability critically to reflect on working processes is vital, and here again C&IT tools are valuable.

We also recognise that C&IT skills are essential for students to continue with their learning and are essential prerequisites for employment and life-long learning in a world now pervaded by C&IT. These skills require to be developed well beyond the very basic skills that have been defined as essential for study.

The University is committed to support excellence in teaching and will actively encourage and recognise the effective pursuit of innovation in teaching method and the dissemination of good practice.

1. This URL has changed: http://www.sfc.ac.uk/publications/pubs_other_sfefarchive/joint_elearning_report_july_2003.pdf - A joint SFEFC/SHEFC working group report on the development of e-learning in the HE and FE sectors http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Draft31.pdf - Draft JISC Strategy

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