I have recently returned to education (very late in my career) and am studying toward a degree in Web Systems Development at Edge Hill University, UK. One of my modules, Web design and Development, requires that I produce and keep a reflective blog relating to the weekly topics and reading. Now it is fair to say that I am several (3) blog entries behind schedule. However, I have decided that the best defence is offence, so rather than playing catchup, I will start from my most recent session and move forward, catching up with the errant posts as and when time allows.
Whilst not necessary, I decided to make my first blog entry an introduction to me, why am I here? – I think a little context can go a long way.
A child of the sixties born and living in the UK, I grew up on a diet of science fiction movies, TV series and comic books. Not only fiction, I love science fact, I can vividly remember a TV series called Cosmos, a wonderful programme presented by Carl Sagan. I think it’s fair to say that my love of these things hasn’t diminished over the years.
I discovered computers first hand in 1984, when I visited a friend who had recently purchased a Sinclair Spectrum ZX. I can remember sitting mesmerised as the loading screen flashed coloured bands to the tune of the cassette player buzzing and beeping its techno cacophony whilst Manic Miner loaded (over about five minutes), being awestruck as my friend demonstrated the game. As I remember, I didn’t actually get much of a go instead I spending the best part of two hours enviously watching as my friend tried to get through the Abandoned Uranium Workings (two hours that I did not begrudge). Never the less, I was smitten, and soon after, as I couldn’t afford a Spectrum, was the very proud owner of a Commodore VIC-20. It was with on this machine that I started learning about computers and in particular programming. Using a mixture of Commodore BASIC and dabbling in Assembly language, I started to write my own programs and found myself more and more addicted. Over the years during the 80’s, my interest in computers continued to develop along with my skills. During that time I owned a variety of home computers and a PC. In 1989 I was accepted onto a C Programming course. Toward the end of which, I was invited to work for the company as a teaching assistant (for which I am still grateful to this day) – from here, my career path took an unexpected turn.
After accepting the offer to work as a computer lab assistant, I (very) quickly found myself delivering lectures in the training room – a great irony for someone who did not enjoy his time spent in school. However, I enjoyed it and people seemed to like my classes. Teaching then, in one form or another became an occupation, a means of paying the bills and putting food on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved helping people get more from their use of computers, but finding myself trying to teach people who were often less than interested in the subject, can be less than stimulating, I suppose in the same way as doing the same thing day in day out. Over the years I again found myself watching others doing the work – actually using the computers to produce something – whilst I tried to help them use the tools they needed. I should add, that at this stage, I wasn’t supporting people who were developing applications or websites, I was teaching people how to use applications such as Microsoft Office.
The end The New Beginning
This brings me to today, I recently found myself looking for work and was faced with the choice of keep doing what you have been doing all these years, or try to break the mould, do something different. Well, maybe not too different, it’s not like I’ve suddenly decided to be a Marine Biologist (which sounds awesome by the way). I have decided to try to get back to my roots and develop some real skills and qualifications in computing, something where I’m the one learning and doing, in the hope of moving forward in a direction which in many ways feels like coming home.