Standing on the shoulders of a giant

Prof David Hawkridge

Prof David Hawkridge

Our team, and the work we do, has recently been recognised by our peers in the form of a prize and a small amount of prize money.

A more profound success for us though, is the recent acknowledgment of the career of Professor David Hawkridge, Visiting Professor (University of Leicester) and Emeritus Professor of Applied Educational Sciences (The Open University), who was recently honoured by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) at its annual conference in Manchester (8-10 September 2009) with an honorary life membership.

Since 2007, he has been Visiting Professor at Leicester, working closely with research teams at Beyond Distance and other academics at the University.

David brings to bear a lifetime of experience to challenge us in our research and he steers the diverse flotilla of our projects with a benign, guiding hand.  Readers of this blog would be familiar with some of David’s recent thinking via his posts, which bear his hallmark of wit and brevity, as well as being  thought-provoking.

David is a graduate of the University of Cape Town (BA 1952, MA 1953, BEd and STD 1954) and subsequently read for his PhD (1963) at the University of London.

Among several prestigious academic appointments, David served as the Director of the Institute of Educational Technology – an academic group chiefly charged with educational research, design, development and evaluation work for the OU (1970-88).

He was also associated with the development of the OU’s television programming for the BBC throughout the 1970s and 1980s, in recognition of which he was awarded the Eastman Kodak Gold Medal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in 1994. The citation for which noted his pioneering work, which provided the research foundation and model for the integration of television and other learning technologies in Great Britain’s Open University.

David contributed extensively to educational policy development, in the UK and abroad, through his work with governments in several Asian, African nations and the EU, the British Council, the World Bank and UNESCO. He takes keen interest in multimedia education initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa, through his work with the University of Cape Town.

His recent research and mentoring of researchers at Leicester has focussed on podcasting for pedagogic purposes, using 3D Multi-User Virtual Environments, learning design and e-book readers.

Among senior academics he has mentored are Professors Diana Laurillard (Institute of Education) and Gilly Salmon (University of Leicester). Prof Salmon was later instrumental in his joining the Beyond Distance team at Leicester, and they recently co-edited a special issue of the British Journal for Educational Technology.

Several generations of David’s doctoral students now hold key positions in higher education, for whom he remains a mentor, an inspiration and an obliging, but eagle-eyed, editor of ‘drafts’.

An aficionado of all things Apple, David usually sports a sharp line in corduroy jackets and, for those in the know, is the voice behind some of the most charming answer-phone messages ever. He resides in the South Bedfordshire village of Heath and Reach, and keenly follows the fluctuating fortunes of England’s cricket teams.

–        Jai Mukherjee / 21 September 2009

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