Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Alison Killen

  • Name: Alison Killen

    Role: Curriculum Leader ICT, Coleraine Grammar School

    I am originally from Londonderry/Derry and attended Foyle and Londonderry College. After A Levels in History, English Literature and Biology I studied Modern History and Librarianship at the University of Strathclyde. On graduation I returned to Northern Ireland and studied for a M.Sc. Computer Science and Applications at Queen’s University Belfast, this was followed by a P.G.C.E. in Information Technology and History also at Queen’s. I have also an M.Ed. Educational Management from QUB. After completing my degree in teaching I worked as a teacher in East London for three years before returning to Northern Ireland.

    What does your typical day look like?

    Teaching is a mixture of a very strict schedule dictated by bells and timetables and variety as every class and pupil is unique and have different needs, personalities and interests.

    What are you currently working on?

    I am currently in the middle of the school year so the Upper Sixth and Lower Sixth are working on coursework for their Software Systems Development AS and A Level, GCSE are working on coursework for Digital Technology – Programming and Junior classes are developing their IT skills using Photoshop, scratch and an introduction to programming using Small Basic. The scope is considerable from creating SQL databases to an introduction to word processing.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    A mixture of coincidence and opportunity. Many years ago I was teaching in London but wanted to return to Northern Ireland!

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    I have a degree in Modern History and when at school there were few, if any, computers. At university I was introduced to spreadsheets as part of a statistical analysis module for historians. I took to it immediately and when finished my degree went on to study computing. I thoroughly enjoyed my degree in history and it has given me many important skills and useful knowledge and I would never discourage anyone to study a non-vocational degree.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    Working with pupils, teaching and the summer holidays. I also enjoy the challenge, variety, innovation and the pupils growing interest in and enjoyment of programming.

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry (tech)?

    I would say that if you enjoy working with computers, have an affinity for it and enjoy the logic then it has a lot to offer.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    No one person in particular. Just an interest in it and enjoyment of it.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    Has to be phones – they are ubiquitous.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    My kindle.

    About the author

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