A project which brought forensic science to life online during the pandemic is shortlisted for a global award.

The #RemoteForensicCSI network was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to share innovative ways to engage students on forensic-related courses while learning remotely.

Now, the initiative has been selected as a finalist at the 2021 Global Advancing Academic Development Good Practice Awards which celebrate inspirational academic practitioners from around the world.

The tri-institutional collaboration is led by Dr Rachel Bolton-King from Staffordshire University, Professor Ian Turner from the University of Derby and Leisa Nichols-Drew from De Montfort University.

Rachel, Associate Professor of Forensic Science, said: “Being shortlisted for this Global Good Practice Award feels like an amazing achievement. Especially for something so positive to have resulted from the turbulent and challenging times created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our #RemoteForensicCSI network provided an encouraging and supportive community in which we could all share, learn and develop our academic and professional practices for the benefit of our students.”

The open access platform was designed to not only support online teaching in both Further Education and Higher Education, but also practitioner training to ensure learners on highly practical courses were still able to develop skills and understanding while at home or from a distance.

Monthly webinars discussed the challenges of remote teaching and training across disciplines – such as crime scene investigation, forensic laboratory analysis and court – and provided a forum to share good practice, experiences, tips and resources.

Rachel explained: “We showed how you could create practicals that could be done at home. You could design teaching and learning sessions that enable the students to use the equipment that was in their local environment, or utilise courtroom simulations, or existing simulations like virtual tours.

“For example, at Staffs we sent out teaching kits to utilise in home-based practicals and activities – including things like swabs for DNA sampling, crime scene evidence bags, tabs of ink so that they could do fingerprinting, and also crime scene suits.”

Although face-to-face teaching has now resumed, the #RemoteForensicCSI network will continue to promote collaboration and professional development between colleagues across the world.

Rachel added: “The #RemoteForensicCSI network has opened up opportunities to have conversations and make professional connections between people who otherwise wouldn’t have known each other. This is something that we are keen to continue, and we are excited to be launching season two of our webinars later this year.”

The winners of the 2021 Global Advancing Academic Development Good Practice Awards will be announced in an online ceremony on Wednesday 3 November.

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