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March 2009/12 (web only)
Policy development
Statement of policy

Information and guidance

Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology
A revised approach to HEFCE's strategy for e-learning

This document builds on 'HEFCE strategy for e-learning' (HEFCE 2005/12) and focuses on enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology.

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges
Of interest to those responsible for: Learning, teaching and assessment; Information and communications technologies
Reference: 2009/12
Publication date: March 2009
Enquiries to:

Alan Palmer
tel 0117 931 7340

Executive summary (read online)

Executive summary


1.   This document builds on 'HEFCE strategy for e-learning' (HEFCE 2005/12), published in March 20051, and focuses on enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology. Some of it draws on that strategy, but we also reflect on how technology can support individual institutions in achieving some of their key strategic aims.

Key points

2.   We will continue working with partners, particularly the Joint Information Systems Committee (the JISC) and the Higher Education Academy (the Academy), to support institutions in enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology. The first edition of our strategy talked about e-learning, but in the past three years, terminology, practice and contexts have developed. The term 'e-learning' can now sometimes be too narrowly defined to describe fully the widespread use of learning technology in institutions. We think it is more appropriate to consider how institutions can enhance learning, teaching and assessment using appropriate technology. We wish to focus on the benefits and the outcomes from using technology to support learning and related processes, which will be different in each institution. Underpinning infrastructures, management practices, architectures and services have an impact on learning, teaching and assessment, as do services for learners more generally.

3.   This work is part of our original commitment to conduct a review of the strategy after three years2. It reflects the findings of that review, discussions with key stakeholders, and the implications of the revised Harnessing Technology strategy3 developed by Becta. This organisation is developing and co-ordinating strategic approaches to the use of technology across the entire education system, on behalf of the two government departments with a remit for education4.

4.   Enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology is one of a number of ways in which institutions can address their own strategic missions. The HEFCE strategy for e-learning focuses on some key activities for agencies; here we put forward our view of the overall context and rationale for work in this area. Our emphasis is on recognising that technology has a fundamental part to play in higher education, but that institutional contexts and strategies are key, with the implication that institutions need to consider how to invest block grant appropriately. The main partner agencies can and will continue to offer support, but institutions should identify where they wish to focus attention.

5.   Benefits may be felt at three different levels, depending on the type of intervention:

  • efficiency (existing processes carried out in a more cost-effective, time-effective, sustainable or scalable manner)
  • enhancement (improving existing processes and the outcomes)
  • transformation (radical, positive change in existing processes or introducing new processes).

6.   We comment on the review of HEFCE's strategy for e-learning. We also consider some other evidence that has been published, looking at how institutions and learners are using and adapting to new and emerging technology. We suggest that technology can make a valuable contribution to the achievement of institutional strategic goals and priorities.

Action required

7.   This document is for information and guidance. Institutions can use it to develop their own approaches to enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology, and to reflect on where they may wish to prioritise investment over the next few years. It can also be used to identify where support is available from the Higher Education Academy (the Academy) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

8.   Institutions will need to consider how the use of learning technology is reflected in learning, teaching and assessment strategies. This document may be helpful in identifying where learning technology can be used more effectively to enhance learning, teaching and assessment, and to achieve strategic goals.

9.   All institutions will need to use technology effectively to support their wider institutional aims and so should take a strategic approach to this. Information and guidance in this document can be used to inform institutional strategic planning.


  1. All HEFCE publications can be read on the HEFCE website.
  2. 'Review of the 2005 HEFCE strategy for e-learning: a report to HEFCE by Glenaffric Ltd' can be read on the HEFCE web-site.
  3. 'Harnessing Technology: Next Generation Learning 2008-14' is available at under Publications.
  4. Becta formally reports to ministers via the Department for Children, Schools and Families but also works with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.