Tracy Harwood


I’ve been hassling IT-journalists about getting involved with Ada Lovelace Day and now I’m sitting here on the day – completely rushed on my own contribution! Just goes to show – hassling people is a tricky thing to pull off respectfully

So, in the spirit of Ada Lovelace Day, I would like to focus on Tracy Harwood.

We were so lucky this fall to have her visit Landmark in our humble city of Bergen, Norway for a lecture on Machinima. It was a pleasure to have her here and she inspired me (and dare I say, my mom) to keep living my life as colourful as possible.

Tracy Harwood is today a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University. She’s a professional marketer and has a PhD in negotion of buyer-seller relationships.

E-learning
In 2000 Tracy was made a lecturer of a large module, 1800 students and a teaching team of over 24 staff, delivered in 10 locations including India. Tracy, herself, says:

“A key issue I faced was ensuring students had a standard and good quality experience, and that my teaching team was adequately supported in their delivery of the module. This was not easy given the complexities of delivery and assessment, and attitude to e-learning generally at that time was pretty poor – fear of the unknown. On the ground, delivery worked out to be about 15 lecture groups and 30+ tutorial groups; staff were a mix of experienced and new teachers. Anyway, using elearning was a way to ensure all students and staff had access to a common set of resources and that I could monitor groups of students and their attendance, participation and performance in assessments with a view to improving delivery and student pass rates. After introducing it, I decided to use computer-aided assessment too. The module became an exemplar for elearning across the institution and the work I did was picked up for its student engagement and also staff development. I was fortunate to work with some fantastic colleagues who were at the forefront of elearning, including book publishers, and together we were able to implement a robust and high quality elearning experience. Colleagues and I undertook various dissemination activities which helped to spread the word about the possibilities of elearning which eventually led to the development of a university-wide policy on elearning support for students. Of course, things have changed now because there are so many different approaches to elearning, using things like virtual worlds, CAA, etc but at the time getting through to technophobic staff was probably the biggest barrier we faced -students seemed to take to it from the very start. I think now people realise that using technology is fundamental to the delivery of higher education, which seems an incredibly dated thing to say but its only 10 years ago that I can recall having to change the light bulb on the projector!”

 

Tracy Harwood was awarded a £50,000 National Teaching Fellowship in 2004 by the Higher Eductaion Academy for her work on e-learning and has now gone on to working with creative technologies. I think it’s a natural transition! Tracy’s curiosity and willingness to look to new technologies and her bravery for being technologically innovate awards her a mention on Ada Lovelace Day!

And of course – the fact that she organised the first ever European Machinima Festival makes her a heroine in my book!

I’ll be updating this as soon as I learn more. Unfortunately this became rather rushed – but the content will be worthy soon!


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