The University of Southampton

Multimedia Systems Course wins University teaching award

Published: 7 August 2005

Dr Hugh Davis and Su White (right), who along with Dr David Millard and Dr Mark Weal, have been awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award 2005 for their innovative Multimedia Systems final-year course in Computer Science on both the BSc and MEng programmes. The prize was formally awarded by the Vice-Chancellor at the ECS Graduation Ceremony on Thursday 28 July.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Awards have been established to recognize innovative teaching which embodies the University’s commitment to research, and which make a real difference to student learning. The Awards are also intended to showcase good teaching practice which can be translated to other subject disciplines, and will now become an annual feature at the University's Graduation ceremonies.

The Multimedia Systems course involves an ambitious project for the students: they have to choose a topic to research, produce a paper on their subject, and then present it at an authentic day-long conference, which they have to organize and manage themselves. The process involves anonymous peer review of the papers and the incorporate of feedback into the final presentations, which are then made to an audience which includes fellow students, staff, and invited participants from business and industry which has sponsored prizes.

Hugh Davis and Su White first conceived and designed this course for delivery in 2000, and the format has been enormously successful. It is now taught by David Millard and Mark Weal, and the innovative approach has already been embedded into teaching in other areas of the School, including the MEng individual research projects presentation.

It has been very popular with students, who not only have a real introduction to research methods and presentation, but who also develop other valuable skills in organizing the conference. ‘Research-led teaching is about more than researchers doing the teaching,’ said Hugh Davis. ‘We wanted to inspire our students with the same essence of curiosity and desire to communicate their understandings that drives researchers, and we wanted to make the experience as authentic as possible.’

This year’s conference was held at New College, University of Southampton. Siobhain Dales, a member of the Conference Committee, commended the hands-on, student-centered approach to learning: ‘It allowed me to get really involved in how a conference is organized and run, which was fascinating, immensely fun, and really challenging. Having worked through the Multimedia Systems course equipped me to produce a high-quality, well-referenced report.’

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, Deputy Head of School (Education), commented: ‘This course is an excellent example of the really high-quality, innovative teaching which is one of the hallmarks of our degree programmes in ECS. The course is also very much enjoyed by our students, and so added to the highly positive outcomes of higher-level learning, we also see a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment generated from the students’ opportunity to showcase their work.’

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