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Education is the route to freedom and success, and to tackle the challenges that humanity faces, argues Walid Taha, Professor of Computer Science, who was awarded this year’s Teaching and Learning Prize at Halmstad University. The prize was presented during the University’s academic ceremony that took place on November 18th.
– I am both happy and incredibly humbled to receive this award. The fact that the recognition comes from my highly esteemed colleagues and wonderful students means more than I can say. Furthermore, the lecturers, researchers and administrators at the University have taken a supportive and creative approach which is inspiring, says Walid Taha.
Walid Taha was appointed Professor at Halmstad University in 2010. Before that he worked for many years at various universities in the United States. At Halmstad University he has been teaching on a course in cyber-physical systems, such as smart homes, self-driving vehicles and robots. He is also happy to share his knowledge with the public outside the University, including both children and adults.
Walid Taha emphasises that his teaching method would not have been possible without the significant contributions made by various people.
– We use a tool or a program called Acumen, which enables students to experiment and visualise by using math. This is a result of our research and a fine example of the synergy that exists between research and education. We also use a flipped classroom method, where students conduct practical work in class and watch video lectures at home.
Walid Taha would love to work with even more colleagues to apply these methods across the University, not least in interdisciplinary courses and among first year students.
As a professor, he divides his time between research and teaching:
– I am very pleased to be able to spend more of my time teaching today than I was able to before. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of a workplace and a society that values education, and considers it a way to strengthen and liberate future generations. Researchers can play an important role in helping students adapt to a rapidly changing technological landscape.
His main driving force is about making it easier for people to share and have access to knowledge:
– Never before has everything been so connected to everything else. This transformation is challenging – not only considering which products to purchase and how to use them, but also in terms of preparing future generations for a society that is increasingly permeated by technology, he says.
Walid Taha’s biggest role models are many of his former teachers, who cared and supported him when he needed it and gave him positive energy.
Text: KRISTINA RÖRSTRÖM
Picture: JOACHIM BRINK
About the Teaching and Learning Prize
The Teacher of the Year Award was instituted in 2007. Every year, the award is given to a teacher who is considered to be particularly successful in developing student learning. The winner may select a European conference on teaching and learning in higher education to participate in.
The award is presented by the Research and Education Board at Halmstad University. Staff and students are invited to nominate one or more candidates, and this year there were 18 nominees. A working group consisting of accomplished/excellent teaching staff members is assigned with the task of proposing a winner. The group also includes one external member who is informed about teaching and learning in higher education.
The jury’s justification:
This year’s The Teaching and Learning Prize is given to Walid Taha, Professor of Computer Science at the School of Information Technology, for his innovative teaching methods. With a clear teaching approach, he uses a flipped classroom method and interactive online questions to visualise concepts and theories and to increase contact with students. His teaching clearly connects to the University’s research and he is active in sharing his ideas about teaching with colleagues at the University and with wider society at conferences.