Last updated: 09.10.12

Task force announces plans to advance e-learning

A team of experts in the field of online teaching have released a publication outlining proposals to advance e-learning systems in higher education.

At the Summit on the Future of Online Learning in Chicago in September 2011, the challenges faced by online education were addressed and it was decided that various experts would gather to create the report, issued on Wednesday (October 3rd) and entitled Inter-Organisational Task Force on Online Learning.

Funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), an alliance was formed between a number of leading online learning organisations.

These include executives from the American Distance Education Consortium, the Association of Continuing Higher Education, the Sloan Consortium and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

Robert Hansen, chief executive officer of UPCEA, commented that each of the companies are "deeply engaged" in the development and delivery of high quality online education.

The publication outlined the six key steps required to fulfil the task force's aims, which included providing presidents and provosts with the adequate information and tools to make online education a key strategic asset for financial sustainability.

Mr Hansen said: "This report lays the foundation for working together with the goal of advancing the interests of the students and institutions we serve through quality online learning."

It described the need to make connections between virtual learning, the economy and workforce development, as well as how to communicate this connection to policymakers and leaders in higher education.

The report further called for the use of research to demonstrate the quality of online learning, so as to dispel any scepticism among policymakers and potential consumers.

Ray Schroeder, chair of the talk force and associate vice-president at the University of Illinois in the US, was quoted by Reuters as stating: "It is important that we draw upon the knowledge and experience of those who represent the colleges and universities who have demonstrated their commitment to quality and innovation in this field."