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With technology becoming increasingly prevalent, the higher education sector is facing the challenge of implementing blended learning. Traditionally health disciplines have delivered programs using a blend of face-to-face and clinical placement experiences, taught by academic staff with considerable clinical experience. Experienced clinicians in higher education roles do not necessarily have teaching backgrounds. Therefore, learning technologies can present additional challenges for these academics. This pilot project introduced a cross-disciplinary community of practice (CoP) to support health science academics to implement blended learning strategies. Academics from thirteen health disciplines were given a small financial incentive to develop blended units, participate in regular, facilitated meetings (via face-to-face, online, phone or videoconference modalities) and communicate through a web platform. The effectiveness of the CoP as a vehicle to promulgate blended learning pedagogies was evaluated using Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) and focus groups. Evidence indicated that the CoP produced favourable outcomes. These included improved understanding of blended learning pedagogy, improved confidence in implementing these approaches and the production of high quality learning materials. In addition to evidence of significant activity within the CoP itself, data indicated evidence of increased participation in blended learning activities at its peripheries in several discipline areas. Establishment of a CoP within a diverse faculty assisted academics to overcome some of the pedagogical, personal, and organisational barriers to implementing blended learning strategies. Use of a CoP approach may prove a valid means of facilitating good practice in blended learning, within other contexts involving diverse groups of individuals.


School of Allied Health

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Conference Paper

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