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To inform the work of the Online Learning Task Force (OLTF), HEFCE commissioned the Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning team at the University of Oxford to carry out a study of the current UK provision of higher education-level online distance learning and to advise the OLTF where further work was required to increase understanding of this sector. This report presents the findings, based on desk research exploring the web-sites of HEIs, FECs and commercial providers, and interviews with key players in online learning.

The study highlights the difficulties in finding information about online courses on institutions' web-sites, and the lack of clarity in the terminology institutions use to describe their online programmes. It makes recommendations concerning terminology, discoverability, sharing of best practice and improving market intelligence, which are outlined in the executive summary.

Date: 1 October 2010

Ref: Independent research