Invitation to Tender to undertake a landscape study for the
Academy’s e-Learning Research Observatory
1. The Higher Education Academy invites tenders to undertake a landscape study
to inform the development of its e-Learning Research Observatory.
2. The new e-Learning Research Observatory comprises two elements:
; the establishment of a research observatory function within the Academy.
This will undertake a ‘one-stop-shop' approach for identifying, collating,
assessing and disseminating national and international e-learning research
; the introduction of a research investigation programme with annual calls to
fund approximately five projects a year costing about ?40 thousand each.
3. In relation to the latter, the first phase of projects is underway with the second
phase due to commence in September 2007. This landscape study specifically
relates to the former.
Scope of the Landscape Study
4. This landscaping study will consist of several broad elements:
i) Consultation with practitioners, key stakeholders and e-learning
experts, e.g. about:
; Whether and how they use e-learning research in their current role
; How they would like to access such research
; Awareness of key e-learning resources including JISC/HEA/HE
SCs and CETLs/Research Councils
; Whether and how they share information about e-learning research
in their current role
; How they would like to share such information
; How/when/where they would access an observatory
; What functionality they would like in an observatory
ii) Overview of existing research observatories, not limited to e-learning
(and not necessarily limited to the UK), their remits, roles and
iii) Overview of technologies available for sharing research information
(this could be gleaned from existing studies carried out by the JISC)
iv) Overview of key sources of e-learning research content (specifically
JISC and Academy outputs and including eChina), their status, access
agreements, relationship with partner bodies, key contacts etc (this
could only be sketchy – might just be scoping the task – as carrying
this out fully would be a key task of the observatory in its start-up
phase). Note: separate discussions are taking place with the research
councils in relation to their recent TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning)
call as part of their TLRP programme; the Academy has agreed to fund
a project to identify, collate and disseminate outputs of this programme
which have a direct bearing on the student learning experience within a
HE institutional context).
v) To consider the process for identifying, gathering and disseminating
resources to the sector, e.g. the need for editing and re-purposing
resources, how resources should be made available to the sector, e.g.
location of the core materials through web links etc.
vi) To consider how best to structure access to the resources, including
taxonomising, classifying and the development of a new web site, e.g.
categorising resources according to how they can provide guidance
around specific L&T issues and problems, through a discipline and/or
generic approach, rather than simply listing the resources under
5. The study should then make recommendations on:
; The overlapping audiences for a research observatory and their
different requirements, e.g. some researchers may simply want to
search the resource, whereas others may want to engage with other
research practitioners (should the observatory develop different
communities, e.g. through a discipline approach?).
; The type(s) of observatory most likely to meet community needs, e.g.
research repository, portal, shared knowledge resource;
; How an e-learning observatory could relate to existing observatories,
and to existing structures and processes within partner organisations;
; Sources of e-learning research, key contacts and access;
; Desired roles and responsibilities of observatory personnel e.g.
collating, editing, facilitating, hosting etc;
; Aims benefits and success indicators for an e-learning research
; Potential staging of the observatory process
6. The process would require a desk-based review, followed by a web survey and related interviews, mainly by phone/skype/email – though someface-to-face
consultation could be done economically at key events during the autumn, followed by an interim report (Autumn 07). Then ratification / validation / refining of recommendations through discussion with key stakeholders and a small number of well-targeted discussion events (final report Dec 07).
7. The final report would include details of a pilot/proof of concept phase to start early 08, or to speed up the process this could be combined with the aforementioned ratification/discussion phase, enabling the pilot phase to commence before December 07.
8. Tender responses should provide the following information:
; The nature of your organisation and size of your organisation
; The methodology you propose to use to undertake the work
; A brief timetable for the work
; Details or CVs of your staff who will undertake the work
; Any other details you feel are relevant.
9. The Academy has costed this work at ?30k. This is the total funding available, so
includes VAT, overheads and expenses.
10. It is expected that half the funding will be paid at the outset, and the other half on
successful completion of the work.
Return of tenders
11. Tenders should be sent to Rachel Farrand by 4pm on 14 September. One
electronic and one hard copy are required.
12. Contact details are:
Programme Manager (e-Learning)
The Higher Education Academy
York Science Park
Contact for queries
13. Queries should be directed to Rachel Farrand in the first instance (contact details