ATU Engineering lecturer wins top award for his project motivating and engaging students in their studies and enhancing their employability
Dr Wayne Gibbons wins ALT Learning Technologist of the Year (Individual) 2022
Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway-Mayo civil engineering lecturer Dr Wayne Gibbons has won a prestigious award for creating and developing a suite of Digital Open Badges to enhance a module to keep students motivated throughout their studies and increase their employability.
Dr Gibbons won the “Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Learning Technologist of the Year (Individuals) 2022” award at the annual ALTC Conference in Manchester, UK recently. He is the first Irish academic to be awarded this international accolade.
The award recognises the positive impact Dr Gibbon’s doctoral study has had on the learning and teaching experience in ATU Galway-Mayo. He investigated best practice for designing and implementing digital open badges into a module through engaging with students, lecturing staff, institute management and an employer over a three-year research period.
Dr Gibbon’s research finds that since they were implemented into the curriculum digital badges have resulted in an increase in motivation, engagement, confidence, peer learning, attendance and enhanced links to employability.
He says: “The badges are a great way to recognise and reward the types of attitudes and behaviours that are not captured in an exam or a numerical grade. This can include traits such a teamwork, mentoring, attitude to self-improvement and commitment to learning. These are traits that employers are keen to know about, but which can be difficult to provide evidence for. The badges are a mechanism for providing this evidence for the students. This allows them to tell the full story about their experience, not just their grades.”
“One output from the project has been the creation of the ‘Digital Badge Champion’, an institute role that I hold. I deliver workshops and offer guidance to colleagues wishing to replicate the positive aspects that my students have experienced. That is one of the most satisfying aspects for me; sharing how to make a difference to the teaching and learning experience. I’ve delivered such workshops locally, nationally and internationally.”
Prof Graham Heaslip, Head of ATU Galway-Mayo School of Engineering, congratulated Dr Gibbons: “It’s great to see the international recognition that Wayne’s research has received and on the home front, his work in establishing a community of practice in ATU in the use of digital open badges, which has assisted many”.
The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards celebrate and reward excellent research and practice and outstanding achievement in Learning Technology. Established in 2007, the Awards have set a benchmark for outstanding achievement in Learning Technology on a national scale (UK) and attract competitive entries from the UK and internationally. All entries are reviewed by an independent judging panel chaired by the President of ALT. Details on the winners in the different categories are available on is a link: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2022/meet-the-winners-alt-awards-2022/