Web Magazine for Information Professionals

CTI (Computers in Teaching Initiative)

The CTI, set up in 1989, offers a UK-wide service to academic staff in higher education institutions through its network of 24 subject-based centres. Joyce Martin, acting head of the CTI Support Service, describes this HEFCE funded initiative.

The mission of the CTI is "to maintain and enhance the quality of learning and increase the effectiveness of teaching through the application of appropriate learning technologies."

The CTI is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland. The CTI has provisional funding to run until 1999 renewable on an annual basis.

Why use information technology?

The CTI is challenging all academic staff to rethink their approach to teaching and learning. The past 5 years have seen dramatic changes in UK higher education:

The CTI believe that information technology has a role to play in addressing many of the issues raised by these changes. Our view is that computers should empower good teachers, not de-skill. Computers offer the opportunity to depart from the traditional constraints of the curriculum, allowing teachers and learners to schedule the place, time and pace of learning. Their capabilities can facilitate experiences that would be too expensive, dangerous or time-consuming to generate in conventional terms. Visualisation techniques will enable teachers to illustrate their teaching in more dynamic fashion than the current norm.

New generations of authoring tools will broaden the base of courseware authorship and students themselves will increasingly act as authors in their coursework. IT will support important teaching strategies such as collaborative learning as well as assessment.

The role of the CTI

By promoting the effective and appropriate use of learning technologies the CTI works to meet the needs of the future and enable change in higher education.

The main strength of the CTI comes from its discipline focus. Each of the Centres is responsible for a different subject area covering the sciences, humanities, social sciences, arts and the professions. CTI Centres are seen as part of the discipline communities they serve. As such they play a key role in advising departments on how uses of technology can enhance teaching quality. With higher education institutions finding it ever harder to sustain conventional approaches to teaching and learning the CTI is demonstrating the growing viability of technology-based alternatives.

The CTI Centres

The Centres are all directed by an experienced university academic and staffed by subject specialists with expertise in learning technology. Each centre provides:

The CTI has a major presence on the World Wide Web. Not only have Centres mounted their own material on their Web servers (information about events and activities, online newsletters and resource guides) but they also evaluate other sources of information, building links from their pages to servers which meet their criteria for quality and relevance. Full contact details for all Centres and a link to each Web site is available at http://www.cti.ac.uk/centres/index.html

The CTI Support Service

The CTI Support Service, based at the University of Oxford, coordinates the 24 Centres and acts as a focal point for activities relating to the use of computers in university teaching in the UK.

The Support Service maintains the central CTI Web server and has a busy publishing programme (CTISS Publications ). Its publications include a journal (Active Learning) published twice a year, an annual report, other special reports and conference proceedings. Active Learning is the major refereed journal of the CTI and is essential reading for all those interested in learning technologies in higher education, emphasising the learning outcomes rather than the technologies. Each issue includes in-depth articles, case studies, critical reports and opinion pieces by specialists in the field. Recent theme issues include:

Issue V, to be published in December 1996, will feature Learning Technology Success Stories. The subscription is FREE to academic staff members of UK HE institutions; attractive rates available to others. You can subscribe by emailing the CTI Support Service: CTISS@oucs.ox.ac.uk or by using the subscription form at http://www.cti.ac.uk/publ/actlea/subscribe.html

Collaboration with others

The structure of the CTI, with its discipline based Centres, lends itself easily to the forging of links between Centres and others working in the same fields of study. Overseas links are growing in size and strength but the bulk of the collaborative work undertaken is with academic colleagues and professional bodies which are based in the UK.

The strongest links are with TLTP (the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme). Staff involvement includes belonging TLTP consortia and managing software development; advising TLTP projects and evaluating their software; demonstrating TLTP software at workshops and conferences; running TLTP software training workshops; supplying up-to-date information on developments in TLTP newsletters, online, and in resource guides and information packs.

The CTI also liaises closely with the Scottish Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative (LTDI) - an initiative that exists to promote good practice and disseminate materials from TLTP and CTI. Links have begun to develop with the Further Education sector partly by way of the National Council of Educational Technology (NCET).

The greatest concentration of international links remains in Europe and Australia with several of the countries copying the CTI pattern of subject-based dissemination centres. The CTI Support Service operates an overseas subscription scheme which allows overseas university departments to benefit from CTI Centres in the same way as those in the UK.

Further information

If you would like any further information about the CTI please contact Joyce Martin.
Email: CTISS@oucs.ox.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 237273
Fax: +44 (0)1865 237275