From soldering components to policy issues...

June 21, 2010 by Deborah Arnold   Comments (0)

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Those of you who know me might be surprised to learn that this is my very first blog post! I'm surprised myself, but now the EDEN NAP area has put this opportunity in my hands, I have no excuse to be absent from the blogosphere any longer. I also read with interest Steve Wheeler's convincing arguments for blogging, and so here I am!

Last week I was asked to contribute to the exciting project Gender-IT with the story of how, as a woman, I came to be involved in ICT. And this seemed the perfect theme to get me started here... So here's my story...

Growing up with two brothers, I played boys' games just as much as girls'. My dad was always repairing old radios and so forth. I loved soldering compenents on printed circuit boards and so when one day he actually built a computer from scratch, I joined in (at least that's the way I remember it, my dad seems to think it was my younger brother who did most of the work!).

Anyway, this is just to say that my first real experience of technology was from the inside - a great way to demystify it. I then came into contact with computers throughout my studies and early career - including simple programming on a language degree course which I found strange at the time (late 1980's), especially as we were still producing handwritten assignments! Then working as a teacher of English as a foreign language, I used a system called Teletutor - audio cassettes synchronised  with a PC working under DOS. Multimedia then became more and more common, but I was disappointed with many products - some were didactically sound but unattractive in terms of media, other were slick productions but lacking in pedagogy. And that's what made me want to get involved in the design and production side, with a concern for how the resources are actually used in teaching and learning. So: back to university for a Masters in Media, Communication and ICT, then a new career in audiovisual and multimedia production for higher education.

Ten years later, my interests are now firmly in exploring how technology can be a driver for innovation in education, hence the link with policy. Comparing the relative merits of user-generated versus professionally-produced content is also a focus of my work. I think there's room - and a need - for both.