YouTube pioneer named teacher of the year
Chemistry professor Jan H. Jensen is the 2013 recipient of the University of Copenhagen's prestigious Harald Award as teacher of the year for his innovative teaching. The award will be presented at the University's Annual Commemoration on 15 November. Other honours to be granted during the festivities include: the winners of the University’s International Study Environment Award and the Innovation Award, University doctoral degrees, honourary doctorates, and Gold and Silver awards for students.
Jan H Jensen, a professor in the Chemistry Department, is more than just a talented and dedicated university instructor. He is also a YouTube pioneer whose 100 videos uploaded to the on-line video service as part of his courses have received over 48,000 hits.
Professor Jensen’s efforts show how new educational tools, such as simulations and videos, can be used to compliment the often difficult to comprehend subjects of chemistry and nanoscience. His efforts have now earned him the 2013 Harald Award. The honour will be presented during the University’s Annual Commemoration on 15 November.
“Chemistry can often be a difficult subject because it is hard to visualise the world at the molecular level. Professor Jensen makes it easier to use and to develop simulation programmes during teaching,” says Professor Ole John Nielsen, a fellow chemistry professor who nominated Jensen.
A computer revolution in the lab
Professor Jensen’s ground-breaking simulations are surprisingly popular. One of his videos, about entropy (a measure of the amount of disorder in a system), has been see over 16,000 times.
In addition to popular on-line videos, Professor Jensen has developed a number of other computer-based education aids, including Molecule Calculator, an on-line program that makes it possible for students to determine the chemical properties of molecules they assemble themselves.
The program gives students the opportunity to work on far more complex problems than previously possible, in much the same way that advanced mathematics calculators have opened up new opportunities for maths students. MolCalc, as the programme has come to be called, has had over 12,000 hits since August 2012 and has come to be considered somewhat revolutionary among chemists.
Professor Jensen makes regular use of other non-traditional on-line teaching aids, such as surveys, quizzes as well as homework help. He also produces on-line lectures that his students watch before their classroom instruction begins. Students have welcomed Professor Jensen’s approach; his evaluations are above average, and most say the on-line tools work well.
Professor Jensen called the award “an honour” and hoped that it would help him to inspire others to begin using new instructional tools.
“It’s wonderful to be recognised for the amount of effort I put into developing them,” he says. “I would be thrilled if the award helped expose people to the potential on-line teaching aids have.”
See Professor Jensen’s ‘Illustrating Entropy’ video.
In recognition for his efforts, Professor Jensen will receive 25,000 kroner and a porcelain statuette of an owl, produced by Royal Copenhagen and decorated by Wouter Dolk.
Study Environment and Innovation awards
The winners of the International Study Environment Award and the Innovation Award will also be named during the Annual Commemoration.
This year, the International Study Environment Award goes to Jakob Ørum, Director of Studenterhuset.
The 2013 Innovation Award goes to Professor Barbara Ann Halkier, of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
University doctoral degrees will be conferred on Friday, as will honourary doctorates. Gold and Silver awards will be awarded to students that have completed faculty award assignments.
Read more about the Commemoration Ceremony.
Professor Jan Halborg Jensen
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences
Tel.: +45 5182 6985
News editor Anna Høxbro Bak
Tel.: +45 2264 0355
The Harald Award
Each year, the University of Copenhagen recognises an inspiring instructor with a Harald Award. Named after mathematician Harald Bohr, the award seeks to honour instructors who make an additional effort in the classroom.
Recipients of the Harald Award
2012: Mette Birkedal Bruun, Professor, Section for Church History, Faculty of Theology
2011: John Tøndering, Lektor, Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics
2010: Helle Winther, Lektor, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports
2009: Jan H. Christensen, Lektor, the Department of Basic Sciences and Environment
2008: Stuart Ward, Professor, Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
The University was founded in 1479. Ever since, it has celebrated its foundation with an annual commemoration. The commemoration is held on the third Friday in November with participation from the Royal Family. Read more about the Commemoration Ceremony.