Archive for category Prizes

MOOCs and Open Education around the World

The book MOOCS and Open Education Around the World, to which I contributed a chapter, has been very successful. Most recently, it won a DDL Distance Education Book Award. This award is presented in recognition of a print or digital book published within the last three years that describes important theoretical or practical aspects of distance education that can help others involved in distance education or those researching an important aspect of distance education. The primary focus of the book must be directly related to distance education.


AECT Division of Distance Learning (DDL) Distance Education Book Award. 2016 – First Place. MOOCs and Open Education around the World, Editors: Curtis J. Bonk, Mimi M. Lee, Thomas C. Reeves and Thomas H. Reynolds. NY: Routledge. Presented at the 2016 Conference of the Association for Educational Technology and Communications, Las Vegas.

Postscript in September 2018: The book is now available in Chinese.


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Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year

Congratulations to all the team for winning ‘Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year’ at the THE Awards.

Celebrating at the awards ceremony


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The strength of cohesive ties

In September 2011, I presented at ReLive 2011 together with Julia Gillen, one of my co-authors. We won third prize for Best Conference Paper.

FERGUSON, R., GILLEN, J., PEACHEY, A. & TWINING, P. The strength of cohesive ties: discursive construction of an online community.  ReLIVE11: Creative Solutions for New Futures, 2011 (21-22 September) Milton Keynes, UK.


Learning takes place in a social context and this context can offer many resources, including structure, continuity and motivation. Online, two primary learning types of context have been identified, networks and communities. While networks may offer a wealth of people and resources, communities appear to offer richer learning possibilities. It is therefore important to investigate how online learning communities can be formed from online networks, and whether such a shift benefits learners. The study reported here focuses on two groups of teenagers, one a formal learning group from the USA and the other an informal learning group from the UK. The groups were originally only weakly tied in a network, but aimed to create a single learning community through activity in an online forum, wiki and virtual world. Thematic analysis of their forum posts shows the importance of cohesive ties – grammatical devices used to construct coherent narratives – to the development of key elements of community: spirit, authority, trade and art.

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Robot Club – Y Factor success

This year, I supported the local schools’ Robot Club to participate in the Y Factor conference, now run in association with Learning without Frontiers.

The club was started at the local junior school by a parent governor. When the children left the school, they carried on building robots in their spare time, and persuaded their secondary school to start a robot club there.

The group became national finalists, and presented in the round to a large audience at the Learning without Frontiers event in London, where they all won Nintendo DSs. Here’s the video they made as their original entry.

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Scratch Club – Y Factor prizewinners

I supported the local junior school’s Scratch Club to enter the Y Factor competition run in association with the 2009 Handheld Learning Festival. The Learners Y Factor showcases the innovation and ingenuity being demonstrated amongst young learners using mobile, gaming, social media or other popular technologies in their learning.

The Scratch Club was a great example of this – it’s run by four 10 year olds who love programming with Scratch. It was started by them, and they’ve had to campaign to get Scratch on the school computers, and to find an adult to supervise them while they run the club. This is the introduction they put together for the Y Factor (they reached the national finals and each one a wii).

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Y Factor prizewinners 2008

A Schome team of teenagers entered the Y Factor 2008 competition, held at the Handheld Learning conference. The competition looks for young people who are ‘doing something innovative, different and interesting that gives their learning the “Y” factor’.

It proved very complicated to get the team to London, as they weren’t supported by a school, there was no more project funding, and the teenagers had to travel from all over the country. I searched for sponsors, and both RM and Sums Online generously agreed to fund part of the trip.

In addition, the teenagers had to put together and rehearse their presentation – and then present it together in front of a large audience in London on the first occasion they had ever met. On the day, Vibia presented from her school via Second Life, while Topper, Baso, Mars and Kit met up in London. They went home with third prize – lots of software, some of which they sold in order to send a cash equivalent to Vibia. Here’s part of their presentation

Schome Park has given its students a real chance to study History and Archaeology in new ways which are more engaging and interactive than those used in the classroom. As Second Life® allows people to build, script, and chat amongst other things, the History sessions have been able to build Roman aqueducts. Sizings can be used which can enable students to scale buildings so they can compare the size of these buildings to the height of people. This allows students to relate to how people would have felt seeing these buildings. The study of archaeology is a difficult process as once artefacts and material are disturbed they cannot be replaced, whereas in Schome Park this is possible. During the Archaeology sessions a shipwreck was recreated and ‘excavated’ amongst discussions including Henges and Pompeii. When the two sessions integrated for one meeting a Roman road was created and enabled each layer of the road to be removed allowing students to see how the roads were constructed. This unique way of learning breaks down the barriers of students and teachers. This leads to student run sessions which benefit many people as both children and adults can learn from each other.

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Festival of Research: People’s Prize

My comic-book-style poster explaining the current phase of Schome research won the People’s Prize for best poster at The Open University festival of research. (You can download the poster here Schome poster pdf)
Schome research, comic-book style

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