Lessons learned from being BOLD: Staff experiences of an institutional strategic project in Blended and Online Learning Development





blended learning, online learning, digital capability building, strategic projects, digital education


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.


Author Biographies

Vicki Harcus Morgan Dale, Dr, University of Glasgow

Dr Vicki H.M. Dale, BSc MSc MEd PhD CMALT SFHEA, is a Senior Academic and Digital Development Adviser, with a focus on academic development for active and blended learning. Vicki was the pedagogical lead for the BOLD project and the leading researcher on the Transitions to Blended Learning project QAA project, latterly serving as the institutional lead. Vicki sits on the organising committee for the Association for Learning Technology Scotland group.

Eva Kubincova

Eva Kubincová, MA MSc, was a Research Assistant in School of Education, University of Glasgow participating in educational development projects including QAA-funded Enhancement Themes ‘Transitions to blended learning’ project as well as the evaluation of the BOLD project.

John Kerr, Mr, University of Glasgow

John Kerr, BSc (Dist) MA, FHEA, CMALT, is the Learning Innovation Unit Manager at the University of Glasgow. John leads a team of Learning Innovation Officers, tasked with delivering digital culture change across the institution. John is responsible for developing Glasgow’s MOOC portfolio with FutureLearn and Coursera. His responsibilities also include delivering on a range of MicroCredentials and fully online degrees in partnership with these platforms. John also chairs the Scottish MOOC Committee and is the author of the MOOC Design Mapping Framework. 

Jo-Anne Murray, Professor, University of Glasgow

Professor Jo-Anne Murray, PhD, MSc, PgDip, PgCert, BSc(hons), BHSII, RNutr, PFHEA, is Professor of Educational Innovation and has led digital education strategy for the University of Glasgow since the BOLD project. Jo-Anne has also led the development of a range of innovative learning and teaching approaches including virtual worlds, mobile apps and MOOCs. Jo-Anne has also led and participated in a range of research activities in education and is often invited to speak at educational conferences about her work in digital education.   


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