CARET strategic thinking is guided by some simple principles:
- Technology is changing rapidly and the long term ‘dominant designs’ that will endure more than 3-5 years are not yet known. It is currently impossible to predict how long this period of rapid change will last.
- Current Cambridge teaching models (a campus-based curriculum and substantial small-group teaching) are widely regarded as optimal by many researchers in Education. In such a setting, online provision is unlikely to become a major component of mainstream undergraduate learning and teaching for some time. It will be essential to determine which eLearning innovations represent enhancement of a highly regarded system.
- The application of technology to teaching and learning is expensive. The value of technology in the distance learning setting is clear, but outside that setting it will be important to manage the risks arising from the resource requirements for technology-based innovation.
CARET eLearning strategy objectives:
- The University of Cambridge will be aware of important developments in eLearning around the world.
- The University will be in a position to determine which developments in eLearning may enhance learning and teaching at Cambridge.
- The University will have a mechanism for the acquisition or development of promising eLearning innovations, the evaluation of their impact, and the embedding of successful innovations.
Therefore, CARET will:
- Seek to identify and develop innovations that enhance current learning and teaching practice by making learning and teaching ‘better’ or ‘easier’
- Operate as an innovation unit
- Support R&D with University learning and teaching innovators
- Incubate services within CARET and transfer successful innovations to established service delivery units
- Evaluate all innovations in the broad learning and teaching context
- Minimise risk and expenditure by seeking external funding wherever possible
While the current document addresses the deployment of University resources within CARET in support of eLearning, it is not yet a comprehensive eLearning strategy for the University and is in the process of being being developed. If eLearning is defined as
“The use of electronic technology to support, enhance or deliver learning”
then services such as the University Computing Service Public Workstation Facility (which makes commercial software packages available to students), aspects of the Language Centre (blended face-to-face and online course delivery) and many college and departmental initiatives fall within the definition of eLearning. The CARET strategy does not address the resource allocation in support of eLearning for other parts of the University.