Winning the Award put me in touch with the University Sector, where Learning Technologies and E-learning was already becoming established. My first role in HE was at Bournemouth University, where a new e-learning platform, Blackboard, had just been introduced – replacing several bespoke e-learning platforms that had been used until then. An interesting task – there were people who had developed their own systems – and they resented the decision to replace them with the Blackboard system. This is a good example of things that can get in the way of a smooth transition to E-learning.
I enjoyed working in the HE environment, and living on the south coast. Sadly, the contract was only a year and the job ended. Over the year I had used the chance to participate in the HE community. I built networks, both inside and outside the university. I played a key role in the installation of a lecture capture system, enabling lectures to be automatically streamed, then uploaded to their respective course areas. Finally, I developed a comprehensive set of help pages that not only guided staff in how to use the new Blackboard system, but also contained ideas and guidance as to best practices in integrating e-learning into their courses.
My next role was for Research & Enterprise, City University, London. The section dedicated to turning University Intellectual Property into money-making businesses. We were also responsible for teaching Entrepreneurship across the University. We ran business plan contests and even taught at different Universities across London. I was able to put together a portfolio for the Association for Learning Technologies’ CMALT recognition. There’s a big University community around London, and I was involved in regular conferences and E-learning events.
I took the opportunity to work on my web design and Video Editing – including a professional course on Final Cut Pro. As well as putting lectures and event highlights online, a pitching video that I created with a student team won second place in a national competition.
Working for the University gave me the chance to use the full range of tools for creating presentations and online materials. My MSc programme gave me the time to research perfecting my online materials. Most of all, working with Research & Enterprise gave me the chance to work with experts from all other areas of the University – working on a wide range of products from engineering solutions to mathematical algorithms.
The online components of our Entrepreneurship course became a product in themselves – I demonstrated them to a visiting Professor from Nanyang University, Singapore, and he agreed to buy them, to be used as an online course for the new business centre that they had built. We travelled to Singapore to show them how to implement the course, and how to scale it up for delivery to the 30,000 students that they were expecting.
Good things come to an end. Organizational changes and budget cuts put our teaching duties in jeopardy. A severance package was offered and I was advised to take it. The day I left, I had four interviews with other Russel Group Universities lined up. I’d just finished my MSc with a Distinction, and I imagined a career in academia in front of me..