Insights into flexible learning and the possibilities for a 21st century Higher Education in Cultural Heritage

 In November 2017, Hilali partner Dr Sam Elkington, Academic Lead for Assessment Feedback & Flexible Learning at the Higher Education Academy, UK, was a keynote speaker at an event on technology and cultural heritage which took place at our Institutional Link, the City for Scientific Research and Technological Applications – Alexandria, Egypt.


Dr Elkington’s talk focused on how the fields of engineering and computer science have a dominant role to play in sustainable development and therefore, hold a position of considerable social responsibility and wide-ranging educational possibility for embracing different ways of thinking and working in a 21st century higher education.



With participants, he explored how flexible provision based on the HEA’s Flexible Learning Framework, has the potential to enhance student learning, widen opportunities for participation in Higher Education and develop graduates who are well-equipped to contribute to a fast-changing world.


“It is these concerns and interests that currently dominant in driving the Higher Education Academy’s work in flexible learning and flexible pedagogy”, he shared, “ we have been drawing on substantial and wide-ranging practice-based research and development into flexibility, across disciplines and levels of university operation on the fields of engineering and computer science”.


Dr Elkington’s talk also distilled the notable conditions under which greater flexibility can be achieved securely, so as to maintain the integrity and good standing of universities, and wider higher education system; and pointed to ways in which universities might be afforded even more responsiveness and to identify conditions that are likely to promote such greater flexibility.  “The first is about the conditions for securing a sound platform for flexibility; the second is about the conditions and steps that might be taken that will inject momentum towards flexibility” he explained.


“There was some really interesting discussion particularly with the student participants who really wanted to challenge me on ways they could better prepare themselves for flexibility in the world of work” Dr Elkington reported of the event. “In my closing remarks I posed 3 questions regarding the idea of ‘readiness’ for flexibility at the level of the student, the tutor and the institution, my take home lesson from the whole experience will be the response of one of the female students to the question of student readiness for flexibility, she came up to me and said very confidently: “we are ready for more flexibility, but THEY are not, I thought that this was a wonderful statement, and even a possible title for a future publication for the Hilali Project”


Dr Elkington advises into planning for student-community partnerships and mapping out educational principles underling the Hilali Network’s work including the up and coming Hilali Toolkit Beta version, launched in Feburary 2018.


Our recent Hilali Summer School in August 2017, based around working with working with the Bedouin community in Egypt, was very much informed by his ongoing work around how we develop pedagogies of flexible learning with the integration of technology enhanced learning.


In February 2018, , Hilali Principal Investigator, Dr Anne Preston and Dr Elkington will share practical insights from the Flexible Learning Framework and the Hilali Nework at the HEA’s Annual STEM Conference.  Focusing this year on Creativity in Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement, they will run a workshop entitled ‘How to build a living curriculum for STEAM: Technology meets cultural heritage’.


The Hilali partners’ participation in Egypt was funded by The Newton Fund, part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, whose primary focus is to develop partner countries research and innovation capacity for longterm sustainable growth.


The HEA is the leading UK sector body committed to developing world-class teaching in higher education, working in partnership with HE providers and professionals in supporting and securing student success.