Digital Strategy 2017-2021

In ‘Thinking Ahead 2016-21’, the University has set an ambitious target to be a ‘thought leader for 21st Century higher education’ where ‘we will utilise digital technology to create new learning platforms and environments so that we bring together people from across the world enabling the sharing and dissemination of knowledge’. Combined with the rapidly changing external environment and increased levels of scrutiny for teaching and learning and graduate outcomes proposed in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the University is entering a period of digital transformations which will require academic, student and professional service support to succeed.

Digital Vision

The Digital Strategy (2017-21) is informed through consultations with staff and students during 2016/17 focussed on enhancing the University’s engagement with digital tools and approaches. The resultant strategy reflects our intention to ‘experiment, innovate and explore new ways of working’ to deliver an enhanced and immersive digital experience working across the entire community to deliver for:

Enhanced digital confidence—savvy, inventive and resilient—to create, collaborate and communicate.

The right technologies, working reliably and being used effectively to enhance the authentic learning experience.

A digital network that connects people to support learning and enhance the creation and sharing of new knowledge.

That are integrated, coherent and support effective practice and collaboration, comprehensively blurring the boundaries between physical and virtual.

For the University, the use of digital tools to support the student experience can not only enhance the student learning (when used purposefully) but also offers enhanced efficiencies in administration and support for student employability through exposure to a range of tools and approaches that offer transferable skills beyond the taught curriculum.

Digital Education Transformation Programme:

The Digital Education Transformation Programme will be delivered through targeted phases of activity, reflecting the unpredictable and fast-changing pace of the external digital environment. The first phase will run for two years (till August 2019) and will support key objectives within five areas of activity:

Strand A: Digital Leadership and Governance
Strand B: Digital Capabilities
Strand C: Digitally Enhanced Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Strand D: Digitally Enhanced Environments
Strand E: Digitally Communities

To find out about current activities under the programme please visit Digital Project page.

Digital Leadership and Governance

Improving the processes and policies guiding digital education to embed impactful change across the University.

“Teaching practice must respond to our digital and 24/7 age, preparing students for a diverse and demanding future.” (Thinking Ahead 2016-21)


A1 ❱ DETP programme aims and outcomes are communicated transparently and efficiently, ensuring all stakeholders are informed.  

A2 ❱ University policies and guidelines are inclusive and flexible in order to facilitate staff innovation in digital education. 

A3 ❱ We have transparent and co-ordinated communities of practice championing digital education within the University. 

Digital Capabilities

Ensuring every member of the University community has the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a digital world.

“We will grow and enhance the wide student experience to ensure our graduates have developed their talents and skills to become well rounded citizens” (Thinking Ahead 2016-21)


B1 ❱ Digital learning resources are inclusive, available and accessible.

B2 ❱ Staff and students have access to face-to-face and online support that is informed by academic practice and drawn from community contributions, enabling them to develop their own digital skills.

B3 ❱ All members of the academic community understand when and how to use digital tools both appropriately and responsibly in a professional and social context.

Digitally Enhanced Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Embedding authentic digital teaching practices that genuinely enhances and extends learning opportunities for all of our students.

“We will support experimentation in our approach to teaching, to curriculum design and to wider student engagement… We will expect people to be brave, to try new things and continually strive for improvement and growth” (Thinking Ahead 2016-21)


C1 ❱ The University trials and adopts new approaches to digital education as part of a blended learning experience.

C2 ❱ The use of digital tools are consistent and coherent, in a teaching context, in order to deliver an effective learning experience.

C3 ❱ The learning experience encourages staff and students to create, collaborate and communicate digitally across the University and beyond.


Digitally Enhanced Environments

Enhancing our physical and virtual learning environments to provide an experience that delivers deeper learning opportunities.

“Creating leading-edge teaching environments…whether real or virtual” (Thinking Ahead 2016-21)


D1 ❱ Staff and students have unconstrained access to a flexible digital learning environment.

D2 ❱ Staff and students have access to tools that enable them to navigate seamlessly between digital devices and online environments. 

D3 ❱ The learning environment supports innovations that will underpin future digital strategies.   

Digital Communities

Sharing our knowledge to ensure everyone can benefit from the expertise being developed across the University.

“…we will create a flexible and Open University that encourages and supports collaborative working across boundaries and disciplines … We will draw on and use the wealth of material and knowledge available digitally to enhance our teaching practice” (Thinking Ahead 2016-21)


E1 ❱ Staff and students are motivated to share their knowledge, practice and outputs to benefit the University and the wider community.  

E2 ❱ Digital collaboration is supported and encouraged to benefit staff, students and external partners.  

E3 ❱ Staff and students are engaged in effective communities of practice that inspire and enable.