The University Teaching Awards: Invasion of the Digital?

Rhodes House (CC BY SA 3.0 Kaihsu Tai via

Rhodes House (CC BY SA 3.0 Kaihsu Tai via

Each year the University honours those teaching staff who have particularly excelled in supporting their students learning at the Teaching Awards Ceremony, which this year took place in Rhodes House yesterday evening. But it is not only teachers who are recognised in this way; the 2014 award-winners also include support staff including librarians and, this year, two colleagues in Academic IT – EET’s own Kate Lindsay and Steve Eyre, one of the ITLP teaching team. Together with Liz McCarthy of the Bodleian Libraries, they have spearheaded the acclaimed Engage: Social Media Michaelmas programme (now nearing the end of its third season, steered this year by Sarah Wilkin while Kate is on maternity leave).

The University Teaching Awards ceremony always acknowledges the winners of the ‘staff’ categories in IT Services’ own OxTALENT competition, but I was struck also by the number of winners in the main awards who were honoured for their use of digital technologies in support of their students’ learning, including:

  • Dr Jonathan Prag (Merton College) and his colleagues for their project Digital techniques in the study of ancient epigraphy, which aims to embed the teaching of essential technology-based skills into Master’s-level training;
  • Dr Martin Ruhs (Kellogg College), who has designed the InfoMap tool to support interactive analysis and debate in his online course on international labour migration (the tool itself is being developed by staff in TALL);
  • Dr Janet Dyson (Mansfield) and Dr Richard Earl (Worcester), who are working with the University’s online media producer to develop videos showing how tutorials work, with three different target audiences in mind: prospective students, graduate students training to teach and new faculty members who are experienced teachers but are unfamiliar with the Oxford tutorial.

The presence of such initiatives in the list of awards tempts us to suggest that technology-enhanced learning has now entered the Oxford mainstream, and we trust that the examples will help to inspire academics who might still be cautious about dipping their toes in digital waters.

Finally, congratulations also go to Dr Joanna Barstow (Physics), who received a new award for public engagement in science, for her work on the Oxford Sparks website. We can’t resist noting that some of the Oxford Sparks resources have now been made available to schoolteachers additionally through the TES Connect platform, with help from EET’s own Sarah Wilkin.

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