I’m a researcher, analyst, data scientist, teacher, developer, educational technologist and manager, and tutxor. I particularly enjoy mediating between highly technical specialisms and others, from ordinary users to senior management. I work as a self-employed consultant and trainer with a wide range of clients, within education and beyond. For more details, see my pages on tutxoring, consultancy, and training.
Before this role, I spent 20 years as an academic at the Open University, UK, as part of the Institute of Educational Technology. It was rarely the same job year to year. I was lucky enough to work on a wide range of projects across and beyond the university. In terms of subjects they covered most areas, including education at all levels, medicine and healthcare, physical and biological sciences, computer science, construction, art history, classics, economics, engineering, law, mathematics, music, and religious studies. They ranged from taking up a couple of hours of my time to multimillion international collaborations.
Before that, I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry at the University of York, building on my DPhil work on simulations of laboratory experiments. And before that I had a range of short-term jobs, including software engineer, IT consultancy, IT training, & consumer electronics.
During all that time, I maintained an unusually broad range of interests.
Selected projects and achievements at the OU
Leadership in Digital Innovation: advising on top-level strategic policy development for the Open University (175,000 students, 9,000 staff), leading ‘Enabling Innovation’ workshops with staff of all levels across the organisation.
International profile as a leading researcher in learning analytics (data science to improve learning) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), with associated keynote invitations, research income, and publication record. Contribution encompasses quantitative expertise, pedagogical understanding, and a focus on the relationship between learning analytics and wider systems, including ethics and policy.
Principal Investigator on the EU-funded Learning Analytics Community Engagement (LACE) project (€200k share of €1.2m total): coordinating and supporting researchers, practitioners, vendors and policymakers in learning analytics, across more than a dozen EU countries. Led networking events, policy briefings, a Visions of the Future policy Delphi study, and the development of an Evidence Hub. http://www.laceproject.eu
STEM Data Wrangler and OU Analytics: applying modern data analysis techniques to OU data to generate actionable intelligence, mediating between users and generators of data, developing policy, and working to build capability by increasing understanding, particularly with the STEM faculty.
Jennie Lee Building: Lead user representative for new £17m building to house academic staff and innovative human-computer interaction and software/hardware testing labs. Effective translation and liaison between university staff (academics, technical and specialist staff, managers, support staff) and building consortium (architects, quantity surveyors and contractors).
iSpot: Academic lead for the technical development of iSpot, an innovative website for learning about natural history. Winner of Panda Award for New Media 2010, shortlisted for Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding ICT Innovation of the Year 2010. Over 40,000 registered users have posted more than 400,000 observations of nature, and given over 1,000,000 confirmations of identification.
Knowledge, Information and Care course: Chair of multidisciplinary team that produced an innovative second-level undergraduate course in working with information in health and social care. Created an XML-based structured authoring system which was later developed further to form the OU’s main course production system
Head of Centre for the Study of Educational Technologies: Leadership and management for 30 academics and researchers, and part of wider leadership team (~100 staff). Key achievements include successful move to new building (see above) and excellent research outcomes.
Knowledge Network: Developed and implemented an internal knowledge-sharing platform with a multidisciplinary team, to balance sharing and community-building with fine-grained privacy controls on sensitive data.
Postgraduate teaching: Supervised PhD students on a wide range of topics, from the quantitative to the qualitative, providing support and guidance, and acted as internal and external examiner. As postgraduate convenor, led the recruitment, induction, support and training of PhD students, and led a Masters in Research Methods.