Blended learning Curriculum Design digital experience Learning design

New “Beyond blended” standalone resources now available

Following publication of Beyond blended last autumn, consultants Sheila McNeill and Helen Beetham share news of new standalone resources for learning and curriculum designers.

‘Beyond blended’

In early autumn last year, we published the Beyond blended report.  The report provides an overview of our research and feedback from various community engagement activities that we have been undertaking since embarking on this research over two years ago. A core part of our ethos in developing this work has been to provide additional support to key stakeholders involved in curriculum and learning design in higher education (HE) providers, including service and department leaders, senior managers and curriculum teams.

The report is a useful resource in and of itself. Almost immediately after its publication, we were delighted to hear from members of our sector advisory group that they had already integrated it into postgraduate certificate courses for teaching and learning staff, shared it with senior colleagues, and were adopting use of some of the report’s definitions (particularly around modes of participation in learning).  We also received very positive feedback from another of our key stakeholder communities of practice, the Jisc Student Experience Experts group, when we introduced them to the report in October.

An iterative and discursive process with feedback from our advisory group and stakeholder communities has been central to guiding and focusing our work.  In fact, we have engaged with over 700 practitioners over the past year through our participation in a number of conferences e.g. ALT-C, SEDA, Advance HE, SQAA, Future Teacher, and many more.

If you have read the report, you will know that as well as synthesising the overarching narrative around the key challenges and transformations facing everyone involved in designing and engaging with learning and teaching, it contains a number of definitions, prompts, and exemplars that provide more practical insights and explanations.  These relate to both the aspects of learning and modes of participation in learning that underpin a blended approach.

It has always been our intention to provide some of these prompts and definitions as standalone resources that could be contextualised and integrated with institutional resources and practice. We are not trying to develop a new framework or approach. Rather, we want to help support colleagues by providing resources they can easily use and adapt in their work to support curriculum and learning design at both organisational and programme-team levels. To this end, as well as the Beyond blended report, we have been developing a larger, more detailed set of resources.

The more detailed set of resources will be available later in the spring as part of an exciting new web-guide that will bring together all of our recent research and resources around curriculum and learning design. As a teaser, we have developed a number of strategic and curriculum lenses based on our six pillars of designing ‘beyond blended’ learning. Each of the six pillars has been mapped to key areas of focus within institutions, such as learning space design, equity, diversity and inclusion, and learner engagement.  They each provide a number of prompts that can be used to engage a range of stakeholders in meaningful discussions. Please complete this short form if you would like to be informed when the web guide goes live.

First set of standalone resources

However, we now have our first set of standalone resources available to download from the Beyond blended report page, also linked below for your convenience:

Post-pandemic curriculum design: a summary (pdf)  This one page document provides a summary of our findings in relation to evolving curriculum design practice pre- and post-pandemic.

Six pillars for designing ‘beyond blended’ learning (pdf)   A simple diagrammatic overview of our six pillars of designing ‘beyond blended’ learning.

The six pillars as prompts for curriculum design and strategic thinking (pdf)  A two page overview of the six pillars with prompts at strategic and curriculum levels to facilitate discussion and debate.

Exploring the four aspects of designing beyond blended learning (pdf) This two page document provides an explanation of our four aspects of learning (time, pace and timing; space and place; learning materials; groups, roles and relationships).

Four modes of participation in learning (pdf)   A simple diagrammatic overview of our four modes of participation in learning (live online, live in place, async online, async in place).

Session types in the four modes of participation (examples) (pdf)  A one page overview of some of the most common session types in each of our four modes of learning.

Comparing in place and online learning sessions (pdf)  A one page summary comparing the main differences between a number of common in place and online learning session types.

Comparing live and asynchronous learning time (pdf)  A one page summary highlighting some of the main differences that need to be considered when designing live and asynchronous sessions.

Learning activity design from Jisc (2018) (pdf) A diagrammatic overview of the key aspects of learning design. Although created in 2018, it still has relevance today.

We hope that this first set of resources will be of use to a range of stakeholders within your institution and can help to support and expand existing practice.

Examples of use

We would also been very interested in hearing from anyone who is using the report and/or any of these standalone resources.  If you are making use of these resources, please do get in touch by emailing Elizabeth Newall, Senior sector specialist at so we can learn about your experiences and share your good practice with the wider community.

The ‘Beyond blended’ report and first set of standalone resources are available from

The outputs from the first phase of this research are available from


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