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Winners of New “Oscars” for Higher Education Innovation

Winners of New “Oscars” for Higher Education Innovation main image

The top prize in a new competition to celebrate higher education innovation has been shared between two entrants: National Taiwan University and the University of Colorado Boulder. The two winners will divide the prize fund of US$50,000, offered by IELTS, after being announced yesterday at the Wharton-QS Stars Awards 2014: Reimagine Education conference in Philadelphia.

This new international contest is a joint initiative of QS Quacquarelli Symonds, publisher of the QS World University Rankings, and The Wharton School SEI Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The idea behind the venture is to provide a platform through which to celebrate and share the most effective higher education innovations worldwide, with a focus on enhancing learning and nurturing employability.

National Taiwan University was recognized for the success of its PaGamO project – a multi-student social game in which players compete to amass virtual land, wealth and resources by answering questions correctly. The platform has been applied in a range of educational contexts, from teaching probability in Chinese to training US Ivy league dental students, and has even been adopted by a Fortune 500 company to teach management and leadership skills.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s winning entry, PhET Interactive Simulations, is similarly interactive, using animations to help students engage with fundamental scientific principles. The project has so far produced more than 130 simulations, which have already inspired over 45 million students around the world.

Reimagine Education conferenceCelebrating higher education innovation worldwide

In its inaugural year, the Reimagine Education competition received entries from 427 universities and enterprises spread across 43 countries. Submissions ranged from a project challenging students to produce equity research to rival Wall Street, to courses designed to be accessed via smartphones, online alternatives to studying abroad, and collaboration between students, inventors and entrepreneurs to get new medical technologies from the lab to the marketplace more quickly.

Entries were judged by a panel of 25 international experts, with the overall winners – National Taiwan University and the University of Colorado Boulder – also taking the top prize in the “E-learning” category.

Other winning entrants include For Class Ltd (winner of the Enterprise Award); the University of Utah (Hybrid Learning Award); McMaster University (Presence Learning Award); Politecnico di Milano (Nurturing Employability Award); and Tulane University (Teaching Delivery Award). Regional awards were presented to the Tec De Monterrey (Latin America winner); Studio by Purdue(North America); Tsinghua University (Asia); ESADE (Europe); King Saud University (Middle East and Africa); and Deakin University (Oceania).

Reimagine Education conferenceA valuable complement to university rankings

Entrants were also recognized for higher education innovation in particular subject areas. In this section of the contest, awards went to The Rady School, University of California, San Diego (MBA & Professional Education Award); Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California (Engineering & IT); Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Hong Kong Virtual University (Natural Sciences); Harvard Medical School (Life Sciences) and Maribor University (Arts & Humanities).

Amity University and Amity Business School were named the winners of The Palmer Group Innovative Learning among Private Business Schools Award, while the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education went to India’s Global Education & Leadership Foundation.

Speaking about the vision behind the awards, QS’s managing director, Nunzio Quacquarelli, said such initiatives could provide a valuable supplement to university ranking tables. “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 of current and the next generation of students.”

Reimagine Education

 For more information about the Wharton QS Stars Awards: Reimagine Education, visit the website or join the conversation on Twitter with #Reimagine.

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Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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