Members of Open University staff holding up course books

OU awards for excellence in teaching and learning

For more than 15 years The Open University has recognised and rewarded exceptional achievement in teaching and learning.

Under the theme of Learning Now for the Future, the staff awards focus on innovation, promoting equality, supporting students, learning and teaching design, and developing students’ academic and learning skills.

Each year, nominations are invited from across the university for both individuals and team awards for exceptional achievements in teaching and learning. The winners of the 2015-16 Open University Teaching Awards were awarded their titles on the OU's Charter Day earlier this week.

And the winners are:

Excellence in Learning and Teaching Design

The team behind the Children’s Literature module (EA300) received the Excellence in Learning and Teaching Design Award. They introduced a new online collaborative activity for students which required independent online research, group work and group contributions to a wiki. They targeted the weakest students, took notice of what associate lecturers said and listened and reflected on feedback, leading to excellent levels of participation and excellent results.

Excellence in Innovation

Dr David Humphreys (Social Sciences) has been given the Excellence in Innovation Award, in recognition of his work leading innovation in pedagogy, assessment and the use of creative approaches to technology in the teaching of environment studies. His work demonstrates excellence across a number of themes, sustained over a long period, and goes beyond the purely academic in order to enable students to think about how they can respond as concerned global citizens to environmental change.

Excellence in Supporting Students

Two awards for Excellence in Supporting Students have been given this year. The first goes to Richard Walker (Maths, Computing and Technology), for the support, feedback and learning development he has provided for students on Computing and IT modules. Richard has worked in a range of roles – tutor, forum moderator, author, critical reader, monitor – and consistently takes a student-centred, qualification-based approach.


Bill Plummer, also from Maths, Computing and Technology, has also been given the Excellence in Supporting Students Award for using his deep understanding of learning and teaching to greatly enhance difficult material by developing and sharing innovative teaching resources. He was nominated as “an absolutely exceptional associate lecturer who embodies the very best of OU teaching and learning principles and practices”.

OUSA Student Award for Excellence

Student Lyn Pickles nominated her tutor Elayne Chaplin (Faculty of Arts) for the Open University Students Association Student Award for Excellence. Lyn described the exceptional support Elayne had given her which helped her study successfully with a disability, and during personal issues which could easily have derailed her progress. She said: “Despite all I went though personally, with Elayne’s support and tutelage I excelled to achieve the highest grade of my 5 years so far. At a time that ‘real life’ made me want to quit, she wouldn’t give up on me. She went above and beyond and truly deserves recognition.”

Excellence in Developing Students’ Academic and Learning Skills

Mike Hay (Maths, Computing and Technology) has been recognised for Excellence in Developing Students’ Academic and Learning Skills, particularly for his professional development and ‘under the radar’ innovation. Mike developed acclaimed, free software and apps for associate lecturers and generously supports this institution-wide resource through forums and personal contact. Mike’s generous teaching, collegiate approach, mentoring and championing have ensured Mac users have had an excellent, equal experience with the OU as PC users.