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2017 BHERT Award for
Outstanding Collaboration in Higher Education & Training

Award Winnter for Outstanding Collaboration in Higher Education and Training
Professor Nick Hawkins accepting the award from BHERT President Susan Bannigan

Awarded to

  • The University of Queensland
  • Smart Sparrow
  • UNSW Sydney
  • The University of Melbourne
  • James Cook University



Project: The Biomedical Education, Skills and Training (BEST) Network

The Biomedical Education, Skills and Training (BEST) Network is a technology-supported teaching infrastructure for biomedical learning. Since 2012 it has had significant impact in higher education across Australia: it has a growing community of 12 member institutions, 2,200 academics, and 8,700 student members. The BEST Network operates on the basis of institutional subscriptions, largely from universities.

The initial impetus for the network arose from UNSW Sydney. Working with the leadership of Smart Sparrow, the university sought to develop an academic teaching network underpinned by Smart Sparrow’s emerging educational technology platform. Since 2012, the BEST Network has brought considerable benefit to its partner institutions, their staff and students, as well as to Smart Sparrow and the broader biomedical science community.

For thousands of students across Australia, the BEST Network programme provides educational resources that enhance students’ learning through interactive online modules, collaborative learning and virtual laboratories. The value of the Network continues to increase due to improvements to BEST technologies. This is made possible through reinvestment of network funds and learning and teaching grants.

Award for Collaboration in Higher Education and Training
Global Distribution of Academic Members: BEST is self-sustaining, and will welcome new institutional members in 2018. This will support further expansion of the Network’s off erings and value to educators and students.

For member institutions, the Network provides centralised software development and maintenance at scale, thereby removing significant costs. By facilitating the sharing of teaching resources between academics, BEST has driven cultural change amongst academics and institutions – from competition to collaboration in the development of educational resources.

The benefits of using the Adaptive eLearning Platform included:

  • Development and delivery of content from cloud-based servers.
  • Resource development through collaboration.
  • Evaluation of resources using sophisticated analytics.
  • Integration with virtual slides (whole slide images, WSIs) that replicate online the experience of tissue microscopy.

The BEST Network facilitates the sharing of knowledge, resources and pedagogy in biomedical education across the Australian higher education sector, as well as internationally, and provides open access to many of its resources for its 10,939 members from 45 countries as well as to the broader biomedical community. In doing so, BEST assists developing nations by enabling access to pedagogy and resources developed by academics at some of Australia’s top institutions.

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