I never had teaching down as a career but after being in retail over a decade I found that I liked helping people too much and the job restricted how much help I could give. I did not plan on becoming a tutor but knew I wanted to help people so when a job came up at a local college to facilitate technical lessons I applied.
It was a big jump for me as it would mean working with groups of teenagers and this was slightly out of my comfort zone. Once I started the job I knew instantly it was something I wanted to do and that I was good at it. I had very supportive managers who encouraged me to start my teaching diploma and gave me classes to teach as they could see potential in me as a tutor.
It all went from there really, within a year I was teaching full time and had 3 tutor groups. I was teaching subjects that I loved and the students enjoyed the lessons they had with me. I was very much into using technology for teaching but this was all dependant on resources. We were the first department to be fully paper free through the use of a VLE (Moodle) and we introduced different methods of using technology to enhance the teaching and learning environment for example the use of Microsoft OneDrive to enable students to have access to their work from anywhere. As I was teaching in games development I wanted to have additional technology to encourage, we were able to do this through the use of VR and games equipment.
I thought that the technology that we used was the best it could be and although I was always looking for new and better ways of enhancing the teaching and learning experience I was struggling to find better ways with the facilities and resources available to us.
Earlier this year I was very lucky to move colleges (mainly as the new one was closer to home). This move not only opened my eyes to more ways of using technology to improve teaching and learning but also the format in which teaching takes place.
Firstly the college runs their courses as unit days. This means that students come in for the day to work on a specific topic. They are given targets to complete work by the end of the day. Once they have completed that work they can go home. This was different from my previous college as I could be teaching up to three different classes a day with up to three different topics to teach. This new way of teaching took some getting used to but the benefits to not only my teaching but also to the students and their learning is definitely a step in the right direction.
The students seem to understand more of what is required from them and it gives them a sufficient amount of time with my support to enable them to complete their work.
Secondly the college has a learning experience in place to enable a new style of learning. This is through the use of iPads. All staff and students are issued with iPads for use inside and outside of college. It enables the students to access all their college materials, important information and ways to interact in the lesson. We use a series of apps that enable a consistent learning journey that the students really appreciate and are excited to take part in. The main apps we use are Apple Notes, OneDrive, Microsoft Office programmes, Nearpod, some Adobe apps and of course Showbie.
One app that I am also introducing to my students this year is Apple Playgrounds. This is due to us now running Games Development courses and due to coding skills being a requirement I am using this app to teach it. It enables the students to learn Apple’s own Swift programming language in a fun and interactive way and it is only available on the iPad. It also means that the students are able to work from anywhere to improve their skills.
Showbie in combination with the iPads has provided me with an effective tool that saves a lot of time and a lot of paperwork. It is used as the main hub for the entire courses that I am teaching on. The students get access to all their assignments, resources, timetables and other tutorial related things. They submit all their work to Showbie and that is where I mark it.
The marking facility saves me so much time that I could not imagine using anything else. I can write directly on the students work and it gives me a marking system that I can adapt to suit what I need. I can give all types of feedback that includes voice recording that saves even more time. I can also provide different resources and enable me to meet the varying needs of the students. The students can access it anywhere so when we have issues with rooms with computers in or we fancy a different environment we can go with our iPads, log onto Showbie and access the materials required. Showbie is so adaptable that whatever you are teaching you can make it work around what you need.
In the space of 9 months I have completely changed my teaching and enjoy my job even more than I previously did. I have had lots of effective training and also become a Digital Leader within my college to run training events and support staff and students that struggle with technology or need ideas of how to use it for their own teaching and lessons. I also became a Showbie Champion due to how it has changed my teaching and how I am encouraging the use of it with staff and students within the college. I also have become an Apple Teacher with Swift Playgrounds Recognition which is another big achievement that enables me to help others with Apple related questions.
I am looking forward to what the future may bring to teaching in regards to technology as I am very much into learning new things and bringing them into the classroom.