The JISC-funded Isthmus project was part of the User-Owned Technology Demonstrators' strand. It ran between March 2007 and February 2009 attempting to connect the two worlds of institutional online course provision and that wider culture of the web. In recent years it has become clear that the types of services available for free on the web are often more agile and potentially more useful than those the institution provides for learning. In parallel with this, students may be becoming more familiar with the use of these external services such as voice chat, instant messaging, social bookmarking and information gathering (using sites such as Wikipedia, youTube, etc.).
Through a series of pilots the project planned to take advantage of the changing culture on the web by creating bridges to appropriate technologies or by adjusting the institution's provision to reflect the contemporary use of the web (for example providing audio and video chat functions). The Isthmus pilots ran on or around live online distance courses provided by the Department for Continuing Education. As such, the project tackled not only technical issues but also pedagogical, legal and management challenges, experimenting with bridging the divide between institutional provision and the wider web. All activities within the project were undertaken after consulting with students, tutors and course providers to ensure that the pilots answered genuine needs.
To find out more visit the Isthmus project website or contact:
David White, Project Manager