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Blended Learning Service

Multiple photographs showing a variety of teaching environments including the Fitzwilliam Museum, a Chemistry Laboratory, Newnham College Library, and the Sainsbury Lab Lecture Theatre

A Strategic Approach to supporting Blended Education

The following pages are intended for all staff who support the planning, design, development, delivery and evaluation of teaching, learning, and assessment with a particular reference to digital components and more broadly blended curricula. Proposed work to support this strategic vision will remain a collaborative effort amongst services in support of education, academic and academic-related staff, and students. Initial work will primarily be led by the Blended Learning Service but will adapt based on identified needs and other existing programmes of work.

The guiding principles are agreed upon as a set of aims we all consider to be necessary for our outstanding educational experiences to continue. Informed by perspectives of staff and students, these represent our commitment to delivering the very best our institution can offer.

The priorities are a commitment from the University of Cambridge to the collegiate community to respond appropriately and effectively to growing areas of need and to ensure a positive future that remains resilient, flexible, and sustainable for all. These priorities are organised into four separate areas: P1 Evaluate, P2 Enable, P3 Enhance, and P4 Empower. You can find more details in the pages linked in the left hand menu.

We would like to thank all members of the University who contributed in some way to our research and those who directly supported the development of this vision for Blended Education at Cambridge.

Digital Education


A Digital Education Service Review consolidated perspectives from senior decision makers, ran workshops with teachers, professional services staff and librarians, and conducted research into the working lives of teaching administrators. From these findings, amongst other outcomes, a set of overarching principles have heavily informed the development of our vision moving forward. The work presented by the review presents a range of complex factors only some of which, where relevant, are addressed here.

Get the Basics Right

Address the basic needs of our staff and students before seeking to otherwise enhance experiences. Seek to maintain a regularly updated understanding of users’ basic needs regarding services, business, and technology.

Blended by Design

Educational delivery is no longer a binary choice between technology-enabled or not, but is more accurately intersecting dimensions of temporality, technology, spatiality, and pedagogy. We continue to value the experience of our staff and recognise their autonomy to decide what is most effective for their subjects and students and will provide on demand services from specialist staff with deep knowledge of blended learning strategies in support of their efforts.

Enable the Enablers

Recognise the immensely valuable work of all our staff who directly or indirectly support the education of our students is paramount moving forward. Better understand the challenges they face and address them as an integral part of change and improvement initiatives whilst providing sufficient support, resource, and training for all staff.

Always be Inclusive

The University of Cambridge has taken significant strides towards attracting a more diverse body of students and staff and to continue these efforts we must dedicate our time and resources to establish robust responses to equality, equity, and inclusion; especially specific concerns brought by digital education such as Digital Fluency, Digital Poverty, and Accessibility.

Developing Practice


Subsequent research including our institution-based Teaching & Learning Survey, staff focus groups, interviews and ongoing discussions, highlighted additional elements that must be considered in any future strategic decisions regarding the implementation of blended education. These elements can have a significant impact on the ability for staff to embrace the identified principles and support from the institution should work to mitigate the potential risk inherent within these areas of focus.

Sustainable workloads

Recovery from the impact of the pandemic for many is still ongoing and continuing to deliver our excellent standards of education whilst encouraging innovation and development of blended educational models can lead to overwhelming fatigue and personal strain. Widespread acclimation to new ways of working, for both staff and students, has taken an unrecognised toll on members of our collegiate community and the priorities within this outline aim to progress the institution to more sustainable workloads and a reduction of overhead when considering how we design effective blended experiences.

Recognition and value of teaching

Valuing and recognising the efforts of our many dedicated staff who enable and deliver education across the University must be more thoroughly considered if we are to recruit, nurture, and retain those staff who bring the most value for our students and colleagues.

Knowledge sharing and collaboration

Enabling our staff to learn from the experiences of colleagues opens the way for more informed practice and development of teaching. Ensuring this includes reliable and consistent methods of communication to explore the variability of blended experiences leads to more confident responses to shared concerns and more rapid implementation of intended outcomes.

Effective response to staff needs

Our identified priorities for the University must recognise that subjects, staff, and students all have varying level of needs and access to localised support. Ensuring our services address the variety of needs appropriately and communicate clearly across the institution is vital in ensuring the success of education in general, especially blended models that require additional design and learning for many.

Student Perspective


To more effectively represent a shared vision for blended education at Cambridge we sought the perspective of students regarding their own experience of education, the benefits and missed opportunities, some of which relating to adoption and development of blended teaching, learning and assessment practices. Through a series of interviews and observations with students from a variety of subjects and at different points in their academic journey, it was identified that students at Cambridge want to experience an education that appropriately embraces the following core themes.


Students expressed a desire for a sense of belonging and acknowledgement during their academic journey. An environment which commits to fostering and supporting a diverse student body through embedded inclusive teaching practice at all phases including design, delivery, evaluation and iteration.


The importance of interactive and engaging teaching methods was emphasised by students and the desire for more supportive and properly resourced supplementary materials and co-creation opportunities. Designing a curriculum that allows students to better explore subjects and find their academic interests whilst engaging with a variety of interactive teaching methods, and adequate support and resources to enhance their learning experience at Cambridge.


Providing the facilities and opportunities for staff and students to more readily be able to deliver and engage with diverse types of teaching and learning that enable more creative exploration and appropriately facilitate subject-specific variation.


Collaboration in education is seen as essential for promoting interactions, shared decision-making, and collective knowledge construction among students and academic staff. Students value interactions with academic peers where they can engage in deep conversations about their course and subject interests.


Changes described elsewhere will only be successful if able to be maintained in a way that minimises the impact on student and staff mental health and workload capacity in the long term. Creating an educational environment that reduces dependence on individual efforts and ensures consistent support for students