Scaling up online learning: outline plans

As outlined in the projects last blog post, the best of the ideas that came out of the ideas board for the project were considered by the projects Working Group during a dedicated workshop session. The solutions that they considered and the outcomes for each of these are summarised in the table below:

Idea Desira-bility Feasi-bility Commit-ment Outcome
Scaling up online learning toolkit  11 10 13 Project: online learning course development toolkit
Staff skills for online learning 13 9 12 Project: staff skills for online learning course
Live directory of online courses  5 9 5 Project: searchable directory of UK HE and FE online courses
Partnership building service for international online learning 4 3 4 Not taken forward at this stage.
Online/Distance Learning Resources Survey De-prioritised at start of workshop

As a result, three projects are currently being scoped in more detail, but you can see outline plans for each of the three below:

1. Online learning course development toolkit

Interactive online resource which recommends tools, techniques, strategies and activities at institutional, strategic and delivery levels to support the development and delivery of online/distance learning programmes.


  • To support senior management to recognise the need for coherent institutional strategy as well as the scope of the challenge of online course delivery
  • Provide a clear route to the development of online programmes that are as high quality, rigorous and credible as traditional f2f
  • Highlight the range different processes that need to be in place and how this can be linked to existing institutional systems

Activities: Work with early adopter institutions to identify suitable materials and content for the toolkit, identifying priority areas for the toolkit to include and filling any identified gaps. Develop a suitable interactive online tool to host resources, using an agile approach. Develop a support offer if institutions prefer to use the toolkit with support.

Profile: 7-8 months. Medium risk, high impact.

2. Staff skills for online learning course

Online course to support lecturers and other key staff groups in developing the skills they need to plan, design, create, deliver and support online learning opportunities.


  • Help participants to understand the online learner experience
  • Models good practice
  • Creates cross-disciplinary community of practice / networking opportunities
  • Time efficient – can deliver a tangible outcome for learners after 3 hour slot/engagement
  • Practical, applied style content

Activities: Work with partner bodies and leading institutions in online learning to develop and run a flexible and tailored short course in skills for the development of online learning courses.

Profile: 7 months development and small-scale piloting, starting with the creation of a diagnostic tool. Medium risk, high impact.

Scope: Would need to be practical, applied style content including core capabilities which are relevant to all role groups, plus modules which are relevant to particular groups of roles. Configurable by intermediaries at institutions – hooking into existing communities, e.g. ALT, HELF, HEA, UUK, HEFCE, QAA. Should support the learning journey with learners joining and leaving at any point.

3. Searchable directory of UK HE and FE online courses

An online tool which pulls together feeds of current online courses from UK HE and FE to help learners find online/distance courses and provide institutions with market intelligence on subject demand and market size.


  • Enhances the discoverability of existing online programmes in the UK
  • Improves information available to students
  • Cost effective marketing tool for current and future online programmes/courses
  • Provision of market intelligence in terms of market size and subject specific demand

Activities: Review existing directories of online courses and identify any key gaps in their offer. Develop a prototype online course directory and test with early adopter institutions, students and other appropriate organisations (e.g. British Council, NUS) to identify levels of interest in taking the project further. Identify a series of recommendations based on the feedback/interest in the prototype.

Profile: 6-7 months. High risk, high impact.

2 thoughts on “Scaling up online learning: outline plans

  1. Andrew Doig

    These are all really exciting developments. I’m very much looking forward to getting involved with the working group again on specific projects. A very positive way of enhancing a lot of practice and hopefully strategy in the area.



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