Contextual Statement

I joined the Learning Technology team in September 2016 and am aligned with the faculty of Business and Law (FBL) which has over 150 on campus staff supporting undergraduate and postgraduate studies, and many more off partner academics who are situated throughout the world.

Prior to becoming a Learning Technologist, I studied BA Documentary Production at Lincoln University (91-94) and subsequently worked as media producer, website creator and graphic designer (94-01) working with a wide range of national and international clients including; Honda, Tesco, Ford and Mercedes.

I diversified my career in 2001 by taking a role with a Bafta award-winning company Summit Media (01-02) as a full-time software trainer/team manager. This was a unique position as it was based within a Category two prison. My role was to train and manage a group of 16 prisoners in web authoring, graphic design and search engine optimisation. This role was fascinating in that my new colleagues were completely engaged and invested in learning new skills. My focus was on the design and implementation of training activities and overseeing commercial projects. (To avoid any confusion I should make it clear this was a salaried role and I do not have a criminal record).

After leaving Summit Media I worked as a tutor at Northampton College where for three years (02-05) I wrote and delivered short courses in web design and digital photography for a diverse mix of part-time students which ranged in age from 16 – 86.

Having enjoyed being a teacher, I was very fortunate to join the University of Northampton as a Technical demonstrator in Media Production (05-16) As in this role was able to develop my knowledge and understanding of skills I was already practically proficient; video camera techniques, SLR camera skills, video editing, magazine design and website creation and expand my knowledge in new areas such as TV & radio studio recording and journalistic techniques. My support for students was defined by group demonstrations and workshops, and the creation of supporting online guides.

During this period I was involved in a number of initiatives to improve the Media and Journalism student experiences.

One challenge we faced on the BA Media Production course was a need to improve the NSS (National Student Survey) rating, to address this I created regular newsletters which featured stories on student successes and developments within the course, these were released monthly during term time and targeted primarily at the third years  who take the NSS. Producing this provided us with an opportunity to have a dialogue with the students and allowed them to share stories on their experiences and successes in competitions and us to promote changes to the course provision such as new equipment, lecturers or trips.

After a year of publishing these regular newsletters, we saw the overall satisfaction of our NSS score rise from 65% to over 90%. To further enhance the student experience I developed a new online course portfolio website, which also showcased student work and featured films and media produced by students on the course, this had a duel purpose as this was also useful for prospective students to whom we could show our portfolio website on open days.

Another way I supported the student experience was by launching a Northampton 72-hour film competition, This was a new event for both student and local filmmakers. The competition took place in the third term after the third year assessments had finished and allowed film-makers to put their skills to the test by producing a short film based on set of criteria within a 72 hour period.

Our awards were held in a local arts venue outside of the University with local businesses providing prizes. The awards were featured in the local media and the competition continues to be a highlight of many of the media students experiences whilst studying media at the University.

During the same period, the BA Journalism course was seeking NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) accreditation, to support this application I created an online news platform which featured streamed media from our TV and radio studios as well as regular news posts from all Journalism students. This was central to the course news days and supported the BA Journalism course’s successful application for NCTJ in 2015.

During my last two years working as a ‘Technical Demonstrator’ at the University, I also delivered a level 5 module ‘Web Site Design’ within the programme of ‘Business Computing (Web Design) BSc (Hons)’. This module was focused on improving students abilities in graphic design and website creation. Working alongside the module leader Julia Vernon I redesigned the module activities and the resulting feedback from students and the module leader were very positive.

As you can see from the experiences above, my career has developed from working in digital media production to providing support within higher education. I find working as a Learning Technologist to be very rewarding and is a good fit for me for the following reasons:

  1. First and foremost I am a problem solver, by this I mean I am inquisitive and analytical. Working in education and particularly in the role of a Learning Technologist provides me with many opportunities to work on complex and interesting problems.
  2. Secondly, I have an empathic approach to others’ learning and I enjoy translating complex problems into supportive interactions and activities through which I can help to support others’ learning.
  3. And lastly, I am a collaborative creative, by this I mean I thrive on working with others, and enjoy working in a team that is both supportive and contains staff whose drive, knowledge and experiences stretch my own learning and skills.

 

 

Photograph of Learning Technologist, Richard Byles, 2019
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