Armellini, A., Salmon, G. and Hawkridge, D. (2009) The Carpe Diem journey: designing for learning transformation. In: Mayes, T., Morrison, D., Mellar, H., Bullen, P. and Oliver, M. (eds.) Transforming Higher Education Through Technology-Enhanced Learning. York, UK: Higher Education Academy. pp. 135-148.
Anyone who has been in touch with the university of Leicester over the last few years will know that its teaching and learning profile has been on a rising curve. Most relevantly to this chapter the university has recently been awarded the UNIQUe (European University Quality in eLearning) certificate, the first and only one in UK to date. While it may be difficult to trace this success back to specific actions, it is a fact that the University decided in 2005 to launch a strategic initiative to transform its e-learning and distance learning and the first pedagogical innovation strategy was accepted by Senate in July 2005. it set up the Beyond Distance Research Alliance (BDRA) to provide evidence and leadership for the changes. The pedagogical innovations introduced and researched by BDRA and its partners under this initiative have built up institutional capacity for evidence-based change, both at Leicester and elsewhere. In particular, they have transformed course design through low-cost, high-value-for-learning approaches. We are deeply involved in this initiative and would like to tell you in this chapter about the journey so far and what we have learned. The key concept in the university’s evolution is that change should be evidence-based. Research generates the evidence: academics can relate to that. We and they find evidence more convincing than targets, and direct support for transforming learning design better than staff development. They can move from research into practice. With this concept in mind, BDRA set out to create research and development projects and to obtain external funds for them. We saw transformation as happening at four different levels: individual > course team > departmental > institutional The journey started in a fortunate way: the university had just adopted a new open, forward-looking vision for its teaching and learning. at the same time the higher education academy had announced that it would support benchmarking of e-learning across several universities.