Jimmy Winfield, Skillfully Co-Founder | Skillfully

Skillfully co-founder unlocks student success through blended learning

Skillfully staff writer
20 March 2024

Jimmy in the podcast studio describing the blended model he and his team developed.In a recent episode of the Learning Exchange podcast, Skillfully co-founder Prof Jimmy Winfield discussed the transformative impact of the blended learning model he and his team have introduced at the University of Cape Town (UCT).


An instructor with over two decades of teaching experience and multiple awards, including the National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, Jimmy is no stranger to innovative pedagogical approaches. His passion for enhancing the student learning experience, combined with the edtech skills he acquired during the Covid pandemic, led him to lead the development of a remarkably successful blended learning model for first-year Accounting students. This model comprised a blend of in-person and remote learning components, adding to academic innovation in the Accounting course.


At the heart of the model lies a strategic fusion of traditional in-person instruction with cutting-edge online course materials. This approach revolutionises the learning experience for students by creating a dynamic and engaging environment where students can interact with course materials in multifaceted ways. Through a combination of videos, transcripts, knowledge checks, and online exercises, students are empowered to take control of their learning journey in the ways that best suit their learning styles, while maintaining academic rigour and accountability.


A cornerstone of the model is the incorporation of "Flipped Fridays," where students converge for in-person sessions to collaborate on questions, receive personalised assistance, and participate in fun and interactive quizzes. Together with more traditional tutorials, these face-to-face learning activities combine with the online learning experience to foster a vibrant learning community with deep student engagement.


To further incentivise participation, Jimmy introduced a system of badges to recognise and reward students who excel in completing required activities. These badges serve as tangible symbols of achievement and motivation, fueling students' drive to succeed.


On their course evaluations, students show remarkable enthusiasm for the model, with 80% of students responding that they prefer the model to other models. Academic results underscore the model's efficacy in enhancing student learning outcomes: grades have improved significantly as a result of online learning, compared to previous years of in-person teaching.


On the podcast, Jimmy reflected on the journey of the model since 2020, emphasising its evolution and continuous refinement based on student feedback and pedagogical insights. The model now stands as a beacon of academic innovation and excellence. It is a testament to how, by harnessing technology and their own creativity, educators can unlock new pathways to student success, enriching the learning experience and empowering students to thrive in the digital age of online learning.