The Institute would be a free online arena where educators and trainers exchange knowledge and resources to support their work in the field. A key component would be the repository, which could be thought of as a national library for the voluntary sector.
As a free Institute, I’ve placed the charged-for zone outside. Some visitors will be satisfied with what is available for free, while others will want to follow signposts to charged-for courses and services. Active contributors should expect to attract increased charged-for business in return for their very visible, public activity at the Institute.
The free 14-week openED course ‘Business and management competencies in a Web 2.0 world’ exemplifies one type of education that would be available through the Institute, and demonstrates the role for trainers in enhancing the basic free course with charged-for services. An attraction of the openED format is the way individuals form learning communities who provide peer support and peer assessment of one-another’s assignments; these bonds should endure and help to overcome the fragmentation of the sector.