Clare Johnson, Lecturer in IT Security
by Clare Johnson
I am Course Leader and lecturer for a Foundation Degree in IT Security, offered in a large FE college. As a young child I was lucky enough to have access to a computer at home – a Sinclair ZX81 with 1k of RAM. There wasn’t any software on it, and no user friendly interface to interact with, so if I wanted the computer to do anything, I had to write the programme myself. It became a bit of a hobby, alongside my love of music and playing the piano.
At university I studied music, but I was lucky enough to be able to add a second subject of Computing in my first year – a subject that continued to fascinate and intrigue me. During my degree, people would ask if I was going to become a music teacher, and the one thing I was very clear about was that I definitely wasn’t going to teach. The thought of standing up in front of a classroom full of people held no appeal for me.
My interest in computing followed me into my first job, working for a charity. Most of the staff I worked with had no idea about computers, so I became the ‘go-to’ person for any computing problems, taking on freelance work on my afternoons off, earning an extra few pounds by helping staff to learn about the computers they were beginning to use more and more frequently.
When I had my first daughter, I left my job at the charity, and through word of mouth, took on a few regular teaching sessions with individuals. I later became completely freelance, earning £100 a day (a pretty good fee) teaching in a variety of organisations, from cable companies to banks and health services. It was a job I loved.
Later, I moved into a job training women returning to work after having a family, and it was during this post that I started my PGCE teaching qualification – a course that would eventually lead me into my current role.
My love of computing has never wavered. I’m amazed at what computers can do, and I’m passionate about IT and its endless impact on our world. I’m fascinated by computing concepts, and I try to pass my enthusiasm on to my learners and colleagues. I have continued my studies, and now have a Masters degree in Education, which focused on the use of computers as a collaborative tool, and am hoping shortly to embark on a PhD looking at how students learn in the digital age.
Why IT security? It’s a subject area which is developing at an incredible pace – where there is never a dull moment. There’s an air of mystery about it – who’s doing what and to whom, and what’s happening in the background, finding a problem and then solving it. It’s also a huge growth market for our students so it’s brilliant being able to set them up for their future careers.
If you had asked me when I was 18 what I wanted to do when I was older, teaching would have been pretty low on the list, but here I am, now teaching not just students in IT security, but helping to develop staff skills in digital literacy and the digital tools they can use in the classroom. I feel very privileged to have grown up alongside the tech that we now take for granted.