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28 May 2010
Precious metal for precious learning tool

The University of Nottingham has scooped a major international award for its innovations in learning technology.

A suite of online learning tools — developed by the Learning Team — has won top prize at the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s Learning Impact Awards in Long Beach, California.

Against 27 finalists from around the world, Xerte Online Toolkits won one of four Platinum awards alongside the likes of the BBC.

Xerte Online Toolkits is a free tool and available to anyone with internet access, to help people create rich, interactive content that is engaging and dynamic, developed by the University’s Information Services.

Traditional learning materials are text-reliant, which presents barriers to many learners. With Xerte Online Toolkits users can use video, audio and imagery to get the best out of their presentations. Xerte can also get the computer to read text and create audio files to lift barriers to blind and visually impaired learners, and those with reading difficulties.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Director of Teaching and Learning said: “This is a remarkable achievement and we are delighted with the result.

“The University is committed not just to helping our students get the best from their Nottingham experience, but also sharing that experience with people around the world, who can’t for whatever reason, attend the University.”

The key with Xerte Online Toolkits is simplicity and ease of use: “Anyone can use them,” explains Learning Team Leader Andy Beggan. “They’re designed specifically so that even the least technically minded people can create absolutely stunning content.

“To date the Xerte Online Toolkits have been used by governments and NGOs in Africa, mainstream, further and higher education, in-house employer training, Adult community learning and — very pleasing to us — is the use of Xerte Online Toolkits in prisons to help offender education.”

The University of Nottingham has worked alongside JISC TechDis, the leading advisory service on inclusion, to ensure Xerte Online Toolkits provide a highly accessible and simple to use e-learning development tool. Throughout this time, JISC TechDis and the University’s Learning Team have collaborated closely to promote Xerte and support the creation of online communities around the toolkits.

JISC TechDis has promoted Xerte to a number of sectors and supported its use by producing a series of tutorial guides , a free online ‘sandbox’ to enable users to experiment and test their learning objects and by running monthly online training sessions for teaching staff and developers (www.techdis.ac.uk/getxertefriday).

JISC TechDis has also forged key stakeholder partnerships, such as Higher Education Academy Subject Centres, JISC Regional Support Centre, National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education and Learning and Skills Improvement Service, that have helped drive Xerte developments forward by encouraging take up and use of the toolkits.


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