The UK is at risk of losing its world-leading reputation for education, unless it continues to invest in digital technologies to meet the ever-changing needs of modern learners, researchers and the academic community says Jisc, in its three-year strategy which launches today.
The strategy outlines a vision of the future whereby a robust technological infrastructure is required to meet the shifting needs of the 21st century education community. Jisc believes it is crucial that the UK’s education system continues to compete on the international stage by investing in innovation, research and increasing the availability of online resources.
Jisc Chair Professor Sir Tim O’Shea commented: "The UK's learner base is changing at great speed. Students are increasingly demanding that universities and colleges provide flexible and personalised learning which makes full use of the internet and IT applications. Such demands and expectations are set to increase as we move through this decade and into the next.
"If we fail to sustain the required research and investment to assist universities and colleges in their drive to improve their efficiency, effectiveness and to manage their costs, the UK risks losing its reputation for world-class education."
Recent Jisc projects, such as the Google Generation and sustainable ICT studies, have defined a new world for teaching and learning and have outlined the infrastructure needed to support it. With new technologies constantly evolving, sustained investment is needed to pioneer their use. Over the last decade Jisc has invested its research and development funds in around 200 universities and colleges to help uncover new products, approaches and systems as well as increase skills and capacity.
Jisc through JANET has developed a world-leading computer network and technical backbone which has transformed the way that technology is used and understood. Now, a network once used by a select few purely for cutting-edge research allows millions in education and research to share, manipulate, analyse and reuse digital content from around the world. It is also the first national research and education network in the world to complete a 100Gbit/s network trial that is nearly two hundred thousand times faster than the average broadband connection.
As the web continues to transform life in the education sector, Jisc, through its services will guide individuals and organisations to make effective use of digital technology through training and staff development
Jisc’s strategy outlines four key areas of investment:
- effective, creative approaches to teaching and an enhanced learning experience;
- increased research quality and innovative approaches to support the research process;
- efficient and effective institutions;
- shared infrastructure and resources.
Within these four areas, focus will be given to online learning, management information systems, cloud computing, innovation and impact.
Reactions to the Jisc strategy 2010-2012
A rich online learning culture has a huge part to play to ensure UK colleges and universities remain attractive in the domestic and global markets. In addition, with the release of cloud computing now offering a real and widespread new way of working enabling institutions, learners and researchers to access information, resources and software online without the need for local storage.
Jisc Executive Secretary Dr Malcolm Read OBE added: “Realising cost savings and improving value for money and efficiency through exploiting technology needs, leadership and culture change. There are many opportunities to consider; the technical risks are modest but the risks to an organisation through adopting new business and teaching and learning processes can be considerable. But funding and economic pressures require such change and Jisc’s role is to show how this transition can be managed and the benefits gained.”
The launch of Jisc's strategy 2010-2012, follows a period of consultation in which UK higher and further education institutions, membership bodies, mission groups, and key partners were invited to respond and help inform the strategy’s final direction. The strategy has been written to ensure Jisc’s planned future investment priorities focus on the areas of greatest importance to those in education and research.