Tonner-Saunders, Sharon


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Personal profile


Sharon Tonner-Saunders is lecturer in Technologies-ICT and Music in the School of Education. She joined the University in August 2008 after working for seven years as a primary school teacher, where the last four years were spent teaching ICT to all primary pupils.  During this time, Sharon was awarded the British Council's eTwinning Award for Excellence in using innovative methods to connect children with their peers around the world. This followed shortly with Sharon becoming a British Council Ambassador where she shares her knowledge and expertise of intercultural learning with educators around the world.  Since 2018, Sharon has led an innovative intercultural project called Hands of the World (HOTW) that uses music and Makaton to connect learners together to develop their intercultural awareness of others and preserve their linguistic identities.  This project has won eTwinning Quality Labels from countries around Europe, the European eTwinning Quality Label and  the prestigious British Council National eTwinning Award for best project in the UK (2019 and 2020).  The success of Sharon's intercultural work has led to her being invited to be the keynote speaker at conferences around the world where she shares her passion for creating educational opportunities that enable young people to be connected with their global peers whilst preserving their identities.

Sharon's innovative approaches to using technologies in education has been acknowledged at the University where she has been awarded:

  • The School of Education and Social Work's Innovation in Teaching Award - Oct 2019
  • CASS Award for Professional and Public Research Graduates - Jan 2012
  • DUSA Innovation in Teaching Award - May 2011
  • Honorary Graduates Award for Innovative Teaching - May 2010

Sharon's innovative and forward-thinking approach to using technologies has also been acknowledge by a wider community where she was awarded the prestigious titles of:

  • Apple Distinguished Educator - Jan 2011
  • SMART Exemplary Educator - March 2011

Sharon is also a trained Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Ambassador, where she delivers workshops pertaining to protecting young people online.

Sharon's work evolves mainly around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 which states that:

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

She has also been part of the MA (Hons) and PGDE management teams since 2008 through her roles as Placement Convener, Assessment Convener and Group Lead.   She is currently Admissions Convener for the MA (Hons) Programme.


Sharon's current teaching remit is:

  • Intercultural Learning
  • Makaton
  • Digital Literacies - Online Safety, Digital Skills, Search Techniques
  • Digital Pedagogies - Assessment, Online Platforms ,Collaborative Learning, Interactive Whiteboards, Bitmoji Classrooms and Responsive Digital Applications
  • Digital Technologies - Stop Motion Animation, Podcasting/ Radio Shows, Talking Avatars, QR Codes and Scavenger Hunts
  • Music 
  • Theories of Learning - Memory and Information Processing
  • Pedagogies - Motivation and Classroom Management

At University she has also taught:

  • Programming
  • Digital Mapping
  • ePortfolios
  • Social Media Tools

Prior to working at University, Sharon taught in a primary school where initially she was a class teacher then in her latter years she was the primary ICT teacher.

Research interests

One of her research interests stems from the United Nations SDG 4 (Education) where she has an interest in how intercultural learnign can be successfully implemented into higher education.  She is also interested in:

  • linguistic identities
  • communication barriers
  • music and Makaton
  • digital technologies (effective pedagogies)


In Teacher Education in Europe the development of student teachers' knoweldge and competence of:

  • Intercultural Learning 
  • Digital Literacies

The impact of a pandemic on the teaching and learning of

  • student teachers
  • lecturers


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Education, Bed (Hons) Primary Education

30 Sep 200130 Jun 2030

Award Date: 30 Jun 2001

External positions

British Council Ambassador

1 Jul 2008 → …


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