Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Time for a career change?

As work on the thesis is slowly finishing, I’m increasingly starting to think about the next chapter. What am I going to do post-PhD? The answer, potentially surprising for some, is probably going to high school teaching.

Some context

After 20 years working as an academic for a local university, around August this year my position was made redundant. With not a little relief I left the institution eager to complete the thesis and see what the next chapter would bring.

As part of this process I did apply for a few jobs around university L&T support, mostly around e-learning, but a few months down the track nothing has come of them. I don’t necessarily recommend this type of process as it can do some interesting things to your self-confidence. That said, there were some folk who were very nice. But, in the end, there was always a problem with those potential jobs, they required a move away from where we live.

First shot with the new camera

While there’s something to be said for living in some of those places. The family is quite settled where we are and it’s a brilliant place to bring up the kids in a rural setting. Not to mention that the wife has a hobby that isn’t easy to translate to other settings, breeding race horses.

Mother and foal

More importantly, there are my two young sons (3 and 5). Being away from them at this time, would not be fun by any measure.

What can I do?

So the question becomes what type of career can I build while staying in the local area. I’m legally not able to work at the one university in the local area until at least late next year. Even then I’m not sure going back as a member of staff would be a good thing. Not to mention the fact that the local university is being effected as much, if not more so, by the downturn in overseas student enrolments that is currently impacting many Australian universities. So, there aren’t likely to be jobs at that institution, and even less likely folk who would want to appoint me. It is interesting and somewhat related that, as I found when applying for some jobs, I’m not really “technical enough” for some jobs and not really “educational enough” for some others.

That said, I like to teach. So high school teaching is an option. It requires me to return to study for a one year graduate diploma. Thankfully that’s easily possible. Though returning to the same local institution as a student, after 20 years as a staff member will be very, very interesting.

High school teaching doesn’t pay well, but that’s not a problem for us. It has great holidays that provide the opportunity to spend more time with the boys. It hopefully allows us to stay where we are, and it enables me to become a bit more “educational”. I also think that through this career change, I can make some sort of contribution to teaching and the local community, at least in some small way.

What will I do?

I’ve started talking to a few local high school teachers who I know in various ways to get a better feel for the life style. So far so good, but I have a few more to talk with and who knows what might happen. It’s another four or five months until any study would commence, a lot can happen in that time.

So, if you have any insights about high school teaching as a second career, or have a brilliant high-paying job to offer me, feel free to share.


Change in education, failure to learn and the commodification of university


Ideas for extending the flexibility of BIM


  1. Interestingly enough I’ve just accepted a teaching position in the School I’ve been a SysAdmin for. Somewhat different circumstances, but ultimately due to the same reason: Universities seem to be imploding quite spectacularly.

    I would have thought you might have been able to make a go of it in the open education sector?

    • So what wil you be teaching Tony? IT? For me it will be IT/Maths, but I’m thinking of trying to emphasise the Maths, trying to extend the change a little further.

      re: the open education thing. I’m hoping to keep doing a bit on BIM on the side, but for at least the next few years, I’m looking at spending more time with the kids and on the property. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out and the time and space to relax has been great.

    • Yep, mainly IT, and a little maths on the side. I find the maths very restrictive in that you are more or less forced to teach straight from the textbook to keep in line with other teachers in the school, and to cover the amount of work required. You’d get maybe 2 lessons a term to try teaching the concept again in another way. I’ll have more or less full say over the curriculum in IT though, so time for major experimentation ;).

      I’ve been keeping an eye on BIM and will most likely give it a go on a couple of subjects. I’ll be revitalising the Moodle site at school once I start, but I’m particulary looking forward to Moodle 2.0 in November as it has explicit links to creating a community of moodle sites for collaboration beyond the borders of the school (plus other developments that are aligning to what I want to do).

      I can understand the need for a change, it just seemed to me that you’d be the perfect person to carve out a space in the brave new world of open education. If you couldn’t make it work, then there’s little hope for the rest of us .. That said, I am also looking forward to synchronized holidays with my 5&2y.o.

      Next year should be very interesting if you are planning on doing the GDLT. That’s going to make some fascinating reading…

  2. Another reason to get BIM converted to Moodle 2.0. Thesis first, then that task.

    As for doing the GDL&T, I’ve already started a private blog for some reflection on the whole process (pre-cursor to some research), but will be expected to do some online reflection. Will probably have to watch some of the comments. 🙂

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