As part of my role with Bedford College since end of March 2013, I train teaching and support staff to use technology like SMARTboards, tablet devices and Moodle, the chosen Virtual Learning Environment of the college. These trainings are one to one, or small groups or even whole theatres of people if the need arises. I have also been called upon to run day workshops with partner organisations as part of the College’s Grade Tracker project, which was already underway when I joined the team.
Whiteboards had been a revolution in the time I had been at school. I’d seen one interactive whiteboard at school which was incredibly fragile, and had mixed attempts at interacting with them in some university lecture spaces, but on joining the team, I had a crash course – I had to be an expert enough to train other people within a week or two.
I loved it.
Interactive whiteboards are a piece of technology that has cropped up in many classrooms in the past decade. They cost a bit, are disliked by a good number of teachers because they are often prone to failing right when you need them. A whiteboard pen with ink in can run out, fair enough, but you can normally reach for another and carry on. With a computer, digital screen, if it goes wrong, it’s a little more complicated. Like mathematics, many of us claim not to be very good at it – but we have to use maths, and technology every day. Teachers are therefore expected to make use of these boards to teach their students.
My audience is always a mix of those who adore the boards, or want to learn because they’re fresh to teaching, those who are seasoned at finding reasons not to use it, and those who are absolutely petrified of them. Once we’ve got over the line of ‘don’t press there – you’ll launch the missiles’ and had a grin, without a student audience, I enjoy turning that fear round to curiosity. I get a fair bit of ribbing back – after all, these people teach people for their main role, and as I teach them, they’re critiquing me for my approach too. I was apprehensive at first, but they’re a supportive bunch – even more so now I am studying a part time course which with my degree could qualify me enough to teach students too.
I know I have a lot to learn with teaching, but looking back on the past few months vs. my time at the agency, I am happy that through learning more about applying hardware to teaching, I’m also rapidly improving my skills in face to face interaction and training. Whereas I might have introverted tendencies – the change in role has allowed me to step back over. It has allowed me to recapture that feeling in approaching Internet World in 2012, where I started to consider where my career might go next.