Flexible Learning Project (FLP)
Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, The University of Bath
‘Flexible learning is about providing learners with choices regarding where, when, and how learning occurs. It helps to attract and meet the needs of an increasingly diverse range of students and includes making appropriate use of technology to support the learning process’
Higher Education Academy
The project was set up in Spring 2012 with the aim of promoting flexible learning provision within the faculty in order to respond to student diversity and, at the postgraduate level, to the needs of practising professionals
The intention is to widen participation by enhancing provision for students unable to attend the University in person sufficiently regularly and frequently to access programmes in face-to-face mode. The faculty and the University already have experience of developing such provision across several specialties.
The FLP is recognised as a change management project with a significant staff development component which is where it fits with the JISC Transformations Programme and has successfully secured funding from JISC for this FLeXchange element. The project has also identified the need to engage with postgraduate students, prospective students and employers as another component.
The core objective of the FLP is to create a protocol for embedding flexible approaches into Faculty and University processes, beginning with the selection and evaluation of potential programmes and market identification, approvals and priority setting, through to programme design and development, staff development and student support and quality assurance.
To develop the protocol the project has identified the need to work through the process at a programme level as well as a unit level, ideally on an inter-departmental programme to identify and represent the complexities associated with working across departments. To date the project has several mini-projects running to develop flexible units for existing programmes as well as others to research and identify potential programmes. Some of these mini-projects are within the faculty but others are across faculties, sharing expertise and innovations.
These mini-projects have the following common characteristics:
- Staff enthusiasm and motivation
- Potential market worth exploring further
- Potential scalability
And meet one or more of the following objectives:
- To increase student numbers
- To improve efficiency of delivery
- To enhance the quality of teaching and learning
As well as the mini-projects themselves the project is running regular workshops with colleagues, to explore topics across the spectrum of flexible modes of provision and these will contribute to the staff development aspect of this and the FLeXchange projects. The FLP was initially set up for a 12 month period and there is a lot of exciting work ahead of us, especially now with the JISC Transformations project running as an integral part of this.
Melanie – Project Officer