At the beginning of this year we interviewed five UTS academics who were then teaching in a blended delivery mode and asked them what blended learning meant to them. Their infectious enthusiasm for teaching and for teaching in a blended setting is apparent in this video:

Then, everything changed. COVID-19 became part of our vocabulary and teaching was altogether different. So, we have gone back to those academics and asked them what impact this year has had on their practice. Here is what they said:

The big shift in my thinking has been to change from seeing the relationship between in-class and online learning. I realised that before, implicitly I was seeing them as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that came together to create a complete whole. Now, I think about blended learning as a process through which the in-class and online amplify each other. My pedagogic focus is less on what belongs in each and how they fit together, but more about how connections between the two can make things new and valuable things possible, and how these connections can really be in the hands of students.

Nick Hopwood, Associate Professor, International Studies

My experiences have highlighted the importance of two factors. The first is building genuine relationships with my students that involves showing them the real me. The second is the importance of asynchronous work in the student learning journey. I’m looking forward to working on these two factors more in 2021.

Amanda White, Senior Lecturer Accounting

For my teaching this year, blended learning enabled by motivated staff and digital teaching technologies helped to effectively engage students and deliver positive student learning outcomes, which were beyond my initial expectations. 

Asif Gill, Associate Professor School of Computer Science

This year has really demonstrated the huge value of good learning design, and of academics working closely with learning designers to co-create blended learning. We’ve been lucky to do this at a course level so that our students experience a consistency of learning experience throughout their studies.

Alison McEwen, Head of Discipline Genetic Counselling

What have been your experiences of blended learning in this challenging year? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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