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Aston University congratulates national award winner

Jon Wood
National Technician Award

9 July, 2009

Jon Wood, who is Technical Team Leader for Psychology and Audiology Programmes in the School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston University, has been awarded a national Higher Education Academy Psychology Network Technician Award for 2009.

‘This award means as much to Aston University as it does to me, and should be shared by all who have contributed to creating an environment of freedom and creativity’, says Jon. He was nominated by Professor Adrian Burgess, who referred to him as ‘a reflective teacher who is always taking on board feedback to improve his practise,’ in the award nomination.

Jon, who says you have to be very creative in his line of work, has been involved with research into teaching and has recently taken on a new role at Aston University as an E-Learning Specialist in the Health-E learning centre, which is based in the School of Life & Health Sciences. This involves helping staff to develop and enhance their learning methods through technology, for example using podcasts and contact through mobiles rather than more traditional forms of teaching.

Jon believes in teaching people about technology by making things simple and easy to understand. He specialises in innovative, sustainable pedagogy by revisiting contemporary technology from a novel perspective, in a way that inspires both students and academics. Jon’s recent research area involves using PowerPoint for adventure learning games.

He has also been involved in the Virtual Pedagogy Initiative (VPI) at Aston University. One of the highlights of this was a lecture at the IMAX cinema screen at the Think-tank science museum, where Jon and his colleagues were able to deliver a lecture to a severely visually impaired student from Aston. She was able to experience visual illusions for the first time in her life. This event received national attention, and the BBC interviewed Jon about the experience. The VPI team also broadcast a live MRI brain scan to first year psychology students as part of their first year practical course. Most psychology students won’t be able to experience this kind of technology until after they graduate, so it’s very likely that this was a world first.

Jon is also dedicated to work in outreach education, having provided psychology taster sessions and master classes for AimHigher events, outreach initiatives, school residential, Gifted and Talented events and regional autism units. In these, he teaches young people anything from using motion capture technology to understand the effect that emotions play when skiing, to the role that galvanic skin response can play in lie detection. These demonstrations and summer schools are always brilliantly received, with constantly positive feedback.

Jon has made an international contribution to psychological science in his capacity as Deputy Manager of the fMRI facilities at Aston University. He has automated a process of scanning brain data and wrote a computer script which he called MRSA (Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Semi Automatic) which was released at the international Methods in Mind conference in 2005. This is now publicly accessible for the worldwide neuro-imaging community. Many universities in the UK, including Sussex and Manchester are now using this code, and also the universities of Iowa and Texas in the USA.

Jon says it’s wonderful to be recognised for his work, and he is looking forward to continuing to bring fresh new ideas to the University. He would like to thank Dr Carl Senior and Professor Adrian Burgess in Psychology and Sally Finn from University Communications for helping him with the award entry - one that has clearly ended in great success.

ENDS

For further press information please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552 or email s.l.finn1@aston.ac.uk

www.aston.ac.uk



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