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Virginia Teixeira Antunes
Alejandro Armellini
Robert Howe


This study identified barriers and enablers of a university-wide pedagogic shift to Active Blended Learning (ABL). ABL is an approach to learning and teaching that promotes student centredness through teaching in small groups, with a focus on sense-making activities and interactions in and outside the physical or virtual learning space. Data gathered through a survey of academic staff, followed by in-depth interviews, were analysed using thematic analysis. The normalisation and effective embedding of digital technology and small group teaching were two major enablers of pedagogic transformation to ABL. Inconsistent teaching practices and the lack of student engagement with learning activities emerged as two of the main barriers. An in-depth understanding of effective, student-focused higher education teaching is a cornerstone of large-scale pedagogic change processes. Recommendations are put forward for higher education institutions considering changes to their learning and teaching strategies.

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Author Biographies

Virginia Teixeira Antunes, University of Northampton, United Kingdom

Virginia Teixeira Antunes is an independent consultant in Education who also works in Adult Learning. She has experience as a researcher at the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Northampton, in research focused on learning and teaching practices, assessment and institutional change processes. She has a MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology and a MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology, and has worked on research for several institutions both in the UK and Portugal. She is available to contact on LinkedIn:

Alejandro Armellini, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Alejandro (Ale) Armellini is Professor and Dean of Digital and Distributed Learning at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. His key role is to provide leadership in digital learning and learning innovation, including on-campus and distance provision, across all Faculties. Before joining Portsmouth, Ale was Dean of Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton, where he was the strategic lead for the redesign of all programmes for active blended learning. Ale is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Ale’s research and doctoral supervision focus on learning innovation, blended and online pedagogy, institutional capacity building and open practices. He holds visiting professorships at several UK and overseas universities.

Robert Howe, University of Northampton, United Kingdom

Rob is Head of Learning Technology at The University of Northampton. Accepted to CMALT and IADIS in 2007. Awarded University teaching fellowship in 2008. Achieved Senior Fellowship of the HEA in 2014. Has led four national projects (HEA BITE; HEA TIGER; JISC e4L and ELESIG - Midlands) in addition to local manager for the TLTP TALENT project and 3 internally funded projects. He has 2 internationally refereed conference papers, 2 journal articles, over 20 other workshops, conference papers and reports since 2000. 3 invited international keynotes since May 2010. 


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