Suffolk Learning Hubs

“The Suffolk Learning Hub” is a learning and teaching initiative developed at the University of Suffolk and represents a platform for extended learning and skill building complementing the University’s block learning and teaching approach. Block design is a model of immersive modules, where students are taught one subject at a time rather than multiple modules simultaneously.

The aim of the Suffolk Learning Hub is to support the students’ learning trajectory across the modular design of the block approach, bridging and connecting learning and establishing effective pedagogies for learners from diverse educational backgrounds. 

The Suffolk Learning Hub is a resource pool of online, interactive, activities centred around the learning dimensions of University Life and Wellbeing, Academic, Transferable and Employability skills aligned to the Skills Builder Framework. Themed learning activities maximise the use of the interactive components of the blended learning environment and encourage progressive and active learning towards becoming independent learners. The activity pool is available to students and lecturers providing an accessible, flexible and sustainable learning and teaching resource. 

Why Learning Hubs?

The Suffolk Learning Hubs were created as a way of supporting individual students’ learning in higher education by developing their academic, transferable and employability skills alongside supporting their resilience and wellbeing.

  • To support students’ academic, transferable and employability skills and their resilience and wellbeing
  • To create continuing in skill development in block learning
  • To maximise tutor time and sharing of resources

University of Suffolk is a widening participation university supporting access and progression in higher education of diverse learners such as first-generation students, mature students, or students with disabilities.

It is crucial that all students feel successful in the development of their academic and professional skills. The interactive nature of the Learning Hub activities aims to promote the construction of skills by applying constructivist learning theories in online teaching and learning (Morley & Carmichael, 2020), enhancing students’ self-efficacy for learning (Alt, 2015) through cognitive, emotional, behavioural, social and collaborative engagement, the principles of online engagement evidenced by Redmond et al. (2018).

The Suffolk Learning Hubs include a resource pool of online learning environment activities following the pedagogies of active constructivist learning supported by 5HP and other technologies. Students are encouraged to engage with weekly activities liked to their current learning and assessments and they can access the whole resource pool as and when needed. In addition to online activities, collaborative workshops are regularly offered. The aim was to extend the existing library and learning skills provision and to increase student engagement with these resources by subject- and course-specific interactive resources.


Impact on students
The impact on student experience was evaluated through questionnaires, interviews and focus group workshops. Students find the Learning Hub activities useful once they engage with them. They use the skills in assignments. They are empowered to recognise their own skills.

Impact of staff
With the increase in blended learning, the Learning Hubs have had a positive impact on staff skills too. The activities were collaboratively developed within the academic team, sharing expertise in online pedagogies and the affordance of IT tools. Academic staff were interested in developing similar resources for their students. Professional library and learning service staff were inspired to co-create further activities for a whole-university use and public access.

Impact on HE pedagogies
The Suffolk Learning Hubs pioneer space of wide skill development in higher education in an innovative combination of online interactive activities and collaborative learning community workshops.


  • Content/Course-specific content in academic skill building – E.g., activities such as quizzes to practice correct referencing use resources relevant to the study area.
  • Study skills presented by tutors whom the students are familiar with and have an established relationship with – E.g., videos explaining the use of IT tools recorded by lecturers, highlighting.
  • Specific activities recommended by module tutors increase the relevance of the developing specific skill at that point in time in connection to the module; and save learners’ time in looking for the right resources. It also decreases students’ anxiety of being unsure if the resource is correct/relevant to their field.


  • All online activities include interactive elements that encourage active learning, constructing knowledge and understanding by ‘doing’ rather than being told.
  • Applying knowledge becomes a way of practicing instead of following static guides and explanations.


  • Students can pick activities from the resource pool that is fully accessible to students of all levels, allowing them to access activities as and when needed, depending on their individual needs regardless of the formal progression level.
  • Tutors can direct students to specific activities when an area of development is detected in a tutorial or assessment feedback.
  • Pathways of weekly recommended activities support the learning trajectories and allow students to cover and discover various developmental possibilities.

Learning Community

  • Learning Hub Events provide the opportunity for peer learning and mentoring as they are offered for mixed-level groups of learners.
  • Regular opportunities to develop academic and transferable skills and to reflect on career plans.
  • Maintaining good wellbeing and learning strategies for self-management are seen as inherent parts of progression and success in higher education, thus they comprise an important are of the workshops and online activities.
  • Connection to wider university support systems is ensured by linking activities to library resources and signposting to student services teams.


  • Resource pool of interactive online activities applying 5HP technologies
  • Course specific and linked to existing University Libguides resources

  • Alt, D. (2015) ‘Assessing the contribution of a constructivist learning environment to academic self-efficacy in higher education’, Learning Environments Research, 18(1), pp. 47-67.
  • Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L. and Moore-Cherry, N. (2016) ‘Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student-staff partnerships,’ Higher Education, 71(2), pp. 195–208.
  • International Association for Public Participation IAP2 (2015) ‘IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum’, Accessed August 18. about-us/about/iap2-public-participation-spectrum.
  • Morley, D. and Carmichael, H. (2020) ‘Engagement in socio constructivist online learning to support personalisation and borderless education’, Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 3(1), pp. 115-132.
  • Rasheed, R. A., Kamsin, A. and Abdullah, N. A. (2020) ‘Challenges in the online component of blended learning: A systematic review’, Computers & Education, 144, 103701.
  • Redmond, P., Abawi, L. A., Brown, A., Henderson, R. and Heffernan, A. (2018) ‘An online engagement framework for higher education’, Online learning, 22(1), pp. 183-204.
  • Rogers, C. R., Lyon, H. C. and Tausch, R. (2013) On Becoming an Effective Teacher – Person-centered Teaching, Psychology, Philosophy, and Dialogues with Carl R. Rogers and Harold Lyon. London: Routledge.
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