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Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Jo Elliott

Meet Dr Jo Elliott, a Reader in Learning Design within the Digital Education Studio in VP Health Office

A picture of Dr Jo Elliot smiling

Q.1 Can you describe your career path, current role and what attracted you to work at Queen Mary?

I took a slightly roundabout path to education. I started taking an interest in education, the opportunities it can provide and its social justice potential, when I was in high school. I studied Agricultural Science at university intending to become a high school Agriculture and science teacher. I took a different turn during my Honours year though and decided to do my PhD, investigating the factors affecting farmers’ management decisions and adoption of new livestock management and animal welfare practices. I did a lot of teaching during my candidature, including the university’s Postgraduate Teaching Internship, and developed an interest in the more holistic student experience. I worked in various roles in Student Support Services over the next five or so years before I got the opportunity to move to Deakin University in Melbourne in a role that allowed me to combine my interests in research, teaching and learning, and the student experience. It was at Deakin that I really started learning about digital education and saw its potential for creating accessible, inclusive and engaging learning experiences. When I had the opportunity to bring that learning and experience to Queen Mary, with its focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, I jumped at the chance. Now I get to work with amazing, passionate people across FMD (and the wider university) to co-design digital learning experiences and promote premium digital education. I’m very excited to be here and be doing this work with you all!

Q.2 How has your personal identity(ies) intersected with your work and role at Queen Mary?

I’m quite politically active and am passionate about promoting equity and inclusion. I’m also a bit of a nerd – I love reading, learning new things, hearing and learning from different perspectives. Working in a university, particularly in the type of role I’m in, in which I get to work with and learn from lots of different people and teams, really allows me to indulge those interests and passions – and yes, it often does feel a bit indulgent, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do this work and learn so much from our staff and our students. I became aware quite early on in life of the opportunities I had and that these were not necessarily available or accessible to everyone, so it’s always been really important to me that I use those opportunities and that privilege to change that, and to advocate for others. For me, working in digital education is a way to do that –to open up and improve education for our students; to promote and support sustainable teaching practices and workloads for staff; and to promote and amplify different voices and perspectives.

Q.3 What does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion mean to you and how important is Queen Mary's EDI work to you as a staff member and your sense of belonging at Queen Mary?

Queen Mary’s work in this area is hugely important to me and was a real drawcard when I was considering moving to the UK and joining Queen Mary.

At its most basic level, I believe that promoting equity, diversity and inclusion is just the right thing to do. I don’t think that the colour of your skin, your ethnicity, gender, religion, (dis)ability, sexuality, where you were born, where you live, how much money you have, should impact the opportunities available to you – and the fact that they do frustrates me immensely, to say the least. And I think we need to change that just because it is the right thing to do. But realistically, equity, diversity and inclusion benefit us all – our communities, our schools and universities, our public services and organisations, benefit from the different perspectives and experiences, different ways of thinking and knowing and different ideas, that equity, diversity and inclusion bring. I think that’s important in every aspect of our society but it is arguably particularly important in healthcare and public health.

Honestly I could talk (rant?) about this for hours but I will get off my soapbox now or this will be a very long profile!

Q.4 What one piece of advice or information would be you give to others in the Queen Mary community to help them foster an inclusive environment and / or be an effective ally?

Create opportunities for conversation (and then actually engage in the conversation and listen). Anyone who has spoken to me about digital education will have heard me talk about the importance of social learning. Learning is a social activity, whether we are learning about a physiological process or a new way of seeing the world – we learn from and with each other. None of our learners come to us as a blank slate, everyone has something to contribute, so let’s create as many opportunities for people to  share different experiences, ideas and perspectives, and for us all to learn from each other.



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