Professor Linda Daniela Receives CEU’s European Award for Excellence in Teaching

CEU was pleased to honor the annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities to Professor Linda Daniela at its Opening Ceremony on September 19th an event that welcomed the arrival of 700 new students from 97 different countries to the university. Traditionally part of the Year Opening Ceremony since its foundation for CEU’s 20th anniversary, the prestigious award honoring academics in the social sciences and humanities teaching at higher education institutions in the European Higher Education Area was conferred upon Professor Daniela by Pro-Rector for Research and Faculty Agnes Batory.  

According to Michael Kozakowski, director of CEU’s Yehuda Elkana Center for Teaching, Learning, and Higher Education Research, the selection committee was greatly impressed by Professor Daniela’s leadership in the field of educational technology and work with future teachers. Her practice skillfully brings together educational principles and technological innovations. More important than the cutting-edge fields in which she works – including educational robotics, game-based learning, and smart pedagogies – she engages teachers, researchers, and students as co-creators of knowledge. Her research and teaching explore the potential for educational technologies to be used, not just for specific tasks, but to transform what it means to learn, to enquire, and to generate knowledge. At the same time, her teaching displays a strong commitment to inclusion so that this potential can be realized by all,said director Kozakowski. 

Professor Linda Daniela teaches and researches extensively on how to use educational technologies in the learning process in a pedagogically sound manner, an approach she terms, “smart pedagogy.” “‘Smart Pedagogy,’ Professor Daniela explains, is “where students learn how to organize educational work with the use of technology, taking into account the peculiarities of students’ development, how to direct cognitive load, and how to avoid the negative aspects of knowledge bricolage when knowledge is fragmented and there is no common understanding of the relevant ideas and principles. As students and educators, we learn together how to turn bricolage in a positive direction when technology inspires creative thinking because it encourages seeing new relationships between seemingly disparate objects.”   

In describing her work with future teachers in Latvia, she emphasizes their potential to change attitudes in education from the belief that technology can only be used to carry out specific activities, such as conducting presentations or searching for information, to an attitude where technology is a tool for generating new knowledge. This knowledge allows teachers to transform educational processes in which students become co-creators,she added. Such transformation is not realized automatically, however, but rather by thinking through educational principles. In working with future teachers, Professor Daniela stresses that “students do not only have to learn the principles of using different technologies themselves, but also learn what competencies the use of a technology can develop for students, and what pedagogical principles must be taken into account in order for technologies to become educational tools.”  

A connected strand of Professor Daniela’s teaching and research has been in making education and educational technologies more inclusive, from addressing socioeconomic barriers to digital resources, to making digital resources more accessible to those visual impairments, to promoting coding and programming skills across traditionally underrepresented groups.   

Linda Daniela’s research on teaching has resulted in over 90 scientific publications. Her recent publications tackle subjects including the internet of things for education, game-based learning, robot-assisted learning, virtual and augmented reality in education, smart pedagogy, and remote learning during the pandemic.  

Under Professor Daniela’s leadership, the University of Latvia has developed several educational technology laboratories, including a virtual reality laboratory, a robotics laboratory, a 3D prototyping laboratory, and a laboratory for the development of digital teaching materials, in which students work to develop creative solutions for a technology-enhanced learning process, while the developed materials are validated through research. Furthermore, she has developed the master’s study program “Technological innovations and design for education.” As a doctoral supervisor, she oversees research on the development of didactics of learning with educational robotics, the development of the gamification of education ideas, and the development of pedagogical digital competence, among other topics.  

“Teachers are the ones who can create the joy of learning, the ones who can inspire, the ones who can motivate. Teachers are the power of our future. They ensure that countries can develop, because they are the ones who ensure that the new generations acquire the knowledge necessary to do so, Professor Daniela emphasized.  

As a part of CEU’s commitment to excellence in teaching within the institution and across Europe and beyond, the award is administered by the University’s Yehuda Elkana Center for Teaching, Learning, and Higher Education Research, and is accompanied with the €5,000 Diener Prize, made possible by a generous gift from Steven and Linda Diener in memory of Ilona Diener.  

For further information on the award and previous recipients, please visit: https://elkana.ceu.edu/european-award-excellence-teaching 

Join us in congratulating Professor Linda Daniela and watch a 4-minute video interview about her Smart Pedagogy approach here.