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Monday, April 27, 2009

mLearning-World Welcomes our Newest Author- Thomas Curtis

(From Thomas)

Hello, I'm Thomas Curtis and this is a little about me and a mini blog post combined.

I'm an e-learning developer at South East Essex College a FE/HE institution located in Essex, United Kingdom

I've worked at a range of Colleges and Academies, all of which pursue e-learning & ICT as a medium to enhance and support the learner experience. My education was interesting to say the least, I barely graduated from School as I had become disaffected with the learning experience, the traditional teaching methods used at that time and struggled with both the learning difficulties of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

It was not until I went to College (ironically it is the same institution that I work for now) that reignited both my passion for learning and computing in general. Through hard work & the support of lecturers I managed to secure both a recognised computing qualification, acceptance on a university degree and without sounding too melodramatic forge a new path for myself. I also feel having studied at the same College where I initially studied gives me a unique perspective, enabling me to see both sides of the coin so to speak.

As e-learning & the Internet itself was just getting started as a learning medium when I studied at the College (99-01), teachers and students were just getting used to the Internet as a resource let alone a method to evolve learning. It was as a result of my personal experiences as a student that I decided that once I had completed my Degree that I would try and return to the education sector to 'give something back' for lack of a better cliche, as I had personally benefited from the range of e-learning tools which enabled me to attain a level of education I had initially dismissed as an irrelevance, if not an impossibility.

From the abacus to the mobile phone, technology has always been used with varying degrees of success, at College & University I was introduced to the benefits of word processing, mind mapping, spell check, font and colour manipulation to improve readability and a whole host of other resources and techniques. The tools on offer to today's learner far, far exceed anything I could have dreamed of, case in point; teachers can communicate with Students in an instant, show multiple videos on a interactive whiteboard without having to wheel in a 28 inch CRT, via mobile technology we are providing students with the ability to send/receive course content from anywhere that can connect to the Internet, be that the gym, on holiday or even in bed (now that's personalised learning)!

Enough about history, I should talk about the present, what I do and where I hope to go from here.

In my role as an e-learning professional I develop applications & solutions to support teaching and learning (based primarily on Microsoft ASP.net and related technologies), this can range from simple web forms, event management systems to project managing multimedia recording solutions and full upgrade to lecture theaters. I also Blog about ICT and Twitter with other e-learning colleagues, both inside and out of College about e-learning, what it is and how it can benefit students and teachers.

The future..

I hope to continue blogging and establishing contacts with e-learning providers across the world, one thing that hinders e-learning is standardisation. From playschool, to Junior, to high school to university we all have differing systems, schemas, teaching methods and datasources. We do not teach in English Junior school and then switch to French from College onwards, so why do we do the same when it comes to e-learning? Moodle, BlackBoard, Bespoke software, some training, no training.

E-learning is supposed to make things easier for the learner, so why do we change the game at each step? It is this that I hope to change, perhaps open source is the key, perhaps not either way I'm looking forward to finding out.

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