Channel: University of Cambridge - Department of Physics
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Funding for innovative teaching and learning projects


The award offers grants of up to £20,000 for University staff to fund creative projects. It aims to promote innovative practice in teaching and learning techniques by providing start-up funding for creative or exploratory initiatives ineligible for other sources of funding. Bids should focus on new approaches that enhance teaching and learning. Any innovative project will be considered – they do not need to be IT-focused. However, bids in support of developing technology to support teaching and learning are particularly welcome.

Many creative ideas have been supported by the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TLIF) since its launch in 2011, and a list of previous winners can be found on the fund website.

Some of these have attracted further grants from external funders, allowing the academics overseeing the projects to develop their research further. Last month, two previous winners were selected to receive the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund, which supports ideas that may have wider applicability across the higher education sector. Further details of these - including a collaborative learning initiative between University students and prisoners, and a virtual reality system to enable oncology students to explore the effects of radiotherapy treatment – can be found below.

The 2016-17 bidding round for this year’s TLIF closes on Monday, 23 January at 4.00pm. Staff interested in making a bid should visit the fund website or contact Melissa Rielly in the Educational and Student Policy Team for further information.

The application process for this year’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund closes later this month.

Virtual Reality Demonstrations at the University of Texas. Students in Cambridge's Department of Oncology will use Virtual Reality technology to simulate radiotherapy treatment later this year.
Previous winners

Simulating the effects of radiotherapy treatment

Two Cambridge scientists received a grant through the 2015 fund to design a virtual reality system that will allow oncology students to simulate radiotherapy cancer treatment.

Last month Dr Raj Jena, Scientific Officer in the Department of Oncology, and Mr Mark Hayes, Director of eScience in the Department of Physics, received further support from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, which will allow them to build the simulator and test it in the classroom from October 2017.

Dr Jena said: “Half of all cancer patients will require radiotherapy at some point in their cancer journey, and radiotherapy treatment is a complex, technologically dependent process that is hard for students to understand without direct interaction.

“By building a simulation of a virtual radiotherapy treatment unit, we can take data from a real patient and allow our students to explore the treatment process interactively and at their own pace. The simulation will enable them to work through a variety of scenarios without risk to patients, building confidence in their clinical decisions and analytical skills.”


Improving teaching and learning in universities and prisons

Staff from the Institute of Criminology launched a new educational initiative called Learning Together after receiving TLIF funding in 2015. It enables students at Cambridge and at HMP Grendon to learn criminology together and has attracted wide interest from the prison practitioner community as well as from colleagues in other disciplines at the University.

Dr Amy Ludlow and Dr Ruth Armstrong have now received a grant from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund to launch a follow-up project called ‘Pushing Boundaries’. It aims to identify effective teaching practices that can be applied in University and prison environments, based on the experiences of those participating in Learning Together.

Dr Armstrong said: “Students will be invited to evaluate their learning by sharing stories about their experiences in the classroom. Their responses will be analysed by specialist software and will help us to identify successful teaching methods and establish where improvements can be made. It might be that students in universities are being taught in a way that can be applied in the prison setting, and vice versa.

“We also hope to introduce an application so students can record their responses on a tablet during their lessons. If the process is successful then it might be something that could be used to evaluate teaching and learning across the University.”

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