This post has taken a long time to write, not because it’s any kind of magnum opus, but because the days in my life in 2017 have been both busy and slightly repetitive, I’ve not been able to really reflect on them and readers may have found them a little dull. Now I have a time, a fun day and a bit of breathing space please let me start by introducing myself. I’m Bella Abrams, I was elected by ALT members as one of two new trustees in 2016. Previously, I had had the opportunity to work with ALT as co-opted trustee in 2015/16 and was very pleased that members voted for me to represent them for a further period.
Aside from being a trustee for ALT and a Chair of Governors for a large Primary School in Sheffield, my day job is in Further Education. I work at Hull College Group and am responsible for educational technology, libraries, IT and software development across three key sites in East and North Yorkshire. My background is in software development in digital education as I worked in project and programme management for learndirect for 15 years before finally taking the plunge in 2015 to enter the often fraught world of FE.
My day job does have some elements of education and learning tech but I am equally likely to be thinking about dashboards and data visualisation, failed network switches or helping colleagues to solve a particularly knotty reporting problem. As a result, my ALT work can often seem like a refuge and an opportunity to indulge in one of my passions, using technology to best effect in vocational education.
Today I’ve been oscillating between these things. I start the day, as always with a two hour commute by bike, train and foot to my office in Hull. On the train, I spent some time between answering emails by remembering Hans Rosling and re-watching his TED Talk from 2006 (and on the way home I’ll try to make some time to watch his presentation at ALT-C in 2008 which I haven’t seen).
Once in Hull I start on a particularly student facing day – meeting Foundation Degree Computing students to agree some projects that they’ll be able to deliver for our software team this term. I’ve followed that up with thinking about and planning my contribution to a debate for JISC at Digifest on the question ‘How can blended learning truly enhance the learner experience?’
As usual, I’ve dipped in and out of Twitter both for work and not-work – noting that traffic protests at my Primary School (some parents driving dangerously at drop off and pick up) are now being reported by Radio Sheffield – cripes. After barely using Twitter before I started work in FE, I now see it as an indispensable news and research tool which has far outstripped Facebook as my most productive use of social media.
The rest of the afternoon is email admin, some discussion on the refresh of the Network and Wireless Infrastructure on the main campus in Hull and now I’m off to speak about Project and Programme Management with some of our business students before the train home. This is one brilliant part of my role. Today they’ve asked me specifically to talk to them about managing customer expectations which has been particularly fun. I’m just on my way to jump on the train home and it’ll all start again tomorrow.
Bella Abrams, Director of Innovation and Technology, Hull College Group, @angrybal
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