Some principles worth considering

The principles of good practice in Blended and Flexible Learning (BFL) at CSU are informed by CSU's values (collaborative, student-centred, agile, agents of change, reliable, inclusive) and Strategic Plan (2011-15) and the CSUDegree framework. They aim to foster creative discussion by course teams around good practice in blended and flexible learning as they engage in course and subject design. They are not designed as a 'prescription' or 'recipe' to follow blindly, but rather as a starting point from which each course team might develop or extend their own set of course principles that will guide planning for continuous renewal of the curriculum.

Again, course redesign is a complex process. Some teams will begin with already established models into which these principles need to be integrated. Others will be trying to pull together different viewpoints, sometimes expressed, sometimes not, into a single set of principles to guide future work. Still others will have already analysed their course using different CSUDegree Good Practice Guidelines, and may see much overlap with what they read below.
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What's important? That you use these principles in a reflective way to extend your current set of course principles and inform the course decisions you make in a meaningful, considered and mutually agreeable way. Let's start with two vital principles, which form part of the BFL Standards ratified by Academic Senate: that good practice in blended and flexible learning is student-centred and equivalent between cohorts.

Blended and flexible learning is most effective when it is...

1. ...student centred. Effective BFL design provides engaging, motivating and intellectually stimulating learning experiences focussed on the individual and social needs of the learners. Active participation in learning activities should be fostered through emphasising the interactive and social dimensions of learning both in physical and virtual environments. Students also need opportunities to become independent learners and to take responsibility for their own learning.

2. ...equivalent. Effective BFL design encompasses the ethical obligation to support, respect and provide equitable learning and assessment experiences for all of our diverse range of students. Equivalence should exist between and across different cohorts, ensuring that resources and facilitation processes normally only provided to one cohort are available to all, and that there are equivalent support mechanisms to cater for accessibilty and convenience.
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In addition to these core principles, CSU has identified 8 other supporting principles which are important to ensuring consistently high quality learning experiences and outcomes for all CSU undergraduates, and in enabling academic staff to achieve this goal.

3. ...founded on effective practice. Irrespective of the technology used, effective BFL design should be based on good curriculum design informed by evidence-based principles of good teaching practice, in particular constructive alignment. These principles need to be thoughtfully applied, using ICTs where appropriate to enhance specific aspects of the learning process.

4. ...authentic. Effective BFL design maximises the synergies between theory, professional practice and community activities, and engages students in developing solutions to real world problems and issues. It recognises, values and harnesses learning that takes place both within and outside of formal learning activities.

5. ...collaborative. Effective BFL design enhances opportunities for learners to work together cooperatively to achieve learning outcomes. This may involve both face-to-face and online opportunities, and may bring together on-campus and off-campus students where possible and appropriate.

cafe.jpg6. ...lifelong. Effective BFL design enhances learners' ability to continue their learning independently after graduation. This may involve building a personal learning network and developing their skills in a range of literacies.

7. ...appropriate. Effective BFL design is based on thoughtful choices in pedagogies, learning spaces, interactions, ICTs and literacies according to their affordances, blending them in a way that is contextually appropriate to meet the required learning outcomes.

8. ...innovative. Effective BFL design fosters transformative change and innovative and creative approaches to student learning which are informed by current research.

9. ...sustainable. Effective BFL design requires an approach that can be maintained over time and which accommodates the nuanced shifts fundamental to rapid technological change. Ideally, learning designs and objects should be reusable - used again by others in similar contexts with slight modifications.

10. ...continuous improvement. Effective BFL design fosters a dynamic environment of continous improvement, simultaneously leading and responding to developments in university teaching and learning at all levels. Ongoing renewal is important to BFL to ensure that courses, subjects, activities and assessments remain future orientated. For CSU teaching staff, continuous improvement also involves regularly enhancing teaching practice through professional development and reflection.

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Have we got it right? If you want to leave a general comment, use the discussion tab at the top. If you'd like to suggest additional principles, please add them below, with your name (if you wish). You'll need to request membership of the wiki to be able to edit this page.

I'm concerned at this stage that reflective learning isn't included here. Authentic, collaborative, lifelong and reflective learning are arguably four great advantages of the blended experience. We have included the first two here, but not the third. Also, as Mayes and deFrietas point out, reflection has been emphasised in HE since Dewey wrote about it in 1916. . Carole Hunter

One of the academics in the Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management course symposium was a little uncomfortable with the term 'student-centred', as it suggested that students are the only people important in learning process (i.e. teachers' needs are important too). The team decided to change the term to 'student-responsive'.



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