This month we are delighted to share an interview with the newest member of the Real Group team: Lee Royston. Lee is our new instructional designer, she is based in our Greenwich office and will be working across the company to update, improve, and write our online courses. Lee told us about what led her to become an instructional designer and about the responsibilities of the role.
What were you doing in your previous role, before joining Real Group? What did it entail and how long did you work there?
‘I previously worked for a charity named Red Balloon Learner Centre Group as the director of distance learning. They have four centres around the country and mainly work with children in secondary education who aren’t attending school; the best description of that issue would probably be ‘anxious school refusal’. In a nutshell, the key purpose of my role was to set up and develop an online school for the charity, which really took up the last six years of my life. I covered the project management side of things and managed the staff, but I also developed the teacher training programme for the Red Balloon teachers so that they could better cater for the students.
‘I initially joined Red Balloon as an English and PSA teacher, around seven years ago, and convinced the head of the centre to allow me to continue teaching my students from my home in South Africa while I arranged my visa. So, I taught them from a distance and it turned out that they preferred me at a distance! It was partly the novelty of me being in South Africa of course – they asked me questions about games that I could get over there, and the monkeys in the garden – it resulted in the students really engaging with the project. This is when I realised that technology and education as a combination open up such a lot of opportunities and that was really where my passion lay. This experience, some great funding, and a really supportive senior leadership, enabled us to develop the online school.’
What is your background in terms of work and education?
‘I completed a psychology degree, and then a teaching degree after that. Following this, I moved to Taiwan and taught there for a while, eventually realising that I felt more passionately about teaching psychology as it overlaps with education so heavily. I found it more accessible from a teaching point of view, and then I decided to do an MPhil in technology and education, which I completed last year.’
What particularly attracted you to the role within Real Group?
‘I have a background in psychology and information technology, and when I read the job description I just thought: this is the perfect fit! I had worked for a not-for-profit organisation for a very long time, and I was interested in the role with Real Group. Other jobs that I looked at simply didn’t inspire me, but working with education and technology is something that I am very passionate about. I was ready for a commute to Canterbury every day, and then I found out there was an office in Greenwich – it just ticked every box!
What does being an instructional designer involve?
‘It’s quite a broad role. I’ll be liaising with subject experts (formal academic experts), utilising the in-house expertise, working in a team to design the courses and create content, and driving others to create as well. I won’t be doing the technical side of things (coding, for example) but I will be using the principles of online learning and education theory to ensure that our courses continue to be educationally sound and engaging, and that delegates can navigate their way through a course from start to finish, for a pleasant yet challenging experience.’
Is there anything you are particularly enjoying so far at Real Group?
‘My colleagues, they’re lovely! And if I’m honest, working in Greenwich is really great – you can get a coffee and walk along the river, which is nice.’
What are your interests outside of work – what sort of thing do you like doing in your spare time?
‘We do lots of travelling when we can, and walking the dog takes up a lot of our time – we have a Jack Russell crossed with a Dachshund whose name is Frank.’