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Teaching innovation at QMUL highlighted at Times Higher Education Awards shortlist

Two projects from Queen Mary University of London highlighting innovation in teaching have been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards.

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QMUL has been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Awards
QMUL has been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Awards

Senior Lecturer and Drapers Fellow in Teaching Innovations, Dr Tina Chowdhury, who developed a 3D virtual platform that allows students to learn lab skills in bioengineering and life sciences has been shortlisted for the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year category, and the International State Crime Initiative has been shortlisted for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year.

Commenting on her nomination, Dr Chowdhury who is based at QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science said: “I am delighted that the virtual lab has received fantastic feedback and excellent results from students, and the technology is being used QMUL wide. The Times Higher Education Awards celebrates all that is truly valuable and innovative about UK higher education and I am very proud to be recognised by this prestigious award.”

To date, no other UK institution has created a sophisticated 3D platform to help students learn lab skills from multiple disciplines. The custom made platform mimics the facilities and equipment that exist in the real world and encourages students to experience real-life lessons in academic practice and equip them with transferable and practical skills. It uses the latest games technology to teach techniques to enable the student to practise methods multiple times and learn from mistakes before they experience the real lab.  

The virtual lab has been extended across three Schools at QMUL with 1,000 users, and models teaching and research labs for multiple disciplines in engineering and the life sciences. The platform has also been adopted by UCL and the Open University in collaboration with technology company Solvexx Solutions.

The second nominated project is the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), which is a cross-disciplinary research centre comprising a community of scholars working to further our understanding of state crime. ISCI’s focus is on victims as key actors in defining, exposing and challenging state violence and corruption, and takes the term ‘crime’ to include all violations of human rights that are ‘deviant’, in the sense that they infringe on some socially recognised norms.  

ISCI e-testimony project is an innovative digital portal that allows students and others to analyse research-based knowledge about criminal state practices and resistance to them. Equally, for communities subjected to state violence, the project allows their voice to be heard and recognised.

The e-testimony website, created with the University of Ulster and King’s College London, takes the form of an online casebook, which draws on a range of primary, multimedia sources to memorialise state crime events in an interactive framework.

Each case study is a complex digital production that utilises primary materials including interviews, film, photographs and other forms testimony to document state crime, enabling scholars, NGOs, civil society and the interested public to connect with these events by becoming direct witnesses to the testimony of victims and perpetrators.

The website has been incorporated on taught modules on the BSc, LLB, and LLM programmes in the UK, US and Australia. Outside academia, this digital learning tool has been distributed by a range of different civil society organisations.

Professor Penny Green, Director of International State Crime Initiative, who is now based at QMUL’s School of Law said: “We are delighted that the Times Higher Education Awards has acknowledged the importance of an international project, which seeks to expose and understand many of the world’s greatest crimes and has had impact well beyond academia.”

Now in their tenth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are a highlight of the academic calendar. Winners will be announced at a dinner and ceremony on Thursday 27 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

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