Professional Background

Working with studentsCareer overview

By education a linguist, I studied historical and comparative linguistics up to MA level at the University of Vienna. My specialist subjects were Indo-European and Finno-Ugrian linguistics, concentrating mainly on the Celtic branch of Indo-European languages. Later, when I moved to Wales, the minority language situation drove me to redirect my efforts into sociolinguistics and language planning. It was in Wales that I got my PhD and the safeguarding of indigenous and minority languages is still an area of great interest for me.

Parallel to my sociolinguistic work, I was teaching foreign languages to British students. During the early 1990s computer-assisted language learning (CALL) became more and more an integral part of language teaching and I was one of the first to adopt this new method and started developing computer-based exercises. Professional involvement in a range of projects to do with applied technology in language learning showed me the way teaching and learning was going. Computer communication tools such as videoconferencing, e-mail, or chat rooms provided unimaginable opportunities for lecturers and students. There was also a strong movement to more independent learning.

I was always devoted to research and engaged in it whenever possible. All the new trends and developments laid the path for my career developing from the traditional lecturer via a project co-ordinator to become a researcher in networked and lifelong learning and finally a senior university manager for the strategic planning and implementation of technology-based, distributed, flexible online delivery and knowledge management. Transferable skills helped me achieve this professional transition smoothly. My previous geographic location in a remote rural island community brought strong community involvement in broadband developments, community learning and the general area of creating sustainable communities through capacity building.

When taking up my post as Head of E-Learning at the University of Klagenfurt, I relocated to a typical campus based university. Applying online learning to this more traditional setting meant initiating and managing a revolutionary shift of culture. To widen my horizon even further, my current post at the Open University of the Netherlands brings the area of open and distance learning (ODL) into my expertise. Open universities function quite differently to traditional campus universities or fully networked universities. My moving between these institutions as well as my constant involvement in international collaborations, therefore, gave me a good understanding of the different national cultures in Higher Education and research.

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