Student Story: Ruth Huxford
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Can you give us a quick introduction to yourself?
I for the past 12 years have spent a dozen years of dedication to teaching Spanish and French. I was a secondary modern foreign Language teacher, I was also working in a middle leadership role, so I was second in the department and driving a lot of innovation already in terms of technology, course design and that kind of thing.
What was the motivation to study the course with the Digital Learning Institute?
I had spent 12 years being really dedicated to what I was doing, it’s a fantastic profession and I really loved the time I spent as a teacher. What I really loved most about being a teacher was the course design element, I really enjoyed designing learning experiences and what I needed was a solution to solve the problem of being able to design excellent learning experiences.
Having a teaching only cv that didn’t demonstrate fully my capabilities, only having experience designing MFL lessons for teenagers and also a feeling of readiness of what else I could do in the professional world. The professional diploma at the Digital Learning Institute was the solution to that problem. The diploma was something I knew that would unlock doors for me in the digital learning industry.
I knew the main project within the diploma was something you could showcase and build a portfolio website and I knew to get into the digital learning profession I would need to have a portfolio website. I had no idea about creating something that would go on it, so the diploma guided me through that process and showed me how to make an excellent portfolio. My motivation was more about changing focus from teaching students to designing courses that would increase engagement.
How was your learning experience with the Digital Learning Institute?
Well, it was really challenging and really worth it. There is a lot of content and commitment is required when you are working through the diploma. You need to want it, and I wanted it.
I would also say it was fast paced, not so much so that it was unmanageable, but it kept your interest and it was thoughtfully designed as well. I would say it was a varied learning experience too, but it did follow a clear structure.
The teacher in me wanted things like exact date deadlines and model processes, meta cognition, and revision lists all of that kind of thing but ultimately, I got what I really really wanted from the course which was projects to be able to highlight what I could do to potential employers.
What was the most satisfying challenge you overcame on the course?
I think the biggest challenge for me was time management. If you speak to any teacher, they will say how busy they are, and it is true. Being able to manage an almost full-time teaching career and a professional diploma alongside daily life that was the biggest challenge.
However, I think keeping to deadlines, setting, and celebrating small goals was probably how I managed to get through those challenges.
How has the diploma impacted your professional life?
Honestly, it has had a monumental impact, and that is no exaggeration at all. The job that I now have is thanks to having worked through the professional diploma is genuinely my dream job. It is unreal, I am using so many skills from my previous job but looking through a completely different lens now.
I can honestly say I am feeling no imposter syndrome, which is amazing. I know learning, I have been delivering, assessing, giving feedback, and designing learning for 12 years and I’m now really fortunate to be in an incredible professional position where I am designing learning experiences for a student cohort of 7.5 thousand across the globe. I am working with a team that are driving innovation in terms of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and we are at the forefront of all the exciting things happening in the world of education.
So had I not worked through the diploma at the Digital Learning Institute, I don’t think I would have landed my dream job. This is such an exciting time in education now as a learning designer and innovator the sky really is the limit.
Would you be happy to recommend the digital learning institute to help them advance in their careers?
Absolutely I would, and I am sure that shone through in my previous answers. It is really important to do it at a time where you can fit it in because it definitely is a challenge. Particularly on top of work/ family and other commitments.
When you know that you really want it, and you know that it is the right time. Then absolutely go for it, if you have the capacity to give it your all then it improves your outcomes. If you cannot give the passion to the diploma, then at the end you will not be able to build a portfolio that will really display your capabilities.
Has it changed your life personally moving to this new job?
It has impacted my personal life, it does come down to work life balance and teachers do such an incredible job. 9-5 for teachers is not how it works, its 9-5 and then some. To have done that for over a decade and then move to a 9-5 it simply is bound to change your life.
I was recently only speaking to my colleague and saying how strange it is in the evening as I feel like I should be doing some marking and that is not my role now.
What I will say about the course is a got a huge amount of 1:1 feedback and support throughout. Whether it was an admin question, a process question or how to do something on articulate or anything I would always reach out and I would get quick replies and sometimes video responses in those moments of need.
At the beginning we were divided into our groups to complete a project so we formed a mini community in those groups where we could develop relationships and reach out to each other for help and guidance.
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