Key skills by design: adapting a central Web resource to departmental contexts
Web-based delivery of support materials for students has proved to be a popular way of helping small teams to implement key skills policies within universities. The development of 'key' or 'transferable' skills is now encouraged throughout education, but resources (both in terms of staffing and budget) tend to be limited. It is difficult for key skills teams to see learners face to face, and not feasible to print or distribute large amounts of paper-based material. Web-based delivery presents a means of overcoming these problems but it can result in generic study skills material simply being published online without due consideration of the needs of different groups of learners within different subject disciplines. Therefore, although a centralized Website for skills provision can overcome logistical problems, it may be perceived as irrelevant or unusable by the student population. This paper presents a model for Web-based delivery of support for key skills which incorporates two separate approaches to the design of these resources. The model was implemented as part of a wider key skills pilot project at University College London, over a period of one year. It includes a 'core' Website, containing information and resources for staff and students. These can also be accessed via customized, departmental key skills homepages. This paper presents the basis for the design choices made in preparing these materials, and the evaluation of some of the pilot departments using them. It then draws some wider conclusions about the effectiveness of this design for supporting skills development.