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Northumbria storms Blackboard Catalyst Awards

5th June 2020

Northumbria University has been recognised in three different categories at the Blackboard Catalyst Awards.

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognise and honour innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

Members of the Blackboard Ultra project team, made up of teams from a number of services and faculties, have been awarded the winning title in three different categories for their innovative work to develop Northumbria’s virtual learning environment and support colleagues and students to maximise the platforms potential in teaching and learning.  

Blackboard Catalyst Award for Training and Professional Development - Benjamin Coomber, Cesare Rizzo, Larry McGuirk and Lee Hall

This award recognises those who use Blackboard programs to support and enhance their faculty and staff’s training and professional development. This can include anything from creative learning opportunities to on-the-job training in the newest technologies, and should display an organisation-wide dedication to innovative development programs.

Blackboard Catalyst Award for Leading Change – Harriet Walshaw and the Blackboard Ultra Project Team

This award is for institutions who are on the forefront of educational innovation. It recognises campuses who have developed and implemented high impact educational strategies that scale. Awardees will have developed practices and/or technologies that have had a measurable effect on learning outcomes, student performance, or academic progression. The Blackboard Catalyst Award for Leading Change recognises institutions that actively promote the widespread adoption of innovative strategies with the potential to increase rates of student success nationwide.

Blackboard Catalyst Award for Community Engagement - Kristen McCartney-Bulmer

This award recognises customers who are dedicated to improving student achievement by fostering a connection between institutions, educators, students, and their communities. Examples that demonstrate this achievement include: effective use of multi-platform communication, use of mass communication tools to rally a community cause, or a campaign that succeeded in strengthening an institution’s brand and perception within their community.

Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Northumbria University said: “The Blackboard Catalyst Awards recognise how Northumbria, as an institution, is leading the way when it comes to delivering technology enhanced learning and teaching. The work of these particular colleagues has been exceptional in enabling this to happen, and through their innovation and leadership the University is now recognised as a digital leader in the sector.

“The awards are, however, also testament to the quality of the work over the last eighteen months of all of our academic colleagues and professional support staff who have supported the implementation of the various technologies through their engagement in training and development sessions, leadership of Project Boards, and timely provision of helpful feedback.

“As the last few months have demonstrated, such advancements have proved invaluable as we moved from campus to online learning and teaching in response to Covid-19. Congratulations and well done to all involved”.

The Northumbria University winners will also be announced alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2020, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held virtually July 21 and July 22. 

Lee Blakemore, Chief Client Officer and President, Global Markets at Blackboard said: "We’re pleased to honour this year's Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community.

"We’re proud to partner with institutions who are innovating to advance student success.”

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, please visit:


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