Digital boffins put UClan top of the class as hundreds rush to sign up to cyber learning during Covid-19 pandemic
A scheme launched by the University of Central Lancashire to share and spread the message about the use of technology among its teaching staff has seen a dramatic rise in people across the country wanting to join in since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Now, the Preston-based institution has been named University of the Year at a special online awards ceremony by education technologist group Edufuturists.
The national accolade was in recognition for an innovative project which shares and promotes the use to technology in teaching and learning with counterparts across the education sector.
The Digilearn Sector scheme has seen members from more than 300 universities, colleges and schools sign up since it was launched last April.
The internal scheme was originally developed by the university's Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Team in 2018 with the aim of helping their own teaching staff to share ideas with each other and help improve student learning experiences.
Since then though, it has grown massively and now has more than 950 members across the country in its DigiLearn Sector community. They share digital a[approaches with each other and help improve the way courses can be taught to pupils and students.
Popularity has soared since the Covid-19 pandemic and the sudden move to online teaching leading to hundreds of people signing up.
The Edufuturists award was voted for by staff across the education sector and members of the public.
Chris Melia, senior learning technologist at UCLan received the award on behalf of the university and said: " It was a real honour for the UCLan team to be shortlisted and then receive the ‘University of the Year’.
"With the DigiLearn Sector, we have tried to provide an open space for people to connect, collaborate and share good practice and we are delighted with the response it has produced - not only at UCLan but also from other universities, colleges and schools.”
James Crooks, the university's director of learning and information services added: "The progress we’ve made over the past few years on our digital journey has been incredible, and this award is testament to all of the outstanding collaboration and hard work from our technical and academic staff. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved as a team and excited to see how we can continue to build on this in future."
Ben Whitaker, director at Edufuturists, said: "The Edufuturists have a real passion to recognise, celebrate and champion future-focused educators.
"The work that Chris and the team at UCLan are doing in terms of innovation, building a digital community and working for authentic collaboration, really is exemplary.
"Up against some stiff competition in this category, we are pleased to present the university with this award."