Celebrating the Best Research Paper Award #EDEN19

This Blog was originally posted in Tharindu’s MOOCs Blog Celebrating the Best Research Paper Award #EDEN19.

It feels great to be recognised for the effort you put in for your work. Some of the research we do, does not give the results we intend. It tells us that what we wanted is not happening or it is not effective. But this is part of the research. There could be various reasons for that, which I will not go into here. After all this post is to celebrate the prestigious European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) Best Research Paper Award!

EDEN19 Best Research Paper Award
EDEN19 Best Research Paper Award

When I started my research into looking at whether off-the-shelf automatic transcription software was good enough to be used for Built Environment Education, I never expected it to be recognised this way. Of course, I knew that at EDEN they awarded the best research paper award every year at their conference. But I did not know how it was selected nor did I think I will be that lucky person.

When I got to know that I was one of the eight finalists out of the shortlisted 23 papers, I was delighted to be one of the best to be considered in the final round. Going to Bruges was my first visit to Belgium. One of my colleagues from UCEM asked me to take a photograph with #OswaldTheOwl if I could. So, on my way to Bruges I made it to the Grand Place to make sure I captured a picture with Oswald.

Grand Place Brussels
Grand Place Brussels

The conference was well organised (I think I will be writing another blog about the conference) – undoubtedly the best conference organisation I have seen. I had the privilege to listen to two of the Best Research Paper Award nominated presentations on Tuesday 18th June afternoon. They both were PhD research projects and the quality of the work was very high. So I was really glad that my work had been shortlisted among those high quality research.

At the Conference Gala Dinner, which was held at the amazing Market Hall (first constructed in 1240!) they announced the winner of the Best Research Paper Award. The chair of the Jury said it was a unanimous decision. This years’ theme was “Connecting through Educational Technology” and the jury had agreed my work Automatic Transcription software: Good enough foraccessibility? A case study from Built Environment Education was well aligned with the theme. He further said that when they critically evaluated each criterion:

  • contributes convincingly to the theme(s) of the conference;
  • deals with a research question of relevance for conference participants;
  • rigorous examination/research methods are applied;
  • findings, results and outcomes are convincingly presented and critically examined;
  • conclusions are thoroughly discussed (including aspects like applicability, transferability, and/or further research);
  • literature is reviewed against the state of art.

there could be no other winner. They commended being open and honest about my small study and being critical about the limitations of the study. Methodology, he said, was designed so meticulously that they could not ask for anything more. This coming from Prof. Alan Tait, a very well-respected researcher in Distance Education and the chair of the Jury, meant a lot to me.

Tharindu Receiving the EDEN Best Research Paper Award
Receiving the EDEN Best Research Paper Award from Prof. Alan Tait

As researchers we continuously criticise our work to find better ways of doing things the next time. It doesn’t help many women suffer from Imposter Syndrome and have self-doubts. However, I think now it is time for me to celebrate. But before that I need to thank my amazing PhD supervisors Prof. Andrew Adams (Meiji University, Japan), Professor EmeritaShirley Williams and Prof. Naz Rassool (University of Reading, UK) for guiding me through my PhD to make me the independent researcher I am today.

 Online Education Team Celebration at UCEM
Online Education Team Celebration at UCEM

You can access the full paper and my presentation.

I am a Learning Technology Researcher and the Chair of the Online Learning Research Centre at the University College of Estate Management. My principle research interests lie in the area of social implications of information and communication technologies, especially eLearning.

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