Stephen’s “eyes on the horizon, feet on the ground” approach, coupled with a vast portfolio of effective large scale projects over three decades, have established him internationally as a widely and fondly recognised leader in the fields of learning, new media and technology. He has worked, and is working, with governments around the world, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, with schools and communities, with his PhD students and with many influential trusts and organisations.
Stephen’s ICT career (he is credited with being the person who put the C into ICT), began with the UK government’s Microelectronics Education Programme (MEP) in the early 80s, after he had been teaching in secondary schools for some years – which he enjoyed enormously.
Stephen founded and ran Ultralab for almost a quarter of a century, building it into one of the most respected research centres in e-learning in the world – at one time Ultralab was the largest producer of educational CD-ROMs in Europe – before leaving it in 2004 to found his own global and flourishing policy and learning consultancy heppell.net which now has an enviable portfolio of international projects all round the world.
An early pioneer of multimedia – heading Apple Computer’s Renaissance Project (pioneering the development and use of CD ROM in education), Stephen went on to pioneer, and be the guiding “father” of, early social networking in Learning with seminal projects including:
- the pre-internet Teletext and email social networking project *ESW in the 1980s,
- the pioneering nationwide Schools OnLine for the UK Department of Trade and Industry in 1995/6
- Tesco Schoolnet 2000 from 1999 – the then Guinness Book of Record’s largest internet learning project in the world.
- Think.com with Oracle from 1999,
- Talking Heads linking every UK headteacher into an on-line community of practice;
- Stephen created in 1997, and guided for ten years Notschool.net, at the time a uniquely effective project to re-engage children excluded from school by behaviour or circumstances;
- In 2003 Stephen led the creation of the remarkable on-line, work placed, research based, undergraduate degree ultraversity, variants of which are running in a number of UK universities today
Stephen’s long track record of supporting children in making, creating and programming with their computers, rather than just using them (from Logo and Prolog through HyperCard to Scratch today), has led to a string of constructivist projects including the EU funded éTui robotic project for 4 year olds.
In recognition of all this work, along with just 51 others including Sam Mendes, Damien Hirst, Jarvis Cocker, Harrison Ford, Lauren Bacall, Muhammad Ali, Stephen became an Apple Master in the 1990s. Apple were the initial sponsors of his first chair as a young professor in 1989 in his 30s.