Navigating through the beyond blended resources – some scenarios

The Jisc Beyond Blended web resource which I have been working on with Helen Beetham, Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Newall and Lou McGill, is quite a substantial resource. As well as our 2 research reports, supporting podcasts, there are now a plethora of downloadable resources to support staff and students as we all adapt our practices around the design and delivery of learning activities in our post pandemic context.

The web resource was launched at the end of April, and we have had some really positive feedback. However, we are all aware that there is a lot of “stuff” in the resource. So whilst Lou did a brilliant job in bringing it all together into a logical, accessible structure on the Jisc website, it is quite daunting to explore. So, in this post I’m going to suggest a few pathways and scenarios to navigate through the resources.

Before that, tho’ I do want to emphasise that the guide is just that – a guide. It’s not a framework or a complete methodology. It is a set of research based findings and resources which explore the changing context of curriculum and learning design in terms of wider sector drivers, changing student expectations, and institutional transformations. It’s something we see as being able to be integrated into existing practice.

There is no one audience for the resources – we have designed the resources for use with a range of stakeholders, including strategic leaders, a range of educators including (but not limited to) teaching teams, individual academics, learning technologists, academic/ educational developers/, learning/instructional designers, librarians IT support staff, estates staff and students. The flexibility is a strength, but I do realise that flexibility can be daunting – especially if you are time poor and just need to find something useful as quickly as possible.

Of course, some resources are more relevant to some than others. But all are intended to support and extend discussions from ad hoc “help me do something different as soon as possible” – maybe something like this.

cartoon showing 2 people having a discussion around ideas for redesigning a module

– to more strategic discussions around how to develop and use the university estate (physical and digital) from a pedagogical perspective – maybe something like this.

cartoon showing a discussion about redesigning learning spaces

But moving away from the cartoons! If I was a learning technologist I might be focusing on the more practical resources, but also getting a handle of the “bigger picture”around the role of blended learning today , and be reassured that these resources have been developed in response to research in the UK HE sector, and have been developed with a lot of expert community feedback. So I might want to book mark the web resource and the reports (I may even have a hard copy of the latest report which I can read/have on my desk/take to meetings). It’s always useful to have some current UK based evidence to hand when supporting learning design and the use of digital technologies.

To help me in my day to day work, I would probably start with the Beyond Blended Guide. I’d download that 2 page PDF and add it to my “useful resources” digital box of tricks. I’d also print out a copy and pin it on an office wall somewhere. It could be a good conversation starter or interjection point. I’d also be starting to map my own practice to the six pillars, thinking about what areas I provide support for and how they relate to my practice and the support I provide. It might also help me articulate what blended learning means in my context.

In terms of practical “stuff” I can use, I would be downloading a number of the stand alone resources. In particular the Comparing live & asynchronous time  and Comparing in-place & online sessions resources. These overview tables could have multiple uses. Firstly to consolidate my own understandings of what happen in different sessions and places. I might also use these a basis for conversations with team members and share with colleagues I am supporting to brainstorm ideas.

I’d also be doing the same with the Session Types in the 4 modes of participation resource. Again this table could be used to consolidate my own understanding, to share with colleagues I am supporting and I’d also be thinking of ways to repurpose the resource with some institutional specific examples.

Similarly if I was an academic/educational developer I’d be looking at these same resources, but I might be thinking about using them as part of formal CPD courses such as PG Caps. I could use the comparing live and asynchronous time and comparing in-place and online sessions resources as a basis for group activities around sharing practice and thinking about different approaches to teaching. I could do the same with the session types – but here maybe make more direct links to pedagogical theories, and overall development of critical perspectives on modes of teaching and learning.

If was in a more strategic role, I might want to be spending time with the research reports, and use them as references for strategic discussions around say development new learning and teaching/student experience strategies. I’d been looking at the six pillars and mapping where support for each was provided, where more collaboration was needed and any gaps in provisions. I’d also be engaging with the strategic lenses (based on the six pillars). These lenses offer a set of related prompts or questions for each of the six beyond blended pillars. The questions have been designed to stimulate and extend discussions around key strategic development areas identified as part of our research and community engagement. They are

  • learning space design
  • learning platform and implementation
  • teaching time and workload
  • EDI
  • data collection and analytics

We’ve also created a curriculum/senior mangers lens and each lens has a blank template for you to add your own contextual questions. The lenses are provided as both PDF and PPT files. A blank template is also included so you can design a complete lens to suit your project or organisation.

For example if I was involved in a new working group reviewing the university’s learning space provision, I’d been sharing the beyond blended 2 page guide as well as the learning space design strategic lens with colleagues and suggesting a workshop to explore the questions from the perspectives all all stake holders. I might also use the lenses as part of curriculum review processes . There are more suggestions in the guide with a couple of really nice examples of practice too.

I might also be thinking about using the Beyond Blended posters to work with student partners to find out exactly how, where, when and what our students are doing in different spaces. The posters illustrate modes of student participation across different spaces, places and times and you can download them directly here and here. We’ve included a number suggestions for use in the guide including at induction, student co-creation, with professional services.

So there you have it – a few scenarios of how some of the resources could be used. But I know that there are many more, and if you have any more real world examples of use, we’d love to hear them. Jisc is collating examples of practice, and you share your practice here – or just leave a comment in this post.

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