IDEAS: a new framework for next generation pedagogy

15 June, 2016

2,5 min


The eLearn Center’s FUTURA (Future of University Teaching: Update and a Roadmap for Advancement) report has just been published! This report was commissioned by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in 2015 as an exploratory study to inform strategic planning for distance teaching higher education institutions. It was coordinated by Lourdes Guàrdia at the eLearn Center, and was written in collaboration with a team from Art of E-learning.

FUTURA identified pedagogical trends and innovations globally, and analysed related institutional examples. The FUTURA report proposes a framework for describing current and emerging practice in teaching in online higher education under the acronym, IDEAS:

Intelligent – Use of technology (e.g., learning analytics and adaptive software) to inform educational decision-making and enhance the learning experience. Both learners and teaching staff are given increased support in effective use of technologies.

DistributedDifferent stakeholders provide different elements of the learner’s learning journey: this is enabled in some instances by partnerships between institutions, and in others by the disaggregation of services within a single institution.

Engaging – Students actively participate in the learning process (e.g., working on projects or generating content); there is also an increased emphasis on teaching enhancement programmes for staff to make teaching more engaging.

Agile – The delivery approach is flexible and responsive to learners’ needs. It includes personalised learning pathways and support, more opportunities for recognition of prior learning, and support for virtual mobility of students in their learning journey.

Situated – Learning and assessment activities are contextualised in the real world. Work-related learning learning opportunities for online learners are expanded, and research projects may include multiple stakeholders from outside the institution.


Source: Witthaus, Padilla, Guàrdia and Campillo (2016, p.6). Image available at:

The FUTURA report provides many examples of institutional initiatives that illustrate these concepts. The eLearn Center hopes that the report will be a valuable guide for institutions, departments and course teams in reevaluating their pedagogical policies, strategies and practices, and planning for the future.

Slides from the FUTURA end-of-project presentation given by Gabi Witthaus at UOC on 20th April, with captivating artwork by George Sfougaras, are available at:



Witthaus, G., Padilla, B.C., Guàrdia, L. and Girona, C. (2016). Next Generation Pedagogy: IDEAS for Online and Blended Higher Education. Final report of the FUTURA (Future of University Teaching: Update and a Roadmap for Advancement) project. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Retrieved from:


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About the author
Gabi Witthaus is Learning and Teaching Facilitator @LboroSBE, a consultant researcher and workshopper, and PhD student at Lancaster.
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