National Teaching Fellow 2009
Mike Sharp has two passions in his work with students as the Head of Department for Business Information Technology and Enterprise. Firstly, widening participation by breaking down the barriers to HE for students through identifying the challenges for them and designing programmes, courses and study modes that allow them to access HE and succeedss. Secondly, ensuring students have ability to manage complexity early in their studies.
When teaching first year students the Systems Thinking course, Mike ensures students can solve problems of complexity confidently. He deploys a set of mantras students can use, mechanically at first and gradually internalising them, to validate their progress and come to terms with complexity. 'Beware your baggage' and 'Everything is connected to everything else' are just two of twenty forming the core of the course. ["The Mantra's will be with me forever." 2008 BSc Graduate].
Students love Mike's high energy approach; they are clear that by having high expectations Mike is prepared to work with them to get the best degree they are capable of. His personal mantra is 'nobody fails on my watch if we work together'.
Mike is one of the pioneer leaders for the BSc Information Technology Management for Businesses (ITMB) programme, working with e-skills in developing this degree around learning outcomes defined by business leaders in IT. He says 'One day all degrees will be like this, a multidisciplinary mixture of subject study and soft skills that allows students to add value in their careers from day one while being equipped for the life long learning they will need'. He must be doing something right, his students regularly do well in national challenges, for example in March this year his second year ITMB students stood out from the competition on the national challenge day being awarded first prize and described as 'very credible, on a par with the very best of our graduate entrants' by judges from blue chip employers.
Mike is happiest when his students achieve their potential and exceed their own expectations. ["I can do things now I could not even have dreamed of!" 2008 BSc Graduate].
Head of Department, Business Information Technology and Enterprise
University of Greenwich