Winners announced for the "Oscars" of innovation in higher education

Philadelphia, December 9th: The Wharton-QS Stars Awards 2014: Reimagine Education took place on December 9th in Philadelphia. The global competition received submissions from 427 universities and enterprises from 43 countries with 21 awards judged by a panel of 25 international experts – a 'who’s who' of higher education.

QS Quacquarelli Symonds, publisher of the QS World University Rankings, has developed this global competition to identify the most innovative approaches in higher education to enhance learning and student employability, in partnership with The Wharton School SEI Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

The overall award has a prize fund of US$ 50,000, offered by IELTS, and the judges decided it should be shared by two overall winners:

  • PaGamO, the worlds' first-ever multi-student social game (National Taiwan University) in which students compete to amass virtual land and wealth by answering questions correctly and can then buy defences to protect themselves from monsters and other competitors. This highly engaging platform is popular for teaching probability in Chinese, teaching maths to K12 students in the USA , teaching dentistry to US Ivy league undergraduates and has been adopted by a fortune 500 company to teach management and leadership
  • PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado Boulder) provides a collection of free interactive simulations to teach students fundamental principles of science and math. Over 130 stunning and engaging simulations have already inspired millions of students, with over 75 million uses per year around the world. Find them on the web: http://phet.colorado.edu

Winners of other Wharton-QS Star Awards 2014, include:

Enterprise Awards

Winner ForClass: Driving Student Engagement through Accountability For Class Ltd. USA
Students learn better when they are engaged – both in the course content and class discussion. Engagement remains a constant struggle for professors across disciplines. ForClass has developed a solution: a single tool that drives student engagement through accountability, while streamlining content distribution, student assessment and classroom management for faculty – the first and only tool to combine these three elements.
Runner up African Management InitiativeAMIKenya
The African Management Initiative, AMI, is a pan-African social enterprise that empowers African managers & entrepreneurs through practical as well as accessible learning and coaching tools. They have developed the first online social learning platform in Africa, designed for an African context – low on bandwidth and with mobile in mind, partnering with Africa’s top business schools and practitioners to develop world class content.
3rd placeLabster: Virtual LaboratoryLabsterDenmark
In teaching science, one meets challenges like, the high number of students combined with budget limitations, high failure rates in passive learning such as lectures, expensive laboratory costs, and low learning efficiencies with cookbook methods. At Labster these problems are circumvented by introducing students to a virtual laboratory, in which they are invited to investigate and resolve life science case stories.
This 3D virtual laboratory is built based on real life topics that students can easily relate to, and can be used by teachers as a supplement or an alternative teaching method.
3rd placeCareer Exploration: The Gamification of an Undergraduate Sport ManagementNorth Carolina State UniversityUSA
The Gamification Module created within Moodle, an open source learning management system, was designed to actively engage as well as motivate students while improving their academic achievement and satisfaction with a distance education undergraduate course in sport management. This has been designed to assist students in the process of making career choices and developing the skills required for career advancement.

E-Learning Awards

WinnerPaGamO
the worlds' first-ever multi-student social gaming
National Taiwan UniversityTaiwan
As the first-ever MOOC made in Chinese, this is a multi-student social gaming platform called ‘PaGamO’. This platform allows thousands of students to compete on the same map by occupying territory through problem solving. Not only can one win land, but one can have problem based battles with others, creating monsters, and taking other students land. This program is easily adapted to insert problems from any subject matter or language to facilitate learning.
Winner PhET Interactive Simulations University of Colorado Boulder USA
Designed to address the need to improve K-20 science education for US and world, as numerous reports call to increase the number of students pursuing technical fields and prepare graduates to enter the technical workforce, and lead technical innovation. PhET has developed over 130 research-based interactive simulations, emphasizing connections to the real world, make the invisible visible, and include the visual models scientist use. They are easily translated and able to be run both on or offline.
Runner upStudio by PurduePurdue UniversityUSA
Dedicated to increasing student success by supporting the creation of technologies that transform the student experience, Studio by Purdue empowers faculty by enabling new pedagogical strategies, communications, and student engagement. The program prides itself in continually challenging the classroom paradigm while encouraging exploration into areas that classrooms have traditionally cut out of instruction. With broad applicability across subjects and adaptability for each course, this has change the teaching approach.
3rd placeEnhanced E-learning through utilization of mobile learningYeungnam UniversitySouth Korea
Yeungnam University was the first university in Korea that started utilizing mobile learning as an alternative to take credit courses, launched in 2011. The mobile learning enabled students to take and review their courses anywhere and at any time with smart phones. In last three years, 958 mobile-based courses have been offered and 160,355 students from 95 different universities have been taking these for credit transfer.

Hybrid Learning Award

Winner Developing & Stimulating Young Engineers: Simulations, Collaborations, & Creations University of Utah USA
The early learning curriculum has been transformed through the implementation of a new freshman design laboratory, coupling online content & simulations, engaging lectures, as well as proven hands-on, collaborative techniques. The course features a blend of different project and assignment forms, including a collaborative project between freshmen and seniors, which is designed to assist students into eventual employment and progress.
Runner upPrinciples of Policy Analysis blended courseDelft University of TechnologyNetherlands
The design of this course leverages cutting edge technology, innovative educational methodologies, and extensive student input to transform students’ learning experiences. Students become intricately linked to the design of their own learning journeys, with a level of teacher interaction that directly responds to student difficulties in the moment. Students take responsibility for their own education, and the level of student success as well as satisfaction has risen has a result.
Runner upBlended MOOC and On-campus learningHong Kong University of Science and Technology / Hong Kong Virtual University ProgramHong Kong
The program was established in 2005 with the goal of creating a virtual campus that is able to provide students around the world with the broad range of course possibilities offered by universities in Hong Kong. It is designed to improve the transition to higher education, offer a range of classes not available at one’s home institutions, give graduates a variety of lifelong learning opportunities, and provide feedback to teachers.
3rd placeCase based collaborative learningHarvard UniversityUSA
Case Based Collaborative Learning (CBCL) expands upon the characteristics and goals of team based learning, accomplishing student readiness, individual testing and group consensus. This is done through case presentations generating student responses, questions prior to the students’ class attendance, and group evaluations requiring one answer to be given. This stems from the idea of guided exploration with hypothesis generation.

Presence Learning Award

Winner Learning through interdisciplinary science research McMaster University Canada
The 4-year Honours Integrated Science (iSci) program instructional and administrative teams have collaborated, with student involvement, to design and implement an innovative program of research-focused interdisciplinary education that produces scientists skilled in research and communication and ready to enter a range of professional fields. The result is an exciting and innovative program focused on student learning instead of teaching, a program focused on outcomes instead of administrative limitations.
Runner upExtreme Learning ProcessTsinghua UniversityChina
Extreme Learning Process (XLP) is a trans-disciplinary learning activity design methodology that organizes learners from different disciplines to design and execute learning activities for other learners. It leverage modern ITC infrastructures to empower learners by giving them access to open source technologies, Cryto-currencies, and Distributed Version Control Systems to keep track of participants’ contributions, conflicts, and learning outcomes throughout learning activities on a global basis.
3rd placeThe Global Understanding ProgramEast Carolina UniversityUSA
The Global Understanding Program uses innovative technology based learning strategies to provide access to first hand, real-time international experiences to the 98% of East Carolina University (ECU) students who do not take advantage of study abroad options. Our activities provide students both here and at our 58 partner institutions in 30 countries on five continents the opportunity to develop essential skills necessary to succeed in a global, multicultural society. Through working on collaborative projects, students learn essential leadership skills such as the ability to work and develop a joint product in a cross-cultural environment, adaptability, self-awareness and empathy.

Nurturing Employability Award

Winner Enhancing Engineering Education for 21st century Employability Politecnico di Milano Italy
In 2011, a new educational strategy was created in order to maintain a high level of employability as well as reputation in a globalized work environment. Now fully implemented, this strategy is based on traditional technical skills, cross-cultural skills, cross-disciplinary innovation, and a sense of developed social responsibility. This is then implemented through internationalisation of curriculum, strategic partnerships with companies, and a blended learning experience.
Runner upAccelerating Medical Innovation and Careers: MILI Global Valuation LaboratoryUniversity of MinnesotaUSA
While new medical technologies can save lives, the biggest hurdles are the need for a market. The purpose of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute Valuation Lab at the Carlson School speeds time to market by having students, inventors, and entrepreneurs conduct market valuation, product viability testing, intellectual property assessment, and strategy recommendations for new medical technologies. This helps not only students learn the process through a hands on process, but helps the medical industry as well.
3rd placeThe HealthFusion Team Challenge; Building Stronger Healthcare QueenslandUniversity of TechnologyAustralia
This challenge is geared as an internationally recognised, extracurricular competition based in Australia for senior students in the health sciences. This gives students about to merge into the field an opportunity to develop and demonstrate expertise in teamwork and realistic scenarios that must be solved. Students from 20 different health disciplines work in teams over a sustained period.

Teaching Delivery Award

Winner Burkenroad Reports Tulane University USA
This project demonstrates that small teams of college students have the potential to generate equity research of the same quality of Wall Street. Here, students are turned into real world research analysts concerning ‘Stocks under Rocks’ or those small capitalization companies that are often overlooked by big research firms. Students create comprehensive reports on small publicly traded companies in the US south, developing finance models, competitive analysis, forecasts, and investment recommendations.
Runner upBeyond Traditional BordersRice UniversityUSA
Inspired by the Haitian saying, “You do not learn to swim in the library, and you learn to swim in the river.” The curriculum is designed to develop leaders by giving students the opportunities to solve real problems and put their own ideas into action. Students become engineering leaders who can identify the most important technology challenges; lead multi-disciplinary teams, and implement entrepreneurial approaches for sustainability.
Runner UpTowards a Visual and Tangible MathematicsTec De MonterreyMexico
The only way that Mathematics can be conceived is through different representations and applications. Within technology there is the opportunity to create a way to interact with myriad representations of mathematics both in and out of the classroom. This is done using Augmented Reality as an emergent technology, which is used particularly for the learning of calculus at a variety of levels.

Regional Award: Latin America

Winner Towards a Visual and Tangible Mathematics Tec De Monterrey Mexico

Regional Award: North America

Winner Purdue University Studio Purdue USA

Regional Award: Asia

Winner XLP – extreme learning process Tsinghua University China

Regional Award: Europe

Winner The Global Integrative Module ESADE SPAIN

Regional Award: Middle East and Africa

Winner Self learning management tool for preparatory students to develop measurable skills – interactive e-books reduce cost of teaching so scalable – 76% student satisfaction with improvements in learning. King Saud University Saudi Arabia

Regional Award: Oceania

Winner Deakin Connect Deakin University Australia

MBA & Professional Education Award

Winner Developing & Assessing Global Leadership Skills through Immersive Business Simulation Rady School, University of California, San Diego USA
VirBela - a 3D virtual world technology that supports blended learning called VirBELA (Virtual Business Environment for Learning & Assessment). The technology includes voice over IP (VoIP), text chat system, and a 3D campus. Learners are represented by avatars. The campus includes a lecture hall, boardrooms, breakout team rooms, offices, exhibit hall, social venue, and complex multiplayer business simulations

Engineering & IT Award

Winner iPodia Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California USA
Inverted learning in iPodia goes beyond the flipped classroom, because it uses students’ feedback on course contents to promote peer-to-peer collaborations and help teachers to guide classroom interactions.

Natural Sciences Award

Winner Blended MOOC and On Campus Learning Hong Kong University of Science and Technology / Hong Kong Virtual University Hong Kong
Chemists Online - This is a collaborative project between universities and secondary schools in Hong Kong that aims at nurturing scientific literacy and questioning skills of students by providing them with exposure to university education through blended learning. The program has attracted over 8,000 students from 140 secondary schools in Hong Kong and Macau.

Life Sciences Award

Winner Case Based Collaborative Learning Harvard Medical School USA
Team based online learning – improving student scores and improving employability in field

Arts & Humanities Award

Winner DEMOLA Maribor University Slovenia
Open innovation platform enabling students across central Europe and Scandinavia to cooperate to creative innovative products – high engagement and real business outcomes

The Palmer Group Innovative Learning among Private Business Schools Award

Winner Reaching the Masses in India through adaptive Online Teaching Amity University and Amity Business School India
Online bachelors – adaptive learning based on 7 min videos followed by Q&A – 45% drop in attrition – tens of thousands of students and free online in India – combined with employment skills development to support employability

Oustanding Contribution to Education Award

Winner Shiv Khemka Global Education & Leadership Foundation India
The Global Education & Leadership Foundation (tGELF) works towards preparing the next generation of leaders to be able to act as ethical global citizens in the face of daunting challenges that will be thrown open to them tomorrow. We are passionate about helping identify young leaders with strong values and then supporting them to develop to their full potential.
Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS says “QS recognizes that world university rankings cannot measure the incredible innovations in learning solutions taking place in universities and enterprises around the world. Wharton QS Stars Awards: Reimagine Education is our answer. We want to shine a light on the very best learning and employability solutions around the world, for the benefit to current and the next generation of students.”

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