Here’s a riddle for you; how do you forge a career from working in technology and research with children? With a little determination and a lot of heart.
It’s no easy feat, but Dr Joanne Orlando has done just that. She’s the researcher discovering the effect technology has on kids that grow up with iPads and screens dominating their world. With technology constantly evolving, her research is completely uncharted territory; which means it’s a career path with major flexibility and excitement at every turn.
“My goal is to make kids’ lives better, by developing the knowledge of the adults that look after kids; parents, teachers, Government policy makers and IT companies.”
She’s previously worked in media, as a writer and education adviser on Playschool, and works with major companies like Apple to ensure that technology is empowering to the children that use it. She’s empowering adults too, by working as a speaker to spread the word on her pertinent research – a role that sees her frequently travelling all over the globe.
“The coolest part of my work is that I get to see how smart kids are. We all do because kids can often do amazing things with technology, often well in advance to what we expect them to be able to do.”
Her work spans across dynamic areas such as keeping the internet safe for kids by identifying dodgy algorithms that break kid-friendly restrictions, all the way to teaching high school students how to develop 3D holograms of famous historical figures or buildings – the 21st century version of the near-extinct diorama project.
“Many women from Saudi Arabia come to study with me. They are pioneers trying to make change in girls education by enhancing the ways girls use technology. I love working with these women in helping them to do that.”
If you’re after the recipe for a career like Jo’s, here’s the secret: work hard, and never stop searching for new opportunities. She started her career as a teacher before making the move to media, earned herself a PhD along the way and began her research. It’s taken time to build the profile Jo has earnt in her career, but it’s easy to stay determined when you’ve found your niche.
“I think the biggest antidote to failure is being passionate about your work. You can’t fake that, and if you love it then others want to work with you. My passion isn’t wavering so this must be the right line of work for me.”
Dr Orlando’s pathway to technology research:
> > Bachelor of Education, Catholic Teachers College
> > Diploma of Teaching, Catholic Teachers College
> > Masters in Education, University of Western Sydney
> > PhD in Philosophy (Children and Technology) University of Technology, Sydney
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.