Brian J Ford, visiting Professor at the University of Leicester's Beyond Distance Research Alliance
Scientist, Author and Broadcaster to Support University's Developments in E-Learning
Brian J Ford, well-known for his books on computers and science, his
television and radio broadcasts worldwide and as one of the country's
leading scientists, is to become a visiting Professor at the University
of Leicester's Beyond Distance Research Alliance
Brian J Ford has written about IT for more than 30 years and been a
presence on the web for more than a decade. Among a number of books he
has written to bring readers closer to sources of specialist learning
are the popular Compute and the international best-seller, First
Encyclopedia of Science.
In 1999 he was appointed as Royal Literary Fellow at the Open
University, where he developed on-line resources for writers and where
he learned how to use distance learning to best effect. He is a Fellow
and Member of Court at Cardiff University, a member of Gonville &
Caius College, Cambridge University, and Honorary Member of Keynes
College, University of Kent at Canterbury.
He is currently featuring in programmes on Channel 4 Television,
Channel 5, Sky One and the History Channel. His BBC series include
Computer Challenge (television) and Where Are You Taking Us? (radio).
He is also a contributor to regular programmes such as Any Questions?
and the Today programme.
Professor Ford launched Science Now for the BBC, covered science for
Newsbeat on Radio 1, presented Food For Thought on Channel 4 TV and has
been a regular contributor to Start the Week on BBC Radio.
Internationally he has appeared in television programmes from Hollywood
to Japan, London and Germany and has written for The Times and the
He has also contributed to a number of scientific journals, many of
which have published his own research, including New Scientist,
Scientific American, Nature, The Microscope and the British Medical
He has been nominated by the BBC for the Italia Prize and in the USA
was recently awarded the inaugural Professor August Kohler medal. He
has also received a 3-year Fellowship from the National Endowment for
Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). This year he has been
nominated for the Faraday Medal of the Royal Society by Sir Martin
Rees, the Astronomer Royal and Sir Sam Edwards, former Chairman of the
Science Research Council.
Commenting on the Alliance, Professor Ford said:
"What's so exciting about Beyond Distance is the sense of empowerment
it offers students. There are many departments that are utilising
distance access to teaching facilities, and Leicester is looking at the
broadest picture possible."
"A new era is opening up and we have a chance to be at the forefront
of an exciting revolution in learning. Its significance lies in the
title. Distance is no longer a barrier to learning. Timing doesn't
matter any more. Access to library materials becomes so much easier.
The closed world of academia is opening to everyone and Beyond Distance
will spearhead the change."
"That's not just my personal opinion. In my inaugural lecture I
showed the results of a Google search for 'e-teaching'. Among nearly
4,000 sites listed, Leicester came out top in the world."
"I've been working with computers all my adult life and the Beyond
Distance alliance offers a chance to put all this experience together.
It's a wonderfully stimulating opportunity."
Professor Ford will help select new and innovative lecturing and
research staff and will set up a working party on research and funding
initiatives to provide rigorous research to underpin the University's
new e-learning strategy. He will also exploit international connections
and recently returned from studying internet learning at the National
Note to editors:
Information on the University of Leicester Beyond Distance Research Alliance follows.
More details on his appointment are available from Professor Brian J Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.brianjford.com, tel 017 333 50 888.
The University of Leicester Beyond Distance Research Alliance
gathers teachers and researchers interested in innovation in teaching
and learning, providing a forum for the development of e-learning and
harnessing the latest information technologies to take forward research
and teaching. It will promote the building of pedagogical innovation,
increase the deployment of learning technologies and enable research
into e-learning in a way that directly addresses business opportunities
The Alliance provides for equivalent and enhanced learning and
support experiences for all Leicester students. It offers a framework
that not only develops and extends the range of services and approaches
already in place but also looks to deepen understanding and deployment
of learning technologies in the University.
The use of e-learning will allow the University to develop distance
learning and provide high quality learning and support to distance
learners equivalent to that provided to campus attendees. It will
increase the flexibility, accessibility and personalisation of
provision for campus and distance students and enhance the capacity for
integration of study with home, leisure, social and working lives.
The integration of e-learning and teaching with the growing
provision of e-business, e-resources and e-support in the university
means that each enhances the others. E-learning skills should be
considered normal, necessary and desirable in the 21st Century, and
their use leads to a 'balanced mixed mode' learning provision with
roughly equal numbers of campus and distance students.