Blended Learning for 2020: Blog from Dr Kamran Mahroof

If this pandemic situation has taught us anything, it’s the importance of digital agility. With most businesses shifting operations online, conferences switching to webinars and as educators, transitioning to online teaching overnight (literally) – being agile, responsive and embracing can’t be emphasised enough, regardless of who you are and what you do.
Here at the University, colleagues, professional services and students alike have been busy familiarising themselves with new and exciting platforms, such as Zoom (Corporate, of course), MS Teams, Echo360 as well as acquainting themselves with new terms to their learning glossaries, such as, synchronous learning, asynchronous, flipped learning, virtual and/or digital learning!

Here at The Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences (FoMLSS), we all came together to brain-storm ideas and identify best practices of online teaching – efforts which were largely supported through dedicated Blending Learning Champions (BLC) across each School and division, who worked directly with the University’s Learning, Teaching & Quality Enhancement (LTQE) team, namely Steve Gray (aka. Superman), thus allowing us to become one of the first faculties’ across the University to try our hand at a new, innovative integrated canvas study guide to support students with their online learning.

Given our blended learning offer, which consists of both online and face-to-face delivery, we’ve tried to see things more from the student perspective and as a result, have been mindful of the student journey and it’s importance within virtual learning environments. We’ve tried to incorporate this learning experience for students into our integrated study guides, allowing them to access all which they need to succeed, in an integrated, logical and structured approach.

As a faculty, we didn’t have to look far for Distance learning (DL) inspiration. The School of Management’s Digital Learning MBA being ranked at No.1 in the world for value for money, meant we naturally looked to our colleagues who have vast experience of offering a quality virtual delivery for insights, guidance and tips. My role more specifically, as the Blended learning lead for FoMLSS, has been both challenging but equally rewarding, seeing months of planning finally taking shape and coming to fruition in the form of our integrated canvas templates, which have been adapted for over 450 modules across the faculty! Bringing this together couldn’t have been possible without the continued and ongoing support of all our colleagues, namely the BLC’s across the faculty and Steve Gray, who have all contributed in doing a phenomenal job to support our colleagues, and to overcome any issues along the way.

The FoMLSS as a whole, have also put in an monumental effort, by proactively preparing teaching materials, aligning their canvas study guides and creating digital material to support students within their virtual learning environments, all whilst being up against the usual teaching pressures faced during this time of the academic year.
In addition to offering students flexibility and allowing them to remain safe, embracing the digital change and blended approach also has many other far-reaching benefits for students. In an increasingly shifting global and digital economy, our digital learning offer also allows our students to acquire many important and timely skills, such as developing self-discipline and responsibility, offering more opportunities to foster critical thinking, enhanced netiquette (or internet etiquette) and helping them build their online communication skills – all competencies which are highly valued and pertinent in the current times that we find ourselves in.

So on a closing note, if you’ve been affected by the current situation, or are simply planning of taking a break from industry to explore your academic options, we can assure you, we’re here and we’re ready to help you upskill and to offer you a fantastic blended learning, study experience.

Dr Kamran Mahroof
Lecturer in Supply Chain Analytics
Blended Learning Lead for FoMLSS
Programme Leader BSc Management and Business Analytics

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