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Course Design Blueprint: Design for Block and Blend

What is Block and Blend?

Block and blend is an approach to learning and teaching which puts students at the heart of an empowering and compassionate academic experience.

Students studying on a Block and Blend designed programme will typically study one module at a time over a period of five weeks, rather than three modules consecutively over a period of twelve weeks. The learning experience brings together a range of activities and resources which may be delivered on campus or in the Online Learning Environment (OLE), may be completed independently and / or in groups. Learning and understanding is tested through these activities, before an assessment of the learning is completed, typically at the end of the module. 

 

Is Blend just online?

At Suffolk, Blend is more than the use of the Online Learning Environment to deliver additional content. Blended learning is about the right blend of learning experiences and activities for the module and its learning outcomes - but also for the student cohort. As part of the intentional design of blend, it is necessary to consider who are student are, the level of learning, the timing of the module, the learning outcomes and the best ways to support our students to succeed. 

We do provide course teams with guidance in the effective and intentional use of Brightspace as part of their application of blended learning. This includes the Baseline Standards and the Exemplar Module Design Rubric. 

University of Suffolk - Block and Blend from University of Suffolk on Vimeo.


Models for Block and Blend delivery

Our standard approach for Block and Blend is the "4 plus 1" model, in which one module is taught over the period of four weeks, with a fifth week used for assessment, and preparation for the next module. For courses with both theory and practice-based modules, a double block model may be used, in which two modules (one theory, one practice) are taught together over a single ten week block. Where this is adopted, the links between modules and why they are being taught together must be explicit in the narrative and design.

 

Other considerations

Optional modules may be included in undergraduate courses from Level 5 onwards. In Block teaching, optional modules will typically need to be delivered in the same blocks. This is also true for student pathways and joint provision.

Examples

1. Block structure with two optional modules in the fourth and fifth blocks.

Block structure with two optional modules available in each of the fourth and fifth blocks

 

2. Block structure with two sets of three pathway modules.

Block structure with two sets of three pathway modules included

A Learning Hub is often used to support the cumulative development of skills, for example, academic, research, employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship over a prolonged period in a year of study. Learning Hubs run in parallel to the blocks or modules, and progress in the development of skills can be tested in module learning outcomes.  

 

Example

Single level delivery including a Learning Hub.

 

Multiple Learning Hubs

On occasion, multiple Learning Hubs could be employed to enable the development of different skill sets at different points during a year of study. The same principles for delivery and assessment through learning outcomes should be applied.  

 

Examples