Where does learning take place?
Charles Sturt University is committed to providing an enriching and supportive student experience for its diverse range of students. This commitment is supported by a process on ongoing curriculum renewal, informed by a series of
CSUDegree principles for good practice in learning and teaching. The principles are designed to shape collegial conversations around course redesign, focusing on examining the current student experience, and making informed, thoughtful choices about how this may be enhanced in future offerings. The focus of this site is on one of those sets of principles - that of blended and flexible learning, or BFL.

The site isn't designed as a 'course' to be read from woe to go...not as a recipe that must be followed. Rather, it's designed as an informal, dynamic and hopefully collaborative learning resource to inspire and support your work as you are working...without disturbing your usual work flow. You can read more about this design in the FAQs.

It's common sense, right?

In many ways, BFL is common sense. Of course a rich learning experience will require course teams to consider the right balance of learning opportunities to maximise student engagement. And given the demands on today's students (and staff!), of course we will need to provide flexibility in time, place, mode, approach, assessment and staffing to ensure those experiences are equivalent for all. Few would argue with these ideals, and many academic staff are already using blended learning strategies very effectively!

However common sense and 'easy' don't always go hand in hand, especially in a world of almost limitless design possibilities and constantly expanding ICT options. The wealth of dialogue around blended learning amongst theorists and practitioners today indicates the complexity of this area and just how challenging it is to reach that right 'blend'. BFL challenges traditional teaching models, and encourages us to remember the human element behind learning - that we
Ever found a puzzle that looks ever so simple, but ends up beingincredibly complex to master?
are teaching people, not content, and that learning happens in many spaces, not just within the lecture theatre and tutorial room.

As Garrison and Kanuka (2004) argue, it's not just about finding the right mix of technologies; it's about 'rethinking and redesigning the teaching and learning relationship', and this requires some serious reflection on how we can best facilitate the critical, creative and complex thinking skills required of our graduates. Blended and flexible learning is an art, and like any artform, that means that each design is unique and rarely conforms to a preconceived 'recipe'. The right 'blend' for one course will be the wrong blend for another - that's why it must be considered in context, with the course goals, teaching team and intended students being key considerations in any decision-making.

So why this site?

This site is designed to support course teams in their investigations of BFL and how they might achieve the right 'blend' of learning opportunities within their own courses. As mentioned earlier, it's not about providing step by step instructions about what you tools you should use, what spaces you should set up and so on. Instead, it provides a set of underlying principles that your course might aspire to, and asks you to integrate those which resonate with your team into any current set of principles or model that you are working from.

Then, as a way towards operationaling these principles, it suggests you consider your course from 5 different perspectives - pedagogy, interactions, learning spaces, ICTs and multi-literacies - as a way of reducing the complexity of course redesign as you work towards a cohesive strategy for enhancing BFL within your course.

Are these principles and perspectives a rigid framework requiring unquestioning compliance? Of course not. The simplest of searches will find a multitude of other sets of 'principles for blended learning' which are equally valid. What they offer is, we hope, a sensible, practical, thoughtful way forward to looking at your course through a blended and flexible learning lens. It offers you questions to consider as a course team that we hope will lead you towards decisions regarding BFL that are right for your course, for your context.

And it offers you resources to support you in the decision-making process, including a small (but growing) set of case studies and examples from which to draw inspiration. We hope you will use this site as a starting point for rich discussion within your course team, and return to the questions and resources often. Course design is an iterative process requiring continual refinement and commitment, and something we rarely 'get right' the first time.