About Simon


Dr. Simon Paul Atkinson (PFHEA)
PhD(Leics), MA(Exon), PGC(TLHE)(Open), BA(Hons)

Director of Sijen Education 
Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Editor: Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning [https://jofdl.nz]

My passion is for effective educational design in tertiary education. I work with institutions and individual faculty, to review policy and practice, and develop personal, original, visualisations of models of educational design and practice applicable to educators and policymakers.

Recent consultancies have been institution-wide reviews of both blended and online provision for a British university and reviews of a British business school’s programmes. Working remotely from New Zealand has its advantages.

I advocate efficient and effective higher education course and programme design. I have developed visualisations of five educational taxonomies, which when used with constructive alignment, provide the basis for robust learning design. I have developed a learning model and an associated open toolkit to allow for its implementation, known as the Student-Owned Learning Engagement model (or SOLE model). I have also developed an 8-Stage Learning Design Framework that supports design teams to adopt good practices in their own unique institutional context regardless of discipline, level, or mode of delivery. I have also developed a conceptual model for establishing the personal epistemologies of students, an important determinant of retention and success, in the form of the POISE project and its associated workshops. In collaboration with Professor Kevin Burden from the University of Hull, I also developed the DiAL-e Framework (Digital Artefacts for Learner Engagement) out of a JISC-funded project that creates a series of scenarios for digital resources use. additional scholarship revolves around the value disruption that results in emerging technologies (See 3V) and the re-coding of heritage venues as non-formal learning contexts for the self-directed learner.

My scholarship, research, and writings aim to share adaptable and customisable visualisations of these concepts and themes in order to facilitate institutional and personal change in higher education.

I invite you to read and share your insights. If I can help you or your institution in any way, please get in contact


Simon is currently an international education consultant. Formerly he served as the Manager of Learning Design at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand (2018-2022) where he oversaw the design work of teams of curriculum, programme and course designers responsible for the entire portfolio of the institution. He also served as the President of the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand [flanz.org.nz] between April 2021-September 2022 to consolidate its digital footprint.

He was formerly the Associate Dean of Teaching Enhancement, Scholarship and Research at BPP University (2011-2018) where he took a leading role in the enhancement of teaching through the educational design of qualifications in academic practice (PGCPHE) and recognition of professional practice in the form of the HEA accredited CPD Framework, Headway. Simon also led institutional strategy and development in use of online learning environments and in the Scholarship and Research Agenda. Simon became a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015. He was the lead author of the 2012-2013 HEA Internationalisation Change Academy project POISE.

Simon joined BPP University College in 2011 from a role at the LSE as an Educational Developer (Academic Staff Development) with the Teaching and Learning Centre where he taught modules on ‘developing teaching practice’, ‘lecturing’, and course design’ (2010-11). He was formerly the Director of Teaching & Learning at the College of Education, Massey University, New Zealand, supporting the implementation of new blended learning delivery approaches and teaching a 100% online distance module entitled ‘Education in the Digital Age’.

He joined Massey as Strategic e-Learning Advisor in 2008. Simon was formally Acting Director of the Learning & Teaching Support Unit, Head of the Centre for Learning Development, and Head of eLearning at the University of Hull from 2003-2008. At Hull, Simon led the development of the International College, provided capacity-building consultancy for distance learning through the British Council, and established new transitional programmes for HE and a new television studio resource.

Prior to joining Hull, Simon was part of the Academic Professional Development Programme of the Institute for Educational Technology (Open University-UK) 2001-2003, and the Centre for Continuing Education at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 1999-2001. He has also worked in development at the University of Oxford and in continuing education at Exeter University UK

Capacity building for new modes of delivery

Simon has provided consultancy since 1996. Workshops, seminars, and interventions focus primarily on capacity building for flexible, distance, and online delivery of tertiary education. These are delivered in the context of institutional, regional, or national strategies for e-Learning. He provides tailored workshops and professional development programmes for learning & teaching staff across all disciplines preparing to develop and support learning in increasingly mixed, or blended, modes of delivery.

Examples include British Council sponsored five-day workshops for the Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies – Egerton University, Kenya entitled ‘Capacity Building for Distance Learning and e-Learning Development’, a two-day workshop for CARNet – Croatian Academic Research Network – as an Introduction to Online Learning and as TEMPUS expert for the Croatian National e-Learning Project EQIBELT.

Career History

03.2022 – Sijen Consultancy

12.2018 – 02.2022: Kaiwhakahaere Whakapakari Akoranga – Te Kuratini Tuwhera o Aotearoa
(Manager, Learning Design and Development – Open Polytechnic of New Zealand)
Leading a large design and development team in originating and maintaining a large portfolio of online courseware. I have established Principles of Learning Design, and am working to reflect the best practices in an 8-Stage Learning Design Framework (adapted for this specific institution) , as well as supporting new design team structures through the development of the 9S Learning Model.

3.2018 – 11.2018 Academic Sabbatical (to complete PhD)

7.2011-2.2018: Associate Dean for Teaching Enhancement, Scholarship and Research
Title change in January 2016 from Associate Dean of Learning & Teaching (Teaching Enhancement)BPP University (UK). Responsible for leading the Teaching Enhancement agenda, the HEADWAY CPD scheme (aligned to the UKPSF), the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Education and enhancement activity in general. Also responsible for oversight of the Scholarship and Research agenda, Chair of the Faculty Learning Development Committee, Chair of the Technology-Enhanced Learning Oversight Group and the Scholarship and Research Oversight Group.

8.2010- 6.2011: Educational Developer – Teaching and Learning Centre (Academic and Professional Development), London School of Economics and Political Science UK. Responsible for the delivery of the PGCertHE (Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) modules on ‘Developing Teaching Practice’, ‘Lecturing’, and ‘Course Design’

9.2009-7.2010: Director, Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Massey University(and Strategic e-Learning Advisor): Working with both academic and general staff to promote effective teaching practices, enhancing the quality of the student experience, and supporting the use of e-learning at programme and paper level. Responsible for providing College focused resources and opportunities for professional development in learning design and delivery.

9.2008-9.2009: Strategic e-Learning Advisor, College of Education, Massey University

8.2007-8.2008: Director of Learning & Teaching Support Unit (Acting), University of Hull

6.2005-7.2007: Head of Centre for Learning Development, University of Hull

6.2003-5.2005: Head of e-Learning, University of Hull

3.2001-5.2003: Project Officer – Academic and Professional Development Programme IET, Open University UK

10.1999-2.2001: Programme Manager (Professional Programmes) – Centre for Continuing Education – Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

Professional Activities

  • President: Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand [flanz.org.nz] 2021-2022
  • Editor: Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning [https://jofdl.nz] 2021-
  • Editorial Board: JIME – Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME.open.ac.uk)
  • Reviewer: The International review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (www.irrodl.org)
  • Reviewer: MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (http://jolt.merlot.org/)
  • Facilitator/Compare: Moodle Mini-Moot – Wellington April 2010
  • Organising Committee for Distance Education Association New Zealand (DEANZ) Conference April 2010
  • Facilitator/Compare: Teacher Educator Forum Aotearoa New Zealand (TEFANZ) July 2009
  • Member of the International Editorial Board – Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology (MOJIT) December 2004-December 2006
  • 2003-2008 Member of the UK Heads of Educational Development Group (HEDG)
  • 2003-2008 Member of the UK Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF)
  • Member of National Advisory Committee for ESCalte (HEA Subject Centre for Education) 2004-2006

External and International Recognition

  • Listed in Guardian Higher Education (Technology) Blog Network
  • Principal Fellow of Higher Education Academy 2015 (FHEA) (Fellow since 2005)
  • December 8 2010 – Invited webinar (Adobe Connect) – Croatian National e-Learning day – “Developing existing and new academic staff to integrate e-learning into their practice” – Croatian National e-Learning Centre, Zagreb
  • April 3-4 2009 – Invited keynote – Estonian e-Universities Annual Conference “The Future of Schools” – Tartu, Estonia
  • October 2007 – Invited Keynote for the inauguration of Croatian National e-Learning Centre, Zagreb – Pedagogical aspects of e-learning in higher education – and associated conference workshop
  • TEMPUS Expert consultant: Croatian Academic Research Network : National eLearning Strategy (2004-2008)
  • 2005 – British Council sponsored week-long eLearning Capacity Development Workshops – Egerton University, Kenya
  • Recipient of an Open University Teaching Award 2004 – Introduction to Teaching and Learning Online (ITLO) Team
  • Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Professional Development Framework Award Learning, Teaching and Assessing 2004


  • Programme Director – PGCPE: Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Education (2012-2018) – Level 7 – BPP University
    • 2015-: Contemporary Contexts in Professional Education
    • 2013 -: Student Learning and Support
    • 2012: Assessment, Feedback and Evaluation
    • 2012: Foundations in Teaching Practice
  • 2010-2011: Developing Teaching Practice (Level 7 PGCertHE) – London School of Economics
  • 2010-2011: Course Design and Development (Level 7 PGCertHE) – London School of Economics
  • 2009-2010: Education in the Digital Age (Level 6 – BEd Programme) – Massey University, New Zealand
  • 2008 – 2009: Enhancing Teaching & Learning with Digital Resources (Level 7) – University of Hull
  • 2007-2008: Advanced University Diploma in Higher Education Study Skills (Level 6) – University of Hull
  • 2007-2008: Implementing Effective Online Learning and Teaching (Level 5 FD) – University of Hull
  • 2006-2007: Decoding the Digital Society (Level 4 FD) – University of Hull
  • 1998-2001: Information and Communications modules (Including Web Design) for Centre for Continuing Education – Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

Evidence of Academic Leadership

  • 2020- to date – External Moderator for Massey University’s Advance HE Fellowship Scheme
  • 2009 – Award of FIET Grant (Funds for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching) Internal Massey Grant for development of reusable learning objects with embedded pedagogical guidance – produce the SOLE Model
  • 2008 – 2009 Lead Designer and lecturer for JISC sponsored ‘RePRODUCE project’ online module at Masters level – “Enhancing Teaching & Learning with Digital Resources”
  • 2007 co-Author and Pedagogic Workstrand Leader: NewsFilm Online JISC – pedagogical guidance for deployment of extensive news footage archive
  • 2004-2006 Theme Leader: Open Distance Learning Network Experience ODL-NET – European Socrates Project – Project explored the experiences from 40 online programmes across Europe to establish potential models of good practice.
  • 2004-2006 Team Member (Oversight as Head of Centre) of RePLIKA – European Socrates Project. The project examines the practical difficulties in the international shared authorship and reuse of material in digital content repositories. Particular concerns include institutional and individual academic identity and performance and the impact of the use of decontextualised learning materials shared through digital content repositories.
  • Design of innovative accelerated pre-masters study skills programme “Advanced University Diploma in Higher Education Study Skills” for initial delivery June-September 2007.
  • Development of web delivery of National Teaching Fellowship CLAIM language modules (Hull)

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