University wins two Blackboard Catalyst Awards

24 June 2021

The University of Derby has been awarded two 2021 Blackboard Catalyst Awards for Optimising Student Experience and for Training & Professional Development.

Now in its 16th year, the annual Catalyst Awards recognise and honour 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.

The Optimising Student Experience award honours institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. The University of Derby won the award for the creation of a central, online Virtual Induction, hosted in Blackboard, to welcome both new and returning students.

The induction was developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic during the summer of 2020 and scaffolds induction from results day throughout the first semester.

The Training & Professional Development award recognises those who use Blackboard programmes to support and enhance professional development within or outside of their organisation. The University’s award entry demonstrated this through the delivery of an extensive academic staff development programme during summer 2020, to support colleagues to deliver a high-quality blended learning student experience.

The Best of Blends course was authored, designed and created through a collaboration between the University’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL), working closely with academic colleges to develop a bespoke course tailored to their needs. 

Professor Keith McLay, Provost – Learning and Teaching at the University of Derby, said: “I am thrilled that the University of Derby has been recognised by Blackboard in these Catalyst Awards, a reflection of the hard work and innovative approach taken by the learning and teaching team here at the University.

“At Derby, we are constantly striving for excellence and opportunities for our students. We are committed to delivering a consistently high quality student experience and to ensuring that our teaching, learning and assessment is underpinned by continuing professional development.”

Blackboard Catalyst Award winners are selected by a cross functional team of Blackboard experts. The 58 winners were selected from 130 nominees, the most since the Catalyst Awards programme began. Nominations were entered from institutions in 17 countries. 

"We’re pleased to honour this year's Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community," said Lee Blakemore, Chief Client Officer and President, Global Markets at Blackboard. "We’re proud to partner with institutions who are innovating to advance student success.

“The University of Derby teams will also be announced alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2021, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held virtually over a two-week period, July 13-15 and 20-22.”

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards and this year's winners, visit the Blackboard Community website.

Blackboard Catalyst Award winners logo

For further information contact the press office at