CABLE 2- Getting Blended Learning Right from the Start
The University of Hertfordshire Business School (UHBS) CABLE 2 project has had a significant strategic impact on the business school, delivering effectively on its main objective: To inspire and empower new academic staff at UHBS to develop their knowledge and understanding of blended learning in their first year at the university. Key objectives of the project were: (a) to integrate blended learning into a revised UHBS induction process; (b) to develop awareness among new academic staff, both visiting lecturers (VLs) and full time staff, of the university’s blended learning strategy, enabling them to ‘hit the ground running’; (c) to consider provision of a secure web/wiki site which could be accessed by new academic staff; (d) to up-skill the local workforce by provision of UHBS training. Results so far include: (i) integrated induction programmes run in September 2008 and January 2009, generating high levels of appreciation and support for further staff development activities among both new starters and senior staff; (ii) follow-up activities promoting the personal and professional development of our existing VLs; and (iii) a new ‘UHBS VL Support’ intranet (StudyNet) site set up in January 2009, designed to encourage ongoing engagement with blended learning once the formal induction process is complete. In effect, blended learning is now being used in the processes of new staff induction and VL development. Although the project was designed primarily to overcome the problem of academic staff resistance to engagement with blended learning, it has had a wider impact in building stronger working relationships within the university, for example between the business school and the university’s Learning and Teaching Institute. It is also expected that the new staff development programme for VLs will support their improved employability and commitment to UHBS.