The other week I was lucky to be able to attend the 10th Association for Learning Technology conference (ALT-C 2015). This event took place over three days and had 4 keynote speakers, 185 sessions and somewhere in the region of 500 delegates. As you can expect there was far too much happening for me to mention everything here but I did my best to attend as much as I could and it was exhausting. Here’s a brief summary.
Conference program: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2015/programme/#/day1
The conference themes were:
- Harnessing the power of the crowd – collaboration and connectivist learning;
- Social media in learning and teaching;
- Open educational practice;
- Learners as agents of change;
- Participatory approaches to the development of learning technologies.
In addition to the main conference themes there were a few themes I felt appeared during the conference. Although this is based on the sessions I chose to attend.
- Digital Literacies and Digital Capabilities – I don’t think I went to a single session that didn’t have this as a component.
- Innovation Challenged – The struggle to be innovative whilst dealing with the constraints of institutional structures and reduced funding.
- Learning Analytics – This has been a hot topic (and growing hotter by the year) for a while now. With the educational sector still wrestling with this on several levels and will for years to come.
- The Students Voice – Always important!
- Bridging the Gap – This can be seen in a number of contexts whether between Learning Technologists and Academics, Students and Institutions, aspirations and reality. The stuff of a good presentation!
- MOOCs – Still a strong showing but a much more measured attitude than the hype of previous years. A possible maturing of this area of TEL.
- Virtual/Augmented Realities and Google Glass – There seemed to be far more sessions covering these topics than I remember from previous years. I think the availability (with falling costs) of such systems is a key factor here. With a number of high profile VR systems coming to market over the coming year I hope to see even more next year.
My Favourite Session
I have to say that this year it has been rather hard to pick a single session I liked above the others so I’ve chosen two.
Crime Scenes: cultivating colleagueship and enabling connectivist learning.
This session I loved for its ingenuity and creativity. Technology was used to enhance the educational experience of the students who had to investigate fictitious road accident using whole range of skills such as maths, communication skills, and digital literacies as they investigated the scene and attempted to solve the crime. In fact my only complaint was ‘I wanted to have a go!’ If only they could have set the scene up in the main foyer for us to attempt to solve.
Maybe something to consider for next year’s #altgame…
The second choice for my favourite session is for one of the Keynotes. Jonathan Worth, a Senior Research Associate at Newcastle University Open Lab who talked passionately about both the benefits and dangers of the connected, digital life. Drawing on his experiences as a professional photographer and educator he challenged the audience to consider the sort of life (digitally) that we are living in today.
Find out more at http://phonar.org/.
University of Leeds was well represented at ALT-C. Not only with a number of presentations but award winners too (ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2015).
Winner: Digital Learning Team, University of Leeds
Highly commended: Luke Burns, Teaching Fellow, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Leeds ALT-C Presentations
- Developing geological field skills using serious games created in Unity
- Blended Learning Essentials: a new open course for Vocational Education and Training
I enjoyed this year’s ALT-C conference which I think has been one of the best thus far. It was a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues from across the country (and further afield) as well as make some new friends. With a busy year ahead of me in my new post, I’m already thinking of possible conference paper ideas for next year.