StudentNews_HamidTeachingAwards

Applied Games lecturer recognized at annual Teaching Awards for outstanding dedication and teaching

Thu, 17 Jun 2021 16:19:00 BST
(Pictured above) Computer Games lecturer Hamid Homatash
(Pictured above) Computer Games lecturer Hamid Homatash

GCU Students' Association recently held their annual Teaching Awards – an event hosted to recognise GCU's outstanding learning and teaching staff. 

The Teaching Awards gives students the chance opportunity to celebrate teaching and non-teaching staff members who have made a positive impact on their learning experience. 

The award for Inspiring Individual (SCEBE) was presented to Computer Games lecturer Hamid Homatash for his passion and dedication to teaching his students. 

We spoke to Hamid about his thoughts on receiving the award.
 

Has being nominated for a Teaching Award impacted you in any way? If so, how?  

I think it is always nice for people to get recognition for the work and effort they put in. To me personally, it was fantastic to win the Inspiring Individual for SCEBE award. I put in an enormous amount of effort so for this to be recognised by the people I am doing this work for, my students - it really means a lot to me.  
 
Winning this award will continue to fuel my passion for teaching and find the best possible ways to encourage my students to do their best and enjoy the learning process along the way. 

 

What are some of the things you’ve been involved in this academic year with students that led to you being nominated for this award? 

 
I tried a whole host of different things this year! First, I trialled out many technologies such as live video call lectures and classes, pre-recorded video lectures and practical walkthroughs, online polls, online whiteboards, 1 to 1 audio/video calls, group audio/video calls, collaborative messaging apps like Discord/MS Teams/Slack and a host of other things!  
 
Trialling out all these things with my students allowed us to go on an explorative journey together to find out what worked best for us. I think this back and forth between asking what my students liked to use and engaged with was what led me to being nominated for this award. By working with my students, they could have direct input into what they preferred and therefore allow me to deliver the best teaching possible in this remote environment. 
 
I think my students really appreciated being open and honest and not presuming to know what was best. By coming on this journey with me, they could see the challenges and the benefits and ultimately why what I did was best for them. I guess to sum up, they could see I had their best interests at heart and adapted to what they preferred to give them the best experience I could. 

 

What has it been like supporting students virtually this year as opposed to having face-to-face meetings?  

To be honest at first it was quite difficult! Trying to read people’s body language over a video call is a challenge and not everyone has a webcam so relying on voice or sometimes text does not give that rich context that is needed. For instance, when in a classroom with students its normally obvious when someone needs help or has not quite understood something. Online it is the opposite and very difficult as you miss all the non-verbal clues. This was probably the biggest challenge.  
 
However, much of this can be mitigated and there are even some benefits to doing this online I found. By using online collaborative messaging apps like Discord/MS Teams/Slack, students can contact you any time easily and instantly. Therefore, communicating in this way allows us to still have the interaction for feedback and to ask if people understand things or need help. In fact, many of my students loved the feedback this way and the fact it was easier and faster to contact me over the traditional email approach. This approach also helped me run my large interdisciplinary big group project modules where students from many programmes come together to create videogames. 
 
By being able to give quick detailed feedback on a per individual, per team or per whole class basis, it has allowed me to run these types of modules which at first, I thought would not be possible to do online. I think it’s amazing of what is possible when students and staff work together. I am so glad the students really did not miss out on this vital source of feedback, enjoyed the directness of it and some preferred it!"

 

Is there anyone you would like to thank for this recognition you have received from The Students’ Association? 

I would like to thank my wife for putting up with me some very late nights while I tried various remote technologies and prepared the content for online video lecture. Their support helped me to push through and make breakthroughs. 
 
I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Applied Computer Games department for being there so that I could bounce ideas off them and trial some of the technologies. Most importantly I would like to thank my students. They went on this journey with me and offered some fantastic feedback which allowed me to change and adapt things with them.” 

The list of Teaching Award winners is available on the Students’ Association website 

 

By Rachael McAlonan 
 
Got a SCEBE or GSBS story? Email me at Rachael.McAlonan@gcu.ac.uk or connect with me on social media  here