Some of you may remember me – I spent about 16 years at Portsmouth, lecturing in the School of Computing. I’ve now moved to be an Educational Technologist in Dundee University, working as part of a central team. In many ways it seems only yesterday that I left; in reality, it has been more than four years!

The change wasn’t entirely planned. I moved to Scotland for personal reasons and was therefore looking for a job. A combination of 16 years of lecturing (and a few more of school teaching before that) and a lack of a PhD made me decide that I didn’t want to lecture again. However, I did like the contact I had had with staff and students at Portsmouth, so the opportunity of a sideways jump appealed. Those who knew me at Portsmouth will remember that IT to support learning was a key area of interest for me. Indeed, my PGCE in the 80s had included “Computing in the Primary Curriculum” – those were the days of BBC Bs, Granny’s Garden and the Domesday project!

While at Portsmouth I was keen to experiment, and no doubt I drove some in the eLearning team mad with my “why won’t it do …” questions – but I also was free to experiment to see whether something could be done, and students generally went along with my ideas. 

All of that experience has really helped me here! I understand those wanting to push a tool to its limits, to get it to work for the way they want to teach, and that it’s rare to find ‘one size fits all’ solution. That aspect of my role is fun, challenging, and forces me to think about both tools and pedagogic practice. 

However, the greater challenge is supporting all staff to have a good understanding of the tools we have, the functionality on offer, while helping staff decide what’s really needed for their students. When teaching I came across students who found aspects of the subject hard, or didn’t understand why they had to do various things. Academics are no different! 

Do I miss teaching? Not often. I do miss the buzz of enthusiastic students, but I don’t miss the pile of marking – but I’d find this role 100 times harder, had I not had that experience of being on ‘the other side’.