Meet James Park

Earlier this year, the Office of the Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Information Services & Technology) received a record-breaking number of nominations for the 2020 IT Awards. We are excited to recognize the individuals who were nominated and the important contributions they make everyday at the University of Alberta.

James Park works as a learning design consultant at Technologies in Education (TechinEd), helping faculty to integrate technology with pedagogy, and to do it as smoothly as possible. He is also part of the frontline support team who lead teaching sessions for faculty, support staff, and students to learn about educational technology.

We spoke with James to learn more about his role and what motivates him.

What does a day-in-the-life look like in your position? 

We have a morning standing meeting right now to check in with our larger team at TechinEd, and then our frontline team. One of the joys of my job is working with a diverse group of talented individuals including a programmer, graphic designer, web specialist, media specialists like Shane Klein, and other learning designers. So we check in to see where we can coordinate our work together to help make the strongest educational courses, activities, or projects possible. I usually spend some time meeting with faculty one on one to help them think through teaching in an online environment, or creating specific learning objects. Then I may work on eClass development, one of several projects our unit is working on like animations to help conceptualize concepts, or scheduling our team of technology coaches who also support our faculty.

What’s one thing you’re working on now, and why is it important?

I'm currently working on a series of mentoring modules for practicing teachers to take to become better mentors for student teachers. It's a meaningful series of courses that I hope will help articulate more clearly what it means to be an effective mentor. The modules systematically cover the role and duties, and also offer tips for new and experienced mentors alike. I believe that it will help strengthen mentoring and teaching across the province, which will only benefit K-12 students in the long run.

What have you worked on since joining the university that you are most proud of?

Great question! I'm most proud of my team of learning tech specialists and technology coaches. As a former teacher, it's inspiring to see people grow in their skills, knowledge, and confidence and carry that passion onto their next roles. Our tech coaches are undergraduate and graduate students, and I often hear afterwards about how much they grew and learned from their time with TechinEd. It's truly gratifying to hear and see how they apply their confidence with technology and teaching skills in their next careers, be it as a teacher, a librarian, learning designer with other faculties at the U of A, or whatever else they choose to pursue!

Why did you pursue a career in IT?

Actually, I've never felt myself to be in IT. The great part of our unit, especially our learning design team, is that we're educators first, tech people second. We see technology as a critical tool that supports learning. However, we know that tech isn't the goal in and of itself. Rather, learning is the goal, and tech is a tool to help us get there. I'm blessed to be part of TechinEd and learn so much more about technology. But please don't ask me to connect any A/V equipment. I still don't know much about that all! Shane Klein, on the other hand, is a pro with anything technical!

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?

Auto mechanic. Easy. A great skill and one that would save me some money. 

If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

  1. Gmail.
  2. What3Words. This has helped rescue people lost in the woods!
  3. Naver Papago. My favourite translation tool.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Just that our unit is one of the most unique units I've ever worked with, and I'm grateful for the diversity and strength of our team, and proud of the work we produce. It's a great place to look forward to coming to everyday.

 

James Park was nominated for an IT Award earlier this year for support provided to the Faculty of Education specifically in building apps, running red chair sessions and workshops for students on differing technologies, and his work supporting geocache coursework for Physical Education majors.