Dr Georgina Blakeley, Director of Teaching and Deputy Head of School in FASS has been announced as the winner of the prestigious 2019 European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The award is given by Central European University (CEU) and accompanied by the €5,000 Diener Prize.
As well as having an extensive research background in Spanish politics and issues of citizen participation and urban governance, Dr Blakeley's teaching has concentrated in recent years on producing and then presenting the Level 1 Introduction to Social Sciences foundation module, Introducing the social sciences (DD102). She is currently chair of DD102. She joined the Open University in 2006.
The CEU state that at the OU, faculty “are required to develop course materials specifically for the university’s virtual learning environment as well as to engage directly with students both in-person and online.
“Dr Blakeley has excelled and shown leadership in both of these roles, being both a University leader in the production of outstanding modules and an inspiring teacher who insists on teaching and engaging directly with students. I know of no other colleague who has excelled in these roles in the way that Georgina has,” wrote Michael Pryke, Politics, Philosophy, Economics, Development and Geography Head of School at OU, in his letter of support for Blakeley.
The award praises Dr Blakeley’s development of two entry-level interdisciplinary social science courses, which it said had transformed the student learning experience and provided a roadmap for other courses throughout the university. Her innovative approach to these widely attended courses involved the creation of bespoke online activities for distance learners, it stated.
Dr Blakeley spent four years as an associate lecturer in order to continuously evaluate how students experienced the teaching materials she prepared. “Above all, my experience of teaching OU students taught me never to make assumptions about a student’s prior knowledge and to begin from the student’s starting point,” she said.
“I am honoured to receive this prestigious award not just because it is a recognition of my work at the OU but, most importantly, because it is a recognition of the work of the OU in providing educational opportunities to all regardless of background. In that sense, the award belongs to all of my colleagues at the OU and to all of our students. I am especially grateful to the students who nominated me for this award,” said Dr Blakeley.
Chair of the judging panel, Marvin Lazerson, praised Dr Blakeley for her brilliance in connecting complex ideas to compelling teaching methods in ways that have global resonance. She will receive the award and accompanying Diener Prize at the university’s opening ceremony in fall 2019.