Andrew’s Lemon Tree

Thu, 24 May 2012 18:39:00 BST

University innovator wins award for exciting new way to boost study skills

Image of Andrew Walsh

INNOVATIVE work harnessing the appeal of computer games to ensure that students make the best use of university library facilities – gaining better degrees as a result – has earned a new plaudit for the University of Huddersfield’s Andrew Walsh (pictured).

He has won the 2012 Information Literacy Practitioner Awards, receiving a trophy, a £500 prize plus a further £500 for his choice of charity – Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield.

Andrew is an academic librarian for the University’s Computing and Library Services.  He is also a University Teaching Fellow and in 2011 he was awarded a coveted National Teaching Fellowship.

His latest award, made by the professional body for Information Literacy at its annual conference, comes for Andrew’s innovations in delivering mobile learning and games-based learning designed to promote information literacy.

For example, he is behind the online game Lemon Tree, launched at the University of Huddersfield in November and developed by a local company, RITH (Running in the Halls).

It aims to increase the use of library resources via a game-based learning platform.  Already more than 600 students have registered with Lemon Tree and this enables them to earn points and rewards for interacting with library resources, such as leaving comments and reviews of library books.

Andrew explains the thinking behind Lemon Tree: “We have lots of really good data that shows that using library resources makes a big difference to a student’s final degree.”

The game was devised to encourage students who visited the library perhaps for social reasons or to work in groups, to make full use of the resources.

Lemon Tree might be aimed at a games-savvy generation of students – but the typical gamer now is not necessarily an 18-year-old male, says Andrew.  Females, possibly aged in their mid-30s, are just as likely to be switched on to computer gaming, thanks to the popularity of social media sites.

This means Lemon Tree has widespread appeal.

Andrew Walsh is continuing to research and innovate in his field.  For example, he is a member of a consortium currently seeking funding to develop a game based on information skills tutorials.

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