Interview with a University Professor


In this Blog, I will be sitting down with a Professor from Sussex University who has been teaching for 20 years and has valuable experience and knowledge on digital teaching. 

This interview covers the recent effects technology has had on education and how David has personally experienced this. I will ask a various number of questions, continuing my hunt to find the various effects of digital technology on Education.

Interviewer – “Hello David, my first question is, where do you see our education system in 15 years?”

David – “Interesting question Luc. Well some would say that teaching institutions and facilities will no longer exist due to the ever-growing existence of the online world and all its vast capabilities, but I would have to disagree! Due to the structure of our society and the profit which many institutions make it would be very unlikely for this to change. Also, many modules are taught practically and there are subjects which just can’t possibly be taught online, therefore I believe there will always be a demand for teachers and educational institutions. Regarding the questions of where the system will be in 15 years, I believe Online teaching, skype sessions and Q&As will be predominant.”


Interviewer -“Adding to your previous answer, I am intrigued to know more about how much of an impact do you think Technology will have on educational facilities?” 

David – “Well in the past, the need for students to study in a particular location and  be present all of the time in classes has meant that private institutions have always been able to govern and control the pricing of education, as they owned the space! The teaching space was critical for the delivery of lessons as it allows the students to learn in a controlled environment. Due to the rise of the internet and the existence of E-learning there is room for a decrease in personal teaching sessions”


Interviewer – “How have higher Education institutions attempted to progress their methods of teaching?” 

David – “Certain institutions have tried to employ a different model based on distance learning and, originally, materials become available by post and commercial TV.” 


Interviewer – “Has internet challenged this?” 

David – “Well the new more collaborative web 2.0 environment encouraged a large number of educational start-ups to try and exploit these new technological tools.”


Interviewer – “What interests you the most about your job”?

David -“My interest was always in two main areas- changing the educational space and consequently breaking the monopoly of existing educational providers and, secondly, making educational activities more collaborative rather than individual and standardised.”


Interviewer – “What have you done personally to change your educational space and create a more collaborative system?”

David – “In 2010, I started an online project in Spain using Skype to teach languages. Rather than be restricted by our location and our lessons only being available to students who lived close enough to travel to the centre, we immediately  opened up  our product to a global audience.  I continued this in the UK, basing my MA studies on the importance of digital technologies to teaching, and I have delivered  a number of  conference presentations on this topic.  In 2013, I started HLC, which delivers online language courses to people all over the world and works with businesses to deliver Project based learning courses where people collaborate with each other online to solve problems and build projects.”


Interviewer – “What are you focused on at the moment which interlinks digital technologies into your teaching?” 

David – “I am currently working with around 18 English universities to improve student experience and reduce dropouts by providing students with an online pre-arrival course to smooth the transition into university life. At the same time, I am training some school teachers in Kazakhstan using video and online webinars.”  


Interviewer – “So overall, can you see educational structures and formats changing due to technology?”

David -“The potential for using digital technology in education is immense but also very disruptive to present educational models.  This is why  there is some resistance amongst existing educational establishments to these new digital technologies.  However, these institutions will have to progress as we have entered a new Digital world.”


Interviewer – “Thank you so much for all your help and insights David!”

This Interview was extremely useful in furthering my understanding on the subject of Digital technology on education. David, a 52-year-old University professor from Sussex University has made the most out of the online world and has intertwined its features into his Job as a teacher.  

David has expressed the capabilities and potential of the internet, relating it to how it has impacted his career personally. I am also intrigued by the threat faced by private institutions that believe technology could potentially exploit outdated teaching values and methods. Not all teachers are as forward thinking and progressive as David and many view technology as a threat to their careers. 

Relating to this and referring back to my Blog post on Sugata Militra, he raised the question on whether teachers thought they could be replaced by machines and the large majority of these teachers expressed how this idea was ridiculous. Sugata Militra then backed up his idea with an impressive quote which stated, “A teacher who can be replaced by a machine should be”. This quote expresses the position teachers are in and also displays that the quality of teaching will be forced to improve due to the new formed existence of Digital technology. Whether teachers are on board or not, they will be pushed aside and replaced by more effective mechanisms. Teachers like David who are one step ahead and have already jumped on board will remain. The internet has become an unstoppable force for our generation and we are either being forced to join right in or step right aside.

Picture of me and David during our Interview

Written by Luc Coulson

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