Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Beverley McCormick

  • Name: Beverley McCormick

    Role: Regional Mathematics Educator for EMEA at 3P Learning Ltd.

    Biography:

    Beverley is a teacher who graduated with a Bachelor of Education (with Honours) from Stranmillis University College in 2003. During her teaching career of 16 years, she developed a keen interest in progressing STEM learning and computer science skills with her students. She founded the first Code Club in her school, was recognised as a STEM Ambassador and became both a Raspberry Pi Educator and Community Trainer offering her students opportunities to engage in creative learning opportunities, harnessing the power of STEM and computing.

    In 2018 she was presented with the GTCNI STEM Teacher of the Year Award shortly after her Primary 6 class won both the Junior Innovators - Communications Award at SciFest and the Best Overall Primary School Award at The Big Bang Fair, both organised by SENTINUS. In the same year she received recognition from the BCS as a highly commended candidate for IT Teacher of the Year Award. Not bad for a primary school teacher competing against A-Level educators!

    Subsequently, on recommendation by CAS(NI), Beverley completed the BCS Certificate in Computer Science Teaching, a course that she highly recommends to anyone with interests in the pedagogy of teaching computer science.

    After 16 years of teaching in the primary classroom, she decided to make a transition into the EdTech industry. She now works remotely for the global education technology company 3P Learning Ltd. Her role is to work with educators around the world to ensure that 3P products are pedagogically sound, at the forefront of the EdTech market and meet the needs of teachers everywhere.

    Beverley’s love of infusing tech into learning and developing both creative and inspiring learning opportunities for her students means that she is on a continual learning journey. She is frequently presented with opportunities to share her knowledge and passion for education with others and in doing so, hopes to have an impact on the next generation of teachers and students.

    She is currently completing her Masters in Education with specialisms in leadership and the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

     

    What does your typical day look like?

    Most mornings, I get up just before 7am. I have two children, so I spend some time getting them organised for the day and dropped off to school. Depending on my schedule, I will either find a cafe to work from or travel back home and grab my first coffee. I then log onto my computer and check my emails to catch up on what has been happening in the various regions.

    Working from home means that I have an amazing work-life balance and each day is a little different, which helps with the early morning and late evening calls that are part of working with a global company. Much of my time is spent becoming familiar with global curricula, researching effective learning practices and creating content for the product. The flexibility of my job means that I get to collect my kids from school, help them with homework and prepare dinner for my family. In the evening, once the kids are away to bed, I usually set aside some time to check in on any work outstanding from earlier in the day and also to prepare for any evening calls that I have scheduled on that day. As I’m working on a Masters, I usually have some webinars, readings or assignments to keep on top of, but there’s always some time left over for a bit of Netflix with hubby!

    What are you currently working on?

    Even though I’m new to the role, I’ve been working on an intense project aligning Mathletics (our flagship product) to Australia’s New South Wales maths curriculum in a way that is new and innovative. Without divulging too much, we are working on developing a new Mathletics product that leverages the latest cutting-edge technology and research around adaptive learning. I can’t say too much but watch this space. It’s a really exciting project!

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    As an educator, learning is part of my DNA and creating exciting learning opportunities was part of what I enjoyed doing in the classroom. In any role, the first thing that I need is the opportunity to be engaged in activities that enable me to learn new skills and to apply my expertise in creative ways. I also thrive on knowing that what I do will have a positive impact on others. 3P Learning offered me the opportunity to do exactly that and to become part of a global team of like-minded people.

    I was already familiar with 3P Learning as Mathletics was a staple of my classroom and their ‘Love Learning’ ethos resonated with me. My students loved using the product, and I could see the positive impact that it made in their education. I also love that 3P Learning is partnered with UNICEF and make a difference to underprivileged children on a global scale.

    Did you always want to work in the tech industry?

    When I was in school, I didn’t know much about Tech and so it was never a career that I considered. It really was a lack of careers education about the industry. I was always interested in problem solving and thinking creatively, leaning towards the arts. In choosing my own career path, I became a teacher so that I could improve the educational outcomes of students and have a positive impact in the lives of others. It helps that I’m somewhat addicted to learning!

    Initially, I believed that I could best achieve this by being at the front of the classroom,  but being a teacher is much more than what happens in the classroom. There are endless hours of planning and preparation in the design of personalised learning pathways for your students, not to mention the effort and attention that goes into school improvement, which is often unseen by those outside the school.

    I found satisfaction in creating learning experiences that engaged my students, helping them to enjoy learning and being proud of their accomplishments. I also worked hard to support my colleagues and encourage them to engage in professional learning. I was always proactive in keeping my own learning up to date through attending courses either in person or online. Anyone who knows me can verify that I was always working on something!

    Eventually I realised that I could do more to help educators help themselves with EdTech. Combining my knowledge as an educator with my computer expertise makes this role a perfect fit. 

    Interestingly, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with technology. As a teacher, I taught a range of age groups and experienced the good, bad and ugly of technology in the classroom. There were the lessons that went well and those that almost imploded when the technology failed. It was through experience and my own learning that I was able to harness the best of EdTech as a tool to support my teaching. Enabling my students to become proficient in the use of technology and computing was important for me, especially the girls who traditionally shied away from technology.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    Education is still my passion. This role allows me to make a difference in the lives of teachers and students around the world through developing new and innovative approaches to education and technology. I work with amazing people who are experts in their field. Being part of the ‘3P pod’ is a vibrant and exciting place. I get to work in a product team that combines global educational specialists, product designers, UX/UI specialists, business analysts, product management, marketing and sales and writers, something I would never have been able to do in the classroom.  It’s rewarding to know that whenever I learn something, I can share it with teachers around the world, and make their jobs a little bit easier.

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

    If you are passionate about something go for it. Teachers are usually highly critical of themselves and their adaptability beyond the classroom, so I wasn’t sure if I could make the transition into a different career. Chatting to likeminded people who had also taken a different path in their careers really helped to confirm for me that it was possible to take a different route. It’s important to network with people in the area of technology that interests you. Find out about the benefits and challenging parts of the role and be sure to look for a company that will help to develop your skills and expand your knowledge.

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives? 

    Students today are immersed more and more in technology.  The ability of education to harness the power of tech and gamification in learning has been proven to facilitate information retention and improve educational outcomes.  Students who are engaged in their learning are more inclined to develop an innate desire to learn and their learning journey will be completely changed. We now have the technology to differentiate for individuals in real-time.  For teachers, the traditional one-size-fits-all approach is no longer acceptable, and teachers must be able to personalise the learning journey to suit the student. EdTech equips teachers with the tools to intervene in student learning and facilitate learning rather than imparting knowledge.  It also frees up teacher time to actively engage with students as they learn. Perhaps, and most importantly, EdTech can make learning fun! Research has proven that when learning is fun, educational outcomes are improved.
     
    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    Everyone already in it! There are so many talented and encouraging people in this field.

    As a teacher, I was an advocate of making the link between industry and learning. When you are a classroom teacher, you can become engrossed in marking books and planning that you can lose connection with the ever-changing world outside the classroom. It’s only when you take that brave step to do something different that you can challenge your own abilities and inspire others to do the same. To help overcome this, I networked with professionals in industry to develop my learning resources and knowledge. I also made sure to make connections with females in tech-based professions and to present tech to my students as a career path.

    I also enlisted the help of STEM based organisations to help bring learning to life in the classroom in areas that I was not specialised in or had the resources to teach. SENTINUS were a great asset to me in my journey as it was through them that my students initially got to experience coding and robotics on a mass scale. It was also through their advocacy for STEM in the classroom and competitions that my students were able to showcase their learning at SciFest and Big Bang. Other organisations such as Code Club and Raspberry Pi Foundation gave me the confidence and resources to dive into computing with my students.

    So, because I was already guiding my students to opportunities exploring tech through coding, attending STEM events and finding like-minded people in the industry. It didn’t take long to realise that it was right for me.

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

    I think that digital media has been a real game-changer for everyone in recent years. The move from traditionally consuming media through CDs and DVDs, or installing a program onto your computer, to being able to stream music, TV programs and movies has benefited society in many ways. Even the way we use our smart mobile devices to store data on cloud-based services, connect with social media and create versatile working conditions means that up to date information is accessible from almost any location at any time without consumers having to worry about physical data storage. It has also opened up the market for subscription-based services which ensure that businesses can connect with their customers faster and provide updates for services more rapidly. 
     
    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    It’s a close call between my coffee machine and my phone! I love being able to connect with friends wherever I am, but I also love my coffee!

    Final thoughts…

    It’s amazing how one small brave step can create a domino effect. Becoming interested in educational technology not only helped to create exciting learning opportunities for my students but created opportunities for me to lecture university students, write content for the English NCCE (National Curriculum for Computing Education), offer educational input to a number of businesses and ultimately helped prepare me for a career with 3P Learning.

     

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