The New Normal in HAS

What is online learning?

Online learning refers to learning, teaching and assessment activity that is managed and conducted online.  Students participate in a digital learning environment where they watch presentations and participate in seminars.  In this digital environment they access online resources and submit assignments.  More often than not they make contact with tutors and fellow students online via discussion fora, webinars, asynchronous messaging or email.  Students may still be asked to perform real world tasks but at a distance from their instructor.

The terms online, remote and distance learning are often used interchangeably, but at different institutions they mean different things.  Within HAS we will be referring to to the online component of heavily blended courses and entirely online courses as online learning for the duration of 2020/21.

How will the ‘new normal’ be different from the crisis response?

At UWE we are adjusting to a new normal.  A new normal that is typified by uncertainty and change.  This area aims to address the elements of the Faculty’s position on online learning to help address this uncertainty.  This new normal includes creating new ways of learning experiences for our students.  The Faculty does not expect this will be perfect on day one.  The Faculty does not expect that all of our teaching experiences will be ‘best in show’ for online learning. The Faculty recognizes that we are still amidst a confusing and challenging time and staff will not become expert online educators overnight. However, expectations of what is possible and what is desired will inevitably change as we move from crises through recovery and to a new normal.

An assessment of how the new normal will look and feel in comparison to the initial crisis response is outlined below. The table below can be also accessed in a more accessible format. This table is to give an overview of our direction of travel and takes into account lessons learnt from the pivot to online. It tries to outline what a new normal looks and feels like.

If you have any questions or contentions about the ‘New Normal’ as outlined below please contact .

  Crisis Response
(The pivot to online learning in spring 2020)
New normal
(The adjustment to online learning as the new normal)
Lead Time Less than 2 weeks 2-4 months
Student Expectations Managed through local and central communication; adjusted as circumstances changed. Our undergraduate programmes will start as expected in the autumn, with most of our PGT programmes starting in January. We have introduced a digital-first enhanced transition and induction programme (Block Zero) to support all our students to get ready to learn and make the most of their UWE Bristol experience.
Instruction Largely delivered through Blackboard Collaborate with some activity happening in none-supported systems. Some instruction done via guided / facilitated asynchronous activity. On balance each topic / materials folder to be designed for students to spend more time engaged asynchronously and in a self-directed manner rather than synchronously. Blackboard Collaborate to be used strategically as part of the module learning design but not for didactic contact and not for multiple sessions in a row.
Content Creation and Delivery Extension of timetabled ‘live’ teaching events to online delivery. Delivered outside of the campus via recorded content. Mainly via Panopto recordings but also some other activity such as enriched PowerPoints etc.

Old recordings were repurposed where it was deemed to save a substantial amount of time or to replicate experiences no longer possible to deliver (such as external involvement).

Content will still be created and managed through the core toolset (where possible). Content will be designed primarily for online consumption and for use as part of online provision. Adhering as closely as possible to the appropriate best practice for online delivery.

The reuse of ‘recorded live events’ without editing to be limited as far as is practicable.

Given the complexities of life during 20/21, where possible content will be available for self directed study for as long as is practicable.

Learning Technology A focus on a subset of core learning tools. Namely Panopto, Collaborate, Reading Lists, Kaltura and Blackboard Learn. A focus on a subset of core learning tools. Namely Panopto, Collaborate, Reading Lists, Kaltura and Blackboard Learn.

This core list to be enhanced during the summer to include additional tools. To be managed as a central process rather than locally.

Student Engagement Live Collaborate sessions; limited use of breakout rooms for group activities. Discussion board use unknown.

Limited asynchronous peer-to-peer or peer-to-instructor interaction. A lot of synchronous engagement. With pockets of excellent and engaging online practice.

Individual, group and social activities to be planned before the course starts. Activities deployed in a facilitated and scaffolded manner.

Expectations set early to encourage student participation in live or asynchronous discussion, team projects and other meetings.

Formative Assignments Paper-based / real world activities quickly translated to online activities.

Additional formative activities deployed if time allowed it.


Formative assessments / activities to be redesigned to take advantage of the digital environment (example: students might produce blogs or websites; develop videos and multimedia; use web-based presentation and sharing technologies).

Formative assessment strategy to take into account assessment load across the student journey / programme.

Assessments Exams quickly translated to time limited assessments and/or re-conceived as short answer exercises.

OSCEs / SOPEs tackled in various ways.

Assorted assessments moved to presentation type assessments via Kaltura Media.

Assessment strategies to move beyond translation and more towards transformation. More instances where the whole module length is used to deliver assessments.

Assessment design to adapt to remove ability to cheat assessments without relying on technological fixes.

What will the students be told?

You will find details of Block 0 on intranet pages. What we do know is that 2020 / 21 will be the first time students will be given an ‘official’ induction into digital education and learning online. One of the first resources on ‘online learning‘ that has been drafted is now on the external web pages.

In addition to this there are various departmental initiatives to give prospective students materials in advance of commencement. The projects the Faculty is aware of use technologies such as Xerte and Sway to produce ‘open’ content to give to students.

What does online learning look like?

To help navigate this challenging time the Faculty has drafted some foundational principles and expectations of quality for online learning design at a modular level.

In addition to this the resources below outline additional support available at UWE Bristol to support the move to this ‘new normal’.

What support is available from the Faculty?

Faculty Online Learning Coaches

The most senior learning technologist on each campus is your first port of call. They will be able to signpost resources or services, give you advice over the phone or talk through concerns you might have. For programmes on Glenside this is Michael Harris and for programmes on Frenchay this is Tom Buckley . They are available for phone meetings, video calls and to triage email queries.

The full list of TEL professionals able to assist and who is the best person to talk to is available on the Faculty TEL Support page.

Identified Departmental Champions

HSS: Jane Meyrick, Rob Lomax, Matt Wood + Rebekah Stevens (Accessibility)
DAS: Antony Hill, Chris Moore + Lynne Lawrence (Accessibility)
AHP: [None Identified] + Steve Evans (Accessibility)
NAM: Rachel Sales (inc. Accessibility)

What support is available from the University?