It’s Been a While

By 31/08/2019 September 26th, 2019 Education, Professional Development, Research
alarm clock to indicate the passing of time

Hello there! It's been a while!

So I checked, the last post I published was “What are Digital Skills” on 4th April 2019. It’s now Saturday 31st August, which is a delay in about 4 months.


So what’s been happening?

Well, quite a lot as it turns out.

In the last four months, we have…

  • Moved church;
  • Completed the relicensing of the Foundation Degree in Computing with Ulster University for NRC;
  • Finished all my marking – exams, coursework;
  • Finished the academic year;
  • Enjoyed a much-needed holiday in France;
  • Adjusted to an undiagnosed medical condition;
  • Decided on a PhD topic and started my PhD study;
  • Returned to work;
  • Completed the marking of resubmitted coursework and exams;
  • Delivered the good news to students that they had completed their course;
  • Enrolled a new batch of students for the forthcoming year;

Not bad for a six week holiday and three weeks back to work! But there’s a few juicy bullet points in there that might need a bit more explanation…

1. My undiagnosed medical condition is diabetes (type 2)…it’s not exactly life threatening, but it certainly is life changing. And I can truthfully say it has explained a lot – like the near-three-stone weight loss that I couldn’t explain, as I wasn’t trying to lose weight. The Saturday afternoon dips in mood and energy. Turns out I’m not completely a grumpy old man…there was a medical explanation!

2. I have started my PhD study. Yeah, this is a big one which I am quite happy to have finally got sorted. I have wanted to do this for quite a while, but could never settle on a topic. With my job, I had looked at topics like Cyber Security, Internet of Things etc. but my background is education based and so none of these sat well with my skillset. The topic I have decided on came during my holiday in France – isn’t it awesome the way these ideas come when we have the time and calm to have creative moments of genius!?

Being truthful, while a PhD might turn most of, I’ve had an interest in continual education since leaving university. I have always seen the importance of it, although a lot of that might have to do with competing in a saturated education job market 2005-2011 (not looking at the government here at all).

The topic focuses on how we measure certain behaviours, characteristics and life events with children who have been diagnosed as having ASD. I plan to develop an app which will enable a quicker and easier method of recording, but then look at how we can share this information to enable parents to become more empowered and effective in their decision making around what treatments and interventions they use with their children.

I imagine (unsurprisingly) that my PhD study will become a major focus around what I do in the next four to six years. There will be the occasional foray into other topics to keep my interests in other topics current, but expect iOS development, web app development and ASD topics from here on out!


I will have two other targets for my general CPD. The first is to complete my CMALT training. I worked at that for a bit last year, and I have one aspect to finish off, then all being well, I will be a certified member of the Association of Learning Technology. The second will be to complete Higher Education Academy Fellowship training, as this has been agreed with Ulster University as part of our training on the Foundation Degree in Computing.

I am also interested in putting out some video blogs during my PhD study – I don’t know if this will mean more background work than what I do for the blog posts, but it might be a bit more interesting…who knows!?

Thanks for tuning in again!

Michael Johnston

About Michael Johnston

I'm a Lecturer in Computing and the Foundation Degree Director in Computing for the Northern Regional College in Northern Ireland. My research interests in the areas of technology enhanced learning, how we interact with technology, blended learning and professional development. Michael currently specialises in the computing areas of web development technologies, cyber security, software development and IoT. Michael has worked in a range of different roles in IT-from teaching roles to running his own web design company, Michael is equally at home working with theory, as he is conducting research, or building a bespoke IT solution. Michael is currently studying a PhD in Cyberpsychology.

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