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East Midlands Chamber News

University scoops two awards

Nottingham Trent University has been recognised for its innovative teaching methods and business partnerships with two awards and a runner-up place at the Guardian University Awards 2015.

Digital humanities project, Dawn of the Unread, which has transformed the students' approach to learning about culture and the arts, took the top spot in the Teaching Excellence category.

Led by local writer, James Walker, students from the School of Arts and Humanities were involved in the conceptualisation, production, curation, marketing and dissemination of a professional quality, online interactive graphic novel about Nottingham's past.

The novel sees the city's famous historical literary figures rise from the grave to wreak revenge against the closures of libraries and low literacy in C21 Britain.

In its first year, 112 students engaged with the project, including undergraduates studying History, Media, Literature, Journalism and Philosophy, as well as peers in the School of Science and Technology and School of Art and Design.

Nottingham Trent University's SCALE-UP project also took a close second in the same category. SCALE-UP focuses on learning by doing rather than listening and lectures are replaced by group problem solving activities in a specially designed learning environment.

Originally developed in the USA as an alternative to lecture-heavy teaching, Nottingham Trent University is the first UK university to offer full institutional support for the method. More than 30 modules from disciplines as diverse as Media, Sports Science, Marketing and Law now incorporate SCALE-UP, which has been shown to have many benefits for student learning, including enhanced problem-solving ability, increased conceptual understanding, and higher attendance and satisfaction rates.

Nottingham Business School's work with the Nottingham Energy Partnership, which was initiated by the university’s Future Factory, received the award for Business Partnership.

As part of their core curriculum, students act as consultants to local businesses, helping them to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and achieve environmental accreditations. Local businesses involved in the project included the Castle Rock Brewery, Cloud Cars, Wego Couriers and sole traders such as Honest Inks toner recycling, alongside the four local Clinical Commissioning Groups and Broxtowe Borough Council.

The project has demonstrated the key role business schools and students can play in providing practical supporting in the shift to a low carbon economy, by helping businesses across all sectors work on reducing their environmental impacts and developing niche low carbon products and offers. The student participation fills the skills, funding and time gap that often prevent businesses from gaining accredited EMS.

Together with Nottingham Energy Partnership, Nottingham Business School also offers an international summer school where students from all over the world can help local business to get iiE Accreditation. The summer school in 2014 led to other universities worldwide implementing this innovative approach.

Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, Professor Edward Peck, said: "As a 21st-century university we are always looking for ways to energise and transform learning. These projects are perfect examples of how we're using real business engagement, new technologies and methods to engage our students."