Active Blended Learning means our students learn through activities which develop their subject knowledge and confidence in applying professional skills. In Active Blended Learning, students discuss ideas, experiment, work in teams and receive tutor feedback. We value community, collaboration, flexibility, and accessibility, whether on campus or remotely, because we recognise the benefits to our students of digital fluency and flexibility of place and time of study. Our courses build on years of experience combining face to face and digital environments.

Characteristics of Active Blended Learning:

  • Close interaction with tutors, small group teaching and team work
  • Activities that reflect the workplace and accommodate learner needs
  • A future-focused, digitally rich learning environment
  • An impressive range of accessible and up-to-date online resources and materials across all subject areas
  • Access to information and resources that is straightforward, consistent and reassuring
  • A supportive culture of motivation to progress and succeed, with students’ personal tutors playing a key role
  • A focus on academic and social belonging opportunities, including mentoring and peer support mechanisms

Teaching and Learning in 2020/2021

The University of Northampton is in a strong position to respond to the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic. We will be working to return to our beautiful Waterside campus as soon as possible. In the meantime, all our courses will continue to be based on our Active Blended Learning approach. This is what learning at UoN will look like:

  • Super Supportive: informative, trustworthy, inclusive, personalised and friendly.
  • A welcome and induction process with students at its heart, for new and returning students.
  • Tutor-led sessions using online technologies that enable communication and collaboration with the tutor and between students.
  • An approach to learning that prioritises personalisation and closer interaction between staff and students through small group teaching, allowing for experimentation, discussion of ideas, teamwork and feedback.
  • Support and time for all students to familiarise themselves with the technology platforms available.
  • Embedded development of academic skills and pastoral support via the Integrated Learner Support framework.
  • Multiple opportunities for relationships to build and develop, because the University recognises the importance of academic and social belonging.
  • All our teaching, learning and assessment activities driven through one main portal (NILE), accessible any time, any place.

What does an ‘Active Blended Learning’ programme look like?

The programme is taught through student-centred activities that support the development of subject knowledge and understanding, independent learning and digital fluency. Our face-to-face teaching is facilitated in a practical and collaborative manner, clearly linked to learning activity outside the classroom. Opportunities are provided for students to develop autonomy, Changemaker attributes and employability skills.

Active blended learning is therefore a pedagogical approach that combines sense-making activities with focused student interactions (with content, peers and tutors) in appropriate learning settings – in and outside the classroom. ABL focuses on engaging students in knowledge construction, reflection and critique, on the development of learner autonomy and of course, on the achievement of learning outcomes.


Active Blended Learning Not ABL
Learner-centred and interactions-based: a suitable balance between learner-tutor, learner-learner and learner-content interactions, face-to face (University-based and outside) and online. Based on one-way delivery, for example, through broadcast lectures or by uploading online content.
Context is King. Content is important, but its application in context is key. What matters is what students do with content, why and with whom. Content is King.
Accessing content is one of the many functions of the virtual learning environment to achieve successful learner engagement before, during and after face-to-face sessions. Tutor engagement and visibility in the online domain, as well as in the classroom, are key. The virtual learning environment (Blackboard) is, in essence, a content dump.
Active Blended Learning is our normal in learning and teaching. Appropriate online activity is designed into the module, with the tutor visible and active. Some tutor-facilitated contact time may take place in the online environment, both synchronously (real-time) and asynchronously (discussion forums, padlets, shared documents, blogs, wikis, etc). The online components of the ‘blend’ are just an add-on to the face-to-face provision, sometimes resulting in a ‘two-track’ course.
Sense-making elements (tasks, activities, mini-projects, etc) have been carefully designed and aligned to learning outcomes. They are presented to students for use in and outside face-to-face sessions. They can be used to prepare, motivate students or consolidate knowledge and understanding. ‘Read this chapter and watch that video for next week’.
The design is informed by what is best achieved in the classroom, workplace, placements and educational visits, and what is best done outside those settings – individually or in groups, before or after each session. Face-to-face is the absolute best.
Team approach to course design, including academic librarians, learning technologists, learning designers, the Learning Development team, students and other key stakeholders such as employers. Designed by an individual, in isolation from other colleagues.
Regularly evaluated, enhanced and redesigned, including explicit innovations in teaching and assessment. No evidence of systematic enhancement or pedagogic innovation.
Students build their own knowledge, develop their own understanding and articulate this in different ways with appropriate and balanced tutor input, both in and outside the classroom. Students receive information.
Students are offered the scaffold, the encouragement and the tools (including digital ones) to make sense of content, so they are prepared and can operate as productive members of a learning community, in and outside the classroom. Students turn up for face-to-face sessions ‘to be taught’ – poorly prepared or completely unprepared.
Focus on promoting student autonomy, active learning and application. Focus on direct tuition.