Professor Margaret Cox OBE
Emeritus Professor of Information Technology in Education
School of Education, Communication
& Society, and the Dental Institute
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
My academic discipline has changed over my education career from Modern Languages to Physics to Information Technology in Education (TEL) to TEL in Dental Education and beyond. I started my undergraduate education at Regent Street Polytechnic (now University of Westminster). After one term I discovered physics by socialising with physics students. I swapped to do A-level maths, physics and chemistry in preparation for doing a degree in experimental physics. After a PhD in Experimental atomic physics and time out to have two children I rejoined University research to develop software to teach physics. From there it evolved to developing and researching other uses of computers in science education, then teacher training, then research into the impact of TEL and from 2000 developing and researching TEL in Dental education.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
My research interests are mainly the uptake, integration and impact of Information technology in Education; the development and uses of haptics in higher education, the research methods to measure these effects and the impact of new representations of knowledge in education.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
My most rewarding achievements have been: to give birth to three children, to develop an academic career while running a family and a very full social life, to repeat this experience now in the last 10 years with looking after grand-children and still pursuing an academic career. Academically, my main achievements have been to pioneer the development of laser technology, to lead the largest educational software project in Europe resulting in over 220 educational software titles in 5+ languages, and to pioneer the development and use of haptics in Dental Education winning four awards for innovations and achievement in education.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
My Grand father William Foyle who with his brother started Foyles bookshop. He had inspiration, hard work and never gave up. My previous boss Professor Lewis Elton, originally who was professor of Physics then professor of Science Education at Surrey University where I worked for 10 years. He was always pioneering research and development into his 80s. Three years ago he won the Times Higher life time achievement award. ( I nominated him).
Professor Paul Black, Science Education (Chelsea then King's College London) for his lifelong achievements and still working at age 85.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
My work has been encouraged and appreciated even though I have now been post official retirement age for 10 years.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
Hard work and ignoring emails and having a ‘can do’ attitude
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
Yes. I have many family commitments, sing in two opera societies, am President of the National Conference of University Professors, on the board of Foyles bookshop and a member of over 10 professional associations.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
The more you do the more you can do. Don’ let missing deadlines get you down. Fellow academics are always willing to help and collaborate. Never give up when grant applications are unsuccessful. Speak out when you have some wisdom and expertise to share. Everyone has a worthy contribution to make.