The Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest technology based initiative of its kind across the world within higher education. As a centrally funded initiative it provides us with an excellent example of the advantages of collaboration compared to the efforts of many individuals working in isolation.
The programme is jointly funded by the four higher education funding bodies, HEFCE, SHEFC, HEFCW and DENI, who allocated 22.5 million pounds over three years, starting in 1992-93, for the first phase of the programme and 11.25 million pounds for the second at a time when the sector was experiencing a period of rapid expansion. Added to the funding bodies' own commitment of 33 million pounds is the direct and indirect contributions made by institutions to the projects they are hosting. The overall funding for TLTP is probably somewhere in the region of 75 million pounds.
TLTP was launched with the aim of achieving productivity and efficiency gains whilst maintaining and improving quality in the provision of teaching and learning. Challenges have arisen in the form of increasing pressure on resource and the demand for high quality teaching and learning from what is fast becoming a large and extremely diverse student population. It seems, therefore, inevitable that technology has an important role to play in the future delivery of teaching and learning.
TLTP has funded 76 projects in a wide range of subject disciplines; these are:
- business and economics;
- medical sciences;
- staff development and study skills;
- science, mathematics and computing;
- arts, humanities and social sciences;
The 76 projects fall into three broad categories:
- subject based consortia, principally concerned with the development of courseware;
- single institutional projects concentrating on the issues of implementation of learning technology and related staff development;
- institutional projects developing a range of materials of generic interest such as study skills and computer based assessment.
Those projects developing courseware involve academic staff from different institutions working in consortia. The size of the consortia range from two to as many as fifty institutions.
Copies of materials are now being widely distributed by projects and information about the materials is available through publications produced by the TLTP Co-ordination Team.
What does TLTP offer?
The 76 projects within the programme are developing learning technology which encompasses many of the following application areas:
- revision material;
- information retrieval systems;
- cognitive tools;
- communication tools.
These applications are considered to be ways in which teaching, learning and assessment can be substantially enhanced. The inclusion of high levels of interactivity, graphics, animations, sound and video can contribute greatly to the overall student learning experience. Academic staff involved in the development of TLTP materials, and also those looking to integrate the materials into mainstream teaching, are beginning to gather the evidence needed to evaluate the role learning technology can play in the delivery of high quality, flexible and innovative teaching provision for the future.
Other Related Initiatives
When the Universities Funding Council launched the first phase of TLTP it was in the belief that the higher education sector as a whole would benefit from collective activity in this area. The four successor funding bodies have gone on to actively promote this view through the encouragement, and support, of the dissemination of best practice and collaboration between institutions. Other funded initiatives in the areas of teaching and learning are:
- the Computers in Teaching Initiative;
- the Information Technology Training Initiative;
- the Effective Teaching Assessment Programme;
- JISC Technology Applications Programme;
- the Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning.
The funding bodies view TLTP as a major driver for change in the higher education sector. The high quality technology based materials have been developed by consortia within higher education who are seeking to challenge the "not invented here" syndrome, so common within the sector. The content of the materials has been provided by academics with reputations in their own fields of expertise which gives the materials much greater validity than many commercial software packages.
It is anticipated that through some of these teaching and learning focused initiatives that institutions will concentrate on areas such as:
- the development of coherent teaching and learning strategies;
- consideration of IT in a wider strategic framework;
- curriculum review and redesign;
- greater investment in human resources;
- improvements in infrastructure;
- the need to seek different methods of student and staff support.
Lessons for the Future
There are, and will be, many lessons to be learned from the experiences of this programme and the four funding bodies have undertaken an independent evaluation study of the programme. This study considered both the educational and cost effectiveness of the programme, its materials and the learning process in which the institutions and their academic staff have been involved. The first report has been submitted to the funding bodies and will be available in the public domain shortly.
Support and Maintenance
The funding bodies have recognised the importance for ongoing support and maintenance of the materials developed within TLTP and have allocated some transitional funding to assist projects to move to a self-financing position. The funding bodies identified three key elements considered to be important in ensuring that the original investment was protected and the maximum value achieved, these were:
- to ensure that the materials are supported and maintained for the UK higher education sector;
- to maintain arrangements for the continued dissemination of the materials;
- to achieve the culture change required in higher education's approach to teaching to ensure maximum benefit is reaped through the use of the materials.
Of the 43 Phase 1 projects, 17 of the subject based consortia have received transitional funding. We are now witnessing the establishment of good working partnerships between projects and publishers.
Additional funding has now been made available to the Phase 2 projects, which are scheduled to complete between the end of 1996 and Spring 1997. These projects are currently seeking commercial/educational partners.
Teaching and Learning Technology Support Network (TLTSN)
In order to provide the sector with additional experience and expertise in the implementation of technology based materials eight support centres have been established to form the Teaching and Learning Technology Support Network (TLTSN). Advice and guidance is being offered to UK higher education institutions through a range of activities such as workshops, seminars and roadshows.
Further details of the TLTSN can be obtained from the TLTP Co-ordination Team.
Please contact Sarah Turpin, TLTP Co-ordinator, TLTP, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, BRISTOL, BS16 1QD, United Kingdom
Telephone: (+44) 117 931 7454
Fax: (+44) 117 931 7173
TLTP Home Page URL: http://www.icbl.hw.ac.uk/tltp
TLTP newsletters and the two TLTP catalogues can be viewed via the Home Page