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HEA Flexible Learning Project

Conditions of Flexibility report from the HEA

Warwick's Extended Classroom consortium is working as part of the Higher Education Academy's Flexible Learning Strategic Enhancement Programme (FLSEP). We have also bid for £10,000 in funding for a project that will define a set of "competencies" for students working as "flexible learning design consultants", create Moodle courses and Open Badges and support a team of 8 students.

This builds upon the HEA investigation and reports on flexible pedagogies, including Ron Barnett's "Flexible Pedagogies: Securing a more responsive Higher Education system" (2014).

This is a summary of our proposal for that programme...


Warwick’s institutional strategy includes a commitment to flexibility for students – as both an extension of curriculum opportunities and as an expansion in the repertoire of practices used for teaching and learning. Drivers for this include:

  • a more tailored student experience;
  • access to international opportunities for all;
  • widening participation;
  • the challenges of rapidly scaling a high- quality campus experience beyond our physical capacity.

We are developing an approach to these challenges appropriate to large, internationalising, campus based research-intensive universities like Warwick. We call this approach The Extended Classroom.

It begins by affirming the teacher-student relationship at the core, but then carefully extending the relationship over space and time, and across institutional boundaries as appropriate. First, we understand what is important in inter-personal interactions, then we build the supporting framework around this, extending the repertoire of informed design choices to exploit opportunities for flexibility.

However, in such an already “successful” research-intensive university change is not easy. Getting academics engaged can be a significant challenge. Conventional training and dissemination approaches are attractive to some but not all academics. More is needed to reach a critical mass. There is not enough “horizontal diffusion of innovation” amongst academic staff – many of whom do not even describe themselves as teachers.

In research by members of the team, we identified organisational, ideological and motivational constraints mitigating against the broad adoption of flexible learning. Our project aims to alleviate these constraints, using a range of strategies for increasing staff and student engagement and collaboration, creating a more widespread design dialogue, building a collectively owned and valued repertoire of Extended Classroom designs, making flexible learning an everyday reality.

Project team

  • Andrew Thompson (Students' Union Sabbatical Officer for postgraduates);
  • Professor Christina Hughes (Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching);
  • Emma King (Learning and Development Centre Advisor);
  • Robert O'Toole (Senior Academic Technologist);
  • Ruth Cooper (Assistant Registrar, Teaching and Learning);
  • Naomi de la Tour (Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning Teaching Fellow);
  • Sara Hattersley (Centre for Lifelong Learning E-learning Manager);
  • Siobhan Bennett (Careers and Skills).


Call for participation from the HEA (with aims & scope, structure, benefits).

Warwick expression of interest.

HEA reports

Conditions of Flexibility: Securing a more responsive higher education system, Ron Barnett.

Flexible Pedagogies: Technology-Enhanced Learning, Neil Gordon.

Flexible Pedagogies: New pedagogic ideas, Alex Ryan and Daniella Tilbury.

Flexible Pedagogies: Part-time learners and learning in higher education, Michael McLinden.

Flexible Pedagogies: Part-time learners and learning in higher education, Michael McLinden.