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Date published: 23 November 2011

Open Universities Australia (OUA) today announced the launch of its newest initiative, the Centre of Online Learning Excellence (COLE), to further develop its offering to and relationship with partners and academic providers.

COLE officially came into existence earlier in June this year with the primary purpose of being a centre for best practice in online learning.

Dr Michael Crock, Executive Director of Academic Products and Services says: "COLE is a world-class project that we have been developing over the last 18 months. It's been created as direct response to our partner providers need for a facility that acts as a conduit for cutting edge knowledge and ideas."

Through a series of testing, pilots and programs, the Centre will identify and validate what makes a quality student online experience, increase OUA's capability in understanding and formulating online learning pedagogy and facilitate faster production product development to meet market demand.

COLE's many services for its higher education providers include learning design, online teaching optimisation, professional development, new technology trials as well as teaching and learning forums.

"To date, we have held four teaching and learning forums in 2011, attracting and engaging over 150 provider staff," says Dr Crock.

"Our current providers expressed the need and desire for such forums to take place as far back as 2010. With over 17 years experience in online learning, OUA was able to fulfil this gap and now works with providers such as Monash, Murdoch, Macquarie and RMIT who all hosted forums this year.

"OUA's unique model has been recognised internationally for leading in the online learning field and we will continue to develop relationships with various international institutions and consortiums within the industry," says Dr Crock.

Whilst the service is currently offered to OUA's existing partners and academic providers, the organisation has the intention to broaden COLE's scope. The ultimate aim is for COLE to be recognised for the skills, expertise and initiatives on offer, be commissioned for its services elsewhere within the industry and the possible commercialisation of its projects.

For more information about the new COLE initiative, visit www.open.edu.au/cole.

About Open Universities Australia - the leader in online learning

Owned by seven of Australia's premier universities, OUA is the national leader in quality online tertiary education. Enrolling more than 144,000 students since 1993, OUA provides access to over 1400 units and 170 qualifications taught by more than 20 leading Australian universities and tertiary education providers.

For further information, please see the contact information on the right.