12 Jun 2014

OU Scoops Two National Awards for Teaching Excellence

Two academics from The Open University (OU have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Dr Dave Middleton, Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Dr David J Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Biology, have received the Fellowships which recognise excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning.

Dr Middleton is based at the OU in Wales and has helped to reshape the postgraduate training curriculum across the University. His innovative approach to student engagement was recognised by the Academy. This approach is currently being realised at the Student Connections online conference this month.

Dr Robinson trained as a zoologist and works in the OU’s Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems. His approach to teaching involves the use of multi-media to excite learners about the natural world. He has been an academic advisor on several BBC/OU co-productions and has also contributed videos on ecosystems to the OU’s free online learning resources on iTunes-U.

A total of 55 staff from universities across the UK were selected for Fellowships this year from over 180 nominations submitted by higher education institutions across the country. Each will receive an award of £10,000 which will be used to support their professional development in teaching and learning.

Professor Belinda Tynan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching at The Open University said: “These awards are not only recognition of the work of these individuals, but also of the fact that The Open University is home to some of the very best teaching. I am delighted that two of our staff have been awarded these prestigious Fellowships and am very proud of their achievement. This just highlights the fantastic and often innovative work that goes on at the OU to educate students in way that is both engaging and informative.”

Dr Dave Middleton from the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University said: “I am delighted to be selected for this award. The HEA has been influential in helping to provide an outlet for the work I have been doing over the past few years. Most of this work would not have been possible without the generous support of The Open University.”

Dr David J Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Biology at The Open University said: “I feel very privileged to receive this award. Many people at The Open University have contributed to the projects I have worked on and the award reflects the high standing of the innovative learning materials that we produce.”

Notes to editors

About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has more than 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.
The OU is rated in the top five of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2012/13 it had a 92% satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.
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Student Connections online conference runs from 30 June to 4 July. For further information please visit:

About the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS):
The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) recognises, rewards, and celebrates individuals who are judged to make an outstanding impact on the student learning experience and has provided the means to develop a proactive community of National Teaching Fellows (NTFs) to benefit both institutions and the sector. Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI), each year up to 55 awards of £10,000 are made to recognise individual excellence. The award is intended for National Teaching Fellows' professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy.
For further information please visit:

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