The current economic climate, and the subsequent rise in adult education, e-Learning, and the accessibility of being able to take an online degree is driving the technological advancement of, and investment in, computer-based distance learning. Because of this, many are speculating that very soon an open content University of Europe might be the next significant step for higher education. So, aside from the institutions that are expressing interest in the scheme, what other organisations are exploring the future of boundary-less e-Learning.
European Learning Industry Group. The ELIG was established in 2002 with the aim to explore e-Learning and to make Europe an ‘economic and social force on the global stage’. Today the organisation is endorsing the idea that open education will transform education to really meet the needs of the 21st Century. ELIG invites other organizations within the industry to become members to form a cohesive, all-inclusive group on an international level – and to push the education sector towards innovation and openness in Europe.
Joint Information Systems Committee. The JISC is a UK body that supports innovation and research in ICT to build knowledge, promote learning and research, and to become a more comprehensive medium for teaching. The JISC was established in 1993 under influence from the Secretary of State in order to promote and benefit the overall development of the higher education sector. Subsequently, the JISC funds three services: Advisory – to help institutions choose the best product or approach for them and their community, Production – to maximise value for money through correct institution-specific infrastructures, and Development – to test innovative or “novel” approaches in terms of their validity.
Higher Education Academy. Currently collaborating with the JISC in research on open content and its benefits, the Higher Education Academy is an independent body that aims to support higher education and improve the UK student learning experience. The Higher Education Academy not only assists research and supports institutions, but also has its own network of “discipline-specific” subject centres around the country that offer support on a subject, and individual level. With funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Academy set up a programme (commencing in April 2009) to make a range of learning resources written by academics, easily available and re-usable by other tutors via the internet.