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Stuart Allan

Stuart Allan leads the design and development of fully online programmes at Heriot-Watt Online. Previously, Stuart led the transformation of the MBA programme at Heriot-Watt University’s business school, establishing a new approach to online pedagogy. He is also a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research in Digital Education.
Heriot-Watt University
Job Title
Director of Online Learning (Heriot-Watt Online)

Stuart joined Heriot-Watt University in 2005 and held a number of professional positions in its business school (Edinburgh Business School or EBS) before becoming Director of Online Learning at Heriot-Watt Online in July 2020. He joined EBS as an editor and built a small in-house publishing team that developed distance-learning materials in five languages. Drawing extensively on his independent study and professional development in digital education, from 2016 to 2020 he led the transformation of EBS’s approach to learning and teaching online and the redesign of its flagship MBA programme, which has around 9,000 students in over 150 countries.

Stuart built and developed a new team of digital specialists and worked closely with academics, helping them to create new interactive materials and foster supportive online communities. He also worked with an in-house software team to design a brand new platform for online learning, with unique social and offline features that build teacher presence, help to maintain students' motivation and enhance global accessibility. The redesigned MBA programme, launched in September 2019, has had a significantly positive impact on student satisfaction and recruitment, as well as winning and being shortlisted for several awards. Through his practice, development and research, Stuart strives to make digital education more accessible, equitable and inclusive. Over time he has combined a deep understanding of an open-access, flexible approach to learning and teaching online with a critical, evidence-informed perspective on curriculum, pedagogy and technology.

Stuart gained an MSc in digital education in 2016 and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research in Digital Education (2018−present). His research analyses how digital spaces are configured and experienced in global contexts; with a particular interest in how subjectivity emerges with and through digital technologies in developing countries. Stuart now heads up the design and development of online programmes at Heriot-Watt Online, leading a team of 10 learning designers and digital media producers who work with academics across the institution. 

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