National Teaching Award Winners 2019 – AAUT Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

It’s a great pleasure to share news that RMIT had two winners in this year’s Australian Awards for University Teaching and both are from SEH! These awards recognise Australia’s most exceptional university teachers and speak to how highly their work is valued by students, universities and the Australian Government.


  1. Assoc. Professor Sylvia Urban

For pioneering Pen-Enabled Cloud-Based Methodologies (PECM) to transform lecturing practices and deepen student learning in STEM subjects.

Sylvia’s work in the area of pen-enabled technologies has completely changed the lecturing experience for her and her students; step into her lecture room and you’ll instantly see her students deeply engaged as, armed with a tablet and digital pen, she immerses them in the complex world of chemistry. Sylvia’s award acknowledges her own innovative practices but she is also celebrated for her dedication to mentoring and developing new practitioners and to establishing a growing community of practice.

Reflecting on her award, Sylvia says ‘being recognised at a national level is an extraordinary satisfying moment. Although the primary goal of my innovation in teaching is not to win recognition, such an award inspires me with more vigour and enthusiasm. I am hopeful that the national recognition for my four-year journey will mean that I will get to engage with a multitude of academics from within and externally to my University’.


  1. Chirality Team (Professor Michelle Spencer, Professor Oliver Jones, Dr Maria Spichkova)

For worldwide impact in chemistry education through the creation of a new, game-based digital learning tool via a cross-disciplinary, student-centred approach.

Oliver, Michelle and Maria – an interdisciplinary team from the School of Science – have developed a high successful mobile game for chemistry students, which is openly available on smartphones via iOS and Android. One of the special features of the project is that they have worked alongside students as partners in the learning design process, developing a tool which appeals to students from all sorts of backgrounds and with wide-ranging abilities.

The awards panel congratulated the Chirality team for their iterative, multi-disciplinary approach to developing an innovative educational tool to enhance student attainment of what can be very difficult concepts. Two judges even shared that they had downloaded the App and were using it already to teach their own courses!

Reflecting on the project, Oliver says ‘The Chirality project has been an exciting journey over several years now. What started out as an idea to bring technology to chemistry education, became an incredible journey that is still not over. The number of downloads of the app is continually growing’. Sharing his enthusiasm, Maria emphasises the impact of the project on the student App developers, ‘We have a huge software development capacity within our IT/CS/SE student cohorts, and it’s very important to me to support our students in application of their skills and creativity to the real world, the results of which are visible to everyone’.

Our warmest congratulations to our prestigious winners – this is a highly competitive awards scheme and we are very proud of your achievements! Look out for opportunities to hear more about these great projects in the coming weeks!

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