Leeds College of Art is awarded Times Higher Education award

28 November 2016

We are delighted to announce that Leeds College of Art and the School of Earth and Environment (University of Leeds) have been awarded the Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research category at the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2016.

Students on courses with a Geology element can use the tool developed by the Virtual Landscapes team at the University of Leeds and Leeds College of Art to help them to prepare for field work. Annabeth Robinson, Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Animation and Research Technology Cluster Leader, led the project on behalf of Leeds College of Art.

Winning the award for Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research, the tool enables students to explore a virtual landscape as they would a real one, interacting to collect real-time data, determine location, and map regional geology. This means that time can be used more profitably when they are out in the field. 

The tool can also be used by students who cannot undertake fieldwork due to illness or injury, enabling the same skills and processes to be taught in a manner not previously possible.

The project was developed through a collaborative opportunity between Leeds College of Art and the School of Earth and Environment, forming an interdisciplinary bridge between Arts and STEM disciplines.

Professor Randall Whittaker, Director of Studies at Leeds College of Art, said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled to have won the Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research Award at the Times Higher Education Awards 2016, the most prestigious awards for the UK education sector. This collaborative project demonstrates the benefits of using the creative and digital skills of our staff and students to address real-world problems and deliver engaging digital solutions.”

Dr Jacqui Houghton, from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, is director of the Virtual Landscapes project.

She said: “This is a fantastic example of team working, using experts from different disciplines and institutions to find a solution to a problem we had been grappling with for some time. Virtual Landscapes was developed from a pencil and paper exercise into a tool that has revolutionised the way that students learn about geology.” 

The tool has been so successful that it is being evaluated by other UK Universities, including Keele, Durham, and Liverpool, and used in universities in the USA, South Africa and Guyana. 

The awards were presented at a ceremony hosted by actor Richard E. Grant in London on 24 November 2016. The judges said the project “set a very high bar in showing how serious gaming can make a positive difference to learning”.

THE Awards 1Award presentation: Left to right, Richard E. Grant, Annabeth Robinson (Leeds College of Art),  Dr Jacqui Houghton (University of Leeds) and Jisc (sponsor of the award) CEO Paul Feldman.

THE Awards 2Leeds College of Art team at the awards: Left to right:

Professor Randall Whittaker (Director of Studies), Annabeth Robinson (BA (Hons) Animation Senior Lecturer & Research Cluster Leader), Dr Samantha Broadhead (Head of Research & MA Creative Practice Programme Leader), Dr Catriona McAra (Curatorial & Exhibitions Manager)