This year, with such a high standard of entries to the awards, we are showcasing all of our award finalists. This year’s Awards Ceremony will take place as part of the Online Winter Conference 2020, 15-16 December.
The CCGame Project Team (Team Award)
Global issues in the 21st Century are usually complex and require combined efforts from people with different background and disciplines to tackle. The worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19 is a case in point. Fortunately, modern technology has provided opportunities for people to keep in touch and collaborate even when social distancing measures are in place. Teams of people working together using technologies have literally prevented the world from coming to a complete standstill.
An important realisation of tertiary education at our time is, thus, to increase students’ capacity to address global issues effectively in academically and culturally diverse teams and preferably, in an online setting when physical contact is a luxury. The CCGame Project, led by Hong Kong Baptist University in collaboration with four universities, aims to increase such capacity through “CC” – Cross-cultural, Cross-disciplinary; Challenge-based, Collaborative – in a gamified approach. To nurture students’ competences to solve global challenges, the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set as the theme of collaborative tasks for students.
A signature activity of the Project is the SDG International eTournament, which was one of the first online SDG-related tournaments in the world. Two runs of the eTournament were organised in 2019 and 2020 respectively. A two-stage “strategise-play” approach was adopted; the student teams were put together by the Project Team to ensure a good mix of students with different backgrounds. Being entirely online, the students, in the first stage, got acquainted with their unfamiliar teammates and formulated the strategies for the second stage using messaging apps. Then, in the second stage, the teams implemented the strategies to compete with other teams by playing on the PaGamO platform, answering SDG-related questions and getting resources such as virtual land. The Project also provided opportunities for students to create their own learning contents through an SDG Questions Creation Contest, in which students created questions for the eTournaments.
About 4,800 students had been involved in the curricular and co-/ex-curricular activities organised by the Project since 2017, including the Questions Creation Contest and the eTournaments. The students were from 48 countries/regions, studying for different levels of degrees at 44 higher education institutions worldwide.
Going forward, the Project Team will leverage existing partnerships and seek new sponsorships to extend the project to benefit wider student and academic communities.
University of Stirling Digital Learning Team (Team Award)
This year, the Digital Learning Team at the University of Stirling used the knowledge we gained from an earlier initiative to inform our move to online learning in response to the COVID19 pandemic.
In 2019 the team started to deliver on the University’s strategy of increasing provision of fully online learning. A dedicated Learning Designer and a Media Producer were recruited, and a classroom was converted into a media studio to produce high-quality, media-rich online learning courses. We introduced a new learning design approach and produced modules for three programmes. This initiative was not only intended to develop these programmes; the aim was to disseminate knowledge so that we can develop high-quality online programmes in-house.
Following the rapid move to ‘emergency online delivery’ in March, April saw us preparing for the new academic year. Using the knowledge within team and the experience gained from our new learning design work, we collaborated with colleagues in Academic Development and senior academic management to develop the principles that informed our approach to online learning and teaching.
This model of online learning and teaching informed a new VLE module template, which was designed to support active participation and community building. To provide a consistent student experience this template was applied to all modules. We invested in additional tools to support active learning, including Poll Everywhere, Padlet and WISEflow. We also procured Ally to help us to maximise the accessibility of our material. Consequently, we have received positive feedback from students on the how we have supported their learning.
Over the summer, again working together with our Academic Development colleagues, we facilitated nine, week-long Supporting Online Learning and Teaching modules covering both the pedagogy and practice of online learning, attended by more than 400 academic colleagues. This module allowed academics to experience and experiment with the tools and techniques they would go on to use in their own teaching. These were among the best attended, most transformative sessions that we have ever done and 90% of respondents to a recent staff survey said that they found the module useful.
We are now thinking about changes in how we might use learning spaces, both digital and physical, to support new ways of learning and teaching. We are currently looking at the technology available in our classrooms and how this might be adapted to take in the changes to practice we have seen this year.
Soton Brain Hub Team (Team Award)
Soton Brain Hub’s educational YouTube channel and interactive web-based resources which are co- created and produced by students, staff and alumni within the faculty of Medicine at The University of Southampton. Our core team comprises 7 undergraduate medical students, 4 medical doctors and two academics but also includes a contributor list of over 20 people with a Southampton university connection. Through the design of screencasts, bite- sized videos, podcasts and interactive learning resources we have supported the accessibility and understanding of clinical anatomy both within our own institution and around the world. With over 145 videos, including themed playlists and mini courses, these channels offer mobile, flexible, and personalised learning options for students and has become a forerunner in the development of online anatomy and neuroscience education.
Soton Brain Hub’s work is a prime example of how high-quality digital learning tools have been sustainably developed through a student partnership philosophy; an approach which is strongly endorsed by Advance HE to optimise the student experience and establish a rich set of skills for employability in our students. Universities aspire to enhance student’s critical engagement and as a result partnership working with students in this way has become more central to UK HE policy.
It has been difficult to continue to engage and interact with cohorts of students during the recent intense period of remote teaching, however when working in partnership with students through resource development, it becomes easier to create ‘communities of practice’ via combined tutor and peer led immersive online instruction. This has enabled the team to reach out to students who feel isolated or anxious, and to keep students motivated during a period of unprecedented uncertainty. Student engagement with resource creation has been effective in establishing longitudinal integration of clinical anatomy throughout the medical program.
Our team have been developed through the need to make learning clinical neuroscience less daunting and more accessible for all undergraduate medical students. In our attempts to bring it to life, our approach became a deliberate and considered distribution of power between staff and students, who would share equal authority in the project. This partnership model of co-creation enabled far much more than resource creation. It facilitated the development of a set of unique transferable skills amongst our future doctors, including management, decision making and leadership skills.
Reimagine, Remake, Replay Project Team (Team Award)
Reimagine, Remake, Replay connects young people and heritage in meaningful ways through creative media and the latest digital technologies. The project is led by a consortium including Nerve Centre, National Museums NI, NI Museums Council and NI Screen, and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s ‘Kick the Dust’ programme.
Since its launch in late 2018, the project has engaged more than 3,000 young people in creative programmes, events and workshops in the Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum and local museums across Northern Ireland.
The project combines a mix of creative and digital approaches to learning through museum collections. The learning experiences afforded to these young people by this technology is invaluable. Participants do not need to come with any prior knowledge or skills and so do not face any barriers according to their educational background or past experiences. This is true not only of gaining experience in event management and exhibition curation, it is also true of the digital skills that the project affords participants. This project makes specialist software, state-of-the-art machinery and technical expertise available to hundreds of young people. Already, thousands of creative outputs have been fashioned that, otherwise, would not be in existence. The project staff are able to embed the tech into the learning in a way that is not intimidating or complicated but rather clear and supportive. Consequently, participants come away with technical confidence and creativity.
Through participation in its creative programmes, young people have experienced an increase in confidence, knowledge and digital skills, as well as more positive attitudes towards heritage. Already, the project is impacting on the organisational structures of partner museums with an external evaluation evidencing that the project has initiated organisational change for museums through increased knowledge and skills of heritage staff, increased engagement of young people and increased involvement of young people in decision-making.
In light of the current crisis, the project is tearing down barriers to connect audiences to museum collections remotely. The team has adapted a new online engagement model, developing new innovative activities that are accessible from home, whilst still meeting the same values that are at the center of ‘normal’ delivery. This project is more important now than ever, as young people need a creative outlet and a social community that will support them and their wellbeing through these uncertain and difficult times. In this way, the project uses technology to help young people learn about their past and equips them with new skills to creatively reimagine, remake and replay it.
Global learning at Home (Team Award)
Our team (faculty members from Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, Italy and Japan) organized the Global Virtual Hack and Design Challenge – Empower Community during and after COVID-19, on 24-26 April 2020.
During the 48-hour online challenge, guided by facilitators and mentors Worldwide, more than 110 students from 16 countries/regions formed 17 diverse teams (multidisciplinary and multicultural), across different time zones, developed concrete and creative solutions to address the current COVID-19 crisis and plan ahead. Online social activities had been also organised to build a learning community – emotionally connected even physically apart.
Participants enjoyed exciting learning activities in workshops, mentoring and teamwork via multiple learning technologies (Asynchronous & Synchronous), such as Mural, Mentimeter, Zoom, Google Docs, etc. The remote team collaboration has been well facilitated. Participants were able to bring global wisdom together and develop high quality projects during the 48-hours. such as the winning team developed an App to evaluate the risk of social activities by using AI, chatbots, location and other technologies.
Judge panel (from different industry) evaluated students project quality by 5 criteria: Insight, Innovation, Impact, Value, Presentation and teamwork. Here’s a quotation of a judge’s comment: “Very high level of quality output, concrete deliverables, superb creativity – one of the best hackathons I ever joined!”
The event was well received by participants. The feedback from participants was very encouraging:
- “Remote collaboration with teammates in different parts of the world is a totally brand new experience.”
- “Being a responsible global citizen, physical distance could not stop us being creative for the Earth, for the betterment of Human.”
- “This experience is remarkable. I am amazed by the ground-breaking ideas proposed within these 48 hours.”
- “I feel proud to come up with solutions to most critical problems during this pandemic.”
- “Global exchange and collaboration are without boundaries.”
It was one of the first global student virtual hackathons in Hong Kong. It kicked off the new format of global students exchange via learning technology. It nurtured a group of enthusiastic youth who are passionate about making positive changes to our community. They combined technology with humanities, work in global teams, learn to learn, care for others, etc. All these are future skills of the 21st century.
We are planning to further develop it to a Global Youth Innovation Hub, with mixed virtual and physical events under the theme of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Kings Online (Team Award)
In 2019, King’s Online – the online learning team at King’s College London – took a step back from the product we’d been building for the past three years, and decided it was time for a complete redesign in order to better meet both student needs and our own sustainability requirements. We were also, at this time, commencing a UX research project, in which we interviewed students from each of our programmes, analysed the results, and drew out a better understanding of their needs. The results of this research were clear: consistency, and improved navigation, were vital to the student experience.
The King’s Online Single Platform Delivery project was thus commenced to help us explore new ways of delivering content to our students. We knew we wanted to keep our content interactive, mobile responsive and engaging, but in a more streamlined way. Thus, we turned to the Bootstrap framework already built into our Moodle theme, and began to extend it to suit our purposes: with this in place, we could build our content directly into Moodle, making it accessible, easy to edit, and easy to design.
Between April and August of 2019, our UX designers produced a full design system for our programmes, one that not only improved the look of our pages, and styled the Bootstrap elements to suit our King’s brand, but also began to improve navigation. These designs were then implemented by our web developer, who also built us a builder tool that allows non-developers to easily generate elements such as carousels, accordions and timelines. Controlled centrally, changes could then be made iteratively – and immediately rolled out to all modules and programmes at once. We’ve taken an accessibility-first approach with what we do: all of our content should be natively accessible.
In 2020, we’ve been able to offer our work more widely, offering the design system to anyone at King’s who might wish to use it as they pivot to teaching online. This has allowed us to help many more faculties and academics as they face the challenge of online delivery – and, equally, has allowed us to further enhance our product by giving us feedback and input from a much wider audience.
We’re far from finished with this project, but the results already speak for themselves: we have been able to improve not only the student experience, but also the workloads of our own team, allowing us to increase output without sacrificing quality.
Supporting Student Learning Online Project Team (Team Award)
The Supporting Student Learning Online (SSLO) project was established as a rapid response to Coronavirus. The team was led by the Heriot-Watt Learning and Teaching Academy, drawing Learning Technologists from across the University, staff from Learning and Teaching Enhancement Services and media services together into one team providing global support for staff and students.
The team developed the SSLO toolkit and live support sessions. We provided the initial toolkit in hard copy and via the LTA website. The toolkit was available as open educational resources (OER), which enabled several other universities and institutions to reuse and remix it.
Our key message of ‘care, kindness and compassion’ encouraged staff to focus on the humanity of the situation when supporting students and each other. Embodying these values as a team set the tone for staff interactions with students as they emulated the online teaching practice modelled by the team, ensuring that what might feel like a faceless approach for those new to using technology for teaching, became a friendly, caring experience. Staff reported confidence in undertaking their first steps in teaching online and positive feedback from students.
The team continued to develop resources and support in response to demand, providing timely support for staff and students. This ensured that students were able to finish semester 2 in an effective manner. Considering the complexity of global campuses, subject to different government regulations and varied timing of the move online, this has been no small achievement.
The SSLO team has made a significant impact on the University’s approach to teaching online, ensuring that the University was well positioned to implement its longer-term Responsive Blended Learning approach in AY20/21. Supported by the SSLO team, Heriot-Watt has been able to continue to respond to Covid19 restrictions in 3 different countries, whilst also being able to continue teaching. Staff are confident in their core skills and creative in their development of teaching materials and approaches.
Integral to the SSLO project was the opportunity for professional development of team members. Feedback shows that individuals in the team developed their knowledge of pedagogy and of learning technology, learning from each other and sharing experiences both internally and externally with the learning technology community. The project is serving to shine a clear light on the key role learning technology plays within the institution and the value of staff working in this area.
Data Driven Teaching (Research Project)
In the new era of a big data world, educators can use data for designing their teaching in accordance with the students’ learning needs. Data helps to identify the students’ strengths and weaknesses; this will contribute to the ongoing improvement of teaching practices.
We piloted data-driven teaching in the two mandatory modules, i.e. Finance (Level 4) and Business and Personal Tax (Level 5), which have been perceived as highly technical and challenging modules. If the students fail the modules, they would not be able to progress to the next level of studies.
Data from Canvas Analytics as well as other relevant data sets including online quiz scores, weekly self-reflection findings, student attendance records etc., were used to inform our teaching practice and determine whether the students were actively or poorly engaged with the modules.
Every week students were required to reflect on their learning of the topic and their responses served as an input to our teaching strategy. To assist students in understanding those topics reported as challenging, we created additional online quizzes which covers the easier basic learning tasks before students proceed to the advanced-level quizzes.
The results of weekly formative assessments were one of the key determinants of our teaching interventions. For example, students might do very well in one topic (i.e. 100% of the class answered correctly) but badly in another topic (e.g. 9% answered correctly). Then, we used the data to classify the topics into “Green”, “Yellow” and “Red” using the traffic-light system. Special attention was given to the “Red” topics.
Using data to inform teaching is not new to educators. In the past, educators have been making their decisions based on their experience or so-called valuable data in their head. With the advancement of educational technology, Learning Management Systems such as Canvas can provide larger and more complex data, i.e. learning analytics, for educational decision making.
Data-driven teaching can help to identify students at risk so that appropriate actions can be taken to address the issues at an early stage. Students can be empowered to become more reflective learners if they can access and reflect upon the data to change their own behaviour. These positive outcomes were evidenced from the findings of our project. We are aiming to expand the use of learning analytics for promoting student wellbeing and to work more closely with Student Services and Student Wellbeing support staff in the future.
Shetland in the Iron Age: Interactive iBook (Research Project)
This research project has developed an incredibly varied, engaging and accessible digital educational resource (iBook) for the general public to learn about brochs in Shetland using a wide range of technological features at a time when the profile and preservation of these sites has been targeted as a priority by the Scottish Government.
Brochs are sprawling places with structures dating to many different periods, some hundreds of years apart, visible to visitors today. The brochs of Mousa, Jarlshof and Old Scatness in Shetland are collectively a Tentative World Heritage Site, nominated for its monumental Iron Age architecture for outstanding universal value, yet disentangling the stories of their histories is challenging. The iBook was created to explain these archaeological sites in an accessible way, understandable for a reading age of 9+ (following Scottish Government standards for writing for public audiences), through the AHRC’s Student Development Fund. It offers a versatile and wide range of opportunities to engage with it, to cover the broad range of archaeology on these three sites and their long-lived chronologies.
2020 is the Scottish Year of Coasts and Waters and this year, HES launched its Climate Change Action Plan for 2020-2025. The iBook was designed to feature and highlight these important messages in a variety of ways to appeal to peoples’ different learning preferences.
This research project has as excelled in developing a range of versatile digital assets to aid in learning about complicated archaeological and academic themes on brochs and their history. Significantly, it was designed to provide full digital accessibility to these sites through virtual tours. Closed captioning of videos and full read-aloud-text controls are embedded in the entire iBook.
The project was completed within only six months will soon be available freely online and on site. With diverse and inclusive expert advice and guidance for developing the digital outputs and academic expertise from specialists in North Atlantic archaeology, the iBook is an excellent learning resource about a complicated academic subject and raises awareness of climate change in an accessible and interactive way.
It demonstrates how the latest technological innovations, such as 4K 360° panoramic imagery, can complement and fit into a well-designed learning resource, to engage a very wide audience. The ability to update and add new content to the format offers great potential for future digital learning technology applications for heritage sites, that the project’s partners are all keen to take forward.
The Moodle Redesign Initiative (Research Project)
The Moodle Redesign Initiative was set up in 2019 in the Faculty of Arts (FoA) at the University of Nottingham to improve the quality of the online learning experience delivered to students via the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Moodle. Since its inception, the project has proceeded along four lines of activity: (1) review of existing online learning design practices within the FoA; (2) development of a best practice exemplar to serve as a Moodle design benchmark; (3) programme of implementation (4) project evaluation.
The methodology used to explore online learning design practices within the Faculty of Arts combined content analysis of extant Moodle pages, phenomenological research into academic staff attitudes about the pedagogical affordances of online learning within Arts and Humanities-based teaching and learning and a review of the literature on effective online and blended learning design.
Content analysis revealed several design issues and concerns. These included: poorly organised pages characterised by a surfeit of content; inattention to questions of usability, user experience and accessibility; an absence of scaffolding to support learner engagement with content; a lack of navigational and aesthetic consistency across modules; and limited use of either Moodle or third-party digital tools and resources to trigger effective learning practices. The phenomenological research with academic staff provided several important insights relevant to the project. For example, staff were anxious about the investment of time required to develop effective online learning solutions and the pace of technological change with several expressing fears of losing ‘autonomy’ and of being ‘left behind.’ This aspect of the research also revealed a certain amount of scepticism about the pedagogical value of digital tools and resources in the FoA and a nostalgic attachment to paper-based technologies.
To address the issues outlined, the project adopted a ‘best-practice prototype’ approach. The prototype design has an organisational structure and layout that is simple to navigate, integrates a ‘plain-English’ narrative that sets expectations and guides students through the learning and is consistent with wider accessibility protocols and norms. It includes activities that scaffold engagement with content and develop academic skills relevant to the Arts and Humanities. Since the best-practice exemplar was developed, it has been used to support the redesign of over 50 modules and student online information hubs. Crucial to the success of the project has been an ethos that provides staff freedom and autonomy in how the prototype is implemented in their own teaching context.
Frank Koch (Individual Award)
Review questions are important for students preparing for examinations. However, it is hard for teachers to provide all the needed questions for many self-assessments and exams. This prompted Prof. Frank Koch of the University of Applied Sciences Eastern Switzerland to develop the Moodle plugin StudentQuiz, which now enables students worldwide to create their own question pools within Moodle. From their question pool, students can configure customised quizzes. While working through the quizzes, they improve the quality of questions by rating and commenting. StudentQuiz measures the difficulty of each question and ranks students based on their contribution and performance within the quizzes. StudentQuiz also provides feedback on individual progress to each participant.
StudentQuiz has the following features:
- Cooperation: Even if each student contributes just a few questions, a larger cohort can produce an extensive question pool.
- Collaboration: By sharing questions, everybody can take advantage of each other’s work. This way, students can strengthen one another. Together, they can create richer learning content than what a single teacher could provide.
- Constructivism: To answer a question is good, but to construct a question has a better learning effect. This way, learning content is actively created by the learner, not just passively received from the environment.
- Crowd Intelligence: Some questions might be wrong or need improvement. Therefore, when a student answers a question, he or she can also rate it and give a comment. This creates crowd-sourced quality management, like how Wikipedia works.
- Flipped Classroom: While students produce content, the teacher can manage the quality by commenting, approving or disapproving questions.
- Feedback: A personal learning assistance feature shows individual learning progress. It also allows the student to compare his or her contribution and performance with the community average.
- Gamification: StudentQuiz challenges students by awarding points for questions contributed and correct answers.
- Reusability: The questions become part of the Moodle question bank and can be reused in standard Moodle quizzes.
Being an open source project, StudentQuiz found resonance in the larger Moodle community, whose feedback and suggestions further helped in its development. Several student groups at Prof. Koch’s university as well as programmers from the Moodle community contributed to this plugin.
StudentQuiz is currently used by almost 1’000 schools and has increased the engagement of students in online learning. It is especially useful now with the long period of remote education in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leona Wing Yee So (Individual Award)
I’m Leona, Lead Instructor at Code Nation, leading all instructors and innovation developers nationwide, and also responsible for their learning technology. We deliver level 2 and level 4 software development courses, across Manchester, Chester and Cambridge.
The news of coronavirus started spreading across the UK earlier this year, in anticipation of the possibility of a national lockdown.
I was given the opportunity to implement the tasks required to get a first-class virtual experience up and running for our students and teachers in just a matter of days. Our move to virtual couldn’t simply be running some online classes, but to move our in-classroom immersive experience online.
We called our strategy “Business as Usual” but Virtual-first, meaning we would deliver every element of our standard programme, including yoga and mindfulness sessions.
We created resources and scheduled sessions to ensure constant presence in our students’ days, and not simply deliver some content in the morning for them to work on for the rest of the day.
I have helped to lead this project and researched and implemented a number of tools, teaching and learning focus, and also tools commonly used in the tech industry. I was able to build our first official virtual learning environment using Moodlecloud and the Big Blue Button, so that students can experience good quality teaching and learning. Other industry-based tools such as Zoom, Slack, GitHub and Trello all are used seamlessly to deliver a consistent, industry-focused experience with the tools of education.
This leads to Code Nation’s virtual strategy being industry leading. Robust, scalable and applied across all the campuses.
Code Nation started with 80 students at the start of the pandemic to six months later, more than 350 students already trained. We are now able to reach out to the students we wouldn’t have been able to reach before, including those who lost their job or furloughed. We opened up opportunities to people across the UK, enabling them to take advantage of our network and experience and expertise in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. My work in guiding, training, implementing and performing on the virtual strategy helped make that possible.
Ultimately, Code Nation’s direction into 2021 has been heavily shaped by the work that I have done this year. I am proud that my effort is pivotal to this movement and I am delighted to be shortlisted for this award.
Mark Wilkie (Individual Award)
Forge was designed to meet the requirements of staff across the 13 geographically distributed Academic Partner Colleges of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) involved in the creation of online learning resources.
For the UHI, an enhanced student experience within the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is crucial to effective learning and teaching, and providing a sense of consistency, familiarity and robustness are essential characteristics of this.
FORGE is a cloud based WebApp allowing secured access to university staff. Based on several open source technologies, FORGE uses a rich text editing experience, similar to traditional MS Office-based applications, which ensures that users working in FORGE are using familiar text editing features. FORGE produces published HTML5 packages, which can be placed on any server/VLE platform for use.
The FORGE platform gives academic staff the opportunity to upskill their digital capabilities and enhance their own module development skills through careful planning and the use of web-based format for learning resources. This allows academic staff to meet accessibility standards and guidelines; incorporate the university’s Learning Teaching and Enhancement strategy values into their module delivery; and align with the aims of the UHI VLE transition checklist, leading to an enhanced student experience.
Staff also highlight that one of the best features of FORGE is the ability to ‘update, review and revise content whenever they need to’: as it allows staff to regularly update their material to reflect their recent subject and pedagogic research and scholarship activities, whilst maintaining the currency of the resource.
The FORGE platform was designed to be easy for staff to use. Confident users can take a step further into the html code or add more interactive elements to their resource, such as, embedding quizzes, video, etc. to further enhance the learning and teaching experience.
Richard Beggs (Individual Award)
Hi, I’m Richard, a Lecturer in HE Practice at Ulster University and I can quite honestly say I love my job. Although there have been challenges mostly related to Covid-19, this year has seen the realisation of my learning environment plan. As a result, I have successfully launched a number of institutional initiatives that are shaping the future of learning and teaching at Ulster University that encourage staff and student collaboration and partnership through active learning and technology integration. These strategically aligned initiatives are: Active Learning Champions, Learning Partners; Apps for Active Learning, Learning Landscape toolkits and resources, The Learning Lab and New Learning Spaces refurbishment pilots.
This has been a holistic approach looking at all facets that impact on enhancing student and staff experiences by placing people at the centre as change agents. This plan looks at the synergies between underpinning infrastructure, professional development, the learning environment (physical/virtual and formal/informal), digital technologies and how staff and students interact with them all through active learning pedagogies and provides resources to help embed into their practice.
In addition to the learning environment work, my digital storytelling activity has also blossomed, resulting in collaborations with: City, University of London, Northern Ireland Assembly, Ulster’s Community Fellows, School of Nursing, TrueNTH and Prostate Cancer UK. Something which I am extremely proud of is that I have brought digital storytelling into both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and assessment in Ulster University enhancing the digital capabilities of both students and staff.
More recently and something I am really excited about is an ALT Special Interests Group I successfully proposed on Active Learning with colleagues across UK and Ireland. This will provide a platform for staff across the Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher Education sectors to not only learn from each other on how active learning technology can enhance the learning experience in the current Covid-19 environment, but will also help prepare for the steps to recovery.
I am fortunate to work with fantastic and talented people at Ulster University and am fully aware that none of the initiatives above would have happened without the help and support from CHERP, ODL, SPO, ISD, Estates, Students Union, Employability, ALSIG, our Active Learning Champions and our Student Learning Partners, so a big thank you to you all.
Richard Harris (Individual Award)
Hello, I am Richard Harris the Head of Design and Technology at Raynes Park High School in London.
I have had passion for teaching & technology for as long as I have known and this has steered a path that has consistently pushed expectations in students learning. This pursuit for excellence and continuous development led me to teach abroad in Korea (one of, if not, the leading country in technology education). On returning to the UK, I was set to make an impact on students with my newfound knowledge. This came to fruition when I was given an opportunity to rebuild a Design & Technology department. In the 2019-20 school year I launched the #GetInvolved initiative to immerse student in learning technology.
This first phase of my vision focused on exposing students to computer based learning (CBL), computer aided learning (CAI) and computer aided assessment (CAA) under an umbrella of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) curriculum. It was also vital that the teachers where able to deliver the idea ensuring that suitable computer based training (CBT) was readily available and provided to a high standard. The school was now able to offer over 20 highly competitive STEM based opportunities.
A vital key to success was to remove the financial barriers that at times hinder learning technology by reaching out to large companies such as; Apple, Dyson and Land Rover. This meant that students were able to access state of the art equipment (for example iPad Pro’s and Apple Pencils), and have exposure to augment reality and virtual reality resources.
This triumph paved the way for the second phase to be proposed for a 2020-21 launch, which I have names the Merton Makers Hub. The hub focuses on creating a maker space with a difference, it will be split into four main strands of delivery. The strands will be as follows:
- Miss Maker- Aimed at exposing girls to STEM education.
- Mini Maker – An outreach program linked to primary schools.
- Major Maker- An after school club where students complete passion projects.
- Mature Maker- An outreach program that will offer computer aided learning workshops to adults.
What makes this so important is the potential to build on the extremely successful #GetInvolved initiative. It will foster chances for students of all abilities and the wider community to make strides forwards in the use of learning technology.