For He’s A Jolly Good (Senior) Fellow

Alan Cann

Alan Cann — AoB Internet Consulting Editor and now Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

When I star­ted my PhD I thought about research. In the UK there are no lec­tures for PhD stu­dents, it’s purely about the thesis. It is per­fectly feas­ible to leave a UK uni­ver­sity com­pletely ignor­ant of any­thing to do with teach­ing. I’ve been lucky at Leicester as I’ve met Prof. Derek Raine, who heads the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and, through him, I’ve met Alan Cann, who’s AoB’s Internet Consulting Editor. He’s news at the University of Leicester this week, thanks to his Senior Fellowship status of the Higher Education Academy.

If you’re look­ing for evid­ence that the divi­sion between research and teach­ing is arbit­rary then Alan Cann should be exhibit num­ber one.

The first course of his that I helped out on was Statistics for Biologists. This could eas­ily have been agony. Alan’s approach wasn’t simply to work out what to put in, but also what to leave out. The dif­fer­ence, that I’ve not seen so expli­citly by any­one else, is that Alan also quan­ti­fies what is work­ing, who engages with tasks, when and how. This res­ults in research papers based on these entry-level courses. This isn’t for the sake of eval­u­ation or course accred­it­a­tion. It’s from a genu­ine research curi­os­ity, how do we make this work better?

When I designed a mod­ule of the Interdisciplinary Science course the only thing I’d thought about was hit­ting the bul­let points of topic we needed to cover. The next time I take on course design there’ll be a very dif­fer­ent approach in eval­u­at­ing how well the course works. Alan Cann’s work will be a big influ­ence on that.

As well as blog­ging here, he has his own site at Science of the Invisible, where you can go over to con­grat­u­late him.

Alun Salt. ORCID 0000-0002-1261-4283

When he's not the web developer for AoB Blog, Alun Salt researches something that could be mistaken for the archaeology of science. His current research is about whether there's such a thing as scientific heritage and if there is how would you recognise it?

1 Response

  1. Many con­grat­u­la­tions to Alan on this ter­rific hon­our and achieve­ment — it is very well deserved. It is great that he is asso­ci­ated as Internet Consulting Editor for Annals of Botany. He is respons­ible for giv­ing well-supported aca­demic lead­er­ship to what we are try­ing to achieve in the web-space: not simply repro­du­cing a paper Journal, but using the power of new media to enhance what we can do, and broaden its access­ib­il­ity in both audi­ence and phys­ical terms. The Higher Education Academy Senior Fellowship recog­nizes Alan’s major con­tri­bu­tion in using social and new media and intro­du­cing its use in the University teach­ing envir­on­ment. Of course, the stu­dents know much more about these media than the aca­demic staff, and Alun has been show­ing how social/internet approaches can be used in teaching.

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