Engaging Blended Learning Students: An evolving approach to engaging students through the VLE

Andrew Doig, Steve Hogg


Students taking part-time, distance or blended learning units who are also in employment face high commitment demands of work, life and family in addition to their study. They do not have time to face the additional challenge of making sense of difficult to access learning materials. These students are also often highly discerning, and will talk with their feet ââ¬â failing to complete units that donââ¬â¢t engage.

At Southampton Solent University, we recognise the need to make online or blended units accessible and supportive. In order to engage students on these, we have developed a set of institutional standards for online course development that aim to make materials intuitive, easy access, clearly introduced and well signposted. The standards also identify levels of support and collaboration in order for students to feel both engaged in and to gain maximum benefit from the learning processes.

At the same time we have established a Flexible Delivery Development and Support Team which collaborates with academic staff in course planning, writing and delivery. This team works with tutors to achieve the standards while aligning learning outcomes and assessment with online and blended learning activity.

This workshop explores the stages that led to establishing our institutional standards for online course development and the scope of activities for the FDDST. We shall explore ways in which the activities of the team have been responsive and adaptive to student experiences, and illustrate some of the impact of these developments on both actual an anticipated student engagement, achievement and retention.


online; distance; blended learning; engagement; students in employment; virtual learning environment

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ISSN: 1759-667X