Growing Digital Skills in a Digital Island
20th August 2017
My name is Lucy Witham and I am from Guernsey in The Channel Islands. I currently work for the States of Guernsey as their Education Development Officer for Learning Technology. This involves developing Guernsey’s strategy for the digitisation of the curriculum in addition to promoting digital skill development for young people and educators. I have also had the pleasure of being involved in Guernsey’s first digital hub, The Digital Greenhouse. Launched early last year, the Digital Greenhouse is designed to support effective collaboration, co-working, networking and learning to enable successful digital innovation to thrive in Guernsey. It has been through this project that I have become involved in National Coding Week.
My career pathway has by no means been a traditional ‘tech’ route. I had no opportunity within my schooling to formally study computing
My first degree was in Fine Art, which led onto a PGCE. I have taught Visual Arts for 10 years, specialising in textiles, photography and digital artwork. My main interest is in learning and skill development, which has led me to complete my MA in Education, researching digital learning technologies. I have had the opportunity to lead on digital development for education, enabling me to speak at a number of international events such as BETT UK.
My career pathway has by no means been a traditional ‘tech’ route. I had no opportunity within my schooling to formally study computing (not something deemed acceptable or of interest to girls when I was growing up!), but I was lucky enough to have a Dad whose idea of fun was to teach 8 year old me to build from scratch a doll that could talk, or design solutions with lego technic. Technology was completely normalised in my household and therefore I’ve had a constant interest, understanding and passion for leveraging its use. This drives me to provide all young people with the same opportunities in an inclusive manner.
My Current Role
Through National Coding Week, we have organised successful coding workshops, lego robot challenges and had engagement from across our communities.
In my current role, I work across all ranges of education on Guernsey, from primary through to tertiary. We have co-constructed a new curriculum, launching this September, which introduces Computing throughout all age groups and places a new focus on Digital Empowerment. Our goal is to enable all young people to access the power of technology, becoming creators not just consumers of digital tools. Through National Coding Week, we have organised successful coding workshops, lego robot challenges and had engagement from across our communities. This year we are looking to build on our success and I am pleased to announce that we will also be launching the first Women in Tech group for Guernsey.
My Tips For Getting Into Digital
Start with something you are passionate about, the rest of your career will grow itself. Employers are looking for attitude first and foremost, specific skills can be taught but passion cannot!
Develop your network, make good use of social media to connect and stay abreast of current news and activities to learn from others in the areas you are interested in. This is particularly true for our Island context. Being able to connect and reach out to others is imperative and I’m always amazed at how many of my virtual ‘friends’ I end up meeting and working with as time goes on (ps come chat @lucywitham).
Take risks and don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone and push others to do so; in the words of the inspiring Grace Hopper, “it is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” Opportunities are only as good as what you make of them, so grasp and run with that idea!
Lucy Witham – Education Development Officer for Learning Technology