Meet Julien Rovira, our latest Edtech Superhero.
Julien has been a long-standing educator since 2002. His journey to education is far from the ordinary, and full of interesting experiences which he shares with us below.
From his early days as a carpenter to his current role as the head of IT at the International School of Lausanne, he has continuously pursued work that he loves and is passionate about.
Julien strives to make a positive difference in education and embrace new technologies. He has carried these traits through to his current role which is evident in offering students the option to learn from their preferred operating system.
His work to create a positive difference is also evident in his mantra for this year which is,
“in the waves of change we find and embrace new opportunities.”
This is right in line with Julien’s love for innovation and his ability to adapt in times of change.
Let’s dive in!
The journey to Education Technology
1. What’s the first thing you do to get your day going?
I always start my day with a warm cup of water with some freshly squeezed lemon followed by freshly squeezed orange juice, as apparently, it helps the digestive system to keep hydrated and provides a boost of vitamin C to get me in the right frame of mind for the day.
That’s how I start my day.
2. Which music artist best describes your working style?
I’m a music producer myself and I have many music artists, and fans with varying styles, so I don’t have a particular style. I like it all.
I love music because it gets me in a good mood so I love it all.
I have to think carefully just to pick one that represents my style, it would have to be a DJ and a producer, his name is Boris Brejcha.
He’s a very famous German DJ and record producer. His music has an enormous amount of energy.
His music is not everybody’s style as it is electronic music.
When he does his concert, he wears a mask but he puts in so much energy in his set.
I believe that is the best match for my style because I like to be full of energy and full of enthusiasm in all I do.
It’s also true that as an educator when you’re at home you have a particular mask that represents your personal life, but when you come to school you put a mask on, you become an actor and you act as a teacher or as an educator.
3. Do you consider yourself a team Google or team Apple?
Neither. I’ll be completely straight right off the bat.
We are in a multi-platform era and working with multiple systems and devices. I prefer to consider myself an IT Support service team.
We embrace all educational technology here at our school and not just Google and not just Apple. We have both.
We also try to make sure that our students are exposed to a variety of technology that exists so that they’re better equipped when they’re going into the workforce.
4. Can you tell us a little about your journey? Where did your interest in education begin initially?
I have to think back on my youth and how I wanted to become a teacher.
It’s been a long journey to get to where I am now.
It all began because I am both French and Australian, I was born in France and at the age of 12 went over to Australia.
This meant that I became bilingual and the fact that I could speak two languages already at secondary school, made me consider the probability of teaching.
When I was in school, I was attracted to the idea of teaching because I imagined all the extra holidays I’d be able to go on when the students are on break.
And so the two came in together and there has always been the aspiration of perhaps one day becoming a language teacher.
That was how the seed got planted, but while I’m bilingual, language is probably not, my cup of tea.
I went back to Australia, to do my secondary schooling there. I finished school quite early, I was done with year 12 when I was only 16 and a half probably younger and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
So at the time, all I wanted to do was surf because I was in Australia, and the beach was easily accessible.
I just wanted to do a job from Monday to Friday and party with my friends on the weekend. I started in hospitality and it was not for me because it was in the evening and weekends and I missed out on all the parties.
I was lucky enough to be with my sister’s husband who at the time was a builder and he took me on. I’m a carpenter by trade and I did five years in the building industry.
Unfortunately, after working 4 and a half years in the carpentry industry, I had an accident, it was a thrombosis, which was not a job accident but something with my body.
This meant I was not suited for the building industry. I loved creation and building. That was my passion.
Part of doing an apprenticeship in Australia is to conduct some theory work at TAFE. I was lucky at the time that my teacher was also a surfer who I happened to become friends with. It is he who inspired me to go back to university to become a design technology teacher.
I was motivated, I love creating and he said; “Hey Julien, you should consider doing the course that I did at university to become a design teacher.”
I thought what a great idea, why didn’t I ever think of that?
I inquired and sure enough, found this course. It was one of these amazing courses back in ’98 where you were guaranteed a position at the end of university because there was a shortage of design teachers.
So I went back to university as a mature student with many other trainees like plumbers, electricians and builders. It was really interesting and therefore I did my teaching degree that way and became a teacher.
I qualified at the end of 2001 and I think it was a great time to become a teacher because this is when technology started to come into schools.
That time we had a unit at university, back in 1998, which was all about communication and we learned PowerPoint.
Being a design teacher, I did all the practical stuff working with wood, metal, and plastics, but we also did all the tech-related work like computer design and manufacturing pneumatic electronics and all that and of course, there was IT.
That came in and I became a qualified teacher in a private school and all of a sudden I found myself doing some design and IT. I became the IT Coordinator for the primary school and then started developing computer labs and then next thing we’re providing laptops for teachers and everything started just kind of expanding out.
That’s how I became an educator in the field of IT, but at the same time, I still teach design.
I teach one class on design today and I’m very glad that I do because it’s really important as head of IT, even though it’s primarily an admin position, it’s really important to still have a foot in a classroom because at the end of the day if we’re in education it is because we have students, if we don’t have students, there’s no need for educators.
“…at the end of the day if we’re in education it is because we have students, if we don’t have students, there’s no need for educators.”
It’s good because being in the classroom and being in touch with the students means I can make sure that the provision that we put in place and set up for our school meets the needs of both the students and teachers.
Most IT Administrators are not teachers as they’re coming from the support side so they’re actually engineers and administrators.
For me, having insight from the IT side and still being able to be a teacher and still have your influence is an amazing opportunity that I value dearly.
Then of course an opportunity came up in Switzerland and I grasped it and here I am. This is now my 12th year here at Lausanne.
I’ve only been teaching one lesson for the last 10 years, but I’m very happy to be in a dual role in a way.
5. What inspires you the most in the Edtech space?
I think my job is always exciting because it never stalls and that’s the nature of IT. But just like IT the nature of education is also constantly changing.
For me, the two go hand in hand nicely. It’s our role to ensure that as the industry changes we need to reflect those changes in education as well.
So if I had to think of what inspires me the most in the tech space it would be the fact that we are exposing our students to new technology trends so that we prepare them for the world tomorrow.
“…we are exposing our students to new technology trends so that we prepare them for the world tomorrow.”
We’re fortunate in a way that in education we’ve got access to these new technologies. The other advantage of that is because we’re education we’ve got very attractive pricing for services or sometimes even free such as google workspace for education and that’s a huge bonus.
The same thing goes for Office 365 for education Microsoft, they are throwing lots of freebies as well and quite rightly so because they want students to learn their platforms so when they finish school they are competent users of those platforms.
That’s what gets me excited. The fact that we are always staying up to date with technology and we’re looking for ways to embed it into the classroom.
For example, now we’re looking and developing more of a maker space, which is like another design room. We’ve done the work on augmented reality, we’re doing a little bit more virtuality, but now we’ve got this mixed and extended reality coming in, which is great.
Now we’re looking into doing some links with universities because they are the ones who are doing the research and the government is funding universities for researching that.
So we found out that if we can have ties with universities, we can start to bring those technologies into the school.
6. What do you think educators can take away from the past 2 years in their dealings with the challenges that have arisen through the pandemic?
I must say the last two years of the pandemic have been difficult for many.
My advice to educators is that they need to be as adaptable as possible in what has become a more complex society.
In a society where there is constant and rapid change. Things change quickly and those changes can impact us. So as teachers, I think more than anything, we need to be more adaptable and not just gotta set in our ways to do things.
An author once said, “Vulnerability is the best place for innovation, creativity and change.”
“Vulnerability is the best place for innovation, creativity and change.”
I think while the two years of the pandemic were a dramatic event, they showed us exactly that we became collectively vulnerable, but we all adapted fast with teachers having no choice but to be creative in delivering online lessons as well as upscaling themselves more quickly than if we continue to plan our continuous professional development.
So while the pandemic was a dramatic event, and vulnerability, it also brought some positive movement in education.
7. What is your Mantra for the year?
I try to have a positive mantra every day. So here’s the one I came up with and I said “in the waves of change we find and embrace new opportunities.”
“in the waves of change we find and embrace new opportunities.”
I think a lot has changed in the last two years and we need to trust that a new direction will emerge from these changes that will be right for our society.
Edtech Superheros in the world of Education
Thank you very much Julien for taking the time to chat with me and take me through your incredible journey in education. I hope you all look forward to implementing innovation, creativity and change in your spheres of influence.
Read more about our EdTech SuperHero series, a series that was inspired by International Women’s Month. I’m exploring the themes in our greater series to draw attention to the role that we all play in creating a better and safer world for our students to learn and grow in.
If you would like to have a chat with me about the state of Education in your region or globally, or would simply like to share some tools and tips with other educators, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to have a conversation with you.
Team Mobile Guardian