Principles & Expectations

To support our move to the new normal we need to work from sound principles. The University and Faculty have an interest in online learning that predates the pivot. These principles build upon the work in this field prior to the pivot. They will last through the  phases to come as we rise to meet this challenge.

UWE Principles for online learning

The University has a central team supporting learning design and have laid out 4 principles. They have a website to support these principles and events to expand on them in a more formal way. The 4 principles are as follows:

  • Clearly signposted, structured & inclusive
  • Opportunities for engagement, interaction & community building
  • Time for consolidation, independent inquiry & application
  • Evaluation & enhancement

HAS Principles for online learning

The Faculty has expanded these principles to fit its own context and extend this to reinforce:

  • Active learning is still important.
  • Good online learning should be specifically designed for delivery online.
  • There is no one size fits all approach to online learning.
  • Good online learning is a team sport.
  • Good online learning is inclusive by design.

HAS Principles explained

Active learning is still important. Online learning should be designed to ensure learners are as active in their learning as possible.

Good online learning should be specifically designed for delivery online. Not purely existing content or strategies uncritically redeployed for online delivery; this includes the assessment strategy.

There is no one size fits all approach. Online learning will differ depending on subject area and approaches online should reflect the different learning outcomes of programmes / modules.

Good online learning is a team sport. It is important to approach designing online learning as a team rather than rely on one individual as: Good online learning is about the interactions between staff and students; & Good content alone is not a good online learning experience. It is a joint endeavour. For online learning to be good it also must also be consistent. Otherwise students will get an uneven learning experience. Consistency is an accessibility issue.

Good online learning is inclusive by design. In the context of the COVID 19 we should ensure our online learning takes into account the digital divides in our society. We should design in a way accessible for those that did not choose to do online learning and those that may have limited access to bandwidth.


Each department will contextualise these expectations to fit their particular context. They exist to underpin or ‘nudge’ local strategies towards behaviours that align to good practice in online education. They align with the central and local learning design principles and apply some of these ambitions into our digital education context.

6 HAS Module Design Expectations

  1. All teams will have the opportunity to attend a learning design focused event or get bespoke advice from a Faculty Online Learning Coach or Champion.
  2. That each module starts with a ‘Welcome’ video introduction from the entire module team (with reasonable exceptions allowed) discussing the module and the history of the module at the University or within the Bristol area.
  3. That each topic / materials folder contains at least 1 asynchronous interaction between students and 2 interactions between staff and student as a minimum. What constitutes and interaction will depend on time covered by the topic/folder, pedagogy and size of cohort.
  4. That on balance each topic / materials folder is designed for students to spend more time asynchronously and in a self-directed manner than synchronously.
  5. The module teams should provide a statement to their field leader of how they have designed their module assessments so that cheating is impossible.
  6. Content should be easy to find and Blackboard should be easy to navigate. No more than 10 menu options on the left-hand module of the course. With a folder structure on Blackboard of no more than 3 levels deep.

5 HAS Module Quality Expectations

  1. All content is signposted so students know: how to engage with it; how long it will take to complete; & when it needs to be engaged with by.
  2. All PowerPoint and Word documents stored within the VLE must score above 70% / Green on Blackboard Ally.
  3. All pictures on the VLE to be provided with ALT text. All videos to be provided with as high as practicable accuracy captioning or alternative formats.
  4. All live or synchronous teaching to adhere to the Materials in Advance policy and not be a repetition of content given elsewhere.
  5. All video content delivered through Panopto should be as short as is practicable. Consider recording a series of 10-20 minute videos rather than a 1 hour lecture.