Once you’ve got your categories, criteria and an identity for the awards, it’s time to let students know about them. Don’t forget to plan when you will notify students about the awards- your union calendar is already likely to be quite full in the second semester (with the NSS and elections, for example), so make sure you allow the awards enough space so they’re not ‘drowned out’ by other messages.
Students’ unions have tended to have nomination periods of different lengths, depending on individual priorities and calendars. The key is to balance giving students enough time to submit thoughtful nominations, but not so much as they get bored of hearing about it. The average time is around 3-4 weeks.
As mentioned earlier, don’t forget to engage less visible groups in the awards too. Think about smaller campuses, distance learners, postgraduates and mature students, for example. These awards are a great opportunity to listen to their views and to get them involved in a very positive and exciting way.
Those that trialled paper nominations found that, whilst they collected more nominations, the quality was noticeably lower than those that submitted online. This is perhaps because those sat in front of a computer screen had more time to reflect on a compelling reason to support their nomination.
Some students’ unions were able to design a form that captured students’ subjects and years of study as well as their nomination. Not only did this allow for some interesting analysis on what students on different courses valued in their teaching, but also made it easier to work out who was being nominated where names were misspelled!