University of Dundee University of Dundee
Text only

14 November 2005

Scottish Institute Launches 'The Learning Exchange'

The Learning Exchange, the world's first interactive library of digital learning resources for social work education, is launched today (November 14th) by the Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education.

The Learning Exchange will be available to all social work educators in Scotland, placing at their fingertips a rich online library - or digital repository - where they can instantly access a wide array of innovative learning resources.

It has been developed over the past two years at a cost of £800,000, funded jointly by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Funding Council. The Institute is a collaboration between nine Scottish universities, and is based at the University of Dundee. Work on developing the Learning Exchange was led by the University of Strathclyde.

Whether they are based in universities and colleges or in the workplace, academics, practitioners and students in the field of social work will all benefit from having such a readily accessible store of bite sized chunks of learning or 'learning objects'.

The Learning Exchange was officially launched at an event at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where Deputy Education Minister Robert Brown addressed an audience of social work academics and practitioners from across Scotland.

Mr Brown said, "We are committed to developing a professional, confident social service workforce. This means social service workers being equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to give of their best.

"Learning and development, both as people enter the workforce and as they develop their careers, lie at the heart of this commitment. A 21st century learning resource for 21st century social service workers - The Learning Exchange - gives the workforce access to high quality, interactive materials to support them, whether they are in the classroom or out in the field, as they deliver high quality services."

The Learning Exchange will enable the sharing of learning resource for the whole of the social care workforce.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the repository is the potential to share content between the classroom and the field. In this way The Learning Exchange has potential to be much more than a library. It can become a virtual learning hub for practice, enabling an active community of educators across Scotland to develop and disseminate high quality learning resources.

Bryan Williams, Director of the Institute, said, "This is a ground-breaking development in professional higher and further education and those studying to become 21st century social services workers and the users of those services deserve nothing less."

"The beauty of the Learning Exchange is the way that it enables educators to take small chunks of learning and incorporate them into their teaching according to their own needs and teaching styles. Educators can also upload their own materials into the Learning Exchange so that they can be shared with others."

"The universities and their partners will be the first to get access and we will then roll out the service to Scotland's colleges and to social services providers, making it a truly sector-wide resource."

Sir Alan Langlands, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Dundee, the Institute's lead institution, said, "The Learning Exchange is the culmination of 2 years of collaborative work by the nine university members of the Institute. They are to be congratulated on their success in working together to develop such a useful educational service for the social work profession."

Learning objects have been commissioned initially in the priority curricular areas of child development and protection, risk management, law, inter-professional work, service user involvement and preparation for practice.

Using a username and password to gain access, social work educators - including practice teachers - will be able to search the repository for content and download whatever seems relevant. Since the learning resources have all been carefully catalogued by a librarian using a social work specific classification system, it will be easy to locate the resources needed. Accessing multi-media resources will require a broadband connection. However, once downloaded, they can be viewed off-line and displayed in a classroom or training room using a data-projector.

These small nuggets of learning lend themselves well to being blended with other more traditional learning activities. So, for example, users might view and discuss a two minute video clip on "asking difficult questions" with a student who has a learning need in that area; or they may download and print out a text-based learning activity to enable a student to self-assess their groupwork skills and discuss the result in a supervision session.

The core content management technology for the project has been provided by Linlithgow-Based Intrallect, a leading provider of Learning Object Management Systems. Its IntraLibrary software is used by academic institutions throughout the world for the organisation, sharing and re-use of digital learning objects.

The Learning Exchange service will now be hosted for the Institute at the Glasgow School of Social Work.


  • The Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education was established in August 2003.
  • Based at the University of Dundee, the Institute aims, through strategic dialogue with key stakeholder groups and educational collaboration, to contribute directly to transformational change in social work education consequent on recent Government policy.
  • The participating universities are Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian, Robert Gordon, Paisley, Stirling, Glasgow, Strathclyde and The Open University.
  • The Glasgow School of Social Work is the result of a recent merger of the schools of social work of Strathclyde and Glasgow universities.
  • For more information see

Press enquiries shuld be directed to Professor Bryan Williams, Institute Director - 01382 464980

About Intrallect.

Intrallect develops software systems which make it easier for organisations to share, re-use and re-purpose learning and training materials. Since spinning-out of the University of Edinburgh, Intrallect has established itself as the global leader for such systems for the education sector, with installations in universities and colleges of further and higher education throughout the UK, and in continental Europe and Australia.

Intrallect provides a packaged software product and consultancy, customisation, and bespoke development services. Founded in June 2000, Intrallect has experienced more than 50% growth in annual turnover in each of the last five financial years, and is projecting nearly 100% growth in 2005/6. For more information see

About Intrallect IntraLibrary.

Intralibrary is enterprise software which enables organisations to share and re-use learning resources using a simple, web-based interface. Learning resources can include documents, presentations, web pages, images, multimedia and quiz datasets. These resources are stored as “learning objects”, which makes it very easy for users to retrieve and reuse them using intraLibrary's powerful search facilities. Intralibrary is a strategic technology that underpins a mixed learning environment. It saves the cost of “reinventing the wheel” when creating and using learning content, and helps maximise learning opportunities.

For more information contact:

Roddy Isles,
Head of Press
Tel: 01382 344910,
out of hours: 07968298585,