A Multi-Strand Institutional Strategy for Blended and Online Learning

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

This presentation describes the approach the University of Glasgow has taken to effect a significant institutional move towards blended and online learning


FRANK COTON is currently Vice-Principal (Academic and Educational Innovation) and Professor of Low Speed Aerodynamics at the University of Glasgow. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the University Learning and Teaching Strategy and the University IT strategy and for the development and implementation of all academic policy relating to teaching and the quality assurance of teaching and he chairs the University Educational Policy and Strategy Committee and the Learning and Teaching Committee. He is leading major initiatives in blended and online learning and the strategic redevelopment and expansion of the physical teaching estate. He is also the current Chair of the UK Russell Group Sub-Group of Pro-Vice Chancellors for Learning & Teaching. He is past Chair of both the Scottish Deans of Science and Engineering and the Applied Aerodynamics Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Extended Abstract

The University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of the UK's leading research-intensive universities. Until relatively recently, the approach to teaching in the University was largely built around the traditional face-to-face lecture model. During the last few years the University has begun to shift its approach and is now deploying a wider range of pedagogic approaches including more extensive use of blended and online learning together with the increased use of technology inside and outside of the classroom. This shift has been enabled by a series of strategic interventions including the development of an institutional e-learning strategy, engagement with MOOCs, targeted investment in online and blended learning and is now being augmented by major developments in the physical teaching estate.

Through its E-Learning strategy, the University of Glasgow committed to developing " an academic community that is empowered to creatively consider and take advantage of the opportunities to foster investigative learning afforded by technology at the early stages of course and programme design and is both confident and well-supported in its use."

Central to this vision was ensuring that the learning experiences of the student community would be enriched by

ï an increasingly personalized, technology-supported, student learning experience to offset the depersonalizing effects of large classes

ï increased access to and interaction with rich educational content via mobile devices within and beyond the physical bounds of the campuses

ï access to a limited range of wholly online, interactive and feedback-rich courses, available on-campus, to increase both the flexibility and the breadth of the learning experience.

Staff and students would be supported throughout by

ï a robust IT infrastructure that allows pervasive high-speed connectivity, has sufficient bandwidth, storage capacity and technical capability to create and deliver rich multi-media course content to students on demand.

ï a robust but flexible Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that incorporates a range of well-supported interactive tools for teaching and assessment both on campus and at distance

ï technology enabled physical teaching, study and assessment spaces designed to be flexible and aligned to the teaching and learning strategies of staff and students

The global reach and reputation of the University would then be enhanced through

ï supporting a significant number of learners at distance on a range of high-quality, online degrees aligned with both research expertise and the needs of high-level professionals

ï enabling the University's Transnational Education Strategy via seamless support for flexible delivery in-country or online across national boundaries

ï contributing to and drawing from world-class Open Educational Resources to both enhance the reputation of the University as a leading education provider and to enhance the student learning experience

This presentation will describe how the University of Glasgow developed and implemented a multi-stranded approach to deliver this strategy and to effect a significant institutional move towards blended and online learning. In particular, it will explore how a variety of low-level incentivization mechanisms associated with e-assessment and MOOC development were combined with a major funding initiative to increase the engagement of staff and build their expertise in blended and online learning. The extent to which existing mechanisms, such as the annual University learning and teaching conference and lunchtime seminar programme, that encourage the sharing of best practice were leveraged to underpin the change will also be discussed. The presentation will then focus how the combination of this activity with a parallel initiative involving a major expansion of the physical estate has created the opportunity to make a fundamental shift in the way teaching is delivered by the University.

The presentation will include opportunities for the audience to actively consider and respond to the merits of the strategic approach through interactive question and answer moments. The audience will also be invited to help shape the thinking for the next stage of implementation of both the strategy and the development of the physical estate. To assist engagement with the presentation, the audience will be provided with a copy of the slides and a web-link to the University Learning and Teaching and E-Learning strategies.