From here to there… reflections on a semester of the #bathblend

Along with the rest of the UK educational community, I have ensured that my courses @UniOfBath are Covid-ready. This means designing them according to the Bath Blend which includes independent (self paced) learning, Live Online Interactive Learning (LOIL) and In Person Time (IPT). In this blog I reflect on what has worked well (and less well) and what I would like to keep in the ‘new normal’. In short, my thoughts on how to design the blended experience in a social and inclusive way, while sharing best practice.  I hope this might be of use to other educators and I’d be keen to hear about your experiences too (leave a comment or pingback to your own blog).

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@UniOfBath students solve #brexit … again

Last year, I published a blog called, somewhat tongue in cheek, Team Based Learning solves Brexit This year, as the #brexit negotiations go the wire, I took the (last?) opportunity to use Brexit as a case study in #gametheory.

Caveat – I do not claim any special insights on Brexit, nor indeed Game Theory. This is blog is not intended to be political, or partisan. It’s chiefly about the application of #teambasedlearning in an online context. If that interests you, read on..

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Team Based Learning online – some reflections

Like many of those in Higher Education, I have moved my teaching online. Since my sessions involve highly interactive team work and very little ‘lecturing’ this had proved a challenge. In this blog I present some reflections and learnings from my experience, in the hope it might be useful to others. My reflections cover; using the technology, team teaching, facilitating the session – and my key learning it takes longer than you think!

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What does Net Zero mean?

Last week I went to see Owen Hewlett from Gold Standard talking about what Net Zero actually means using a base of science based targets.

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Concerned about TBL…

On 5 December, I hosted a Team Based Learning (TBL) ‘masterclass’ @UniOfBath. We had a useful discussion of concerns about TBL and how to address them. If you are potentially interested in applying TBL or other active learning approach, you may find the following useful…  

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Team Based Learning Solves Brexit

Well, sort of.

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ESLTIS in Edinburgh

Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship (#ESLTIS19) was held this year in the wonderful Edinburgh Napier (July 18-19 2019) (photo credit: Tracey Madden)


Another great conference for those involved with teaching and learning in HE. Highlights for me included:

  • A focus on active learning including playfulness, problem based and of course team based learning.
  • A great community of academics and practitioners, already committed to innovation in teaching, where the “conversation can start at level 3” to paraphrase the welcoming statement from Prof Alyson Tobin.
  • And of course Edinburgh itself (photo credit: Matthew Funnel, who got up earlier than I did!)
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Team Based Learning: Lessons from practice

At the end of 2018, I posted upbeat blog on Team Based Learning. Having now delivered two major units in TBL style, it is high time to post some of my reflections on the topic. Quick summary: I am still upbeat, but nothing ever goes perfectly first time around and there are quite a few lessons I learnt, which will hopefully be of use to anyone else introducing TBL to their teaching.

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Team Based Learning Conference

Tampa, Florida, 13-15 March 2019

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the annual gathering of the Team Based Learning (TBL)  Collaborative. In summary, the themes including leading educational change (not just TBL) in an institution, trends including TBL online and extended reality, the relevance to current issues including accreditation, work readiness, student inclusion and wellbeing.

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Team Based Learning #1: Motivation

This semester, I have been experimenting with Team Based Learning; I am really happy with the outcome so have decided to write a series of blog posts about it. First up is this post on motivation. Read on if any of these sound intriguing: an alternative to ‘transmission’ lecturing; challenges of scaling up your teaching to larger cohorts (what works for 30 doesn’t work for 100); opportunities to improve engagement and interaction, building skills of leadership and peer evaluation; turning groups of students into high performing teams.

I have been lecturing in higher education for almost a decade now, and increasingly I have been dissatisfied with the traditional lecture mode of delivery. Don’t get me wrong – lectures have their place and I am willing to travel for a high quality lecture.

A lecture is also very scaleable, once the cohort goes much above 50 students then really the sky’s the limit, you can deliver the same contact (in a didactic manner) to thousands of students. Nor is interaction out of the question here – you can use quizzes and polling to deliver a much more interactive experience, even to remote participants.

But the central problem remains – a nagging truth for me which is:

I am the bottleneck

Turning this round, think of the opportunity. We have a group of smart, motivated learners who have chosen to gather together in the same (maybe virtual) space and at the same time. There is geographical and temporal synchronicity.

I should be able to harness this opportunity better than just talking at you.

Put it another way, what is the key resource available to learners. Is it me? Is it the University? Is it the internet? I would argue that

The most valuable resource available to a community of learners is each other

If we can somehow harness this resource in a more effective way than traditional methods we have a way to: deepen engagement; build stronger learning communities; scale learning; and add richness to the student experience. As a side effect we build high performing teams, give learners skills in teamwork, leadership, performance evaluation, and critical review.

Team Based Learning is a way to achieve all of this (but there are some challenges, drawbacks and limitations which I will explore in the next blog). My current plan of blog posts are as follows

  1. Motivation (this post)
  2. Caveats (problems, challenges, limitations)
  3. How to do it – the nuts and bolts.
  4. Top tips – some specific things that I learnt along the way

I will finish with a motivational picture of students hard at work in a TBL session.


If that’s not enough, have a look at these student comments: 

It has been interesting and fun to learn using the method used, and I haven’t forgotten everything we’ve already done which you tend to feel happens when your module consists of normal lectures and an exam at the end. So it builds long term memory of the content covered.

Please do the RAT test again. The first two hours on Friday flew by (which would be impressive at any time, but for a Friday afternoon is bordering on a miracle) and it was a very effective method for learning

Hope that’s enough to whet your appetite!

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