Online learning lecturer is selected for remote working award

Published: 25 August 2010 at 11:09

‘Green workers’ with innovative remote working strategies are lined up for prizes

Remote working employees and their companies, across the UK, have been short listed in a national awards ceremony and they now stand a chance of winning the Microsoft Remote Worker Award as well as being recognised and applauded for their remote working strategies.

The Microsoft Remote Worker Award (in association with BT) is for employees whose employers promote flexible working solutions with home working options or remote working.

Shirley Pickford, a lecturer from Anglia Ruskin University, who teaches students on a fully online work-based degree, is among those shortlisted for an award.  Although working for Anglia Ruskin University, with its campuses at Chelmsford and Cambridge, she is based at her home at Oakenholt, Flint in Wales.

HHHAer students are mostly in full-time work, so an online degree is often the only way for them to study. She shares their experiences of distance learning, and helps to create genuine collaboration between people who have never met each other. 

By teaching the BA (Hons) Learning Technology and Research she has become a specialist in online learning communities. No formal qualifications are required to start the degree which is available from Anglia Ruskin’s Faculty of Education, and there are no exams. Assessment is through portfolio, and students may be able to graduate in less than three years if they have previously studied at Higher Education level. The content of the course can be personalised to suit the work context of each student, allowing them to gain maximum benefit from the experience.

Working from home has allowed Shirley to move anywhere without changing her job and to have more flexibility when she needs it providing her with the opportunity for a better work/life balance.

Remote working also means that Shirley can work anywhere with her laptop - this has included motorway service stations, a conference in Manila, working visits to Italy or at friends homes - combining a full time job with opportunities involving travel or fun.

Shirley's current research interests are: e-learning, social software in Higher Education, virtual learning environments in Higher Education, the changing role of lecturers, digital creativity in education and patchwork media.

Speaking about the nomination, Shirley said:

"Rather than overcoming adversity, I first moved into remote working because I wanted a change and a challenge after nearly 20 years based in schools as a classroom teacher. Because nobody knows your age online, people often assume that remote workers are young - but along with her team, we are mostly mature (in age) having held senior positions before deciding that the internet is where we belong."

Shirley would like to win the award to remind her employer - and other employers - that remote staff contribute to the green agenda, are productive and are only at the end of the phone/email. She believes she communicates more- and better - with her team and her students and can often achieve more.

Shirley concludes:

"I’ve enjoyed working remotely as a lecturer, keeping in touch with students through online discussions and using everything from blogs to wikis to publish journeys in learning.  I can set up an office anywhere by opening my laptop. Everybody wins in managing projects – me, my students, colleagues and my employer."

Remote Employment and BT Business were on a national hunt to find remote working champions who could demonstrate how remote working and home working has made a beneficial impact on their business and home life in The Remote Worker Awards. There are currently 3.5m people working from home.

The Awards appealed to hundreds of budding enterprisers as well as larger home based businesses across the country, and remote workers, home workers as well as freelance consultants.

The Remote Worker Awards will culminate in a winning ceremony on 1 September at the Connaught Rooms, London.  

Award winning website Remote Employment, Google’s No 1 job site for flexible and home based jobs, launched The Remote Worker Awards in association with BT Business to highlight how home working and remote working benefits the British public and their working life.