Gillian Saunders and team finalists for edX Prize

TU Delft lecturer Gillian Saunders-Smits, together with Calvin Rans, Joost Sinke, Katharina Ertman, Julie Teuwen, and René Alderliesten – from the course team of the MOOC Introduction to Aerospace Structures and Materials – was amongst the top 10 finalists for the annual edX Prize for innovation in Online Teaching. The course brings engineering principles and associated challenges to life through accessible, real-life examples and accessible experiments, supporting creative and critical thinking and employability.

Congratulations to Gillian and colleagues on making it to the finals!  It is a terrific achievement being selected and upheld as examples of exceptional teaching and in recognition of their contribution to and impact in online education.

In addition, this was the third time that TU Delft was selected for the finals – taking the prize home twice already: last year with a MOOC by Andy van den Dobbelsteen and team, and in 2016 with a courser by Arno Smets.

This year’s prize went to the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) for the MOOC Exploring Volcanoes and Their Hazards: Iceland and New Zealand, by instructors Ben Kennedy and Jonathan Davidson.

Some tips for inspirations for course design and learner engagement from the introduction video:

  • instead of a code of conduct and do’s and don’ts, a focus on a Maori blessing to ensure a collective acknowledgment of the spiritual, intellectual, and physical embodiment of the group;
  • a course storyline inspired by the field trip;
  • the instructor personally introducing themselves.


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