Nicole Ponsford, a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert, has etched a uniquely tech-centric career path for herself. Not only has she spent more than a decade working in schools as an award-winning AST, school leader and examiner, but she’s also the creative director and co-founder of global edtech consultancy TechnoTeachers. Nicole also co-authored TechnoTeaching, a book she wrote with her partner, Dr. Julie M. Wood (completely online and having never met in person).
From her beginnings as an English secondary teacher, Nicole found value in teaching digital options and offered the first A-Level Media Studies course in her school. After planning out the course, she became the head of her department and started training her students in the digital arts, ranging from video production to music technology.
Nicole made an effort to train herself in these programs and skills in order to teach others. To keep herself up to date on the latest technology and trends, she created personalized lessons for herself and for her staff, and used blogs and Skype to support that endeavor, share work and offer 24/7 communication.
“I have always been keen on supporting staff with new technology and innovative teaching approaches. The two go hand in hand for me.”
Nicole knows teaching isn’t limited to the classroom. Her teaching curriculum included trips for her students to work with digital businesses to gain even more understanding and opportunity.
Along the way, Nicole was headhunted to develop a ‘paperless’ academy, which gave her the platform to share knowledge and ideas with teachers from all over the world. When the time came for Nicole to balance her work with parenting, her teacher development work became her main career path.
“It was at this point that technology really started to work for me. Using emails and Skype, I was able to create relationships with a range of organizations and pick up bits of work to keep my brain going and get a few pennies together.”
She eventually found innovative companies that allowed her to continue creating teacher training materials and courses for several years.
A few years after the birth of her son, Nicole found the perfect opportunity: a position at a leading not-for-profit organization, Achievement for All (a Microsoft partner), that works to close the gaps at every level of the education system. It was a perfect match and she was able to support them by improving school strategy and practice, both in schools and writing their digital materials.
Along the way and thanks to social media, Nicole met Dr. Julie M. Wood. After a simple Skype chat, it was decided they would write the now Harvard-published book, TechnoTeaching.
“Julie and I have never met – not in real life. We planned and wrote the whole book with her in Boston and me in Dorset using Skype, email, and Microsoft Word.”
By only communicating through the web, Nicole and Julie were able to truly embrace what they were teaching. They established TechnoTeachers, a global education consultancy that offers a combination of eCoaching and digital face-to-face support for clients.
One thing has always led to another for Nicole, and once she became a Harvard author doors were opened for her, letting her write for a number of different news outlets. Today, she continues to inform and train coaches and schools, create case studies, interview experts, and experiment with digital software.
With hard work, dedication, and the constant need to keep evolving and embracing the ever-changing tech environment, Nicole has been able to reinvent herself many times over and find more ways to make her skill set valuable.
Follow Microsoft Education on Twitter to share your story and inspirations with other educators who are using technology in new ways in the classroom and beyond. You can also find guidance on the Education Blog to get ready for this year’s Skype-a-Thon, which aims to unite half a million students across the world on November 27-28.
Join this community of innovative educators by becoming an MIE today: aka.ms/MIE.