Hi, I’m Mike Taylor and since mid-September, I’ve been a Senior Learning Technologist (Assessment) with the TEL team on floor 3 of Mercantile House. In 2001 I was on floor 7 of the same building studying Maths and Astronomy.

After graduating and stepping out of Mercantile house for what I presumed was the final time, I began my first job in education as a library assistant at South Downs College. There, I was tasked with developing a website to promote an annual equality and diversity festival. I taught myself basic web design, which gave me my first insight into the power of using this kind of technology in education. Although most of the apps I relied upon are now defunct (Adobe Imageready, Flash and Fireworks… remember them?), it made me curious as to how this can be used to enhance learning. In hindsight, it also taught me the important lesson that the skills of an online developer must remain current!

I spent the next 11 years at South Downs teaching A level Maths and BTEC/HND Music Performance, along with a multitude of other roles (Course Manager; Lead Internal Verifier; Trainee Teaching Mentor; plus many more), all the time gathering skills and experience, and spotting opportunities to improve college life via the use of technology.

The move toward a career in online development came six years ago when I joined the Online Course Developer Team at St George’s, supporting the online learning of the Schools of Education and Criminal Justice. In 10 short months, the team taught me an invaluable amount and provided me with excellent opportunities such as obtaining my HEA Fellowship and giving me the freedom to learn and experiment with programming tools such as JavaScript and jQuery.

Five years in the two Schools of Engineering provided a more direct experience with HE assessment. This, along with everything we have learnt from our rapid response to the pandemic, has reinforced my confidence in the value of weaving tech into education. I took a deep dive into the world of automating workloads with Google Apps Script and built ethics review systems centrally and for the faculty. I generated an enormous question bank of auto-marking Maths questions for the Mathematical Principles modules, greatly easing the marking burden of the assessment team.

Now, 21 years later, I’ve returned to Mercantile house. A lot has changed. It looks a lot nicer, and I’m 99% sure no one uses Netscape anymore. But my trip down 4 flights of stairs has taught me that we are in a great position to enhance the student experience, improve our colleagues’ work lives, and innovate across the board.

I now have the incredibly difficult job of filling Mike Wilson’s shoes, a tough act to follow. Fortunately for all of us, he’s not going too far so the transition should be a smooth one, and I’ll be assisting him in the delivery of the trial of the end-to-end assessment platform WiseFlow. 

Computer images of Mike standing in from of his campervan playing a guitarIn my personal life, I love playing the guitar, ukulele and singing (there’s nothing as satisfying as a bunch of disparate musicians coming together to make a melodious racket) and camping with the family (and dog!) in our DIY converted campervan (see attached image generated by DALL-E!).

I look forward to working with you all over the next year. If you have any questions, drop me an email at mike.taylor@port.ac.uk.

Welcome to the team, Mike!