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Let’s Meet … Polly Todorova (SEMS)

4 December 2023 Posted in: Articles Tagged: , By: Annette Nembhard

This month we’re getting to know Polly Todorova from the School of Engineering and Materials Science (SEMS).

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Polly, Paulina is my full name. I have been the Digital Learning Technologist in the School of Engineering and Materials Science (SEMS) for about a year now. I cannot believe it has already been a year!

I previously held a similar role at the University of Westminster, where I was a Graduate Digital Learning Assistant. Additionally, I have a background in the film industry, which is related to my current role, as it has helped me with the skills to create resources and videos for training in SEMS. 

Tell us more about your role in the film industry. 

I always wanted to work in film post-production or editing. That is what I did in university and then I specialised in editing. Graduating in 2020 coincided with the onset of the pandemic, disrupting many of the opportunities I had lined up. This led me to think about alternative options and that is when I secured the role at Westminster to be a Graduate Digital Assistant. I did the role for a year until the film industry picked up again, and that is when I started working full time in film, engaging in projects for major streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus, including a few TV series for Netflix. Then I moved on to work with Warner Brothers where I spent another year. One of the projects I worked on, Barbie, has already been released, and another, Wonka, is set to debut in December. It is an exciting phase as much of my work is hitting the screens now. 

A lot of people think I had a creative role in film. When I was changing industries, oftentimes people would say, “oh, you come from a creative background,” but post-production is a very technical role. It includes a lot of data management, asset management, and system maintenance. My proficiency in these technical areas, developed during my time in film, have proven highly transferable and advantageous in my current role. The skills that I gained in editing and client collaboration have found a new application in creating content for SEMS, whether that is for students or for staff. Additionally, my asset management skills have also been particularly useful. For example, in the reorganisation of our SharePoint content, refining files and folder labelling, how we store data and other types of digital resources. 

What do you most enjoy about your current role? 

I find the most joy in my current role when engaging in project-based work. It is during these moments that I am most excited because that is where I truly get to learn new things and where I get to shine the most. Also, I was not certain about the extent to which I would utilise HTML and CSS, but over the past year, I have found myself working with them more frequently – creating all sorts of buttons and different activities. Exploring coding, especially delving into HTML and CSS, has proven to be an interesting aspect of my role. I have also picked up a little bit of Python as well, but it is still early days!  

Tell us about some of the projects that you are currently working on.  

There are so many! I guess the most important one is the module audit. We aim to standardise the layout and structure of most SEMS modules, ensuring consistency in tabs and overall presentation, aiding students in easily locating information across various modules. The same approach is being applied to the organisation of assessments, with the implementation of a standard assessment naming convention across all modules. This ensures a uniformed system for students, regardless of the module they are accessing. 

Another project we are working on involves refining the process of collecting feedback from students for our modules, separate from the National Student Survey. We created a Microsoft form which has been embedded into each module. Subsequently, we have created an Excel sheet accessible to our reps, allowing them to filter and retrieve specific feedback for modules. We hope that this streamlined system will enhance our ability to gather and utilise valuable input from students. 

We are also considering the possibility of conducting tours of the labs as interactive activities. For instance, participants could click on different machines during the tour, triggering videos demonstrating how to use each machine. This is still under discussion, but it would be a great project to work on soon. 

One more project I would like to mention is around the workshops I deliver. I deliver workshops aimed at assisting academics in maximising their use of QMplus and other technologies, for example setting up assessments and creating reading lists, among other topics. 

What are your hobbies? 

The thing that I have been the most passionate about is the past few years is weightlifting. In Bulgaria, I used to take boxing more seriously, but upon relocating to the UK, it suddenly became quite an expensive hobby! I still go every so often and I enjoy running. 

I also have a keen interest in travelling. During my university years, I did not manage to explore as much, and my initial plans to travel extensively after graduation were disrupted by the pandemic. Now I can redirect my focus towards travelling more as I have realised that it is something I really enjoy.

Lastly, I enjoy learning languages, albeit a painful process! But as soon as I get through the awkward first years of saying everything wrong and everybody not understanding me, it becomes fun! 

What languages are you learning? 

I am currently studying Italian, Turkish, and Russian. I attend Italian lessons on a weekly basis and during my free time I am learning Turkish. Additionally, I am also casually progressing with learning the foundations in Russian. It is easy to pick up as it is similar to my native language – Bulgarian. Learning languages has also been a great way to connect with my friends.

Quick-fire questions 

  1. Coffee or tea?
    Coffee 100%! Everybody in the office knows – always. 
  2. Cats or dogs?
    It’s a hard question. I love both though, but I will take cats for now. I’m in a cat mood at the moment. 
  3. Books or movies?
    Oh, movies.  I’m always a filmie at heart. 
  4. Twitter (X) or Instagram?
    Oh, Instagram. I have never used Twitter. I have never had an account with Twitter. I have always been on Instagram.  
  5. Online shopping or in store shopping?
    In store – I prefer seeing it in person. 
  6. Favourite app on your phone?
    I’ll say Duolingo. 
  7. Favourite artist (music)?
    There’s a Bulgarian group that I have been really enjoying recently. They are called MOLEC. 
  8. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
    Teleporting or going back in time would be fun. 
  9. Favourite type of cuisine?
    Oh, Korean, all the way. I do not need to think about that one. 
  10. What is your hidden talent?
    I can raise my eyebrows very quickly! 
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