National Teaching Fellow 2009
Ian Fribbance is an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University. In his time at the OU, Ian has had a major impact both on the teaching of Economics and on learning and teaching practices across the Faculty. Ian has transformed the teaching of Economics, largely through his ground-breaking innovation to create a personal finance curriculum. He led the production of the seminal ‘You and Your Money: Personal Finance in Context’ - the first higher education financial literacy course - which instantly became the largest economics-related course in Europe after it registered over 6,000 students in just over two years. This showed the widespread desire for financial learning among the UK population and helped to foster an academic community around personal financial issues, many of which are now right at the fore of policy-making in these recessionary times.
The course also secured support from government and the Financial Services Authority, as well as widespread media coverage, and was endorsed by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which provided financial assistance to increase student uptake of the course in many deprived localities across the UK.
A series of other teaching and curriculum innovations that Ian undertook, ranging from developing a new Foundation Degree through to new methods of assessment, has contributed to a 50% increase in the numbers of economics students after many years of decline at the OU and elsewhere.
Ian’s emphasis on innovation and excellence has also changed the broader Faculty. He set up a new Teaching & Learning Enhancement Group, which has helped push forward many innovations including the greater use of Virtual Learning Environments, podcasts and other online activity such as interactive forums, as well as the Faculty’s contribution to the iTunesU initiative. He has placed great emphasis on staff development and designed many activities to support fellow academics improve their teaching. Ian also continues to teach himself, something he believes is essential to inform policy-making, and receives outstanding feedback from his own students.
Associate Dean, Teaching & Learning Enhancement
The Open University