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Flexible Learning – mythbusters

29 Jun 2021

Are lectures banned? Will all teaching be online? Read our mythbusters to sort the fact from the fiction

Flexible Learning

We’ve collected some of the most common misconceptions we’ve been hearing about Flexible Learning, to help dispel some of the myths. If you’d like to learn more about Flexible Learning, take a look at our Flexible Learning StaffNet pages

Myth: Flexible and blended learning means moving everything online and continuing with how we taught during the pandemic. 

Fact: This move is not at all about becoming an online-only university, rather it’s about having a vibrant, innovative mix of on-campus and online learning that combines the best aspects of high-quality digital material with on-campus face-to-face discussions, labs, seminars and so forth. For our students studying in Manchester, we want to bring together the buzz and community of campus life with the flexibility of innovative digital technologies. The goal is to use a mix of different teaching methods, depending on where they can really add value. 

Myth: Flexible Learning is about saving costs by reducing staffing and the time students spend face-to-face with teaching staff. 

Fact: The move to blended and flexible learning is not about saving costs but about making an investment to ensure our future teaching offer meets the diverse needs of our students while also increasing flexibility for our staff. Flexible Learning aims to create a framework that supports learners’ individual needs, empowering them to tailor their studies to fit their circumstances and interests (learn more about our drivers). Rather than reducing the time students spend face-to-face with teaching staff, it’s about making sure these sessions are used for active learning and collaboration. Our move to blended and flexible learning can only be a success if we have the right resources in place, for example a comprehensive training offer, support in creating blended teaching materials and the right digital tools. If you would like to feed in to define our future requirements, please join our Flexible Learning network groups.  

Myth: Lectures are banned.

Fact: On-campus lectures are not banned, but as we move to a more blended and flexible approach, we hope to see an increase in active learning; whether this means flipped learning, more highly interactive lectures, or something else entirely will depend on the discipline and the person delivering teaching. 

Myth: The move to blended and flexible learning means that there will be quotas for how much of our teaching should be delivered online. 

Fact: In a word, no – Flexible Learning will not be setting quotas for how much teaching should be online. Colleagues delivering teaching know best how their subject should be taught and where new teaching approaches add the most value; what Flexible Learning is trying to do is to encourage, enable and support academics to deliver the best teaching.  We recognise that the optimal balance of blended learning between synchronous activities, which take place online or on-campus at a specific scheduled moment in time, and asynchronous activities, that students can complete in their own time, will differ considerably between disciplines. This provides freedom for individual academic course unit leaders to lead on defining the appropriate methods and mix of delivery that meet our obligations under the Competitions and Market Authority, working in consultation with those responsible (e.g. programme directors or equivalent) to create a balanced portfolio of synchronous, asynchronous, on-campus and on-line activities across a programme.