Dr Anne Preston
Research Fellow

I’m a Research Fellow in digital learning and education. I work across SOLE Central (led by Prof Sugata Mitra) and Open Lab (led by Prof Patrick Olivier)  in the design and evaluation of technologies to support the future of learning and digital education. My research activity builds on the strong foundation and thought provoking work of Mitra, whose work has already transformed lives in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world through the School in the Cloud.

In my work on Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE), I collaborate to bring research expertise and experience to probing the question: what can digital education do to help communities in a time of rapid global change? I am motivated and passionate about teachers and students taking the lead in what happens with digital technology in their classrooms, whether it is a traditional school room or a SOLE. My current projects include developing SOLE approaches for adults with diverse needs, to tackle early school leaving, to support local community activism and to enhance the teaching and learning of coding and computational thinking.

I have a particular interest in micro-analytical and empirically-driven approaches to understanding the role of technology for education in everyday life. In my recent work on embedded learning analytics, I am developing new research methodologies to enable more open, inclusive and democratic ways of designing for and representing people’s experiences with new technologies in education.

You can keep up to date with my projects on twitter @euro_sole, @SOLECODE_NCL and @nclsolecentral. For everything else, follow me @prestontales

Funded Research

2015: Principal Investigator for an EU-funded project (391K), EUROSOLE Promoting Young People’s Transition Pathways Through Engagement in European Self-Organised Learning Spaces. Find out more here.

2015: Principal Investigator for an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, a knowledge exchange with the Workers’ Educational Association, a national charity providing adult education. Project involves designing approaches to integrate Self-Organised Learning into the organisation.  Find out more here

2013: Principal Investigator for Newcastle Institute of Social Renewal project. Leading an interdisciplinary team on a project called: Young people as Researchers in Digital Learning Technologies: Conceptualising, Authoring, Using and Evaluating Digital Mysteries. Project involved studying self-organised approaches to collaborative content creation. Find out more here

2004-2008: As part of the Centre for Applied Language Research at the University of Southampton, I was awarded an ESRC Quota Award Studentship in Linguistics (fees, maintenance and allowances) for a 1+3 programme, which included my MA Applied Linguistics Research Methodology (MAALRM) and subsequent PhD programme. Find out more about my PhD research here.

I previously led the day to day coordination of a large scale EU-funded FP7 Lifelong Learning project for 3 years which involved partners from Spain, Italy, Germany and Finland: www.europeandigitalkitchen.com (PI: Prof Paul Seedhouse)

Roles and Memberships

I am convenor for the iLab:Learn Research Cluster where I encourage students and staff from across the university to share their work and get involved in discussions about what technology, and its relationship to learning and education, means to them. To join the mailing list for this group, you can contact me on anne.preston@Newcastle.ac.uk

I regularly review academic articles including those for Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) Journal, NordiCHI (the main Nordic forum for human-computer interaction research) and CHISIG (Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group)

I am a member of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and the British Educational Research Association (BERA).

Invited Talks, Workshops and Keynotes

  • Keynote speaker at ‘Learning Through Technologies’, a national TEL conference for Scotland organised by HolyroodConnect, University of Strathclyde, Technology & Innovation Centre, June 2016.
  • Invited workshop for Association of Colleges in the Eastern Region Annual Conference 2016  on SOLE approaches to Self-Advocacy for Adults with Diverse Needs
  • Invited talk on Flipped Classroom, Newcastle University Technology Enhanced Learning Advocates (NUTELA) 2016
  • Invited panellist on Schools of the Future – Breaking with traditional teaching, a main Arena event at BETT 2016 (the British Educational Training and Technology Show), a leading Educational Technology conference attended by more than 25,000 delegates, London.
  • Invited panellist at Transformational Learning Summit at BETT 2016 , bringing together thought-leaders, education strategists and change-makers from around the world to discuss and debate current trends in education, research and pedagogy.
  • Invited panellist on ‘The Challenge of Finding a Common Language for Trans-Disciplinary Working’ part of the workshop ‘Rivers of the Anthropocene: Explorations in a Human-Engineered World’, Newcastle University, 2015.
  • Invited panellist on 21st Century Schools at EdTech Europe 2015, a one day, multi-track summit bringing together executive level investors, innovators and industry influencers from European and global education technology companies, London.
  • Chair for two symposia at the British Educational Research Association conferences (2014/2015), leading a team of academic and external practitioners in presentation of collaborative research on the development of pedagogies around innovative use of technologies in education, including those used in Higher Education.
  • Chair for Innovation Session at British Educational Research Association (2015) on and using Self Organised Learning Environments which developed new ways of new ways of presenting and demonstrating non-traditional approaches to an academic presentation of research

Engagement and Knowledge Transfer

For engagement work on the Digital Kitchen projects, I led a number of activities leading to the following recognitions:

  • 2014 Shortlisted by the English Speaking Union for the ESU's President's Award (English Digital Kitchen);
  • 2013 Finalist in the category of the innovative software for e-learning by E-learning Awards (European Digital Kitchen);
  • 2012 Winner of the European Union's Language Label in the Higher Education category (French Digital Kitchen)

Invited to lead a Self Organised Learning Environment session by SMART Technologies (global educational technology leader) at BETT 2016 (the British Educational Training and Technology Show), a leading Educational Technology conference attended by more than 25,000 delegates, London. 

Invited to lead workshop on creative approaches to language teaching for language teachers at EU funded ‘Young Europeans Love Languages’ event, Nottingham Trent University, 2013.

Invited to lead workshop on blending cooking, technology and language learning at Languages Show Live 2012, a large scale event for language teaching educators and professionals, London. 

Background

After graduating with a BA (hons) in English and French from Salford University, I worked as a teacher of undergraduates at Université de Haute Alsace in the East of France where I delivered undergraduate English Language Teaching modules on written and oral communication, French-English translation, Literature, Culture and Civilisation and Academic Skills. I then went on to study under an ESRC studentship for a MA (Applied Linguistics and Research Methods) and a PhD (Modern Languages) at the University of Southampton. I have worked in language education for many years including two online MA courses in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. I joined Newcastle University in 2011. 


I have been involved in teaching for more than 10 years and I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

At Newcastle, I have previously contributed to teaching areas across the School including specialist seminars on learning technologies for students on the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL pathway (Computer Assisted Language Learning, e-learning for Language Teaching and Task-Based Language Learning). I've also co-led the Second Language Learning and Teaching module as part of the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL pathway with Prof Vivian Cook for the past two years. I have supervised more than 30 MA dissertations on TESOL/Applied Linguistic/Technology subjects related to classroom theory and practice and mentored and advised PhD students doing studies on learning using digital technology since coming to Newcastle.  

Recently, I have turned my attention to flipping the conventional and more traditional approaches to HE teaching by re-designing and leading a module on Task-Based Language Learning blending Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) with online and face to face teaching methods. I'll be sharing some of my findings at BERA 2015 as part of a Symposium and Innovation Session I'm leading.  

More broadly, I regularly lead workshops on Technology Enhanced Learning in iLab:Learn for postgraduate students, teacher trainees, teachers, visiting academics and many more!


 

 

 

I’m a Research Fellow in digital learning and education. I work across SOLE Central (ECLS) and Open Lab (Computing Science) in the design and evaluation of technologies to support the future of learning and digital education. My research activity builds on the strong foundation and thought provoking work of Professor Sugata Mitra, whose work has already transformed lives in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world through the School in the Cloud.

In my work on Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE), I collaborate to bring research expertise and experience to probing the question: what can digital education do to help communities in a time of rapid global change? I am motivated and passionate about teachers and students taking the lead in what happens with digital technology in their classrooms, whether it is a traditional school room or a SOLE. My current projects include developing SOLE approaches for adults with learning difficulties, to tackle early school leaving, to support local community activism and to enhance the teaching and learning of coding.

I have a particular interest in micro-analytical and empirically-driven approaches to understanding the role of technology for education in everyday life. In my recent work on learning analytics, I am developing new research methodologies to enable more open, inclusive and democratic ways of designing for and representing people’s experiences with new technologies in education.

You can keep up to date with my projects on twitter @euro_sole, @SOLECODE_NCL and @nclsolecentral. For everything else, follow me @prestontales