Head of Online and Digital Learning

John assumes responsibility for overseeing the academic leadership, operational management, and business performance of both new and existing online programs. Moreover, he leads and manages digital learning staff supporting technology-enhanced learning throughout the University.

Throughout his tenure in the education sector, John has spearheaded digital transformation initiatives on international, national, and governmental platforms. With a robust professional background spanning three universities and two prominent national sector entities, namely Jisc and Advance HE.

John's substantial contributions to national policy and framework reforms have left a profound impact on universities, personnel, and student experiences globally. Previously, he orchestrated a paradigm shift with the Digital Leaders Programme at Jisc, benefiting over 400 senior leaders in further and higher education, thereby enriching their comprehension of the challenges and opportunities in digital education. He has also played a pivotal role in advancing the implementation of the HEA Framework and UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) worldwide, alongside the reform of national policies and frameworks.

His proactive involvement in crafting and establishing a Digital Learning Design Framework and Toolkit has been widely disseminated throughout the higher and further education sector, impacting learning organisations in the UK, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

Furthermore, John collaborated in the development and leadership of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Review Service, influencing over 600 academic/teaching staff, students, and professional services/support personnel. This initiative culminated in a national report that informed the practices and utilisation of 163 university VLE staff, ultimately enhancing the student experience for thousands of students.

John Sumpter

Contact details



Year Qualification Awarding body
2014 Masters in Online and Distance Education MA ODE Open University
2013 PGCert Online and Distance Education PGCert ODE Open University
2010 Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education PGCHE Falmouth University

Honors and awards

Year Description

Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF)


Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

Research Interests

Research interests and expertise

My research interests and expertise are rooted in the development and implementation of digital leadership and learning strategies in higher education. I have a strong track record of influencing national and international educational frameworks, with a particular focus on enhancing online and blended learning environments across diverse geographic regions. My expertise extends to leading digital transformation initiatives aimed at improving the academic leadership and operational management of online programs. Additionally, I am committed to cultivating leadership and culture within the higher education sector, assessing and optimising the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).

Policy engagement within Cornwall

Engagement with organisations which contribute to the development of educational, cultural or socio-economic policies in Cornwall

I have made a sustained and significant contribution in raising standards of excellence in higher education both nationally and internationally. I have acted as both support and a critical friend for a range of key frameworks and toolkits, including the Jisc Digital Capabilities Framework, Building Digital Capabilities Discovery Tool, Digital Leaders Role Profile, and the Framework for Digital Transformation in Higher Education. These nationally recognised frameworks have had an impact on universities, personnel, and the student experience throughout the UK and globally.

I have also contributed to shaping UK Government policy and have been featured in various national and international sector publications, including Jisc, ALT, AdvanceHE, and EDUCAUSE.