Mr. Ken Brady is from Australia. He has an M.Ed in IT Education from Deakin University. Mr. Brady has worked as a teacher and ICT leadership in Australia and China for over 20 years. Before transitioning to teaching, he served in the Royal Australian Air Force.
What were your first impressions of NIS?
When my family and I lived in Nanjing back in 2018 we knew then of NIS through its outstanding reputation. Now, working for NIS, my first impressions exceed what I had expected NIS would be. I am regularly overwhelmed by the supportive, comforting, professional, and extremely organised interactions I have with the teachers and staff at NIS. They have made us feel part of the NIS family throughout the process of moving back to China. My first impressions therefore are of a world class learning community where everyone feels they are a valued part of the team.
How did you get into EdTech and teaching? Tell us about your professional journey to become our new Technology coach?
My first computer was one that my father brought home on the holidays from school. It was an AppleII in the summer holidays of 1984. Over those holidays I taught myself how to program in the coding language of BASIC, and I have been hooked on technology ever since. Out of school I joined the Australian Defence Force and became an IT Systems Engineer for the Royal Australian Air Force. After almost 10 years in the military and with some serious industry-based IT training under my belt, in 1999 I retrained as a digital technology teacher. This was a fairly natural transition for me as I came from a family of teachers, with my mother and father having also taught here in China both in Suzhou and in Tianjin. Since then I have taught digital technology to students in Australia, the UK and China, been a Head of Department for ICT for over 10 years in Australian schools, and more recently, the Tech Director in an International school in Beijing. Taking on the role of Technology Coach at NIS is like a dream come true and is a fabulous opportunity for my family and I to return to China to a city that we love.
What is your personal philosophy about Educational Technology?
Sitting here thinking about how to answer that question, the key word that comes to mind is balance. And by balance, I mean balance across so many different and competing aspects of both learning and life in general, not just Educational Technology.
Even before becoming a teacher, I saw balance as a central tenant of my personal growth. Balance between being part of the team, and being true to myself, between playing competitive tennis with friends or sitting quietly playing the piano with myself. This philosophy has continued to flow through my life and into my philosophy for education, and more specifically Educational Technology.
I am obviously a strong advocate for digital technology in the classroom, however I believe technology is not the be all and end all of education. Nor is any individual singular teaching method. Instead, all have their place when used in a balanced way along with the many other proven successful educational pedagogies in the classroom. So my philosophy is that whilst too much time in front of a computer can be detrimental, an absence of the use of digital technology in the learning process can seriously restrict the wide range of learning opportunities that are possible. Like everything, there needs to be a balance.
For me, being a digital technology teacher and coach is a wonderful avenue for having balance as a teacher. The subject itself is a beautiful balance between the technical and scientific with the artistic and creative. I love teaching the science of robotics right alongside the artistry of 3D modelling and printing when making 3D robots. Or the technology of software programming balanced by the creativity of music development when undertaking a game development project. And there’s the balance between providing ideas and stimulus to the students, and them giving creativity and spontaneity back in return. Successfully teaching using Digital Technology is the essence of balance. Teaching, like life, is about balance.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What are your hobbies and passions?
When I’m not being a computer geek, I love spending time with my family. I have a wife and two teenage children and we love to go camping. We spent most of 2017 taking leave from work and travelling around Australia in a caravan. It was incredible. We also have a small farm of almost 15 acres back in Australia so we enjoy being outdoors. I love music and grew up playing the piano. For me it is a comfort that I can retreat back into when I need to re-centre myself, and my son Xavier and I also enjoy playing the guitar together jamming to some good hard AC-DC Aussie Rock. Then as I said earlier I enjoy playing tennis and have played competition level tennis for most of my life, including being a qualified tennis coach. And finally, as my wife will tell you, I love computer games, from playing them, to designing them and creating them.
What advice do you have for teachers and students regarding the use of technology?
For teachers I would say: Don’t be frightened by technology, make it work for you, not against you. If you take the time to find and implement ways that technology can be used effectively in your classes, it will open up so many more opportunities for learning for both you and your students.
For students I’d say: Digital technology is an exciting tool that will doubtlessly shape your future, both here in school and into your future. Use it in moderation and use it for good.
What message do you have for our NIS community?
Thank you all for your wonderful welcome. It is my great pleasure to be part of the NIS community and I am looking forward to meeting and working with everyone in the coming weeks, months and years. Our family are so happy to be returning to Nanjing, with my wife and daughter Charlotte coming next year. We are all looking forward to forging many new friendships within the NIS community.