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In recent years, tertiary institutions have engaged more with digital education, especially blended and online learning. One institution sought to transform its existing provision, and enhance learning and teaching, through a substantial strategic funding initiative comprising almost 20 individual projects.
To capture the learning from this substantial investment, 20 semi-structured interviews were carried out with staff involved in setting up or working on these projects, typically early adopters. Interviews sought to revisit motivations to engage with the project, and capture perceived benefits including lessons learned, challenges, enablers, support needs and recommendations going forwards.
Participants were motivated to enhance their own teaching practice and improve student learning experience/outcomes. Recognised benefits included enhanced learner experience, transformed teaching practice, flexibility and access, teaching efficiencies, and developmental opportunities for staff. Significant challenges related to the time required to design, develop and implement courses, as well as technological and student-related issues. Despite these challenges, participation in the project led to the development of new skills and transformed teachers’ learning and teaching practice. This was made possible through a number of enablers including prior experience of blended learning, and supportive others from across various services, schools and colleges.
The study highlights the importance of strategic projects in expanding the digital capabilities of an institution to meet the expected—and unexpected—demands of the future. The findings are discussed in the context of the current literature on blended and remote learning, and existing institutional frameworks that support transitions to blended learning.
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