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Beyond Flexible Learning

Meeting the challenge of providing high quality and engaging learning experiences whilst leveraging the benefits of online learning.

The focus of the flexible learning framework developed in 2016 was on empowering students by providing choices in terms of how what when and where they learned. The framework also recognised the need for pragmatic flexibility- the extent to which we can provide choice in the pace, place and mode of learning whilst sustaining a learning community.

The four dimensions underpinning the framework: technology-enhanced learning, pedagogic approaches, institutional systems and structures and employability are still valid although the context and application have shifted as illustrated in this quote from Jones –Devitt et al. which emphasises the need to ensure that the infrastructure, policies and practices focus on widening access and driving engagement.

Flexible learning concerns institutions constructing and continually evaluating infrastructure, policies and practices that offer the widest possible opportunity for successful student engagement and belonging of all stakeholders in higher education

The Beyond Flexible Learning project provides a range of resources to help our members develop institutional and personal responses as they develop and communicate their flexible learning offer.

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Project output: Screencast

How can we provide high quality and engaging learning experiences whilst leveraging the benefits of online learning?

In this introductory video,  Dr Kay Hack introduces the theme and discusses how HE providers can provide high quality education experiences while leveraging the benefits of online learning for students.

Watch the video
Kay Hack - Beyond Flexible Learning
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Project output: Podcast

Quality Assurance: safety net or tether on creativity

In this podcast, Dr Kay Hack, Principal Adviser, (Learning and Teaching) with Advance HE is joined in discussion by 2 speakers who have been considering the role of quality assurance in the changing higher education sector, Dr Nick Mount Academic Director of the University Of Nottingham online and Professor David Webster Director of SOAS Foundation College.

In the discussion, the role of quality assurance processes in validating completely new short, credit-bearing, professional development programmes, designed to meet demands for upskilling and reskilling the workforce, as well as traditional undergraduate programmes that are now moving to hybrid delivery is examined.

Listen to the podcast
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Project output: Webinar

The future student experience – webinar

What is the future for higher education provision and how should the global higher education sector evolve to meet the growing demands for quality higher education and an enhanced student experience? These are the questions we’ve been exploring, working with teams from across the higher education sector to analyse current trends to envision potential future student experiences.

The six reports as part of Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22: The Future Student Experience Project, published here, have examined the technological, social, environmental and economic factors that will drive or disrupt the sector.

Kay Hack
This is a fascinating project and the debate about the future student experience will continuously play out. Future thinking allows us to plan and prepare to create the vision we want for ourselves, our students and our institutions. I am grateful to all the report writers for their hard work and insights.''

Dr Kay Hack (PFHEA), Principal Adviser (Learning and Teaching), Advance HE

Drawing from the report findings we have created four future-focused models of higher education:

  • Metaversity: Become immersed in your learning
  • Universitas: Quality learning for all
  • Analytica: Learn how you learn best
  • Campus Connect: Working locally to change the world

The webinar was held on 29 November 2022.

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The Future Student Experience: workshop resources

Drawing from the report findings we have created four future-focused scenarios of higher education, with the aim of promoting thinking about possible, probable and plausible higher education futures. 

These resources allow you to recreate a workshop, which was delivered by Advance HE as part of the Beyond Flexible Learning member benefit project, which uses avatars to help paint a picture of these scenarios to provoke discussion.

Find out more
The Future Student Experience workshop resource
The visions in the resources are thought provoking and our lively group discussions covered pedagogies, technologies and importantly the values associated with them.''

Dr Fiona Handley, Head of Learning and Teaching, University of Winchester.

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Project output: Practice Guide

Modes of learning: a practice guide

This practice guide for course teams designing and delivering learning, describes the three key teaching modalities that may contribute to blended learning.

  • In-person learning: any form of formal or informal learning that requires physical co-presence of educators and students.
  • Synchronous online learning: formal online learning undertaken in groups in real-time facilitated by an educator.
  • Directed learning: flexible, self-paced learning activities that students carry out independently or as part of a team at a time and a location – online or in-person – that suits them.

The practice guide was informed by the six case studies from the 2021/22 Collaborative Development Fund Future Student Experience project. Advance HE members can access the Future Student Experience reports here.

Read the practice guide
Practice guide-beyond flexible learning
This guide has helped to foster a common understanding of the terminology used to describe modes of learning. We have adopted the terminology for our communications with staff, students, external stakeholders and reviewers to assist consistent practice and meeting expectations.''

Learning and Teaching Committee, Ulster University

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Related event

Flexible Learning Symposium

This symposium will provide staff with a safe forum via which to exchange ideas and disseminate new approaches to flexible learning. It will offer reflections, insights and solutions to current issues pertaining to new modes of learning as well as exploring how colleagues across the sector are approaching curriculum delivery in this post-pandemic era.

Find out more

An Advance HE member benefit

Member Projects are part of Advance HE's member benefits for the 2022-23 membership year. Click below to see the full range of benefits available

Find out more
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Discover more from Advance HE

The Knowledge Hub, our eNewsletters and Advance HE Connect are great ways to keep up-to-date on the work of Advance HE.

Knowledge Hub

The Advance HE Knowledge Hub brings together thousands of higher education resources covering a wide range of topics and themes all into one place. Search by keyword or use the search filters on theme, sub theme and content type to find resources relevant to you.

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Advance HE Connect

Advance HE Connect our online network that is open to all those who work in HE providing a space where the sector can share, connect and collaborate in one place with 22,000 HE peers from 100 countries around the globe. The platform features special interest groups, events and collaborative projects. 

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