Kevin Whittaker’s academic interests lie chiefly within the delivery and development of teaching and learning.
As our curriculum leader for five New Media courses – Animation, Digital Media Journalism, Games Design, Web Design and Interactive Media – Kevin co-ordinates the lecturers and the learning experiences of each. He also teaches and researches new ways of teaching.
He has delivered his theories on e-learning to an international conference audience in the USA, as well as presenting workshops on contemporary learning technology in the UK.
In 2010, Kevin delivered an innovative paper to the Designs On e-Learning International Conference at the University For Creative Careers in Savannah, Georgia, USA. In it, he questioned whether Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) simply replicate teaching mistakes of the past, suggesting Learning Activity Management Systems (LAMs) as a potential, highly visual alternative.
In 2011, he updated and developed his theories further and presented them before an HE research conference at Hull’s KC Stadium.
“We’re continually asking, ‘are we doing it right or are we doing it wrong?’,” says Kevin. “You can’t teach in the same way now as you used to 20 years ago. I do a lot of work with students along those lines and I correlate and share this information with all members of staff.”
Advancing technology, he says, allows educators to provide online learning environments. But, in order to educate students effectively, these environments must also adapt their content.
Kevin explains: “True online learning comes from blended learning environments.”
A particular area of interest is what Kevin describes as “user experience design”. In other words, how people actually use interactive products.
“I do a lot of work on the technical aspects of mobile phone applications and tablets, as well as websites,” he says. “I work on ‘cultures’, looking at the differences between, for example, games design and web design. We’re trying to get our students ready for their respective workplaces, so we try to recreate each professional culture in the studio.”
Kevin’s own journey into the world of academia is an inspirational one. He left school at the age of 15 to do an engineering apprenticeship. Engineering qualifications at Hull College led him into a 20-year career in the British Merchant Navy, firstly as an engineering officer, then as chief engineer. When family life meant he wanted to spend more time at home, he began teaching and, it’s fair to say, found his calling as an educator and academic.
He began teaching Auto CAD systems to architecture students, completed a degree in electronics and communication systems at the University Of Lincoln as a mature student and, in his own words “never left university”.
In 2001, Lincoln asked him to lecture in architecture and work as a learning advisor. By the time Lincoln had merged with Hull College he was lecturing on New Media courses. And in 2012, he took on his current role of New Media programme leader and ran with it, creating e-learning tools to benefit students across all five of its subject areas.
“You never know what road you’re going to travel on when you get involved in education,” says Kevin. “In many ways, that’s what it’s all about.”