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Neil Hughes introduces week 2 of the course.

We ended last week with a debate that focused on your experiences of delivering blended and hybrid learning as well as the challenges you have faced. I’m guessing that your responses were somewhat mixed. This is a view supported by the academic literature on blended and hybrid learning. While it includes many examples of successful practice, it contains just as many testifying to the challenges that academics have faced in their efforts to blend time, space, pedagogy and technology in ways that are mutually reinforcing.

If water cooler conversations, teacher blogs, twitter feeds, and the increasing body of academic research are anything to go by, this picture of mixed results was born out during the pandemic. While for some, it revealed ways of enhancing the student experience that will persist long after the crisis, for others, it revealed the inherent deficiencies of modes of delivery that rely heavily on digital platforms, applications and tools.

So what does this mean for the future of blended and hybrid learning? In my own view, we have reached an important inflection point where we need to take stock of blended learning as currently applied. This will involve learning the lessons of the pandemic, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of existing models, and providing practical solutions that help teachers deliver on its promise to improve student learning. As Paul Bryant explained last week, it also requires a more purposeful approach to the design of teaching and learning in Higher Education.

We begin this process of appraisal and change by exploring the temporal, spatial and technological dimensions of blended learning as well as assessing how they have evolved during the course of the pandemic. We are joined on our journey through time, space and educational technology by some very special guests. From the University of Amsterdam’s Business School, Dr Pushpika Vishwanathan, Associate Professor of Strategy, and IT specialist, Gerben Groeneveld, will talk about the Hybrid Learning Theatre that they helped to set up to support hybrid delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic. I also have the pleasure of introducing you to Dr Gary Fisher, Senior Learning Designer at the University of Derby in the East Midlands. Gary will talk to you about education technology and offer tips about which of the many platforms, applications and tools to use.

Use comments below to share your views on any of the issues raised in this introduction. What, for example, do you make of my claim that HE has reached an important inflection point?

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Blended and Hybrid Learning Design in Higher Education

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