ALTC 2013 Summary – Part 2. A Short Report on each session attended

2. A Short Report on each session attended

Day One

9:30am Registration and networking
Good to catch up with some familiar faces and meet some news ones whilst trying to find the way about!

with Haydn Blackey, and Malcom Ryan

As usual Hayden and Malcolm provided a warm, jovial and thoughtful insight start to the conference.  Focussing on the purpose of the conference being to share, discover and to take back to our communities/workplaces to make a difference.  Suggested that the questions that were being asked 20 years ago are still pertinent today: How can technology be used enhance education?

A government minister popped up on video to utter the #mooc word – but also by stating that his department wanted to enable, rather than dictate a type of technology.

Ford covered the developments that Nottingham had made in producing a “NOOC” – their take on a MOOC but just for all Nottingham students based around sustainability throughout different disicplines.  Nottingham is interesting as it has the “University of Nottingham Ningbo China and University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus offering more than 10,000 students in Asia a Nottingham, campus-based learning experience in English” which this NOOC was also offered to.
A side effect of this was for the need to blitz staff develolpment to ensure enegagement with the NOOC and enable its full potential.
MOOCs have finally put online education on the management’s agenda – although obviously this activity has been going on for quite a while.

Rachel Wenstone had an exteremly detailed speech in which she covered many aspects of the student experience.  A few keys issues were:

  • Students feel bombareded with surverys  – which are not 2-way.  They want engagement beyond this.
  • Student and staff empowerement are two sides of the same struggle against centralised business/mangeeent decisions.
  • those working across disciplines are well placed to look for best practice and trends” & I suggest drive change #altc2013
  • Best example of student engagement is student digital leaders who lead on cpd for teachers
  • A collective student approach rather than one student representing the whole is needed for true partnership

This session was quite political and I hadn’t quite realised how much so.  Whilst I identify with a lot of ‘left’ and ‘liberal’ movements felt in some places this discussion around ideology and purpose of education hit a wall that I sometimes feel with the concept of anarchists.  Are we arguing against a particular state simply because an order has evolved and this argument will take place no matter what type of structure exists or are we actually arguing about the motivations and power structure (and corruption of – i.e. commercialisation of education and life) that we seem to be inexorably slipping towards.

On refection it seems that the majority of TEL: Crisis and Response was based around the latter, rather than just simply railing against the system for its own sake.

Key points:

  • To what extent has elearning/tel been complicit in furthering the crises eg (capitalism of education)or have they been resisting.
  • – more on the crisis in TEL
  • how does technology use reinforce capitalist trends
  • At precisely the moment that our culture needs radical alternatives to market-based thinking, HE is in complete capitulation to it
  • TEL use so far in education increasing digital divide and undermining open education
  • Is the game already up Consumerisation and marketisation seem endemic in education as they way forward
  • Social normalisation of technology… Do we think of paper and pen as a technology… Prob not. #alt2013 (JKAL)
  • Helen Beetham describes an admirable attempt to dev an ‘ethics’ of TEL based around equality
  • Paradox around technology can shift inequalities as well as them… Digital access and engagement #altc2013

Andy Beggan describes the experience and process of producing OER ebooks and resources for students.  Did students actually want ebooks? Apprehensive before using them.

Found greater engagement with the richer ebooks (currently iTunes Authored ones).  Smashwords very good at enabling publishing to multiple platforms.  OER materials were harder to publish via Amazon on a free basis when compared to iTunes.

Are OER resources just being consumed rather than actually reused?

Horses for open courses: Making the backend of a MOOC with WordPress – experiences from ocTEL (396)

Martin Hawksey explained how he constructed the backend of the #ocTEL MOOC using a constructivist cMOOC approach, rather than trying to provide a platform-based approach.  Taking a platform approach is running MOOCS as a service… Like outsourcing email. But they are closed clubs… Not so open access.

RSS and WordPress were the glue holding the different elements of the #ocTEL course together.  Learnt quite a few lessons from using this connected approach… i.e. don’t use e-mail to ask 14k people to introduce themselves – use forums!

The Xerte Project : Sustaining Open-Source Innovation (343)

Xerte was developed as open sourced sofware to enable anone to create digital resources, rather than reylying up on a course team.

Acknowledged that different tools come and go – but you have to use what there is at the moment otherwise you never do anything!

Try to enable lovelvity by open sourcing and allowing people to scratch their own itch in terms of needs and functions, therby extending it for others too.


Trying to build a list of connected resources and information. from the “same people as the Internet” – Tim Boullough

Thinking that should people create something bespoke or use what’s there – could have been created using existing tools such as diigio etc?

Engage Students in Creative Multimedia Content Production a New Pedagogic Strategy Using Web 2.0 Learning Technologies (346)

For tech skills to be acquired by students need to be integrated into work.  Is this the same for staff development?

Raising the profile of technology use amongst learners: Taking control of digital literacy development. (375)

Stuart Redhead Talking about the Exeter iTest test which tries to form a snapshot of students digital literacy and competence.  Was originally paper-based (!) but now online. Open sourced and perhaps being adopted by other institutions.


Susanne Wright showcased the Nottingham implementation of MOODLE and how it enabled parity between students as it replaced two customs one wihtin the medical and business school but enabled wider access through the University whilsyt also retaining the indifuality that these two Schools needed.

The implementation was thoughtfully done, rather than imposed and the impacts of this (good and bad) were look at: ‘Maximising Moodle’ project…total of 77-80 students in 28 focus groups in 3 countries.

Also Academics talking to academics were more convincing than the experts brought in.

‘The eLearning Unit, how can we help you..?’ – reflections on the Learning Technologist’s role in the context of a newly-formed, central Learning Technology team (399)

An insight explanation of the journey a central team have been on within a HE institution when their roles and focuses have changed when supporting the implementation of technology.

Multiple ways of conceptulaisaing both how to respond and how people view them:
Flickr ALTC ID399 for elearning team metaphors

I like to think of the learning technologist role as a bridge…Echoing one option that Tunde Varga-Atkins and Philip Walker think #altc2013


Interesting to meet with new members and discuss ideas.

6:30pm Dinner and social programme
Amazing food, company and a very impressive firework display celebrating 20 years of ALTC! Somehow managed to be in the top 5 tweeters for the day!

Day Two

9:00am audioboo project. Amazing increase in confidence with students using audioboo to improve speaking. Will last a lifetime

Shelia McNeal CETIS Important to fund people think about learning technology strategically

Tek5 team talking about how to enable students from potentially deprived backgrounds using technology they want to use. Amazing result and enabling people to fulfil ambitions and more than they thought possible.

Gloria Vistini talking about TEL, Bristol in School of Modern Language.
Trying to change status quo in HE. 2 step approach for change.Communicate to understand perceptions and assumptions. Then try new technologies and pilot with support. A highly challenging aspect of work as a LT trying to enable change when barriers are put up for change…

FilmBuffs have made a film for their showcase about how they enabled some use of flipped classroom and engaged learners with content outside and inside the classroom even for subjects such as car mechanics.

Andy Beggan presenting about PARIS project about sustainability OERs. Collaborative teams NOOCs. NOOC at Nottingham was available for students and staff, freeing from tyranny of the timetable.


Healthy MOOCs: Going it alone… (331)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

Former colleagues from the University of Sheffield, ScHARR presenting about their running of 2 health MOOCs.  A technical explanation of what platform they picked (OpenSites) and the processes this involved in actually running it from a technical and teaching perspective. How to judge success with running a MOOC – interaction, completion, attendance? How to certify?  Future options –  go with FutureLearn?

NOOCing Nottingham: A sustainable approach to open online courses (402)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

More about sustainability MOOC. Collaborative teams NOOCs. NOOC at Nottingham was available for students and staff, freeing from tyranny of the timetable.NOOC students could get Cert of completion for individual weeks or work on credit for course completion.

Evaluating ‘Thetford Tomb raiders’: Sharing research findings via an App (487)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

Augmented reality app to bring to life the tomb of the tudors on site. Provided technical overview, experience of running the project and a preview of the final product. Key lessons:

11:05am Networking and Exhibition

Building a culture of flexible online learning (482)
Located in Conference Suite 2

Presentation my myself and Kirsten Thompson. – see more in section 3.

Using Technology to Support New Ideas in Language Learning: a ‘TESS Experience’ exemplar covering written and audio assessment in Spanish (364)
Located in Conference Suite 2

Jonny Crook presented about enabling students to create their own ebook in Spanish. Students.  Process of enabling them to create content and great results – wanting to show parents.

12:35pm Lunch and Exhibition

Analytics at the sharp end. (382)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

Looking at how analytics can empower curriculum design at Hull- but only once the information is collected and released. Budget to do this £0 – but done anyway. Can report on individual student as well as trends. Big data has given insight into student behaviour and engaged staff with technology use. Responses to showing data to students showed mixed responses to knowing others activities .

Academics and their online networks: Exploring the role of academic social networking sites (336)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

Katy Jordan presented her research into how academic used social network sites were being used. Compared Mendley and in terms of structure by discipline. The structure revealed that the more senior the academic the greater the degree and centrality.

E-assessment and globalization (479)
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C

Cormac O’Keeffe mess is sometimes a product of social research . Have to distort it into a map. – to try and visualise how globalisation of assessment is taking place. Used Gefi to glean inslights into active network theory using assessment globally. Citations between academic are quite limited to the geographic area and society (Western/Eastern) that they belong to. Further links from

3:30pm Refreshments and networking
6:30pm Gala Evening to celebrate 20 years of ALT and the Learning Technologist of the Year Award

An amazing gala dinner and firework display which kept on going!

Day Three


MOOC SIG Launch (710)
Located in Conference Theatre

The launch of the ALT MOOC SIG group

After-launch video:

10:00am Refreshments and Exhibition

TELUS about it: collaborative approaches to staff development (436)
Located in Conference Theatre

Myself and Sarah Horrigan presented – see more in section 3.

Academic perceptions of differences between teaching face-to-face and online teaching (352)
Located in Conference Theatre

SueFolley outlining her experience of the differences between face to face and online teaching – and the issues and lessons learnt.  Late adopters to online teaching/learning miss interaction, relationship and don’t understand what it feels like for the student.  Teaching online was Challenging and unsettling. New online teachers very anxious about the process. Peer support vital. Sarah Horrigan: Over and over again successful online teaching and learning tech implementation comes down solely to people’s attitudes

Technological innovation and academic workloads (386)
Located in Conference Theatre

Experience of the Queensland University of Technology where blended learning is the norm – but where workload of this has become even more of an issue. Final report available from

11:45am Shuffle time

ocTEL – Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (715)
Located in Conference Suite 2

An overview of the thinking behind and the experience of running #octel – David Jennings (Project Manager), Martin Hawlsey (Technology) and Rachel Harris (evaluator)

Was aimed at professional development for those in HE and FE. #oCTEL participants were trusted to take what they needed from the experience and make it relevant for themselves – a cMOOC. ocTEL slides at Martin Hawksey outlined the connectvieness nature and the tech used in order to enable this:

Looked at anbalytics of how people engaged and interacted with content and each other:

Tutors and partcipants contributed their thoughts after this presentation… including my thought on being a tutor and participant – see section 3.

Discussion over engagement in MOOC and why people drop out. Redefine enagegement as = success:

@bobharrisonset @sheilmcn If you consider MOOCs as events rather than courses, it doesn’t matter whether you complete them#altc2013
We are all #mooc dropouts… Don’t define yourself by completion as success no guilt #altc2013
12:55pm Lunch and Exhibition

Keynote Speech by Stephen Downes, Chaired by Haydn Blackey (104)
with Stephen Downes
Located in Conference Theatre

An amusing and thought-provoking keynote from Stephen Downes with a presentantaion, a Downes back channel (@deborahjudah value of back channel includes ‘wisdom of the crowd’ not just chalk and talk @oldaily #altc2013)

and much wondering around topics. Many topics covered… Cooperation and collaboration. Evolution of networks:

Are MOOCS the answer? Change of culture, precipitated by students? Allowing students to have an impact. Students as educational architects.

New MOOCs are the newer network types – totally everything that the original MOOC network was not:
Google developing software for MOOCs and making a YouTube for MOOCs – everything the original model was not (the star model)

Why do MOOCs fail – they are too formal – should be informal with less structure – and our concepts of predefined success.

Learning resources not courses are a better way of defining moocs (i.e. OERs).

We used to finish a we select bits from news websites. We don’t say they have failed so why say that of MOOCs

Software to create a #mooc same as that to create a @Downescommunity newspaper… Who ‘finishes a newspaper’? No need 2 fin#mooc #altc2013
3:25pm Refreshments
3:45pm Close of Conference

@A_L_T #altc2013 great conference. Great time, good people, excellent networking. Now time to digest back in Sheffield

“@Bulgenen: The cost to attend #altc2013 is clearly displayed on the web site. The value in attending #altc2013 is immeasurable…”

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