For 25 years Dr Christina Preston has been at the forefront of education innovation with a focus on digital technologies as a catalyst for enriching teaching and learning. Recent successes in research are: the development of innovative multimodal research methodologies; innovative designs for Masters’ modules and their multimodal accreditation; the development of Massive Online Open-source courses; the value of devices in underpinning independent learning; and, the development of new modes of knowledge sharing within the profession in communities of practice called MirandaMods that are a modification of the unconference movement.
Some of the evidence she has drawn on for her research has been offered by members of the MirandaNet Fellowship, an international professional organisation for teachers, teacher educators, researchers and developers that she founded in 1992. There are currently more than 1,200 members in 80 countries. The Fellowship has a reach of more than 250,000 other educators in key professional bodies like NAACE, ALT and ITTE as well as the readership of several professional journals.. This global portal is well patronised and 64,000 visit per year and read up to 10 pages.
When MirandaNet Fellows researched the UK Landscape of Professional Development in Information and Communications Technology for Becta in 2010 they found an increasingly fragmented picture because of the cost, the pressure on teachers’ time and the poor quality of some programmes that was mainly technical training. This situation has deteriorated further, but Fellows address the challenge through their iCatalyst practice-based research: groups of teachers undertake projects in the classroom as co-researchers, collecting and analysing, this sharing in evidence-based practice. Professional development programmes funded by governments, charities, industry and the EU.
Funders of research, development and professional development programmes have included Becta, Training Development Agency (TDA), the UK Department of Education(DfE), UNESCO and the European Union(EU), as well as international universities and governments. MirandaNet associate companies who support research, development, dissemination and CPD projects in schools include research about: BrainPOP, Gaia, GroupCall, Light Speed, IRIS Connect, Show my Homework and Tablet Academy. MirandaNet Fellows have developed a range of practice- research projects associated with innovation in teaching and learning in Bulgaria, China, Chile, Czech Republic, Friesland, India, Norway, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Syria. Teachers often elect to join MirandaNet after these visits and some countries have a MirandaNet chapter like Pakistan and Slovenia.
Christina gives keynotes and lectures around the world on strategies for building professional knowledge and on Continuing Professional Development programmes designed to promote teachers’ ownership of learning agenda. Recent speaking programmes have included Argentina, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. She has won five international awards for her innovative continuing professional programmes designed for teachers in Europe promoting action research and collaboration across national boundaries.
Christina’s professional memberships include the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). She has been an active contributor to the British Computer Society and the Society of Authors. She is also a Board member of National Association of Advisers in Computers and Education (NAACE), the Information Technology Teachers in Education (ITTE) and the National Council of University Professors (NCUP). For the last ten years she has been a moderator on the judging panel of the annual BETT exhibition education awards organised by Becta and The British Education Suppliers Association (BESA).
At the beginning of her career, she enjoyed fifteen years experience of teaching in school in English, Drama and Information Technology, followed by four years as an English and Information and Communications technology adviser in Croydon LA and ILLEC. From 1992 she has been responsible for the design of modules from certificate to masters level as well as teaching and evaluating courses and projects in England and overseas. She has been a senior researcher at UCL Institute of Education, University of London from 1992, finally from 2004 at the Centre for Work-Based Learning for Education Professionals (WLE). Other research and lecturing associateships up to Masters level include Bath Spa University, Brunel University and the Czech Technical University in Prague. The MirandaNet Fellowship was an important evidence of impact of the REF submission, 2012, at Bedfordshire University where she was Professor of Education Innovation. In 2016 she become an Associate Professor in Education at DeMontfort University
In addition, Christina is Chair of Trustees of World Ecitizens charity, a website for student publication, established by the MirandaNet Fellows in 2002 after the events of 9/11 in New York. This is designed as a place where young people can publish observations about the world they live in.