What’s your background and when did you join the University?
After graduating from the University of Manchester, I left my native Cheshire and my wife and I relocated to Kent. I joined the University in 2007 and spent three years working as a software instructor in the Centre for Music Technology. I’m a musician and it felt like a dream job teaching people how to use industry standard technology in state-of-the-art facilities. I undertook the University’s PGCHE programme and became increasingly interested in the use of technology in education.
Since 2010, I’ve worked as a Learning Technologist within UELT.
What does your role at Kent involve?
In a nutshell, it’s my job to support academic staff in using technology as part of their teaching. Ultimately, what learning technologists do is try to enhance the teaching and learning process through careful and considered choices of technology and selecting the appropriate one for the situation. On a more practical level, much of my time is spent delivering training, creating instructional materials and advising on different technologies.
How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19?
I’m a lot busier! The E-Learning Team have always been in demand, but Covid-19 and having to deliver our teaching online has taken things to a new level. I think it’s also made my role more visible, and enabled people to see what the purpose of my role and area of work is.
Can you tell us more about how you’ve developed Kent’s online teaching and learning provision?
I can’t take much credit! It’s the academic staff who have to re-think how they’re going to deliver their modules online. The big challenge is that different disciplines teach in different ways and so there’s no simple solution that works for everyone. That said, my team and I have worked really hard to support staff through the process and so, alongside all of the training and guidance we provide, we’ve used our expertise to promote best practice in online teaching wherever we can.
We ran ‘emergency’ webinars for staff when we first entered lockdown (with over 500 people attending) and devised a process for delivering over 800 exams online. Now, we’re finalising a set of resources to support academic staff in online delivery.
What kind of a response have you had so far from staff and students?
On the whole, it’s been very positive. It’s a stressful and uncertain time for everyone and we all should be mindful that people react to change in different ways. What I am certain of though, is that every colleague I speak to wants to ensure our students receive the best possible education come September, regardless of delivery method.
Outside work, and out of lockdown, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a long-distance runner and the lack of a commute to campus has allowed me to stretch my morning miles a little further! My wife and I travel to the Lake District a lot and so I do a lot of fell running up there. It’s my plan to complete the three big British fell running ‘rounds’ before I’m 40, so I’ve got a few years yet!
What will you look forward to most once we’re back on campus?
I’ve missed bumping into colleagues and the spontaneous conversations that follow. As well as the ‘buzz’ on campus during term time and seeing students move from class to class. I’m looking forward to having coffee with colleagues and enjoying some lunchtime runs into Blean Woods.
How do you like to celebrate good news?
Pre-lockdown, my wife and I would go to the pub for a meal! So, it’s a take-away at the moment!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m something of a worrier. My dad always says “only worry when you know there’s something to worry about.” I think that’s actually a nice way of knowing there’s some things you can control, and other things you can’t. There’s no point wasting energy on what’s outside of your control – focus instead on what you can.