A set of distance learning accreditation courses for higher education teachers has been launched by the Open University in anticipation of the first wave of business for the Institute for Learning and Teaching.
Lecturers will be able to choose between an assessment-only route and a taught course, and 72,000 members of lecturers' union Natfhe will be targeted as potential students in a nationwide postal campaign next month.
One step ahead of the emerging ILT, David Baume, co-
director of the OU's centre for higher education practice, said that there is already a great demand.
"These courses were planned before the ILT was a glimmer in somebody's eye," he said.
The courses are designed to match the standards of the Staff and Educational Development Association, and it is hoped that they will automatically be
considered for ILT accreditation.
Subject-specific tutoring can be carried out on-line, a feature that Mr Baume believes makes the courses distinctive.
"The courses focus specifically on the subject you teach, and you work alongside people from your discipline instead of from a range of areas. This will be important to a lot of academics," he said.
Lasting between two and 30 months, courses are expected to cost from Pounds 300 to Pounds 1,000.
Mr Baume said the courses aim to show teachers how to be scholarly and practical at the same time.
"Teaching is a scholarly
activity and this has to underpin your approach to it. These courses will use critical reflection to help teachers to continue to improve throughout their careers."
He believes the OU's approach is different because of its long-term outlook and the continual learning benefits.
"We know that if you feed people fish that they will be hungry again tomorrow," he said.