Last updated: 06.07.12

UK 'must step up e-learning investments'

The UK ought to get up to speed with e-learning technology, a report has claimed.

System Upgrade: Realising the vision for UK Education was developed by the Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Programme (TEL) and is the work of online learning practitioners, industry and academics.

The study, which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, claimed if the nation is to be prosperous in the future, members of the public must understand how to write and use computer programs that deal with maps, searches and emails.

Furthermore, people will have to be confident communicating and collaborating digitally, should have computational analysis skills and must understand how to use the internet.

Supporting academia through e-learning tools could help this goal to be realised, the researchers claimed, arguing using digital technology in education "should be seen as an investment, not a cost".

Professor Richard Noss, the Institute of Education's TEL programme director, argued schools will have to "engage the Xbox generation".

Technologically-enhanced academia, which enables distance learning online, was described as "flexible" and "innovative" by the expert.

He claimed if educators take advantage of these emerging tools, they will be able to teach students the skills likely to be needed for success in a "globalised digital workplace".

Professor Noss said computer-based technologies have radically altered the ways in which members of the public shop, play, bank and communicate, but have "not yet transformed our education system".

This sector "needs to catch up", he continued, claiming if it fails to do so, the country and its younger inhabitants will "fall seriously behind" the rest of the world.

The specialist noted universities and colleges are making headway in the emerging field of online learning, but there is still a substantial amount more that should be done.

Without support in rolling out e-learning and online training, the TEL researchers predicted that UK schools will end up "offering a largely analogue education in a digital world".