I’ve been an educator since 1988, when I studied a PGCE at Cardiff University, and taught in FE until 1994. I then got an administration job at the University of Wolverhampton, and then a research job, and then a research post working on an elearning project in 1997. Since then I’ve worked almost entirely in e-learning, doing a few more years at Wolverhampton, then seven at Warwick, then three as a Teaching Development Fellow at Coventry University. Adding up all the projects I worked on over that period gives a total of 38. I did a few years of staff development too, the three last years at Warwick and of course the three at Coventry.
Since finishing as a TDF at Coventry in July 2011, I’ve continued there as an Honorary Visitor at the Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing but I’ve mainly been a freelancer, doing the same thing I did as an academic: evaluation, report writing, editing, education research, but doing this for a range of different organisations that need that sort of thing doing. In all I’ve had 15 different clients since becoming self-employed and I’ve continued to work as a consultant since becoming a Senior Lecturer in Teaching Enhanced Learning at the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Brookes University. I guess I’m best described as a freelance academic.
The research I do is mainly around how synchronous platforms like videoconferencing, virtual worlds and social platforms can support learning and collaboration. It’s not just learning in those places, it’s about the entire experience; how we work together, how we express ourselves, how we have presence, how we feel embodied and how performance plays out across them too. I’ve been working on how we relate to others in those environments, not just other people, but also artificial agents. I’m also extending these to include mixed and augmented reality too. I’m interested in other things too – the above overlaps quite a lot with games, for example.
It’s not just my research specialism though, I also work on a range of different aspects of education research, evaluating the learner experience – usually, but not exclusively, to do with technology-supported learning. Anything which requires getting into the data, rooting around looking for patterns, identifying models, and maybe looking for cross-overs with other fields. A couple of times people have handed me over a mass of transcripts, survey data and literature and just asked me to turn it into a report.
I’m always looking for new projects to take on, or a short bit of consultancy, or editing, or research, so if you want to get in touch just email me at mark (at) markchilds.org
Some potential clients like to see an ethical statement – I think it’s possible to just assume everyone’s ethical and just get on with it, but to keep all bases covered, I’ve tried to produce one. It’s open to revision in the light of people’s responses, so feel free to comment.
- Ensure protection of all children and vulnerable or disempowered adults in all dealings and research processes.
- Ensure anonymity, participation and fairness in all research and publishing processes, except where this contravenes above principles.
- Promote open, evidence-based and equitable education, research and communication, with the aim of encouraging this directly within the research and education sectors in particular, and indirectly in society as a whole, except where this contravenes above principles.
- Ensure equality and respect in all dealings, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, income and professional status, except where this contravenes above principles.
- To study and encourage the transformational and democratising effects of the adoption of technologies on the individual, on education and on society as a whole, except where this contravenes the above principles.
- To oppose activities that run counter to the above principles.
I’m not sure if 5 is an ethic or more an ethos. I’ve included it in the list because I think there is an ethical imperative for this sort of thing to be studied, because it is happening. Which is kind of why I do it.