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.
The aim of this project explores topics that institutions, academics, students and governments are grappling with. The project addresses how we can provide high-quality, accessible and engaging learning experiences whilst leveraging the benefits of online learning.
- Stimulate thinking about the need to align flexible learning and teaching offer with institutional mission, vision and values,
- Support programme teams as they design programmes that combine in-person and online teaching,
- Making sure current quality assurance processes are still fit for purpose as opportunities to gain a higher education becomes more diverse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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