Monday 16 April 2018

The University of Northampton has bagged its second major teaching honour in seven days, with the announcement that it has won the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Leading Change.

The win comes hot on the heels of the AshokaU Innovation Award, which the University was awarded in Boston, Massachusetts the week before.

This latest award goes to institutions who are on the forefront of educational innovation, and is awarded by Blackboard Inc, who provide most of the world’s top universities with their educational technology.

Head of Learning Technology, Rob Howe said he was delighted with the win.

“This award recognises the work and progress that the Learning Technology Team has made with supporting the University during an intensive period of change. It also recognises all the teams and individuals working with us during this exciting time.”

The University beat off stiff competition to nab the honour, which is in recognition of the way its adapted its teaching in preparation for the move to its new Waterside campus this September.

This novel approach to course design is already being adopted at other institutions, including the University of Edinburgh.

According to Rob, the four-year programme to become ‘Waterside Ready’ involved building on traditional teaching methods to produce what is being called Active Blended Learning.

He said: “At Northampton we believe that active learning combined with digital fluency provides the best possible education experience, and develops graduates able to make a real difference in the world.

“So we actively committed to teaching approaches that support this, not just through our Learning and Teaching Strategy but through the development of our new Waterside campus, which is to date the only University campus in the UK built entirely for active learning, with flexible classrooms, cutting edge technology, and no lecture theatres.”

In preparation for the new campus, the team have been delivering a comprehensive staff development programme, to help teaching staff design active and digital elements into their courses in meaningful ways.

Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO and President of Blackboard said: “Blackboard is proud to recognise this year’s Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to transforming the learning experience through technology and innovative practices.”

The Award was presented in Manchester during Blackboard’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference, and compliments the recent AshokaU win which recognised the University’s efforts to integrate life skills into the curriculum alongside its academic teaching.

That’s in addition to the University’s TEF Gold status, which is the highest mark awarded by the Government in its assessment of teaching standards within UK universities.

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