An academic praised for developing and sharing new approaches to online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic has been named the ‘2021 Best New Lecturer’ by the Economics Network.
Dr Swati Virmani, Senior Lecturer in Economics at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), was awarded the title in recognition of her work to use digital technology for economics teaching and supporting academics across the Higher Education (HE) sector, including colleagues within DMU’s Business and Law (BAL) Faculty, during lockdown.
Dr Swati Virmani
She was also nominated for, among other things, her work as programme leader for the MSc in Property Management and Investment at DMU.
“I am extremely delighted to achieve this award, working within the Higher Education sector is crucial because we know that high quality and inspirational teaching enables students to realise their potential,” said Dr Virmani.
“To know that I am able to make a difference, have positively contributed in transforming my students’ learning experience and make their learning enjoyable brings immense satisfaction and fulfilment.”
Since joining DMU in 2019, Dr Virmani has taken on a number of roles with increasing seniority. She has been a module leader at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and was recently appointed as programme leader for the MSc in Property Management and Investment – a bespoke postgraduate corporate development programme for property managers.
In the role as programme leader, she has led the curriculum review and redesigned modules to ensure that part-time professional students are provided with more innovative learning, teaching and approaches to be able to grasp and apply challenging economics concepts and theories and see the relevance for their professional practice.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the UK went into lockdown, Dr Virmani was appointed as a ‘Digital Companion’ for her Economics colleagues, supporting them in the move to fully online teaching.
To do this, she co-developed a teaching-centred toolbox for her academic colleagues, catering to the four departments within the business school.
This one-stop toolbox emphasised the use of varied e-learning tools, based around educational relevance and student learning journey. The purpose was to help academic staff deliver effective teaching and achieve learning outcomes whilst considering the diverse needs of our students.
“I am fascinated by developing good practice approaches to learning and teaching using digital technology. Given my interest in building digital capabilities, I have been able to support and deliver effective online and immersive learning across range of modules,” explained Dr Virmani.
“I also took the initiative to design and create an ‘exemplar’ module for the economics group – a site to depict and share best practices, to support staff to meet students’ expectations, and to demonstrate and try varied e-learning tools and innovative technologies.
“I wish to say a massive thank you to the Economics Network for this award. And I am also extremely grateful to my mentors and colleagues across the HE sector for their wonderful support.”
Dr Virmani was accompanied and supported by DMU’s Head of Department of Economics and Marketing, Parmjit Kaur, at the award ceremony hosted by the Economics Network.
(L-R) Alvin Birdi, Economics Network Director, Dr Swati Virmani and Parmjit Kaur
“It is an excellent achievement that Swati has secured this award in exemplary teaching practice from the Economics Network,” said Parmjit. “This is in recognition of her work in designing and disseminating the educational toolbox and acting as a point of support for colleagues transitioning to online teaching during the pandemic.
“This recognition is fully deserved, well done Swati.”
The Economics Network is the largest and longest-established academic organisation devoted to improving the teaching and learning of economics. The full list of winners from the Economic Network 2021 Awards is available here.
Posted on Monday 24th January 2022