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Outstanding ICT initiative of the year - Content Management System

Birmingham University School of Dentistry.An impressive range of Web 2.0 innovations is put to practical use in Birmingham University School of Dentistry's Content Management System. It allows students to access resources from and put coursework directly on the IT system and to benefit from a range of other functions, including the ability to download staff and students' educational podcasts from iTunes. They can even create virtual patients and give them a range of conditions.

Interactive captioned videos and informative blogs made by students help other students - as well as an increasing number of professionals - to prepare for unexpected clinical situations at short notice. An open-access virtual microscope allows students to access images, magnify them and provide interactive self-assessment tools.

CMS was set up to foster independent learning, an area of particular importance given the school's remote location in relation to the main university campus, the expansion of outreach teaching placements and the large number of part-time teaching staff. It has been configured to take account of the fact that dentists and dental students are often on the move, and the material is tailored for access from various types of computer hardware, from full-size PCs to mobile devices.

"I chose the winners because of their imagination and innovation," said judge David Baker, principal of the College of St Mark and St John and chair of content services for the Joint Information Systems Committee.

"It seemed clear to me that the people involved really had moved us forward in terms of the application of ICT to learning and teaching in a way that, in the final analysis, none of the other shortlisted entries had done.

"The winners provide an exemplar for higher education, which we believe can be rolled out across a wide range of subjects. This is just what the judges wanted to see. It was a difficult decision: the standard and quality of all the entries made the final selection a challenge."

Fellow judge Norman Wiseman, head of outreach and services at Jisc, said: "The e-course team at Birmingham's School of Dentistry has done a great deal of excellent and innovative work, and their innovations deserve to be recognised in this way."

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