Lecturers will have to know how to use new technology and apply it creatively in their teaching, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England's draft e-learning strategy, published today.
Professional standards for teaching coming into force for new lecturers by 2006 will include an e-learning element. Established lecturers taking teaching courses accredited by the new Higher Education Academy will also be affected.
The Quality Assurance Agency is considering a code of practice for e-learning, and the Association for Learning Technology is working on professional standards for learning technologists.
But Hefce admitted that it did not fully understand the impact of new technologies on learning and teaching and refused to draw up the ten-year blueprint requested by the government's white paper.
It expected universities to make "significant investment in the technological infrastructure of e-learning in the next few years". This might involve closer liaison with the UK e-University.
Liz Beaty, director of learning and teaching at Hefce, said: "We believe we need to help institutions to explore innovative approaches to learning and teaching and to make appropriate investment strategies."
There will be greater rewards for e-learning excellence. Learning support staff could compete in a new category for national teaching fellowships, worth £50,000 a year for three years.
University bids for Centres for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, which bring £500,000 a year for five years and possibly £2 million capital funding, can be based around technology.
The Higher Education Academy, which will be launched in January, will take over the e-learning work of Learning and Teaching Support Network subject centres.
Dr Beaty said: "We need leaders who will grapple with learning technology and not be frightened. There is a lot of change coming and it is going to be hard to manage."