The journey from Chemistry to e-learning

Conole career trajectory from Grainne Conole



On Monday I am giving a talk as part of International women’s day. The focus is on my career trajectory. It is interesting now and again to stop and reflect on your career, the key trigger points and the reasons for changing direction. Like many people I have had more than one career. I started life as an Inorganic Chemistry lecturer, having completed a PhD in X-Ray Crystallography.  I stumbled across Authorware Professional, a tool for creating multimedia resources and I was hooked! Then when the web emerged I created one of the first Chemistry websites for my students. In the mid-nineties I moved into a central role and set up the Learning and Teaching Innovation and Development unit, to help teachers make better use of technologies and be more innovative in their teaching. I broke from Chemistry finally in 99 when I went to Bristol to head up the Institute of Learning and Research Technology. Whilst I was there we grew from 30 to 80 people, through funding primarily from JISC. I took up a chair in Post Compulsory Education and Training at Southampton in 2002, moved to the OU in 2006, then Leicester in 2011. And now of course I have just started at Bath Spa.


I was awarded an HEA National Teaching Fellowship in 2012, the application required me to articulate the impact I have had on students, teachers and the international community. I structured my application around 4 phases of technology development: multimedia resources, the Internet, Learning Design, and social and participatory media. A copy of my applicant with more details on this is available here. I feel very privileged to be working in this area, and being part of a fantastic international community of peers.


Digital technologies have so much to offer to enhance the learning experiences, but there are still significant challenges; new approaches to design can help, as can effective use of Open Educational Resources and Massive Open Online Courses. We cannot even begin to envisage what the educational landscape will be like in the future, all we can be sure of is that it will continue to change and evolve and technologies will continue to have a significant impact on learning and teaching.