Beyond the Obvious
: A Practice Oriented Investigation into Blended Learning Cultures of Creative Subjects in the University of Highlands and Islands

  • Helen Roger

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Online and technology enhanced delivery are not conventional practices in art and design education and the attitude of design students towards this is largely underexplored. This research therefore explores the phenomenon of online learning and teaching in the context of Scotland’s newest university, University of the Highlands, and Islands (UHI). The research evaluates existing provision of online learning and explores the potential of a blended or hybrid approach to learning and teaching as a future proposition within the context of the Creative Industries curriculum of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The research was undertaken with a view to inform UHI’s future holistic and strategic approach to Creative Industries curriculum development; initial lecturer training; and to connect communities enabling wider access and collaboration within the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and internationally. The research reviews the blended learning and hybrid approach pre COVID-19, during and post the pandemic and the impact on future delivery of art and design education within UHI. The research reported here explored the development of learners’ competences in online and blended design education in a longitudinal, qualitative study. The research discusses emergent themes such as roles of learner autonomy, communities, and networks. This thesis reviews theories and signature pedagogies in relation to art & design education whilst examining the potential of an optimum blended course. Creativity as a key competency forms a compelling rationale for the effective preparation of an ‘optimum blend’ of delivery related to art and design education. The findings in this thesis make a further persuasive case for hybrid and blended learning and teaching to be considered and designed. The thesis raises awareness of the benefits of art and design education in UHI and beyond. The findings present the hybrid studio as an interchange between internal and external factors in blended design education. Art and design students graduate and enter inspiring, sustainable, and fulfilling careers in the vibrant cultural and creative industries.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorShaleph O'Neill (Supervisor) & Sandra Wilson (Supervisor)


    • Blended learning
    • hybrid learning
    • learning and teaching
    • online learning

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