Its a bit scary to think that I now have over 30 years experience in learning and teaching fields!
My first Degree in Early Childhood Education begun at what was then the Canberra CAE, was completed distance mode from the beautiful Aboriginal community of Milikapiti on Melville Island about 80km north of Darwin. Being immersed in community life and teaching on and off in the preschool and school were quite frankly a welcome relief after Canberra practicums. Being thrown into an Aboriginal school environment where English is second language but the Principal taught using Dick and Jane books, and authority, resulted in the need for much critical reflection and innovation. It was about this time I discovered Sylvia Ashton-Warner’s TEACHER; a book that would change my thinking and act as a pivot for my future career path.
Back in a small rural community on the NSW North Coast with two boys I worked to establish a small preschool in a community hall, completed a Post-grad Degree in Special Education and worked part-time as Support Teacher Learning Difficulty (as well as parent volunteer) at the local one teacher school. There was however a 10 year waiting list for full-time school positions. It was my Special Education knowledge that allowed entry into adult education and in the early 90s was employed to establish an Adult Literacy/Numeracy program at Kyogle Skillshare. These were the good old days of the Special Intervention Program with ample funding for individual programs, support to remote communities and access for ALL. Again via distance mode I completed a coursework Master of Education specialising in literacy. I was also active in the facilitation of a cross-sectoral Adult Literacy Network across the region.
With the demise of Skillshare’s looming I accepted casual work in the General Ed section of Lismore TAFE, and also enjoyed some casual practicum supervision work for the Education school at Southern Cross University.
From 1998 -2004 I was privileged to work in NSW North Coast regional roles supporting staff in the Community Colleges (formerly ACE). Predominantly this was work with the LLN teachers. With little funding but a highly motivated team we began to explore ways in which technology could enhance the learning experiences of our students and our teaching practice. We were expert funding seekers and undertook a wide range of LearnScope and Reframing the Future projects which allowed us to learn, experiment and pilot new ideas. In 2003 I was lucky enough to receive a Flexible Learning Leader scholarship and undertook undertake a year of research investigating the uses of multi-modal technologies in community based programs and new ways of re-engaging learners. My final report – Rethinking models of literacy provision for the 21st century – was awarded the 2004 WAVE Writers Award. I was also an active Executive member of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL), designed and taught post-grad VET higher education units and through necessity started my own Company and consultancy business which continues to the present.
By this time I was passionate about use of the ever-increasing technologies that were free/cheap and easy to use/master. In 2005 I was awarded the DEST Ministers Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literacy and Numeracy for my work in the field around e-learning and in 2005, when funding shifted away from Community Colleges and our regional positions ended, my career changed with a position with the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Without doubt LearnScope changed many educator’s lives offering time to stop, reflect, learn, experiment and change. My Framework roles allowed me to fund and support diverse workbased teams around the State and I treasure the years I was able to participate.
So, after a stint at UNSW based in the IT Department in a strategic educational technology role, and occasional periods in employment roles, I became a full-time consultant for some time. My work as a consultant typically includes:
- The review and design of learning, teaching and assessment material
- Workforce development program design and facilitation – online and face-to-face
- Event planning and facilitation
- Project and program management
- Consultation and support services
Throughout much of my career in education I’ve been immersed in and continually exploring new and emerging educational technologies and social media that support high quality learner centred experiences especially those that are easily accessible for non-techie staff and students. I support the development of high quality learning design and battle with how to shift practice from traditional teacher-centred models of provision, and ways of supporting teachers to explicitly replicate and enhance online the positive experiences that take place each day in a face-to-face setting. The connected things that interest me are:
- digital literacies and the role that educational providers should play
- reflective practice
- threshold concepts
- strength based learning and appreciative inquiry
- alternative HR approaches and talent pooling
In 2003 I walked away from this life to help care for a close family member with cancer, and inspired to ‘seize the day’ my partner and I took extended leave in 2004 to travel Australia (you can find our adventures over at http://www.geeksgobush.com.au).
Since returning I’ve turned to my original love – textile design, and am currently focusing on ways and means to expand that love into a small income producer.
Robyn is an experienced project manager and educator with a passion for student centred multi-modal learning design that actively engages and prepares learners for life in a technically rich and globally networked world. As an educator Robyn focuses on experiences that draw on interests and strengths, which give students voice, and which encourage reflection, critique and collaboration. In staff support and capability building roles she seeks to equip educators with skills and strategies to enrich practice and better meet the needs of ALL learners. Robyn holds NSW Adult Learners Week Innovation and WAVE Writers awards and a 2005 DEST Ministers Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literacy and Numeracy. Her 2003 Flexible Learning Leader scholarship culminated in a paper – Rethinking models of literacy provision for the 21st century – and sought to reshape the notion of ‘literacy’ and to influence program design for learners our traditional education models have failed. Robyn also has a passion for design and photography, producing textile designs for fabrics and homewares via Bunyip Designs.