The University of Southampton

ECS academic awarded National Teaching Fellowship

Published: 25 June 2010

ECS senior lecturer Dr Mike Wald has won a prestigious national award which recognizes teaching excellence in higher education.

Dr Wald, of the School’s Learning Societies Lab, has been named a National Teaching Fellow by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) for his work on accessible technologies.

The citation on the HEA web site reads:

"Throughout his teaching career Dr Wald has improved learning for students through his excellence in teaching and his innovative creation, development and use of technology. He has helped change national policy, won many awards and achieved international recognition as a scholar and a champion for disabled students.

"Dr Wald advised and helped establish the disability services at Southampton and many other universities, directly benefitting the learning experiences of many thousands of students. When speech recognition technologies first became available, he identified their potential for enhancing learning for disabled and dyslexic students and worked closely with international colleagues to turn this potential into a reality. His most recent innovation, Synote, is being used by universities worldwide to transform learning for all students.

"A student at the University of Southampton commented: 'Synote is the best system I have ever seen for assistive technology it is very useful for me to understand what the lecturer taught after class I hope all school majors could integrate this system - thanks.'

Dr Wald enjoys seeing others make use of the free technologies he has developed to enhance the learning of their students, and looks forward to developing further Synote and other technologies for the benefit of all students in HE.

Academic colleagues in Europe and North America commented: 'Dr Wald is a model academic worthy of our praise - he genuinely cares about teaching and learning, conducts world-class research, engages students in cutting-edge learning opportunities, and collaborates broadly both within the academic community and beyond on educationally focused initiatives . . . The systems he has envisioned, designed, and deployed are being used in many countries around the world. More importantly, they're providing real, tangible benefits for students. The ripple effect of his dedication to teaching excellence is profound and far-reaching. His approach and his insight make him a "technology visionary", able to build strong bridges between the field of IT skills and those more closely related to educational issues and learning processes."

Simon Kemp, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton also received a National Teaching Fellowship and he and Mike were among 50 awarded in the UK as a whole. Professor Debra Humphris, University of Southampton Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), says: "The award of National Teaching Fellowships to Simon and Mike provides clear recognition of both their national standing and the esteem in which they are held by the University. Their commitment to students is outstanding and I am delighted that this has been nationally recognised."

This year’s Fellows were chosen from nearly 200 nominations submitted to the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme by higher education institutions, and each will receive an award of £10,000, which may be used for professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy.

The Higher Education Academy supports the sector in providing the best possible learning experience for all students. The Academy is an independent organisation funded by grants from the four UK higher education funding bodies, subscriptions from higher education institutions, and grant and contract income for specific initiatives.

Dr Wald commented: "I am very pleased to have my work recognized and look forward to more universities and teachers using Synote as it enhances learning for all students." He is pictured here with the EUNIS Dorup E-learning Award 2009, one of a number of awards he has received for Synote.

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