Michelle Ellis ECAWA Leader of the Year 2018

Michelle Ellis named ECAWA Leader of the Year – 2018



The Educational Computing Association of WA (Inc.) is very pleased to announce that Dr Michelle Ellis has been named the ECAWA Leader of the Year.*

Dr Michelle Ellis has been a passionate leader and advocate for IT and Computing throughout her teaching career.

Her initial teaching career commenced with running ICT programs for her schools’ Indigenous students, advancing their use of ICT in the classroom, linking this to other subjects being taught at the time and supporting them so that they were IT skilled.

In her next school, Michelle was an ICT teacher, primarily working with Learning Support students. Michelle was tasked with providing individualised learning opportunities using various software programs for numeracy and literacy. Michelle also had to provide technical support.

Following on from here, Michelle was appointed as Primary Principal in an Independent K-12 Anglican school,  that moved to be an ‘ICT school’. Students were given access to their own bank of computers where ICT based learning programs were developed and integrated with the curriculum. Here, Michelle provided professional learning and support for teachers on how to manage and operate their computers, how to use the various software tools and how to use online materials.

Michelle entered Tertiary Education, taking on a role as an ‘Online Tutor’. As an Online Tutor, Michelle began working with small groups of tutors assisting them with some online teaching practices – for example, how to access various tools that enabled group conversations, team work situations, video conferencing and tutor marking sessions. Michelle was then asked to develop online teaching content for some Education units at ECU.

Currently, Michelle works as an Outreach and Engagement co-ordinator for the School of Science: Computing and Security at Edith Cowan University. Michelle has been particularly tasked with inspiring girls to consider a career in Computing and Security Science. To achieve this, Michelle has taken the initiative to develop several programs that engage all people (primary to adults) of various capabilities to experience various aspects of digital technologies.

Michelle worked to  establish the Girls Programming Network (GPN) here in Perth. In conjunction with the University of Sydney and ASD Canberra, GPN offers coding opportunities throughout the year for female high school students.

Throughout the year, workshops are also held to develop GPN content. This is a chance for teachers to work with industry women, developing ideas (games and sites) often leaving with ideas for their own classroom t eaching. Michelle also encourages the GPN material to be used by the volunteer GPN tutors/teachers back at their schools.

Over 60 girls attend GPN each time with 20 tutors assisting with the delivery of the program. Michelle has been able to reach girls from Geraldton to Bunbury across the three sectors and girls who are home schooled. Michelle is an ardent supporter of exposing girls to computing, engaging them in conversations with mentors  and role models and offering them fun hands on digital technology activities that inspire them and debunk myths. The feedback from the girls and tutors has been positive with most of them returning each time. These community initiatives help to advance ICT in education circles.

Michelle has also created the DigiTech for Schools program. The program firstly, provides opportunities for high school aged students to attend python coding workshops; secondly, use physical devices to explore the tools of innovation; thirdly, deliver whole of school “hack event”s that support innovation and entrepreneurial skills; and offers presentations on soft and technical skills needed to work in the digital technology community. All of these are designed to debunk myths and stereotypes helping to break down barriers exposing the reality about the computing industry. The activities support the Digital Technologies curriculum, with students executing design, systems and computational thinking.

In conjunction with her students, Michelle has developed an after-school coding club for primary and secondary students that offers a structured Coding program where students learn the fundamentals of programming, practice solving complex problems and employ design thinking principles. At WA CodeMakers, the students also explore the capabilities of physical devices creating programs and games along the way. The final weeks allow the students to work on their own ideas (projects) advancing their own computing skills and knowledge.

Another program that Michelle runs throughout the year is lndigiTech. Here Indigenous students attend workshops that support the ‘Old Ways, New Ways’ philosophy. Michelle has developed a series of activities where students use traditional symbols, transitioning this into a binary format finally, representing them digitally. This program exposes our Indigenous students to culturally significant coding practices that serves a real purpose linking the old with the new.

Michelle has also had a key role in hosting Women in STEM days both at various schools and at the university. What has eventuated from these sessions is an ‘at school’ and online pilot mentoring program. One school has 170 year 10 girls developing a GPS App. Michelle has been invaluable helping to coordinate 35 Industry mentors and 35 ECU students with a passion for coding and innovation to become online support/mentors for the girls.

Michelle is a member of ECAWA, currently holding the position of Vice President. ECAWA has enabled Michelle to build her on skillset, network with other like-minded educators, share resources and promote computing in schools. As a committee member, Michelle works with other committee members organising Professional Learning opportunities for teachers based on the community needs. Michelle has been able to use the membership as experts to lead the professional learning sessions enhancing their own professionalism.

Currently, Michelle is a member of the Australian Computer Society- WA branch, Vice President – Education Computing Association WA (Inc.), Administrator – TeachMeet WA, STEAMEd online teacher Facebook communities, Deputy Chair of School Council and a member of WiTWA – TechTrails and Role Model Programs. Michelle has also been able to work with other associations such as STEM, DigiWA, STAWA, MAWA, as well as Girls in Engineering university groups.

Michelle has been recognised by Athena SWAN for her work in championing gender equality. Michelle received the Achievement Recognitions Award for her roles with Girls Programming Network and DigiTech for Schools programs. She was also a WiTWA ’20 in 20′ Award 2018 winner for her work promoting Women in IT.

*This award has also been made to Ms Bhavneet Singh, to whom congratulations are also offered. See  for more information.

Congratulations Dr Michelle Ellis – ECAWA Leader of the Year – 2018!

This text was summarized from the award recipient’s nomination documents.