I have started this blog as part of my Masters Degree at Huddersfield University in Multimedia and E-learning. I am really excited about starting to study again.
My background is in languages. I took a degree in Russian and Soviet Studies and after a period of teaching English overseas, I returned to the UK and took my PGCE. During the course, I became very interested in how computers were making a difference to the way that pupils learned languages. Seeing how a learner could click an unfamiliar word and hear the pronunciation or get immediate feedback on tests (e.g. ‘Click on the correct answer’) made me very keen to find out more about effective methodology in using ICT in language teaching and learning. After my PGCE, I worked at the University of Surrey, setting up an Open Learning Centre for Languages. I was very fortunate in having a manager who fully supported new technologies in language learning.
I then moved to CILT (Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research) to run their NOF (New Opportunities Fund) ICT training program for teachers of languages. I had written a bid for this program and the post was created specifically so that specialist tuition could be offered to teachers of MFL in UK secondary schools. This was a fantastic role, in which I oversaw more than 600 action research projects using ICT in modern languages.
I then moved to Hull University where I was able to pursue an interest in an ’emerging’ technology – interactive whiteboards. I led a research project funded by ‘nesta’ which aimed to find and disseminate best practice in the use of interactive whiteboards. As a team, we observed 200 lessons taught by some really inspirational teachers, who were all pioneers – early adopters – of whiteboard technology.
This led directly to a post with Promethean – 1 year in the UK as a Teaching and Learning Adviser and 1 year overseas (China, Russia, Denmark and some other European work.) Whilst very exciting, living out of a suitcase was not something I wanted to do long-term and I was delighted when I was offered a position with the United Church Schools Trust / United Learning Trust.
I now work as E-learning Training Manager based in the North of England and supporting schools throughout the group. UCST owns and manages independent schools whilst ULT is the largest single sponsor of Academies in the UK, currently managing more than 20 schools from Bournemouth to Newcastle. It is a challenging role, but we are fortunate to have access to superb resources. I now work with interactive whiteboards, handheld response devices, VLE and other aspects of interactive learning.
My focus has always been very firmly on the ‘teaching and learning’ side of the technology. I am not ‘technical’ and whilst I have a basic command of how things work, my real interest is in how technology can improve what we do in the classroom and beyond to improve educational outcomes.
I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone else on the course and sharing experiences – and hopefully a few laughs as well!