IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Professor Andrew Burn

Andrew is a Professor of English, Media and Drama, has had a long career as a teacher, and is a melodeon and Northumbrian smallpipes player.

What does your role involve?

My role is primarily to support research across English, Media and Drama, in collaboration with the dynamic teams at IOE who work in these fields. Before joining the IOE - where I've worked for over 15 years - I taught in comprehensive schools for 24 years, as an English, Drama and Media teacher, and as Assistant Principal in my last school.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subject you teach?

The most important thing I learn from my students is the power of theory: they are constantly generating new, powerful explanations for the ways in which society and digital media interact, and it's very satisfying for me to be able to borrow theories from them rather than the other way round.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of our research centre, DARE (Digital | Arts | Research | Education) - www.darecollaborative.net. It's a collaboration with the British Film Institute, and we have conducted a wide range of research projects and events within it, often in collaboration with schools and cultural institutions - The Globe, the British Library, the BFI, for example.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.

I'm working on a new game-authoring tool as part of the MAGiCAL enterprise, which I direct. The prototype for the tool was developed in the project Playing Beowulf: Gaming the Library, with UCL English and the British Library. It enables users to make their own 3D adventure game of Beowulf. The complete version will be marketed through MAGiCAL, which creates game-based software for education.

What would surprise people to know about you?

I play melodeon and Northumbrian smallpipes in a Cambridge ceilidh band, the Great Eastern Ceilidh Company. I keep trying to work these into a research project, but haven't succeeded so far!

What other piece of research outside of your own subject area interests you?

I'm interested in work within UCL Computer Science developing tools for young people to engage with computing and programming in creative ways. Computer Science is outside my area of competence - but it does connect with my research specialisms in media literacy and the media arts in ways that are potentially productive for a more joined-up curriculum in schools.