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Centre for Online and Distance Education

An Award to Remember Roger Mills


Written by
Guest blogger: Clare Sansom

Many delegates at the 2018 RIDE conference, held as usual at Senate House in March, will remember the presentation of the inaugural Roger Mills Awards as one of the highlights of the meeting.

Roger was one of the first CODE Fellows to be appointed when the scheme started in 2005, and he remained a fellow until his death eleven years later. His career in open and distance learning, both within and (mostly) outside the University of London and the CDE, was a long and distinguished one. After a brief period as a school and college teacher, he spent most of his working life at the Open University where he held some very senior roles: he was Regional Director for both London and the East of England and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students. He was active in research and pedagogy until the very end of his life, and his last papers were published posthumously.

Roger was a great example of the practitioner-scholar, and a kind and generous manager who was held in great affection by all his colleagues”, remembers his Open University and CDE colleague, emeritus professor Alan Tait. “The University of London International Academy’s decision to honour his memory with a small scholarship has proved very popular.

The Roger Mills Award for innovation in learning and teaching (with an emphasis on distance education and e-learning) will be an annual one. The 2018 award panel included Mary Stiasny, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) and Chief Executive of University of London Worldwide; Ayona Silva-Fletcher, Chair of the CODE Fellows group, and Alan. “We had nine excellent applications, and in the end, it was impossible to decide on a single winner, so we ended up with two”, he says. Roger’s widow Anne and daughter Vicky were in the audience at RIDE to see the prizes presented.

Both winning projects were the work of teams, and the awards were presented to Patricia McKellar on behalf of Undergraduate Laws at the University of London and Sarah Sherman on behalf of the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE). The BLE team had developed and run a short MOOC giving teaching staff in higher education the skills they need to be confident in using learning technology.

We intend to use the award to extend this popular MOOC and use it as a template for the development of new MOOCs

says Sarah. The Undergraduate Laws project will develop resources for formative assessment in the University’s world-class LLB programme, which has trained thousands of lawyers in many countries. An award to this, one of the University’s most extensively international programmes, would have delighted Roger who was well-known for his international outlook and who had worked in many countries including Australia, Botswana and South Africa.

Roger will be greatly missed by the distance education and e-learning community in and far beyond London, but these worthy award-winners will honour his memory well. And I hope that I will be reporting on further Roger Mills Award winners at RIDE 2019 and for many years to come.