Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

POLIS Lecturer wins award for high-tech teaching

08 April 2009 |

POLIS Lecturer wins award for high-tech teaching

Dr Simon Lightfoot, Senior Lecturer in European Politics, harnessed new technologies to give students an interactive learning experience, and has just won a major award for his teaching.

Dr Lightfoot explored making his lectures available as podcasts so students can re-visit topics covered in class. He also brings internet use and video footage to replace the traditional "talking head" approach to teaching.

The work has won him the Bernard Crick Award for Outstanding Teaching, awarded by the Political Studies Association.

Said Dr Lightfoot: "This is all about trying to find innovative ways of communicating with students and using technology to enhance their experience at University."

The podcasts don't replace the lectures – but give students the chance to watch again, at their leisure. "Classes are typically 55 minutes long, but educational research has shown that students' attention span is often just 15-20 minutes. By watching the podcasts later they can check back over points they may have missed.

"And by adding video footage – such as clips of major speeches – students see the emotion and passion which people like Barack Obama bring to politics."

Dr Lightfoot's approach to teaching is proving popular: "Students enjoy it. They want to come to lectures, they want that contact – and they value the fact that they can interact with the material"

Announcing the award, the judging panel said: "We readily commend Simon Lightfoot for his commitment to innovation in teaching. He has won external funding and the support of his University for his introduction of technologies that have made real positive contributions to his teaching.

"This has all clearly benefitted students, many of which submitted glowing testimonials. In addition, his teaching publications are impressive and demonstrate an admirable desire to communicate to others the benefits of new approaches. We congratulate him on winning this prize."

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