At Remote Learner, our greatest strength is our staff. We have a diverse group of employees around the United States and Canada, individuals with the unique backgrounds and skills needed to meet the challenges faced by our clients. Over the last few months we’ve been profiling some of the staff members that make the Remote Learner team strong. This week we talked to Shelly McCollum, Remote Learner’s Training Services Manager.
Name: Shelly McCollum
Position: Training Services Manager
Home: Dallas, TX
Brief: Shelly lives in Dallas with her husband and their Shiloh Shepherd, Zeke. In October they’ll add another human to the household as they welcome their first child. Shelly loves to travel and has visited 26 countries. Shelly got her start as a classroom teacher and soon discovered a knack for educational technology.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, Shelly.
A: I’m a lifelong Texan, living in Dallas in a 60-year-old house. We are constantly fixing things.
I love to travel and I’ve been to 26 different countries. My husband works in technology as his day job, but his passion is martial arts. So a lot of the travel we do is from dojo to dojo where he trains. And since I work remotely, I can work while he trains and still get to visit different places. I do have the travel bug, but I always manage to come home back to Texas.
About four years ago we adopted a rescue dog. He is a Shiloh Shepherd, so he’s a giant German Shepherd mixed with Alaskan Malamute. He’s about 115 lbs. We jokingly refer to him as our “dire wolf.” At the end of a meeting or call, if I’m on a headset and he hears me say goodbye, he comes up to remind me it’s time to take a break. He’s a great office mate in that respect.
We are having our first child in October and we are very excited to welcome her to the pack!
Q: What was your career path like before Remote Learner?
A: I started as a high school English teacher, which I did for nine years. I was also really interested in instructional technology. The first school I taught at transitioned from a regular college prep high school to a math, science and technology academy. So I was an English teacher at a technology academy! We had a lot of technology at our disposal to distribute and use in our curriculum, which was nice.
When I moved to my second high school it was kind of a shock. I got there and there was a computer on my desk with a big sign that said ‘Do not plug in.’ It was nine weeks into the school year before they had the computer set up. It was a big step backwards.I had been so used to using technology everyday in my classroom that I became one of its big advocates on campus.
Q: How did that advocacy role lead to a full-time career in instructional tech?
A: They created positions called Teacher Techs. We were the teachers who got to test out new classroom technology and then we would train our fellow teachers on those tools. I did that for about five years and then I moved to another school district before I became a full-time instructional technologist. My entire job was helping teachers incorporate technology into their curriculum. That’s when I was first introduced to Moodle. I became the district’s Moodle site administrator.I had to train all of the faculty, not just at my campus, but at all campuses in the district.
Q: What do you think is the biggest strength you can offer our clients?
A: Probably my biggest strength – and Remote Learner’s biggest strength as a company – is the amount of experience I have with the platforms. It’s invaluable to have someone who has been working in these things for over a decade, who understands all of the little tips and tricks and intricacies of the setups.
When a lot of people first come to Moodle, they say it’s not very intuitive and can get very complex very quickly. I always counter with “It is that way so that it can be flexible and powerful.” But if you don’t have a team behind you that understands those complexities and understands how to leverage that power, then you’ll never fully utilize what is available. That’s what Remote-Learner brings to the table – people with that experience.
Q: Why is that experience valuable on a practical level?
A: We’ve been the site administrators and course developers in this system so we can look at it from many perspectives and help to coach our clients in best practices. We can definitely lend that expertise to help them get the most out of their platform and offer the kinds of training they aspire to.
Thank you for talking to us today, Shelly!