This week we meet Caroline Norris, Digital Skills Development Manager within Digital Education. Here, Caroline - who has been working on making digital content at UCL accessible - walks us through her latest projects and shares some inspiring advice.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I’m the Digital Skills Development Managerábased within the Digital Education team. I lead a team developing and delivering a range of digital learning opportunities for UCL staff and students. My role is to ensure that what we offer meets their needs and the needs of UCL and to raise awareness of the importance of digital skills to everyone.
As a team we offer a range of face-to-face courses, demonstrations, workshops and talks on a wide range of software and tools. We also champion LinkedIn Learning, a vast library of online video tutorials on a really diverse range of topics.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
Ha ha, too long probably! I started at UCL in 2003 when IT training still involved teaching people to use a mouse effectively! I’ve had a number of different roles in my time at UCL but they have all involved supporting people to develop their digital skills, even if we didn’t always call them that. My first role at UCL was to set up an Open Learning Centre for staff to support them in developing their IT skills.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
A recent achievement was developing a website to support people to produce accessible content. We needed to respond quickly to the Public Sector Accessibility Regulations, introduced in 2018, which put the onus on universities to make all their digital content accessible. I coordinated a team of colleagues to develop a website covering the underlying principles of accessibility, practical guidance, and information about face-to-face training - all in one place.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list
The most critical thing I’m currently working on is the MyHR project. I’ve been part of the working group for MyLearning since the start of the project and it’s exciting to see it finally coming to fruition!
From 17 February, staff will be able to use the new platform to book training with the five main training providers and to record learning they have completed elsewhere. UCL staff will also be able to enrol on online courses within MyLearning and their training record will automatically be updated once they complete these courses. So all learning and development can be recorded in one place.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
I have fairly eclectic taste in music, I like soul, blues, country, disco, pop - a bit of everything. You can’t beat cheesy 80s pop though! If I had to choose one album it would probably have to be Eurythmics Greatest Hits as I was a huge fan in my teens.
It’s really hard to think of one film but one I can watch again and again is The Sound of Music. Don’t judge me!
In terms of novels, Brave New World really stands out for me, it was so prophetic and ahead of its time - nearly 100 years old and still relevant.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
My son learnt this one when he was about three. Although he didn’t understand the play on words, he really enjoyed the reaction he got from ’grown-ups’ when he recited it. So this joke amuses me on different levels!
Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
Because he was standing on the deck!
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
I had the honour of being taught by Mary Beard when I was at university and I think she would be an amazing dinner guest. I would also love to get to know my maternal grandmother who died when I was a child. She was a doctor in Pakistan at a time when few women qualified and she continued working after my mother was born, again a very unusual thing back then. Annie Lennox would be up there too of course. I see a ’Brilliant Women’ theme emerging here!
What advice would you give your younger self?
"This too shall pass." It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about things which ultimately will fade into insignificance in the longáterm. I’m not sure that I’ve entirely integrated this wisdom but I strive for more equanimity in my day-to-day life.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
My colleagues know me fairly well at this stage so I’m not sure that much would surprise them but for those who know we less well, perhaps the fact that I worked in social care with people with learning disabilities for seven years before moving into IT training.
What is your favourite place?
I’m lucky enough to live next to a country park and I find it really relaxing to visit. You can forget that you are in London for a while and I really appreciate that.