The idea for Mirrabook Development Trust CIC originated from some public engagement work that took place at The University of Manchester. Mirrabook's Founder and Managing Director, Cathy Thomas-Varcoe, and Non Executive Director, Ian Miller, were involved in a project to develop a series of free online learning resources for key stage 2 children about Ancient Egypt. The project was a resounding success - there were thousands of downloads internationally within the first few months - so Cathy explored the idea of establishing a business that would enable her to create more free learning for children. With the support of the university's innovation centre, she made a successful application for UnLtd funding to establish the enterprise.
Since the initial UnLtd funding, Mirrabook has gone on to receive Lottery funding and acceptance onto the School for Social Entrepreneurs programme with funding from Lloyds Bank. The enterprise is also supported by the NatWest Entrepreneurial Spark programme.
Cathy has 16 years experience of working in higher education environments, with a particular focus on the development of online distance learning and teaching with technology. Cathy has been involved in all aspects of course development and delivery, including curriculum development, researching and writing, quality assurance and teaching. The courses have ranged from foundation programmes, to non-credit-bearing CPD, to diploma, to undergraduate degree and postgraduate level. More recently she has been developing freely available digital learning resources for primary-school aged children, an area about which she is passionate. Cathy has strong interpersonal skills and is an experienced project manager. She is fastidious about producing work to a high quality and likes to innovate and manage associated change.
As the eLearning Manager for the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, Ian has been instrumental in the creation and delivery of online courses as well as online learning for use within face-to-face teaching environments. His current focus is mobile and new emerging teaching technologies, which are challenging the traditional methods of teaching and learning. Ian has presented at various conferences and workshops, including the Blackboard World Conference. He was recently awarded the status of Nearpod Pioneer for his outstanding effort to change classroom engagement using Nearpod. He is an experienced and dedicated digital learning practitioner with a commitment to the development of open education resources.