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New HEPI report cites the University of Northampton’s creative approach to digital Learning and teaching developments

Date 2.02.2017

Today, 2 February, a leading independent Higher Education thinktank has released a report praising the University of Northampton for designing a new campus that will keep up with changes in learning and teaching.

For most universities in the UK, the way digital technology has been embraced for learning and teaching hasn’t progressed significantly over the last 20 years. With the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), increasing competition for students and a greater focus on students as consumers; the Higher Education sector has a key moment to up the pace at which technology is embraced.

The University of Northampton has looked at the way in which its students experience learning, not only through their teaching and learning, but also the spaces in which they learn.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report states: “The University of Northampton’s new Waterside Campus, built with ‘teaching spaces’ in place of lecture theatres, is perhaps the most high-profile and furthest-reaching example of this in the UK.”

The University’s new, purpose built, Waterside Campus, will open its doors to the first cohort of students for the 2018 academic year. The campus has been designed to blur the divides of teaching spaces, by bringing together resources, staff and spaces that would traditionally be separate to enhance collaborative learning.

Alongside the new campus design and build project, the learning and teaching model for the whole university has been rejuvenated. The learning and teaching model has developed to place an increased focus on seminars or tutorials that allow closer interaction between students and a member of staff. Practically, this takes place in small groups or one-to-one which mimics practice in the professional world, allowing for experimentation, ideas, teamwork and face-to-face feedback. Some of the teaching is, therefore, online but it is always connected to face-to-face interactions and always involves actively working with tutors. The University of Northampton has defined this as Active Blended Learning – with an emphasis on high-quality contact time, and where face-to-face teaching is facilitated in a practical and collaborative manner, clearly linked to structured online activity outside the classroom.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford said: “This approach to programme redesign and our new campus development delivers an enhanced, student-centred, personalised and technology-enabled experience for all students; further linking academic practice with the skills employers tell us they are looking for from graduates.”

The full HEPI report Rebooting Learning for the Digital Age: What next for technology-enhanced higher education?  can be found on the HEPI website.