University of Derby Online Learning academic manager receives prestigious National Teaching Fellowship

Paula Shaw, Academic Manager at the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL), has received a National Teaching Fellowship – the most prestigious individual award in higher education – in recognition of her outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession.

The Advance HE National Teaching Fellowship scheme has been running since 2000. On gaining the award, fellows play an ongoing role in enhancing teaching and learning within their institution, the higher education sector and further afield.

Paula is the first female at the University of Derby to be awarded the title, joining three other academics who already hold National Teaching Fellowships:

  • Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic) – awarded in 2014
  • Dr Ian Turner, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching – awarded in 2014
  • Professor Dennis Hayes, Professor of Education – awarded in 2010

Passionate about distance and online learning, Paula was one of the founding members of UDOL in 2011 and has driven the University’s approach to online learning, providing inspirational academic leadership. She is part of the senior management team that has seen online learning at the University grow to over 3,600 students across a range of programmes in 2017/18.

Paula’s methodology ensures that UDOL students receive a full university experience, based on a social approach to learning. She worked with key departments across the University to develop an online careers, wellbeing and library offer, which resulted in her receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Individual Impact in 2014.

She also ensured that all of the University’s online learning materials are designed to achieve the maximum possible inclusivity for students, whatever their needs.

As a result, UDOL has achieved sector-leading retention rates for online learning, with 93% of students being retained year on year.

Paula said: “I am honoured to receive this award, which reflects my passion for achieving the highest standards in online learning. More importantly, I hope it will inspire others to share my commitment to providing the very best learning experience and support for those students who are unable to physically attend university.”

Julie Stone, Director of UDOL, said: “Paula has been a key contributor to the success of online learning at Derby. She is an inspirational academic, passionate about learning and the student experience, and I am delighted that her work has been recognised in this way.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell added: “The award of a National Teaching Fellowship is an outstanding achievement, which reflects the impact that Paula has made in ensuring our online students receive the highest standards of learning and teaching.”