25 August 2016 16:21

Two teaching projects, led by the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, have won a prestigious, international award.

Lancaster’s submission, ‘William Wordsworth Online and On Location: Teaching Romantic Poetry Beyond the Literature Classroom’, was selected as the joint winner of the Pedagogy Contest sponsored by the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR) and the journal, ‘Romantic Studies’.

The contest celebrates recent pedagogical innovation, or new ways of delivering and thinking about teaching. It aims to inspire creative approaches and provide a forum for conversations about Romantic pedagogy—both its boons and challenges. This year the Pedagogy Contest took place during NASSR’s annual conference, which was held at the University of Berkeley, California.

‘William Wordsworth Online and On Location’ involves two projects that use innovative methods to teach Wordsworth’s poetry. Both projects use experimental formats to take learning beyond the conventional classroom, in one case through online technology, in the other through on-location walking.

Both projects have created new readerships for Wordsworth and Romantic-period texts and produced fresh appreciations of poetry and literature beyond the academy.

One half of the submission concerned the free, online course ‘William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place’, which is aimed at the general public and is a collaboration between Lancaster University and the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

This course is designed and delivered by a team of five academics, three PhD students, one postdoctoral researcher, four online learning specialists and the Trust’s curator, Jeff Cowton.

The course particularly examines Wordsworth’s writing process – through the manuscript collections of the Wordsworth Trust held at the Jerwood Centre – and the importance of location – using onsite filming in Grasmere and the wider Lake District.

The online course utilizes a range of different learning forms, including films, illustrated audio recordings, readings, analytic exercises, discussions, peer-review activities, quizzes and creative exercises. Course feedback has particularly praised this variety of teaching methods.

The other half of the submission concerned Wordsworth Walks, a day-long learning experience created in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School, initially for their International Masters in Practicing Management.

Wordsworth Walks use a framework derived from the poet’s work to enable participants to reflect on their past, their future and working with others. They involve a hike around the Grasmere area that Wordsworth made famous and feature a series of physical activities and reflective exercises.

Wordsworth Walks have been incorporated into several Leadership and Management MBAs at Lancaster University and elsewhere and have been provided for individual companies and organisations. Well over 1,000 people have participated in a Wordsworth Walk.

Professor Simon Bainbridge of the Department of English and Creative Literature, Lancaster University, presented the submission at the contest.

He commented: “We are delighted to have won this award. Many people have been involved in designing and delivering these courses and it very gratifying to get this recognition of their hard work and creativity.”

Head of Department Professor Sally Bushell, who is also one of the educators for the online course, said: “The award illustrates Lancaster University’s excellence in teaching and its commitment to developing innovative pedagogic methods.”

The free, online course ‘William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place’ will run again from Monday 5th September 2016. Further details are available at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/william-wordsworth.