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Sheffield students and their teacher win top Google prize

Students from the University of Sheffield and their teacher Gary Wood have won a competition to create an outstanding online resource for learning and teaching using Google Apps, run by Google and the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).

Screenshot of AllAboutLinguistics.comThe new website, AllAboutLinguistics.com, was created by students at the University of Sheffield, with support from staff in the School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics. The aim of the site is to introduce A-Level students to the discipline of linguistics, deepen their knowledge of language study, and give them an insight into the range of opportunities a degree in English Language and Linguistics can offer.

AllAboutLinguistics.com was selected by an international panel of judges convened by ALT and came first out of hundreds of entries. Gary Wood, Associate University Teacher in the School of English, received the award at a ceremony in Manchester last night (Wednesday 13 September 2012). The judges were particularly impressed with how effective the site was at promoting the learning of linguistics and also praised its innovative use of Google Apps.

AllAboutLinguistics.com was designed, built, and launched using Google Apps such as Sites, Docs, Google+, Maps, YouTube, and Calendar. The project was also a major piece of assessed coursework, through which students deepened their understanding of linguistics alongside gaining skills in project management, team working, use of web-based systems, and communication and collaboration tools.

Gary Wood, Associate University Teacher in the School of English, who lead the module in which students built the site, said: “I am immensely proud of what the students have achieved in creating the website. This was the first major project I have completed with Google Apps, and I am impressed with how these tools have empowered students, really putting them in control of their assessment project, enabling them to undertake a real-world project with a real outcome, and greatly raising their aspirations and motivation in the process.

Video of the AllAboutLinguistics.com launch event

“We have received much positive feedback on the site from A-Level students, demonstrating its value as a resource, and my students’ own feedback on building the site as an assessment was very enthusiastic, with many noting that they had acquired valuable transferrable skills as well as a deeper knowledge of linguistics.”

Emma Traxon, a student who worked on the project, said: “Using Google Apps was a great experience as it meant that the final exam wasn’t daunting and made the work enjoyable, as well as more taxing, since it was something I had not used before and was keen to learn more about it. It also helped me in my personal life as I was able to create a website for a job I do and gave me crucial skills that I may not have learnt otherwise. I would recommend that any school, college or university uses this tool as it helped me so much and made group work a lot easier and enjoyable, as previously I didn’t like group work!”

Jasmin Sowerby-Greenall, a student who worked on the project: “It’s really rewarding to know that a project we all worked so hard on has received this recognition. Not only was AllAboutLinguistics.com a fantastic way to be assessed, as we all learnt a lot from making the web site, it is also online as a useful tool for A-level students. It’s very exciting that the project has been recognised as an innovative use of Google Apps, and I hope that this kind of real world, creative assessment will be used more in the future.”

Development of the site was supported by a Faculty of Arts and Humanities Strategic Development grant, and by a grant from University of Sheffield Enterprise.

Additional information

To find out more about linguistics at Sheffield, visit:
http://www.shef.ac.uk/english/ugc/balangling

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen´s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom´s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

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Contact

For further information please contact:
Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046
a.f.stone@sheffield.ac.uk