#TakeFiveWith Esam Baboukhan
Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?
My name is Esam Baboukhan – and my hobby is to enjoy my family and life because I enjoy and appreciate what I have.
I am currently an E-Learning Manager at City of Westminster College and was previously an Advanced Practitioner. My previous responsibilities were to improve teaching and learning across City of Westminster College, I have been working there for about 16 years and I started as an IT lecturer. Now I’m currently responsible for supporting, coaching, mentoring and teaching staff on how to integrate technology to improve teaching and learning.
We have also started 2 schemes, one called ‘Digital Leaders’ where I support groups of teachers in their use of technology so we can disseminate skills and knowledge using a bottom up approach. We also created another group called ‘Digital Ambassadors’ and they consist of students, and I support them in the same way. Their remit is to support fellow students and teachers in how they can use technology to improve teaching and learning.
The schemes mainly teach students and staff, but I also provide support to employees on the support teams, such as admins, library staff and whoever requires assistance.
What is a typical day like for you?
I teach 12 hours and tutor. From Monday to Wednesday, that time is designated to teaching and supporting my tutees. Thursdays and Fridays comes my E-learning role and I support teachers in helping them in gaining confidence to explore ways in integrating technology to enhance the learning experience and to reduce their workload, to make them more efficient and productive.
Could you tell us how you got into your role?
I was an IT lecturer at the college and because I was so enthusiastic about the use of technology, I was the designated E-learning champion as soon as I started, because I have always had a fascination with the use of technology.
I’ve always been an early adopter of technology and this fascination probably started in the 80s when my dad gave me a Spectrum 48 ZX. In 1994 I got connected to the Internet and was communicating with people all over the world and having discussions and exchanging files – and I was just fascinated by the power of technology in breaking down barriers between people, so that probably ignited my fascination and passion for technology.
I was also really fortunate enough to get an apprenticeship with The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) – they trained me up, but was most interesting was that we would support members of the community that were disadvantaged and disenfranchised and we would support them and train them in how to use digital technologies so they could tell their stories. And their stories were then shown at festivals at the ICA.
One of the projects included supporting groups of elderly people that came to this country from the Caribbean in the 1950s, we supported them in using bespoke software and a digital type platform where they could insert their pictures and tell their story of how they migrated to this country and their experiences, this was showcased at the festivals at the ICA.
What motivates you to do a good job?
It’s the impact it has on people’s lives. I’ve literally seen the transformative power of technology to improve people’s lives in real time. And it’s not obviously the answer for everything, but people and staff should appreciate that it can help them and their students, especially when it comes to issues of accessibility and augmenting teaching, learning and assessment.
How do you learn at work?
I learn at any time, anywhere and on any device. I’m very passionate about learning and I love learning – and I get a buzz when I learn something useful, especially when it makes my life more productive and efficient. And I don’t just learn at work, I learn everywhere – whether that’s waiting for a bus, on the train and sometimes walking.
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
We’ve got really big goals and aims. We want to be a beacon college where people can reach their full potential. We want to ensure that every staff member is aware and appreciates the importance of accessibility and creating an inclusive environment. We’ve seen the impact of technology and how it could facilitate this, so how do we go about that? It’s going to be a journey we carry on and never stop.
It’s going to be a continuous effort and to do that, we’re going to invite industry and subject experts. From Microsoft and everywhere else, but because we are an Office 365 institute and we have also been made a Microsoft Showcase college – we really appreciate what Microsoft are doing in this area of accessibility – whether that’s immersive readers, learning tools, and a whole host of other things.
Basically, we want to make staff aware these tools are available not just for the students, but for themselves because we’ve got students who are dyslexic, but we also have staff that are dyslexic. We want to invite subject experts from Microsoft and elsewhere, to speak to staff and teachers on all the accessibility and inclusive tools available. But we also want to carry out regular training and encourage people to undertake independent CPDs on the Microsoft platform in the Microsoft Education community. We encourage staff to carry out these courses that cover these inclusive tools independently, educate people to use these tools and follow it up by integrating these tools into their lessons.
Because of the Digital Leaders scheme – the idea is now that we get someone in the Learning Support area to be a designated digital leader with specialisms with inclusivity and accessibility. We want to create an inclusive culture at our college so that when people create a document, we expect people to carry out an accessibility check and think about all the different types of learners in their class, all the people with invisible disabilities. We want this to be second nature to staff when they are creating resources for their students, instead of being an afterthought.
Interested in Esam’s work?
If you are an industry expert and would like to get in touch with Esam – please send him a message on Twitter at @soslearning
You can also learn more about the City of Westminster college at: https://www.cwc.ac.uk/
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