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Dr Janet Smart’s innovative teaching wins OxTALENT Award
16
Jun
2017

Dr Janet Smart, Reader in Operations Management at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has won the 2017 OxTALENT award for Innovative teaching and learning with technology. The ceremony took place at the Oxford Martin School on 14 June, and Dr Julia Horn of the Oxford Learning Institute presented the award.

Dr Smart teaches the Technology and Operations Management course, which is part of the Economics & Management undergraduate programme. It covers factory operations, supply chains, services and mass customisation.

‘The two fundamental lessons I wanted my students to understand were the role of dynamics, including queues and processes, and that operations are going on around them all the time,’ explained Dr Smart. ‘However I was concerned that, without direct experience of factory processes, the students would find the course readings dry and theoretical.’

To counter act this potential problem for students, Dr Smart developed a simple and highly effective teaching method.

‘The best medium for helping students to understand dynamics is film, so I gave them a watch-list of four short films ahead of each lecture, instead of a pre-lecture reading list. Watching the films takes less time, and they can be more engaging than written materials,’ explained Dr Smart.

In order to demonstrate that they had understood dynamics and their pervasiveness, Dr Smart then asked the students to make their own short films in Week 7 of the course, during which they visited a BMW factory. ‘The students’ films were wonderful. They demonstrated understanding, creativity and technical competence, and we had an 8th Week get-together to watch them all,’ said Dr Smart.

The OxTALENT awards are now in their sixteenth year, and the judges received a record 87 entries, with 23 awards given across seven categories. The ceremony also included talks by Professor Sir Paul Collier, Professor Emma Smith and two of the winners including Dr Smart and Dr Niall Winters.

‘It was a fantastically well organised event, and I’m honoured to have been chosen for an award this year’ said Dr Smart.

Photography by Dan Paton.

Profiles

Janet Smart View profile

Janet researches cultures of project management, currently in museums and Big Science projects, especially radio-astronomy and particle physics. Janet’s first degree is in Physics, and before joining the Said Business School, she was a Reader in Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science.