The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England has spent £100,000 on a three-year contract with UniServity, global provider of innovative, award-winning online learning solutions, consultancy and training.
UniServity will develop an online learning environment to support the delivery of the new Common Awards programme for up to 2,500 learners studying at 18 Theological Education Institutes (TEIs) across the UK.
The Common Awards comprise a full range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from Certificate to Masters in Theology, Ministry and Mission, validated by Durham University. They will be available to students training to be ministers in the Church of England (and its partner churches) and to other students interested in the study of Christian theology in a faith setting.
The new cloud-based learning solution will enable theological education institutions across the UK to achieve three main goals.
Firstly, to participate fully in the Common Awards created by the church and validated by Durham University. This includes the ability to share resources across institutions and to carry out academic administration. Secondly, to create a dynamic learning environment for their students to complement face-to-face learning and practical training. And thirdly, to enable tutors and students to interact with one another online, sharing expertise and learning.
Individual students exploring their faith through study will be able to access their own institution's learning resources and course information and submit assessed work electronically. They will also be provided with access to a portfolio of resources common to the whole scheme.
Commenting on the contract, Dr David Way, theological education secretary, said: "This is a major development in the opportunities which the church can offer for learning and professional growth in the fields of Christian ministry and discipleship.
"The new learning platform will complement face-to-face and practice-based learning and enable a wider range of learners to access high quality learning materials across the UK and beyond.
"The Ministry Division was impressed by UniServity's technical track record, their sharing of the vision for the project and their approach to team working."
Dawn Mulholland, CEO, UniServity, said: "We excelled in really understanding the customer's requirements and tailoring our solution to provide a custom online learning environment unique to the church. This latest contract represents a small step change in our market for UniServity as we continue to search for new markets that can benefit from our excellent online learning solution."