I’m delighted to have been asked to write a blog for the Amazing Teaching Awards and help showcase how we highlight both staff and students for the amazing work they do for the LJMU community. The Amazing Teaching Awards took place virtually this week where we saw 100 staff and students join us in celebrating the wonderful work that goes on at LJMU. These student-led awards are genuinely student-led; students designed the process, students nominate, students assess, students decide and students give out these awards. We know staff and student peers appreciate this as some of the acceptance speeches demonstrate.
COVID-19 has put a spanner in the works for all of us, not only at work but at home too, severely affecting our way of life. Who could have imagined we would be going through a pandemic when we started the academic year last September? It has been tough, but we have achieved so much together already. We recognised many of our staff and students having helped out the national response to the crisis, many from our Faculty of Health but also broader as keyworkers, volunteers, or helping research into interventions. So in one way, this event couldn’t have come at a better time.
As one of the highlights of the year, we always look forward to this event, but obviously, we never imagined we’d be celebrating them like this. Originally scheduled to take place in the Maritime Museum in March 2020, I was initially apprehensive about the move to an online platform - I never thought we would be able to do it justice, to be able to celebrate those staff and give them the recognition they deserve.
However, the move to online actually enabled us to catch some aspects we wouldn't have normally at a glamorous venue like the Maritime. With some of the features such as 'spotlight' on Zoom, we were able to capture the real-time reaction of staff as they saw they won the award. The (sometimes!) cheesy PowerPoint transitions allowed us to keep up that suspense and having staff in the comfort of their own homes allowed us to celebrate with even more people in the room. Even when things went slightly off-plan and not to script, it was accepted and celebrated. Some of the formality may have been lost, but I do feel the sense of community and being together was enhanced. We also held a quiz as an afterparty which was lovely to see as people tested their knowledge on Liverpool and LJMU – some say it was unfairly biased towards the winner, but I couldn’t possibly comment!
I hope this event can be remembered as one that brought light to LJMU during such dark and difficult times. I hope it can be a reminder that we should not be afraid of the online sphere, that it is not all 'Zoom-doom'. Online platforms have changed the way we all interact with our friends and family and I know it will continue to be an increasingly important part of our learning environment going forward. It will be again down to staff and students to work together, collaborate, design and deliver new ways of learning. Sharing their experiences to enhance the university community online, offline or both.
JMSU and I loved the event and whilst we hope we can once again celebrate face to face in the not too distant future, we now know we can always offer the opportunity for people to ‘zoom’ in and join in the fun.
Congratulations again to all of our winners. Remember though, with all the work you are doing during this time, you are all winners and you are all amazing.
I'd like to end this with a thank you, and some of the comments students said about you.