Background to the project
The National Learning Network (NLN) Materials
The NLN materials consist of over
500 hours of e-learning materials across a wide range of subject areas,
commissioned by the NLN Materials Team based at Becta in partnership with
subject experts in FE colleges and commercial developers. These developers
have proven experience in the design, creation and development of educational
materials using multimedia, which is used to enhance the learning experience.
They have used a clear pedagogic approach to online learning and also
knowledge of the FE curriculum. Access to the first three rounds of materials
is currently available: http://www.nln.ac.uk/materials/.
The materials have been created
as small chunks of learning, which take about 20 - 30 minutes to complete.
They do not comprise whole courses but individual elements of topics (units)
selected from the curriculum. Tutors can use these self-contained units
as part of their own teaching materials. There is a range of approaches
but they all contain some new learning (based on approximately one or
two learning objectives). They allow learners opportunities to practise
and embed new information, and some form of assessment to check that the
learning has been understood and the learning outcome(s) achieved.
The materials have been packaged to IMS/IEEE technical specifications
that should enable them to work in local (compliant) Virtual Learning
Environments (VLEs). They can also be downloaded by colleges to local
The materials are being purchased
for UK post-compulsory education and training and are free at the point
of use. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will hold a licence for
these materials in perpetuity.
The NLN Learning Materials Delivery Project
Information Systems Committee (JISC) and British
Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) are collaborating
to provide access to the UK Further Education sector as part of the National
Learning Network (NLN) programme.
Becta exists to further the use
of information and communications technology (ICT) to raise educational
standards and to improve the effectiveness of educational professionals
and institutions. It is a controlled, executive, Non-Departmental, Public
Body, serving the needs of the UK as a whole. It is a company limited
by guarantee with charitable status. Becta is the Government's lead agency
for ICT in education and is charged with developing the National Grid
for Learning (NGfL).
The JISC is a strategic advisory
committee working on behalf of the funding bodies for further and higher
education (FE and HE) in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It also works in partnership with the Research Councils. The JISC promotes
the innovative application and use of information systems and information
technology in FE and HE across the UK. It provides vision and leadership,
and funds the network infrastructure, Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) and information services, development projects and high quality
materials for education. Its central role ensures that the uptake of new
technologies and methods is cost-effective, comprehensive and well focused.
Becta commissioned Granada
Learning (GL) to produce a Content Access Tool (CAT), through which
FE Colleges can view the NLN materials. A download facility, enabling
download of packages of materials to the local server or VLE, has been
added to the CAT by GL.
The JISC-funded Data Centres, MIMAS
and EDINA, based respectively at
the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh, are hosting the CAT and
the NLN materials, and also providing access and support services.