Delivering on the University’s vision of knowledge leadership for a better world, is an ambitious but incredibly valuable goal. It is also a goal that will evolve over time as new global challenges emerge, and rapid digital disruption continues to impact the way we teach, conduct research, and the way new knowledge is shared with the world. Standing still is not an option. The University must continually look for ways to remain at the forefront of teaching and research and in developing the next generation of thought leaders.

UQ’s mission is to positively influence society by engaging in the pursuit of excellence through the creation, preservation, transfer and application of knowledge. We will shape the future by bringing together and developing leaders in their fields to inspire the generation and to advance ideas that benefit the world.

A key enabler of this mission is the introduction of UQ2U — a dynamic, engaging and contemporary approach to delivering courses of exceptional educational value to students.  UQ2U will provide students with a signature UQ experience that maximises campus-based ‘face time’ with academics and peers, in combination with high-value, flexible online learning.

As a top 50 globally ranked university, UQ is continually looking for new ways to remain at the forefront of both education and research. UQ2U helps maximise both, by supporting our talented academics to bring their research expertise to life for students, in turn helping to foster the next generation of game-changing graduates.

Over the next few years, over 70 courses will be re-imagined and redeveloped to align with the UQ2U approach and progressively rolled out across the University. Initially, our focus is on redeveloping UQ’s largest courses to deliver more flexibility and greater active learning experiences to as many of our students as possible.

UQ2U is being delivered by combining a multi-faceted approach.

Course development is undoubtedly a significant part of it; however, its implementation relies on other enabling initiatives.

To deliver on the UQ2U redevelopment of courses, we combine faculty-based subject matter expertise with ITaLI’s learning innovation team in a collaborative project that focuses on student-centred experiences designed to: 

  • Enhance our pedagogies and learning spaces to encourage active and collaborative learning.
  • Expand online and digitised delivery to provide students with flexibility to engage with learning in a way that suits their personal needs.
  • Transform students into game-changing graduates through authentic assessments and improvement of critical skills for enhanced employability.
  • Strengthen partnerships between students, researchers, industry and alumni.

The UQ2U difference

  1. The UQ2U approach will provide students with a signature UQ experience that maximises campus-based ‘face time’ with academics and peers, in combination with high-value, flexible online learning.
    • The online learning component provides students with the flexibility to learn at their own pace and in ways that suit their personal circumstances. On-line learning is focused on providing critical content without compromising on learning outcomes. Importantly, online modules are designed to be interactive and engaging, enabling both learning and collaboration across the course cohort.
    • Active on-campus learning focuses on maximising face-to-face collaborative learning that is engaging, practical, and provides students with incremental feedback as they progress through the course.
  2. In combination, this approach will provide students with the learning outcomes and transferable skills needed to prepare for their future.
    • The world of work is changing dramatically as artificial intelligence and other technologies impact on all corners of society.
    • Today’s graduates will have multiple careers over their lifetime.
    • An estimated 65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs and functions that don’t currently exist*.
    • Demand for deep data and digital expertise will grow exponentially.
    • Foundational skills such as critical thinking will be vital as will other transferable ‘softer’ skills such as communication.
    • By 2020 more than a third of desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today*.
  3. UQ2U builds on the great work already undertaken by academics from across the University who have been at the forefront of multi-faceted learning for many years.
  4. UQ2U formalises their pioneering efforts and allows for this contemporary approach to be implemented more broadly across the University.

* Universities UK: Solving Future Skills Challenges 2018 Report

Video: Blended learning at UQ (the student perspective)

Frequently asked questions

What is the intention behind the UQ2U program?

A primary goal of the Student Strategy is to provide a flexible learning environment that supports and services all students, meets their learning priorities and expectations and personalises their UQ experience. The UQ2U program will deliver learning and teaching experiences that are consistent with this goal.

What is meant by flexible learning?

Flexible learning refers to the context-appropriate integration of both on-campus and online activities that maximise student learning outcomes. The approach to “blend” learning does not imply exclusively online content, and "blending" of a course may not result in an overall reduction in face-to-face teaching time.

What does research say about "blended" learning?

It has long been recognised that merely listening to someone else talk is less effective for learning than doing things oneself or engaging in activities. (Chinese proverb: I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand). "Active learning" refers to a range of teaching approaches that encourage active engagement of learners with course material, one another, and/or lecturers. It contrasts with "passive learning" of lecture-based or "talking head"-style instruction. It encompasses various educational approaches including collaborative learning, cooperative learning, experiential learning project-based learning, problem-based or inquiry-based learning, peer-led instruction, role-playing and simulation.

When a student is sitting in a passive lecture (with no active learning, no immediate requirement to perform, and no discussion), their mind is likely to wander. With learning tasks that make few demands (e.g. passive lecture), executive control tends to maximise the occurrence of task-unrelated thought both inside (Rummel & Boywitt, 2014) and outside of the laboratory (Kane et al., 2007). This “mind wandering” has been linked to poor outcomes in a wide range of tasks (e.g., impairs comprehension during reading: Jackson & Balota, 2012)  and during lectures (Farley et al., 2013).

In contrast, when students are engaged in time-sensitive, active learning, their mind is less likely to wander. Research shows that when learning makes consistent demands on external attention (e.g., a classroom with active learning, or learning online in small chunks with regular self-assessment under time pressure), students with good executive control tend to limit the occurrence of task-unrelated self-generated thought – that is, less likely to mind wander (McVay & Kane, 2011).

Research connecting “active learning” classrooms with student learning has been documented by Baepler et al. (2016) and shows that students in active learning:

  • outperform their peers in traditional classrooms;
  • exceed their own grade expectations as predicted by standardised test scores; 
  • show significant student learning gains over using a lecture-based approach in the same space.

Active learning approaches are evidenced with “blended” learning practices that combine in-class activities with the delivery of online resources. It involves integrating and interspersing opportunities for student engagement through face-to-face engagement alongside interactive online activities.

Many systematic analyses and meta-analyses have addressed the effectiveness of blended learning. Paul (2001) concluded that face-to-face with online enhancement was 11% more effective than face-to-face alone (perceptual skills, intellectual skills, motor skills, attitudes).  A 2004 meta-study by Prince found strong support for active, collaborative, cooperative, and problem-based learning. Across 52 studies, Zhao et al. (2005) found a 0.49 effect size for online learning mixed with face-to-face instruction (i.e. greater achievement gain for BL). Bernard et al. (2014) found that, across 96 studies, blended learning conditions exceeded face-to-face conditions on any measure of academic performance (effect size 0.33).  A well-cited 2014 meta-study by Freeman et al. analysed 225 previous studies of teaching in science, engineering, and mathematics. The results showed that, when active learning was employed, average examination scores improved by approximately 6%. Further, students taught by traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than students taught through active learning. In light of these results, the authors recommended "abandoning traditional lecturing in favour of active learning."


Baepler, P., et al. (2016). A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom: History, Research, and Practice. Stylus Publishing.

Bernard, R. M., et al. (2014). A meta-analysis of blended learning and technology use in higher education: From the general to the applied. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 26(1), 87–122. doi:10.1007/s12528-013-9077-3

Farley, J., et al. (2013). Everyday attention and lecture retention: the effects of time, fidgeting, and mind wandering. Frontiers in Psychology, 4:619.

Freeman, S., et al. (2014)  Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Comment) vol. 111 no. 23. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/23/8410

Graham, C., et al. (2013). Developing models and theory for blended learning research. In Blended Learning: Research Perspectives (Vol.2). Routledge.

Jackson, J.D., & Balota, D.A. (2012). Mind-wandering in younger and older adults: converging evidence from the sustained attention to response task and reading for comprehension. Psychology and Aging, 27, 106–119.

Kane, M.J., et al. (2007). For whom the mind wanders, and when: an experience-sampling study of working memory and executive control in daily life. Psychological Science, 18, 614–621.

McVay, J.C., & Kane, M.J. (2011). Why does working memory capacity predict variation in reading comprehension? On the influence of mind wandering and executive attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 302–320.

Paul, D. S. (2001). A meta-analytic review of factors that influence the effectiveness of Web-based training within the context of distance learning. Texas A&M University.

Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education 93(3), 223–231.

Rummel, J., & Boywitt, C.D. (2014). Controlling the stream of thought: Working memory capacity predicts adjustment of mind-wandering to situational demands. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 21, 1309–1315.

Zhao, Y., et al. (2005). What makes the difference? A practical analysis of research on the effectiveness of distance education. Teacher’s College Record, 107, 1836–1884.

How are UQ2U courses selected?

The aim is to re-develop strategically significant courses offered by UQ to reach a higher number of students. The selection of courses involves consultation between the PVC(T&L), ADAs and relevant HoS. Also, see 'How can I nominate my course to be part of UQ2U program?' below.

How much time is required from academics to contribute to the conversion of each UQ2U course?

The 'classic' course will require dedicated commitment of approximately 2-3 days per week throughout 6 months.

What resources will be made available to support the development of these courses?

A financial contribution will be provided to faculties by the office of the DVCA for each course. The Institute for Learning and Teaching Innovation (ITaLI) then contributes with dedicated technical and practical resources and support (learning designers, project managers, learning tools and media production).

How can the financial contribution to the UQ2U course conversion be used?

The funding can be used for a broad range of purposes that support the academic endeavour as it relates to leveraging or offsetting the faculty or school investment in the UQ2U program, including:

a. Employing a project officer to help with the course (e.g. refresh materials; review already available online resources; prepare preliminary drafts of transcripts etc.)
b. Off-setting other responsibilities such as marking or tutoring
c. Employing a research assistant to assist with a research task that would otherwise need to be deprioritised
d. Buying specialist materials/resources/expertise.

The funding will be provided to the faculty or school as a lump sum for allocation as required.

Will participation in the UQ2U program offers academic career benefits?

One of the anticipated benefits of the UQ2U program is access to rich learner feedback that will enable academics to adapt teaching approaches to student needs proactively. The UQ2U program also offers academics a low-risk opportunity to innovate through the application of modern teaching methods. Support for academic promotion, application for teaching innovation grants and the potential nomination for teaching awards may all be enhanced through participation in the UQ2U program.

What is the typical development timeline for each UQ2U course?

Each UQ2U course has a maximum development timeline of 6 months.

Can I convert part of my course through the UQ2U program?

Initially, only entire courses will be converted through the UQ2U program. Once the UQ2U guidelines, toolkits and course development training are made available to all staff, academics will be able to apply the UQ2U conversion principles as appropriate.

How can I nominate my course to be part of UQ2U program?

If your course fits the profile of the UQ2U program and you are interested in blending your course please contact your Faculty Associate Dean (Academic) for consideration.