Southwark college and Lewisham college were the starting hosts for my training and teaching back in 2001. This is not quite a CV, but a flavour of what I’ve been doing. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any training, support or creative projects.
One of my first ideas in teaching was to use a small web server on a machine in an IT lab to make a class diary, this would now be considered a blog. It worked for some of the young people on the course when I asked them to recap their week, others weren’t very happy at broadcasting their lacking in literacy. At Lewisham college, I was asked to be the course tutor for the ICPD ( Introduction to Computers for People with Disabilities) in addition to teaching the 16-19 year olds that were doing a literacy/numeracy course disguised as an IT qualification.
As a person just starting out in teaching these were great challenges , willing to engage and take creative avenues. I was also asked to provide an incentive for the young people to use their college email and their machines to help focus them on their goals; after all they were there because they had not done well at school. In response, I created an online competition with scoring and prizes as achievements. Not great prizes, but they got to go to the cinema if they win as a class. The individual with the highest score won a HMV voucher. It worked, it really did, but it did mean that my colleagues had to send me the scores for each class and I had to do extra administration. The people with disabilities had my full support, good humour and as much time I could give them with the poor software at hand. I learned some valuable lessons about cognitive and physical disability with those good folk. I was course tutor for the last year at the college before physically disabled students were included into general ICT classes, which is a mixed blessing.
Working in East Greenwich, and then Greenwich Online showed up…
In 2003 I was asked to assist with an outreach project for the Forum@Greenwich, a centre which had digital inclusion as part of its remit. As a result, I delivered a fun powerpoint course for parents of the Millennium primary school to get them using a computer – this then led me to applying to work for Greenwich Online, a UK Online project overseen by Greenwich council. Initially working in a ICT suite at the Forum, over the course of my 7 years I worked in most of the community and day centres in the borough, giving me a real insight into community engagement and developing services.
My favourite part of the job was trying to improve the service without any budget other than my time. One notable occasion was making a series of fun and engaging activities for users of a complex needs day centre while keeping the machines as accessible as possible – all with free software and a helpful network engineer. In 2007/8, ran a pilot project to get a block of flats in Charlton connected, which was extremely tough with no funding, but had interesting outcomes in terms of finding why and how people engage online – my research into smart metering for homes and video conferencing for the elderly was quite prescient I like to think.
Freelancing, and attempting #socent.
The UK Online funding became a trickle, and most of my team including myself were made redundant in 2010-11. I had started out in teaching alongside being a web designer (my last website I built in 2004), and had taught myself how to build a simple radio station in PHP. Now my skills were not enough in the market place.I start looking at using WordPress instead, and creating some basic blog sites for artists.
I also became a proud associate of UcandoIT as a visiting tutor in 2011, meeting all sorts of extraordinary people managing their physical disabilities and assisting them to get online and own their digital device.
2014 was a good year: I decided to apply for a fellowship at the School of Social Entrepeneurs, and they like me enough to take me on the course. It was truly a positive and inspirational way to meet some amazing people, which is not a pitch I would write with a good conscience unless it was true.
My professional development has benefited, which has led me to attempt very local drop in sessions for local people in various areas of south east London. These sessions attempted accessible and comfortable digital situations, offering support and insight to people in owning a device – costs in time or money, simple hygiene and good ergonomics. My tai chi practice informs my work too, especially ergonomics! I like to encourage small learning packages to achieve an end goal, as learning can be done in a variety of ways, not just digital literacy.
In the past year or so, I’ve been networking and talking with Southwark, Greenwich and Lewisham sensory teams, and have joined the Lewisham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as a member of their Patient Reference Group (PRG).
If you’re interested, find out what a soulchip is.