Portrait of Chris Carter

May 10, 2021, by Ingenuity Lab

Dr Chris Carter wins Dearing Award for Innovative Teaching

Dr Chris Carter, Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has been recognised for his Innovative Teaching at the Annual Lord Dearing Awards this month. The Lord Dearing Award Scheme has, since 1999, recognised the outstanding achievements of University of Nottingham staff in enhancing the student learning experience. Recipients of the Dearing Awards are nominated by their students.

Throughout the last academic year, Chris has sought out interesting and innovative ways of connecting with his students via remote learning. He tells us more about his methods below.

I was genuinely blown away to find out about the Lord Dearing Award for my teaching this year. I’m lucky to work with so many equally deserving colleagues who have not only survived this past year, but thrived in the situation, too.

Last Summer, we all faced the daunting task of converting our lectures into – what was for most of us – an entirely new format: the pre-recorded lecture. As an entrepreneurship scholar, I’m used to framing challenges as opportunities for our students, so what better time to demonstrate creative leadership and truly practice what I preach?

However, in preparing to redesign my MSc teaching for online delivery, some crucial questions remained. How could I engage my students in the interactive way that I would usually use in a physical classroom? How could I encourage them to not only watch the videos I was creating, but feel part of a cohort and wider community of academic colleagues?

The solution I came up with involved three key elements: first, I decided to create a short, bespoke title sequence that would play at the start of each pre-recorded lecture on my module. My aim here was to try and create a sense of continuity and (hopefully!) professionalism across my videos – to try and create the impression that my content was always intended to be delivered online, rather than just converted.

Les Entrepreneurs Créatifs: the smell of successful learning.

Second, taking inspiration from various popular YouTube channels, I created short lecture introductions that would run prior to the title sequence that would attempt to draw students into the lecture subject of the week via a humorous or irreverent lens.

Sometimes these introductions would act as teasers for the discussion to follow. Other times they would look to poke fun at popular tropes or use the opportunity to showcase the beautiful natural environments we enjoy in Nottingham.

In all cases, these videos were shot on either my webcam or iPhone – so a fairly low-tech approach. While rather time-consuming to plan, record and edit, these introductions were incredibly fulfilling to create and did end up generating quite a buzz on Teams on Monday mornings, as the students waited to see what direction I would surprise them with that week!

Third, to encourage my students to connect a little more to me as Module Convenor and feel as though they were part of a more interactive learning experience, I wanted to create videos that would include both my Powerpoint slides as well as a smaller video feed of me presenting, so I decided to record my screen locally using QuickTime Player.

Adding video to Powerpoint presentations

This allowed me to record my Powerpoint slides positioned on the left of the screen while also capturing live video of my webcam feed, positioned on the right. While this was a rather time-consuming approach that involved many Sunday evenings editing and uploading large video files in order for the lectures to be ready by Monday morning, the students responded very positively, which made it all worthwhile.

“It is no secret that the pandemic has altered the student learning experience over the past year”, said one of his students, Gabreilla Kisoi. “Nonetheless, Dr. Chris Carter has made online learning an absolute joy and whirlwind adventure. From his video lecture introductions to an entire class filmed by a lake, all the way to curating Spotify playlists for creativity, Chris has topped the standards of innovative teaching. He not only taught Entrepreneurial Creativity in theory, but demonstrated it in practice. It is modules like this that make me even more enthused about the world of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

See the full list of the 2021 Lord Dearing Award recipients here.

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