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Teaching Awards recognise innovation and exceptional work at OU

The Open University’s Teaching Awards 2018 have highlighted some of the exceptional teaching by tutors, academic staff and professional services staff, from running live laboratory science experiments to helping those under-represented in higher education to succeed at university level study.

Professor Hazel Rymer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students), hosted the awards ceremony and said: “The nominations from across the University for this year’s Awards demonstrate excellence in the many aspects of learning and teaching at the OU.  Past winners have gone on to achieve National Teaching Fellowships, and I hope there will be more successes from this year’s applicants.

” It has been truly inspiring to see the dedication and innovation that has gone into supporting our students and helping them achieve their goals. Congratulations to all those nominated and of course to our winners!”

Team award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Design

Improving the student experience and helping tutors create great online tutorials was the aim of a professional development module created by the Tutor Moderators OU Live Advanced team.  Giving opportunities to develop ideas collaboratively, and increasing awareness of how to improve online teaching meant that several thousand staff who use this tool have developed creative, interactive and lively online tutorials.  You can find out more about how the team supported Tutors in their own words, by watching this short video:

Individual award for Excellence in Promoting Equality

Dr John Butcher, Associate Director (Curriculum and Access), was the winner of this award, which recognised his exceptional efforts to promote equality through his leadership of the Access programme. 15,500 students have taken one of the OU’s three access modules, which introduce people to university-level study and build their self-confidence.

John is driven by a commitment to promote equality for students from non-traditional backgrounds and those under-represented in higher education; his work has had a positive impact on the experience and success of students. Hear from John, in his own words, about the impact of his work in this short video:

Dr Butcher said: “The Access programme is a really good example of engaging students in a way that builds their confidence, gives them skills to succeed and enables them to do really well in their undergraduate studies. Students are being set up to succeed.”

Team award for Excellence in Innovation

The team behind the level 1 Science module S111, Questions in Science, redesigned their course to take advantage of technology, giving students interactive learning elements and carefully designing tasks to be engaging and easily scheduled in to the busy lives of part-time students.

Central academics delivered some tutorials and hundreds of students tuned in to watch interactive live web broadcasts from labs, with academics demonstrating live experiments and engaging students with cutting edge research.

Individual award for Excellence in Innovation

Dr Angela Coe, Senior Lecturer, Environment, Earth and EcoSystem Sciences, has addressed challenges in online distance learning through a number of small changes which together made a big impact.  She helped staff author directly to a web environment so they could see each other’s materials in the format they would be delivered to students, she created study sessions to help students with their workload, and she arranged live updates to materials so they kept up with academic advances.

Individual award for Excellence in Supporting Students

Jennifer Warner, Associate Lecturer in Health and Social Care and Access, gave extra support to students using short videos and YouTube clips to help familiarise them with modules and difficult concepts. She used personalised learning and tailored feedback to help individuals reach their goals, and she supported colleagues to use technology to benefit students.

About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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