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New Consortium to Boost e-Learning


New Consortium to Boost e-Learning

The development of e-Learning in New Zealand was given a boost today with the establishment of a new consortium of tertiary education providers.

Nine universities, polytechnics and related organisations have joined forces to develop a centre of excellence in e-Learning. The Management Board of the consortium met in Wellington today, for the first time. The new entity, e-Learnz, was formally established in April as a not-for-profit Incorporated Society.

Laurence Zwimpfer, an education technology consultant, has been appointed as the independent chair of the consortium for an initial period of three years. Mr Zwimpfer has been engaged in e-Learning initiatives in both the tertiary sector and in secondary schools for over 10 years.

"The Government has given very clear directions concerning e-Learning," said Mr Zwimpfer. "In the 2003 Budget, the Government responded to recommendations of the e-Learning Advisory Group and confirmed support for a Tertiary e-Learning Internet Portal and an e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund. The message from Government to tertiary providers is clear - this is an important development, but New Zealand will only reap the benefits if the tertiary sector works together collaboratively."

"In the world of e-Learning, New Zealand is already facing competition from overseas providers; and in time, it is expected that all New Zealand tertiary providers will have competitive e-Learning programmes. A strong collaborative response is the best way to meet this challenge without compromising New Zealand's reputation as a provider of quality education."

Foundation members of the consortium include the Eastern Institute of Technology, Learning Media Ltd, Southern Institute of Technology, UNITEC, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, Waikato Institute of Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

It is expected that other universities, polytechnics and organisations involved in e-Learning in the tertiary sector will be invited to apply for membership from 2004.

BACKGROUND FOR EDITORS

e-Learnz: the NZ consortium for e-Learning


e-Learnz is a new consortium of New Zealand universities, polytechnics and other organisations working in e-Learning for tertiary education, and aiming to become NZ's centre of excellence in the development and delivery of e-Learning.

'e-Learning' is the use of information and communications technologies - usually including the Internet - to help deliver the learning experience. e-Learning has great potential to enable learning wherever or whenever students and 'life-long learners' want, and to adapt to each individual's preferred learning style.

The government recognises the importance of e-Learning. In the 2003 budget, it confirmed support for a Tertiary e-Learning Internet Portal this year and an eLearning Collaborative Development Fund of $28 million over the next four years. e-Learnz's aims are fully consistent with the government's strategy.

Key aims are to:

· Facilitate collaboration amongst providers of e-Learning within New Zealand, · Share expert resources, advice and staff development in e-Learning, · Facilitate the creation and marketing of e-Learning products and services in NZ and overseas, and · Facilitate research in the field of e-Learning.

Members of the consortium include Eastern Institute of Technology, Learning Media Ltd, Southern Institute of Technology, UNITEC, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, Waikato Institute of Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology, and Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

The members of e-Learnz have successful track records in the development of resources for tertiary education. They have a strategic focus on the development of online learning materials. The forming of the consortium further strengthens the established capability of the members. It facilitates establishment and management of collaborative projects, provides for ownership of intellectual property, and supports technological and other developments in e-Learning.

Whilst overseas markets do feature in e-Learnz's plans, the needs of New Zealand come first. e-Learnz is already working on tool kits and other projects to develop and promote collaboration in e-Learning across the country.

e-Learnz is an open consortium, in the form of an incorporated society. It is expected that other universities, polytechnics and organisations involved in e-Learning in the tertiary sector will be invited to apply for membership from 2004.


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