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Queen Mary a winner at Pearson’s inaugural HE Innovate Awards

Queen Mary University of London has won the award for ‘Most innovative hybrid or blended learning project’ at the first ever HE Innovate Awards.

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Held by Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, the awards celebrate success in innovation in teaching, learning and student support in UK higher education.

Queen Mary was a winner through its innovative implementation of mixed reality technology into Chemistry Classes. In the absence of face-to-face classes when the pandemic hit, the practical chemistry team at Queen Mary recognised a new approach was urgently needed for students.

The team quickly introduced two online learning platforms, and introduced mixed reality smartglasses technology (Microsoft HoloLens2). When students were not in the laboratories, they were required to engage with online simulations of techniques, thus guaranteeing they were engaging with the closest alternative to real-life practical classes.

When in the lab, an academic wore the smartglasses which enabled students at home to see what they could see, aided by holograms and other interactive features.

Feedback from students was highly positive, praising the mixed reality approach and the overall learning experience under such difficult circumstances.

Dr Lesley Howell, Reader in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at Queen Mary University of London, said: “I am honoured to see our work has been given this recognition by Pearson – as I know everyone here at the University is.

“We knew introducing this style of laboratory teaching would not be easy. But we felt an immeasurable sense of pride when we were engaging with the students, and even more so when we heard how much they had enjoyed the course.

“The department and the University are fortunate to be filled with colleagues who could not be more committed to giving their students unmatched support and resources. This would not have been possible without them.”

Marlene Olsavsky, Senior Vice President, International Higher Education, Pearson, said: “Covid has forced UK universities to create new and inventive ways of working, teaching and supporting students. The quality we’ve seen across the hundred plus submissions received for our Awards demonstrates how UK universities are more than capable of meeting this challenge.

“These Awards have been designed to showcase the stunning breadth of innovation going on every day in our UK universities, from making learning as engaging as possible, to connecting with as wide and diverse an audience as possible, to ensuring students graduate equipped with the workforce skills they need to succeed in life.”

Queen Mary congratulates the staff involved in the award win, and their tireless efforts for their students:

  • Dr Lesley A Howell
  • Dr Christopher R Jones
  • Dr Tippu S Sheriff
  • Mr Mark Hudson
  • Mr Gideon Woldeslassie
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