I am extremely pleased to foreword this special ‘celebratory’ publication of the online journal, Interactions. It depicts a significant journey over the last decade of the University’s thinking, investment and innovation in the use of e-learning.
Broadly speaking, Warwick has been proactive in harnessing the opportunities that e-learning affords us. While the pace of change in technology increases with alarming alacrity, a culture of supporting innovation is certainly one key to our successes in this area. This culture can only arise when an institution is not averse to taking risks. Last year, a £1 million Education Innovation Fund was established to support a wide range of projects that are prepared to be radical in approach and willing to court failure in the interests of real innovation.
Writing in the very first issue of Interactions in 1997, Professor Sir Brian Follett (VC 1993-2001) emphasised the need to “embed educational technology within their everyday practices in response to the changing needs, expectations and demands of students”.
A decade down the line, there is much evidence of embedded use of e-learning at Warwick, which we can attribute to paying good attention to student and staff development whilst ensuring investment in our infrastructure to support the right mix of classroom and online activities. We have developed new exciting learning environments for our student community, such as the Learning Grid, and encouraged creativity and scholarship in educational development from our academic community through various funding and recognition mechanisms. For example, a large proportion of the funding from the HEFCE for teaching quality enhancement was given over to supporting departments strategically to undertake e-learning developments, providing a significant ‘challenge’ fund, a faculty based team of e-learning advisers and developing ‘e-learning champions’ through the Warwick E-Learning Award, an accredited, M-level professional development programme in e-learning.
It is clear that promoting, supporting and rewarding innovation and excellence in our teaching and learning provision will continue to be priorities at Warwick. This special issue of Interactions should stimulate the minds of all those involved in teaching and learning.
Professor Nigel Thrift
Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick