Technology adviser wins Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching and Learning

2 May 2018

A member of staff from the University of Derby has won a teaching and learning award after adopting mobile and online technologies to enhance students’ educational experience.


Senior Learning Technologist Chris Bell, from the University’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), won the European Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching and Learning for the University’s Digital Practice Baseline, a framework to benchmark and support improvements to the student digital learning experience.

Blackboard, a leading education technology company, recognised the framework as an example of how digital platforms could increase flexibility and further learner and instructor effectiveness.

Chris has over 10 years’ experience within higher education, working with tutors to embed digital practice into their teaching and learning.

He said: “Winning this award reflects an ongoing focus within the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team on working with colleagues across the University to create a high quality, transformative student experience. This includes developing digital capabilities that will prepare students for the digital economy and help them to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

“Being recognised at the highest level by Blackboard for developing a global exemplar framework by which academic staff can benchmark, shape and deliver planned digital enhancements is important for the University in maintaining its status as a sector leader in digital practice.

“On behalf of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, I’m delighted to accept the award as testament to all the hard work and dedication which has gone into not only developing the baseline, but also playing a key role in the development of a digital curriculum that provides a consistently high quality digital student experience across the University.”

The University is committed to delivering outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students, receiving a Gold award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England in the country’s first-ever Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, putting it in the top 20% providers.

The annual Catalyst Awards, founded in 2005, recognise innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO and President of Blackboard, said: “Blackboard is proud to recognise this year’s Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to transforming the learning experience through technology and innovative practices. We look forward to continuing to work with these educators and institutions to support the success of all students.”

The University of Derby’s TEL Team was honoured alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during Blackboard’s annual European Teaching and Learning Conference, held in Manchester.