Today we introduce the highly experienced wordsmith, entertaining and inspiring man of many talents, Jimmy Bowens, our Global Head of English.
A passionate literacy educator, Jimmy is a true believer in the impact of digital learning on the teaching and learning experience. Jimmy is a constant educator, writer and contributor, constantly driving the development of the EP English suite, and literacy development resources, globally.
“That is what the world needs I feel, more positive human interaction alongside technology.”
I was born and raised in the West of Ireland in the beautiful town of Galway. My childhood consisted of fistfights, furious adventuring and constant sports but everything was balanced by the humour and poetry that is Irish culture. I have spent most of my adult life away from Ireland discovering a wide range of fascinating countries and cultures and now reside in stunning New Zealand. I am a dreamer and have never once been bored reading a book or looking out of a window. I am in love with the nuance of humanity and enjoy wide-ranging discussions. When I am not working I am either cuddling and giggling with my three mischievous children or helping my wife dampen the beautiful chaos of our household. In those rare spare hours, I am floating on a surfboard dreaming at the sunrise or sunset or walking with my camera in some isolated wilderness. On a very rare occasion, I am sitting on a green chair in the corner of an upstairs room strumming my guitar.
English literature was certainly the early catalyst for me in becoming a teacher. Once I read the art of Yeats, Emily Dickinson and James Joyce I knew I would never escape the labyrinthine world of wordcraft. However, teaching soon became an art in and of itself. The subject was the conduit but the grit, grime and conflict of teaching fascinated me. I found that empowering young people to find the right words with which to express their truth and perspective was the most motivating endeavour in the world. Having enjoyed the classroom and community version of teaching for over ten years, I was intrigued by the prospect of experiencing the virtual version of it. Joining the EP team allowed me to nurture my own young family while continuing to inquire, investigate, support and interact with schools, teachers and students via the subject I love.
I was looking for ways to buy more time in order to support students who were struggling to squeeze academia into their lives. I discovered EP and saw huge potential in it to facilitate smarter teaching and support impactful pedagogy with students who need it most.
Currently, we are wrapping up our Information Literacy project which is a wide-ranging bank of lessons aimed at supporting students in navigating the chaotic online world. We are also working on Senior English content mostly geared towards facilitating deep literary critique and response. In addition to the content development projects, I am working with an amazing team to create authentic education-centric articles and podcasts to inspire teachers and generate lively discussion around teaching and learning in this digital age.
I love the amount of flexibility and transparency EP provides teachers with regard to resource management and assessment for learning. The fact that teachers can take full control of all the pre-built content and morph it into something that will resonate with and create meaning for individual students anywhere in the world, astounds me. I love how the customisation options will allow a department of teachers to hone and organise their resources in such a way that it will dramatically reduce their marking and facilitate more meaningful connection time with students. That is what the world needs I feel, more positive human interaction alongside technology. EP can provide that for teachers and students.
I have frequent interactions with teachers where the conversations start as an evaluative discussion of the resource. However, almost always, the teacher will comment on the increased engagement they see. It then usually focuses on an individual student which has started to respond and increase their effort on the subject tasks. I have heard many wonderful stories about students who find a way of working which doesn’t make them feel inferior, unintelligent, intimidated or out of place by using our platform. It is this dissolution of those learning barriers which teachers are most affected by. A student who feels they can learn safely and without peer judgement can usually find their way to success with the support of an engaged teacher. It is quite satisfying to work with a team which generates so many anecdotes of this type.
Most excited about
I have been so impressed by how fast our development team have been able to increase the functions and features of EP that it is difficult to imagine the heights to which they can drive this technology. However, I am specifically excited about annotation for writing, textual analysis, teacher collaboration tools, student group work functionality and cross-curricular project learning facility. On the data and tracking side of things, I think the further development of our sophisticated tagging and tracking technology will provide teachers and learners with precise, accurate proficiency information. It will be even more efficient for teachers and learners to learn and create through a system which is responsive to their learning needs at a granular level.
EP in your words
For teachers, I would describe EP as a complement to the natural learning journeys which occur between people and as a responsive, reliable resource manager which looks after the data so you can be free to think, play, interact, create and learn at your own pace with your students.
For students, I would describe EP as a safe learning space where you can enjoy challenging yourself and interacting with your peers around genuine and meaningful learning content.
For School Administrators and parents I would describe EP as a teaching and learning platform which unifies teachers and students and provides seamless access to engagement and progress data at any time.
Check out our Linked-in page: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
Check out our Podcast: EPisodes on buzzsprout
When asked if there was one person Jimmy would like to meet, his response was…
There is no answer I seek that much. We live, we love, we laugh we die. I have never met Stephen Fry or the person who drives the recycling truck and I enjoy not assuming one of them has better answers.
Thanks so much Jimmy for your passion and your time.
You can see Jimmy is quite the character and plays a significant role in the development of EP everyday. For more of Jimmy’s insights follow him on twitter @EPjbowens