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This QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project created a Flexible Learning Toolkit to help solve programme and module design issues that were observed during the global COVID-19 pandemic, such as:

  • lack of flexible staff contact
  • poorly structured digital modules
  • challenges around student engagement and independent learning activities
  • content overload.

A context analysis was conducted to understand how flexible learning could support all students (campus-based, online and apprenticeship). The results of this study are housed in a digital exhibition of flexible learning journeys that visualises examples of good practice. Staff and students from across disciplines, modes and levels of study were engaged in a series of in-module reflections on digital flexible learning during the second semester (February to May 2021). These reflections, supported by learning analytics, were summarised in personal video diaries (vlogs). The exhibition depicted students’ flexible contact with staff, private study (including remote access to the institution’s support facilities) and work-based application.


The project team also explored strategic alignment between sector requirements and guidance, institutional teaching and learning strategies and their quality assurance in practice. The second resource is a five-hour Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) informed by the results of the first study. It contains self-paced learning content and design-enhancing activities alongside recommendations and an evidence-based guide of further reading.


In the intervention stage, the project team used design thinking to create two flexible curriculum design templates. The Module Activity Plan with Indicative Timelines (MAPIT) will help curriculum development teams plan and compare the amount of contact, guided study, self-directed study and work-based application alongside your module’s quality and student success indicators. One template provides a one-page high-level plan, useful for initial development discussions, while the second template provides a more detailed view of module design, useful for exploring the student journey. Both templates include a pie chart to indicate the balance of activity within a module.


Through student facilitated workshops, a range of blueprints and case studies were produced to provide examples of the use of MAPIT in practice. Evaluating these designs during the academic year 2022-23 will enable the project team to explore their impact.


Finally, a research evidence page collates the latest sector and research evidence about flexible learning. This can be used to enable curriculum development teams to make informed decisions about ‘What Works?’ in flexible learning.


In this short video we hear from student partners who formed a vital part of the project. They articulate their experience of being involved through its journey and tell us about their own learning and development in an open, honest and inspiring way.


At the conclusion of the project, the team published an evaluative report, providing context and an overview of what happened, as well as looking at how the project contributed to sector-wide themes.


In September 2022, QAA hosted a webinar for members to hear more about the toolkit from the project team. Members can access the webinar presentation on the Membership Resources Site.

Project lead:

University of Derby

Project partners:

Derby College, London College and Pearson Learning

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.