SynergyNet RA shortlisted for World Technology Award

Research Associate at Durham University shortlisted for prestigious World Technology Award

- Visionary work in focusing on the challenges of Classrooms of the Future

By Robert Hayes-McCoy

New York, NY – 17th October 2012, the World Technology Network announced today that Dr Emma Mercier, Research Associate at Durham University, has been nominated as a finalist for the prestigious World Technology Award in the Educational Category.

The WTA Awards are presented to recognise those individuals and organisation that have made a visionary contribution to Science and Technology. They are presented by the World Technology Network in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, Technology Review and Science/AAAS.

The 2012 Awards ceremony takes place at the TIME & Life Building at the close of the 2-day World Technology Summit on Tuesday, October 23 2012.

A Research Associate in the SynergyNet Project at Durham University, which is funded jointly by the UK’s Economic and Social Science Research Council and the Engineering and Physics Research Council, Dr Mercier’s project relates to an investigation into the use of Multi-touch tables in classrooms.

Dr Mercier has spent many years researching the design of classroom environments, considering how technology can be used to augment, support extend or alter the interactions between groups of students, and between students and teacher, in such a way as to change how learning occurs.

She describes her current work at Durham University as very much focusing on the interaction between the 4-T’s: teachers, teams, tasks and technology.

Emerging technologies have the potential to become part of complex ecologies in classrooms, incorporating the technology that students use at home with those that are available to them in schools.

Through experimentation with emerging technologies, Mercier’s aim is on building an understanding of how best to design for the interaction of students, teachers and technology which will facilitate the development of classrooms that will engage children in lessons that prepare them for the future.

Speaking to this reporter she explains that in a world of fast changing and evolving technologies, ever increasing access to education using smarter, faster and new ways of connecting, interacting and communicating between just about every different group in society, it’s not unusual to walk into a classroom today and find that nothing has changed.

So many of today’s students are still learning the same content, in the same ways and using the same tools as they always have. What technology that is available generally remains in the computer labs and it used to replicate traditional learning activities and experiences rather than spearheading change in the educational process.

But technology itself can never bring about change, it’s the way that we interact with it that Dr Mercier is investigating with a view to creating new ways to teach and meet the requirements of the classrooms of the future.

“I am pleased that my research work has reached the final stages of the 2012 World Technology Awards process” says Mercier, “and I’ll be delighted if it wins a World Technology Award.

It’s a project that I am deeply committed to and it is wonderful to see that it has captured the attention and acclaim of such an esteemed organisation as the World Technology Network.’

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 announcements