25th June 2020
We caught up with Newcastle College's Curriculum Leader for HNC/D Computing, Paul Tanner to talk about his experiences before joining the team, and his advice for anyone looking to study higher education at NSCG.
Q. How did you get into teaching?
A. After completing my degree in Computer Science at Staffordshire University (via a HND at Sheffield Hallam University), I worked in the computer networking industry for several years. Towards the end of this time part of my role was developing and delivering training for my colleagues on some of the products we worked with. From this I realised how much I enjoyed the education part of the role, and later took the step of taking voluntary redundancy to move into teaching.
Q. What did you do for a job before teaching here?
A. During University my work placement introduced me to the area of computer networking. I was very fortunate to make a contact during that time which then developed into a job offer after completing my degree. This was with a company called Workplace Technologies which was later taken over by ntl: (which is now known as Virgin Media). I worked first on the helpdesk side and as a graduate trainee – the first in the company – and then moved into the networking engineering side.
This involved working on projects – sometimes very large network implementations for well known organisations – and support work (including out of hours and many miles of traveling to site). During this time I also successfully completed several professional technical qualifications including Cisco Networks CCNP.
Q. What do you love most about teaching here at NSCG?
A. The contact with the students, helping to guide them at a crucial aspect of their new careers, the support side, seeing them progress. There is also great rapport with staff which makes the job even more enjoyable.
Q. If you weren’t doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A. Probably now seeking to develop my photography as a business! It’s been a hobby since I left University. I think I’d still be in education in some way also though. I am also now volunteer through Rotary International which is very rewarding,
Q. How do you stay abreast of the latest trends in technology?
A. Social media is a great help in the computing area, alongside making contacts, building on our experience attending conferences and seminars. Online materials and training are increasingly valuable also. The general use of IT is becoming far more important, especially in lockdown and having the IT knowledge is helping us to start making use of tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Q. Do you have any advice for anyone returning to education, in particular adult learners?
A. Seek help from the start, colleges are here to help you from day one in the process which is considering starting to return to learning. We do understand it’s a massive step to take but we have experience helping people returning to learning, and we all want to share it! This is my advice for all students, either those progressing from Level 3 or those wanting to study to improve their career prospects.
It’s worth having a plan for where you want to take your career, and starting to consider aspects such as whether your internet access is sufficient, do you need a better laptop, space to work at home and so on.
Q. Outside of work, you have a passion for photography. How did you get into this?
A. I’ve always had a camera! My Uncle gave me some basic lessons and other than a couple of workshops I’m pretty much self taught. I took it up seriously after University when I realised I needed to get out and away from the computer (that didn’t last long with digital cameras). I’ve been lucky to sell some images over the years and held an exhibition a couple of years ago. It’s still one of my main ways to escape and have that time away we all need.
Do you see yourself working in computing? Visit our HNC/D Computing course page for more information and apply today!
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