MEET THE LEARNING
Dr William Rankin is the Director of Learning and Research for pi-top and leads a team of experienced educators who are creating socially constructionist learning challenges that combine coding, physical computing, and challenge-based learning for primary and secondary students.
Dr Rankin is a learning designer and educator with broad experience in educational technologies. For more than 20 years, he has worked with schools, governments, and learning organisations throughout the world to design, develop, and implement transformational learning.
From 2013 to 2016, he served as Director of Learning on the global education team at Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California, where he had responsibility for developing, promoting, and enhancing new forms of teaching and learning in pre-K to post-20 education. While there, he helped design, implement, and assess the project now known as the Apple Developer Academies, a global program for young app developers. Using student-led, challenge-based learning; research-supported, purpose-built learning facilities; and a holistic curricular design emphasising both technical and human skills. These programs offer late secondary, university, and adult learners the chance to master coding and development by designing solutions for real challenges in their everyday lives.
Before Apple, William worked as an academic in higher education for 24 years, concluding his time as a Professor of English and Honors College Fellow at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas.
Jenny is an educator and a lifelong learner who has recently joined pi-top and is passionate about our vision for learning by making. She has a bachelor's degree in physics from Rhode Island College and an Ed.M. from Harvard. Jenny’s love of science led her into teaching so she could inspire more students to love science.
With over 12 years’ experience as a high school teacher, mostly at the South Shore Charter Public School, Jenny always believed that making things and doing experiments was the most effective way to learn. After five years of teaching, Jenny spent a year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program, where she structured much of her program around making.
Upon returning to SSCPS, she changed her workshop from electronics to a Maker’s Workshop. In 2016, Jenny became the school’s first technology integration specialist, helping her colleagues to use technology to enhance learning and try new things in their classrooms.
Catherine worked in the museums’ sector for over sixteen years and brings expertise in learning research theory and practice. Her PhD was funded by the Arts Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and examined the complex nature of disciplinary and professional learning for higher education (HE) ceramic students at the V&A.
Catherine has most recently led the Museum of London’s academic research, teaching and learning programme. Prior to this appointment, she was Research Fellow at the Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD) based at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London. With a background in Cultural Geography (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Museum Studies (University of Leicester), Catherine is a trained curator and has also worked at the Imperial War Museum and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Catherine was co-editor and author of Museums and Design Education: Looking to Learn, Learning to See (Ashgate, 2010) and Museums and Higher Education Working Together: Challenges and Opportunities (Ashgate, 2013).
Farida’s work at pi-top focuses on constructionism based design and maker-centered learning environments. She works with educators to create purposeful and authentic learning experiences for students. Farida has over 11 years of experience in the education sector including teaching, curriculum development and teacher training in international environments.
In 2018, Farida worked as the educational scientist at the educational start-up FeedbackFruits in Amsterdam where she worked with university educators to identify solutions to didactic challenges whilst developing learning activities for teachers.
She holds an MBA in Educational Leadership from Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland, a master’s in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, she collaboratively carried out research with her peers at TAMK on Cultural Aspects and Online Pedagogy: Building International Learning Communities in an Online Educational Leadership Degree Programme. Their findings won them an award at the EdMedia + Innovate Learning conference.
Nick joined pi-top in the summer of 2018 as he wanted to work with a company that develops new ways to provide constructionist learning experiences that are accessible to all learners.
After completing a Master’s degree in Special Education from Northeastern Illinois University, he joined the faculty at Burley School, Chicago. At Burley, Nick developed his understanding about pedagogy, student-led inquiry, classroom culture, curriculum and assessment which inform his thinking to this day. He also provided local professional development for teachers and administrators through Illinois Computing Educators, the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award, the Chicago Area Reading Association, ThinkCERCA and the Chicago Public Schools.
In 2014, Nick took a sabbatical at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he earned a Master of Education in Technology, Innovation and Education. This provided opportunities to dabble with design thinking, explore Universal Design for Learning and learn through the creation of media for young children. He also interned at the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. Nick returned to his classroom at Burley eager to apply what he had learned and was able to provide constructionist learning experiences in a variety of contexts.