A brief history of ALT East England 1 year in

#ALTC Blog - 4 hours 30 min ago

Post by Neil Dixon and Alistair Cooper.

Being new to the profession at the end of 2018, I reached out to other Learning Technologists in the region which eventually evolved into ALT East England. We aim to organise three events per year, covering Bedford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Norwich and everywhere in between. So far we’ve held two events and now have over fifty subscribers on our mailing list. Here I give background to the committee and summarise our story so far.

ALT East England summary
Organising committee members 
Jennie Dettmer is an active member of two ALDinHE working groups: Learnhigher and the Conference Working group) Although Jennie works in Learning Development, she has an interest in Learning Technology and she trains others to embed technology within their teaching. Uwe Richter has supported learning technologies at ARU for over two decades, inputting into policies and developing and delivering staff development institution-wide. He also leads on distance and online learning and team-based learning for ARU. He is a member of the Head of e_Learning Forum (HeLF), ELESIG and ALT. Neil Dixon is a Chartered Librarian, member of the eLearning network and the co-host of the ALT Mentions podcast who’s interested in instructional design and pedagogical approaches for information literacy.Keep up to dateSign up for our Jiscmail@alteastengland

University of Cambridge Medical School was kind enough to host our first informal gathering with eleven attendees. We worked on our terms of reference for the group, talked about what our interests were, the priorities for each of our institutions and what kind of events we could run.

We were pleased to be able to host the first meet-up. It was about deciding what this sort of a group could and should do; everyone felt a need for something in the region and was keen to get something going.
~Alistair Cooper (University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine)

University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine. Image: by Alistair Cooper. Gamification event.

UEA offered to host our first event, called Gamification: Pedagogy and Practice, seeing it as a great opportunity to highlight their work on using badges in Blackboard. With fifty attendees the event was a huge success. I was grateful to Charlie Williams (Learning Technologist, UEA) for working very hard to promote the event and recruit presenters at UEA.

Holding the first ALT EE event at UEA was a great experience, both for our Digital Technology team and for me personally. We have a growing interest in gamification here at UEA, and having the opportunity to bring all those people together, and learn from others in the region was extremely valuable. Since the event ended, several people have commented on how great the conference was, and have started experimenting with gamification in their own courses.
~ Charlie Williams (Learning Technologist, UEA)

The range of presentations was enlightening – from tech-enabled escape rooms to gamified marketing scenarios to a great data-driven comparison of the value of different gamified approaches on student grades. The lovely location that is the UEA campus was a bonus!


At ALT-C 19 I helped organise a #learningspaces #twalk at University of Edinburgh (@edteachingspace). Euan Murray and colleagues (Learning Spaces Manager, UoE) were kind enough to lead us on a tour of their informal learning spaces, makerspace, private study space, computer rooms whilst we tweeted our reflections using the hashtags. It was great to see the range of learning spaces at the University, find out what made a ‘sticky campus’ reflecting on what I was seeing in situ making it even more memorable.

An example of a social space at the University of Edinburgh where the slats create an informal boundary between the rest of the building and the seating area. Image: by Alistair Cooper. Supporting attainment gaps with learning technology.

University of Bedfordshire were kind enough to host our second event at their Luton campus. The event drew attendance from around the country, including representatives from Sheffield Hallam University, Keele University and Kingston University.

The University of Bedfordshire was delighted to be offered the chance to host only the second ALT EE event. The theme of the event, ‘Using technology to close attainment gaps’ aligned closely with the University’s aim to take on attainment gaps and do more for students of all ages, abilities, cultures and backgrounds. The event itself was active, communicative, collaborative, and encouraged conversations of real depth and richness between colleagues from far and wide.”
~ Nicholas Botfield (Head of Teaching and Learning, University of Bedfordshire)

Nick presenting at the ‘Supporting attainment gaps..’ event. Image: by Alistair Cooper. What’s next?

Our next event is called Technology-enhanced active, collaborative learning: Challenges & solutions and will be held on the 21 February at ARU, Cambridge.

Neil Dixon, with thanks to Alistair, Nick and Charlie.

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Wikimedia in Education UK Summit, 26 February

#OER20 - 23/01/20

Image caption: The Hill in the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Photo by Daniel Villar-Onrubia, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimedia UK in partnership with Coventry University are holding an event on Wikimedia for educators on 26 February at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab in Coventry.

The keynote will be delivered by Prof. Allison Littlejohn (Director of UCL Knowledge Lab) and Lorna Campbell (Senior Service Manager – Learning Technology, University of Edinburgh), with a full programme of sessions as detailed here. This will include presentations by experienced practitioners on the use of Wikipedia and its sister projects in higher education, research insights, hands-on workshops and unconference-style sessions.

This is a satellite event of OER20, and participants here may wish to register for this event prior to joining OER20 in London. It builds on previous work in the education sector, including a summit at Middlesex University in 2017.

The summit is open to all: lecturers, students, and Wikimedia volunteers. Tickets are £30 for waged attendees and £10 for unwaged.

Date And Time: Wed, 26 February 2020, 10:00 – 17:00 GMT

Location: Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5DD

Registration Link


Announcing the Wikimedia in Education UK Summit

With around 20 billion page-views every month, Wikipedia is an integral part in how people discover information. It is used by students and lecturers alike, and it is one of the most important open educational resources currently available. Recognising the importance of engaging with Wikipedia and understanding its role in knowledge creation and dissemination, some university courses have used Wikipedia as a teaching tool for over a decade.

In the United Kingdom alone, there are around 25 modules across 18 higher education institutions that encourage students to actively engage with Wikipedia. These modules span the sciences, arts, and humanities and range from first-year undergraduate modules to Masters courses. With a variety of approaches, what unites them is that they help students improve their digital fluency and information skills.

Wikimedia UK and the Disruptive Media Learning Lab are jointly organising a summit to bring together people using Wikipedia in the classroom and those who would like to learn more about how it works. The event takes place on 26 February at Coventry University. This a pre-OER20 Conference event.

The Frederick Lanchester Library at Coventry University, home to the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. By Keith Williams, CC-BY-SA 2.0.

The day will feature keynotes from Prof. Allison Littlejohn (Director of the UCL Knowledge Lab) and Lorna Campbell (Senior Service Manager – Learning Technology, University of Edinburgh) as well as talks, practical sessions, and an unconference. Beyond Wikipedia itself, there will be an opportunity to learn about Wikidata, the open source knowledge base that links to Wikipedia.

The day will work from general principles, exploring what students get out of working with Wikipedia, and move into specifics with some case studies from Wikipedia in the classroom and hands-on sessions, and then an unconference session in the afternoon building on the ideas generated throughout the summit. The day will be concluded with a second keynote and a discussion panel.

The summit is open to all: lecturers, students, and Wikimedia volunteers. Tickets are £30 for waged attendees and £10 for unwaged. The full programme will be available on Meta-Wiki with details of how to reach the venue and accessibility.

Registration is now open and we look forward to seeing you there.

The Hill in the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Photo by Daniel Villar-Onrubia, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Original Post: 

Categories: ALT, OER - Conference News

Have a question? Just ask it: using an anonymous mobile discussion platform for student engagement and peer interaction to support large group teaching

RLT Journal - 22/01/20

This article analyses the pilot of an anonymous question and answer mobile application with a large cohort of undergraduate students (460) enrolled on an Operations Strategy Management module. The mobile application allowed students to pose anonymous questions to both peers and staff, create replies and vote on questions posted by other users. The aim of the pilot was to evaluate how this application could be used to enhance communication, engagement and student learning both inside and outside of class time to overcome some of the challenges presented by large cohort teaching. An initial evaluation was undertaken exploring both the analytics attached to the platform and a thematic analysis of the posts. The initial findings of the pilot were positive, with the majority of students installing and regularly accessing the application with use increasing over time. The questions posed demonstrated engagement beyond surface-level memorisation of module content, and there were indications that the application could be beneficial in supporting student community awareness and interaction within large cohorts.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Seeking the next Chair of ALT: deadline for applications 14 February 2020

ALT Announce - 21/01/20
Dear Members

We are now inviting applications from individuals to become the next Chair
of the Association.

The current Chair, Sheila MacNeill, is coming to the end of a very
successful term and we are looking to appoint a new Chair by May 2020. The
new Chair will be supported with a full induction and formally take on the
role at ALT’s AGM at our Annual Conference in London, September 2020. [...]
Categories: ALT, Announcement

Seeking the next Chair for the Association

ALT News - 21/01/20

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) is the leading professional body for Learning Technology in the UK. We represent individual and organisational Members from all sectors including Further and Higher Education and industry. We provide recognition and accreditation for all with a professional interest in Learning Technology. 

Categories: ALT, News

E-learning educational atmosphere measure (EEAM): a new instrument for assessing e-students’ perception of educational environment

RLT Journal - 21/01/20

Universities assess their academic learning environment to improve students’ learning. Students’ experience in e-learning environment is different from face-to-face educational environment. So, in this study a specific valid and reliable instrument was devised for assessing perception of e-students from educational environment, that is, educational atmosphere. Firstly, we devised the primary instrument based on factors constituting educational atmosphere. Then Instrument’s content and construct validity were assessed. Also, Cronbach’s alpha and test–retest were used for studying the internal consistency and reliability of the instrument respectively. The final instrument named ‘e-learning educational atmosphere measure’ (EEAM) consisted of 40 items covering six factors, including programme effectiveness, teaching quality, ethics and professionalism, learner support, safety and convenience, and awareness of the rules, which accounted for 68.53% of variances. Content validity ratio was more than 0.51 and content validity index score of all questions was above 0.81. Test–retest reliability was 0.85 (p = 0.001) and Cronbach’s alpha was 0.943. Assessing educational atmosphere in e-learning settings by EEAM could provide managers and investors with useful information to settle an effective education system by prioritising the necessary changes.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Podcasts and Flipped Learning

#ALTC Blog - 21/01/20

Post by Julian Hopkins

This blog post will summarise some of the literature regarding the uses of podcasts in further and higher education. Podcasts are audio recordings based on the radio programme format – however they differ through their asynchronous availability, typically updating dedicated apps on mobile devices through an RSS feed or made available for direct download (for example, via a VLE). The diagram below summarises and builds upon prior work, showing how podcasts can be produced by lecturers or students, or obtained from third parties.

Although the classic lecture receives much bad press, it does have the advantage of being face-to-face. Speech was humans’ first means of communication, and the “auditory dimension of podcasting” (Al Qasim and Al Fadda, 2013: 33) such as intonation, emotional expression, and tonal variations go beyond the limitations of printed media and offer the potential of engaging with different learner types and forms of cognition. Podcasts have also been argued to support “active, social and creative aspects of learning, and strengthen reflection and self-regulated learning” (Palenque 2015, cited in Dau et al., 2018: 424). Podcasts can also reduce digital literacy barriers and improve access for all students, not all of whom have easy access to personal computers or laptops.

An expected advantage is that they can be listened to during ‘downtime’ – for example when travelling or doing household chores. However, early research suggested that students preferred to listen to podcasts in their usual study context – such as on their laptop in their home, while taking notes (Sutton-Brady et al., 2009: 223). This could reflect their perception of study content as requiring a different interaction to other media that they may access via their mobile device (Bell, 2008: 183–4). However, more recently, Dau et al. (2018) report students listening to the content “on the go,” and perhaps in the intervening years these practices have become more habitual.

Lecture Recordings

The most common type of podcast reported are simply audio lecture recordings. Although they are sometimes dismissed as replicating the lecture’s transmissive mode of content delivery and not leveraging the full range of interactive e-learning opportunities (e.g. Forbes, 2015; Turner et al., 2011; Zanten et al., 2012), they are also reported as having effective use as revision material, for students who miss classes, for those with language difficulties, or for adult learners with multiple commitments (Kazlauskas and Robinson, 2012; McLoughlin et al., 2007; Schreiber et al., 2010; Zanten et al., 2012).

Student-produced Podcasts

Podcasts produced by students can help improve constructivist learning environments (Turner et al., 2011) through engaging them in the reflective production of material and improving problem-solving, collaborative and digital skills that address desired student outcomes in most further and higher education contexts (Al Qasim and Al Fadda, 2013; Fernandez et al., 2015; Forbes, 2015) However, it is important that students are not disadvantaged by the necessary technical skills required to produce a podcast – thus extra training may be needed, potentially detracting from the learning goals of the class.

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash Flipped Learning, Supplementary Podcasts and In-class Quizzing

Flipped learning reverses the conventional linear sequence of in-class content delivery followed by at home application exercises, and uses additional media to deliver interactive and compelling content to stimulate student interest and address a variety of student learning types (Blair et al., 2016; Kazanidis et al., 2019; Rotellar and Cain, 2016). We need more than simple recordings of lectures to properly leverage the flipped learning experience and I would suggest that supplementary podcasts would most benefit learners.

Based on the assumption that shorter podcasts are more likely to be effective, an alternative to recorded lectures is to provide summaries of lectures, or detailed explanations of key concepts or technical processes that are information-dense – enabling students to benefit from being able to replay and check details (Zanten et al., 2012).

Using podcasts of case studies/discussions of key concepts as pre-class preparatory material followed up with in-class diagnostic quizzes (using e.g. Socrative, Mentimeter) would address “the interplay between preclass and in-class activity” that Rotellar and Cain (2016) argue is crucial for flipped learning. Additionally, the quizzes provide a clear context and motivation for students to participate in the active learning. They would also provide a valuable formative assessment enabling students to improve their self-assessment skills and independent study practices.

In addition, as suggested by Wilson (2019) in a previous ALT blog post, including a weekly discussion of received emails, comments, or tweets would enhance the experience for the students and introduce a dialogic element to the podcasts, further leveraging the affordances of asynchronous and mobile technologies, and moving away from replicating the passivity of the lecture experience.


Al Qasim N and Al Fadda H (2013) From Call to Mall: The Effectiveness of Podcast on EFL Higher Education Students’ Listening Comprehension. English Language Teaching 6(9): 30–41.

Bell D (2008) The university in your pocket. In: Salmon G and Edrisingha P (eds) Podcasting for Learning in Universities. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Educaition, pp. 178–187.

Blair E, Maharaj C and Primus S (2016) Performance and perception in the flipped classroom. Education and Information Technologies 21(6): 1465–1482. DOI: 10.1007/s10639-015-9393-5.

Dau S, Andersen R and Nørkjær Nielsen S (2018) Podcast as a Learning Media in Higher Education. In: 17th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL 2018, Greece, November 2018, pp. 424–430. Available at:

Fernandez V, Sallan JM and Simo P (2015) Past, Present, and Future of Podcasting in Higher Education. In: Li M and Zhao Y (eds) Exploring Learning & Teaching in Higher Education. New Frontiers of Educational Research. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 305–330. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-55352-3_14.

Forbes D (2015) Beyond lecture capture: Student-generated podcasts in teacher education. Waikato Journal of Education: 195–206. DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i3.234.

Hew KF (2009) Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: a review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology Research and Development 57(3): 333–357. DOI: 10.1007/s11423-008-9108-3.

Kazanidis I, Pellas N, Fotaris P, et al. (2019) Can the flipped classroom model improve students’ academic performance and training satisfaction in Higher Education instructional media design courses? British Journal of Educational Technology 50(4): 2014–2027. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12694.

Kazlauskas A and Robinson K (2012) Podcasts are not for everyone. British Journal of Educational Technology 43(2): 321–330. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01164.x.

McLoughlin C, Lee MJW and Chan A (2007) Promoting engagement and motivation for distance learners through podcasting. In: 2007. Available at:

Rotellar C and Cain J (2016) Research, Perspectives, and Recommendations on Implementing the Flipped Classroom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 80(2). DOI: 10.5688/ajpe80234.

Schreiber BE, Fukuta J and Gordon F (2010) Live lecture versus video podcast in undergraduate medical education: A randomised controlled trial. BMC Medical Education 10(1): 68. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6920-10-68.

Sutton-Brady C, Scott KM, Taylor L, et al. (2009) The value of using short-format podcasts to enhance learning and teaching. Research in Learning Technology 17(3). DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v17i3.10878.

Turner J, Clark K and Dabbagh N (2011) Podcast Use in Higher Education: From the Traditional Lecture to Constructivist Learning Environments. International Journal of University Teaching and Faculty Development 2(1): 55–66.

Zanten RV, Somogyi S and Curro G (2012) Purpose and preference in educational podcasting. British Journal of Educational Technology 43(1): 130–138. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01153.x.

Julian Hopkins, PhD. Learning Technologist and Digital Anthropologist, City of Glasgow College | |

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Contesting Open Spaces

#OER20 - 20/01/20

Clint Lalonde, Open Education Project Manager, BCcampus

I have long been a fan of social media as a tool for professional development. Cultivating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) using social media tools is one of the very tangible ways educators embody networked learning principles. The ability to connect with colleagues from around the globe has been a vitally important component of my professional life, so much so that social media formed the basis of my Masters thesis a decade ago.

But things have changed since then. Like many others, I have a growing sense of unease with the ways in which my data is being collected and used by social media sites.

We have known for a long time that when we use free products like Facebook or Twitter, we become the product. Our preferences and posts are gathered and analyzed by algorithms for the purpose of better targeting advertising to us.

While users of these platforms have been aware of this Faustian trade-off for many years, we are now becoming all too familiar with the increasingly disturbing ways in which our personal data is being (ab)used in complex disinformation campaigns designed to sway not only our opinions, but the opinions of the friends, families and colleagues in our networks. The bots are running the asylum, and we are the inmates.

While recent privacy laws like the GDPR in Europe and the new CCPA legislation in California are good starts, there are still flaws in relying solely on legislation for protection as lawmakers struggle to keep up with the pace of technological change.

In this environment, the topic of openness in the age of surveillance could not be more urgent. How do open networked educators grapple with this inherent paradox of being open when we know that, by being open, we potentially expose ourselves to the various toxic ways in which our data can be manipulated and used against us? How do we, as open educators who believe that there is real value in participating and connecting with others in the network, do so in ways that are both open and yet resistant?

One path may be a return to the very roots of open education: open source software. Educators who believe in the value of open networked learning as I do can start to formulate an exit strategy to wean off commercial social media platforms and onto platforms that are more in synch with the values of open education. For me that means open source technology platforms.

The relationship between open source software and open education is long and rich. Early open educators were deeply influenced by the open and collaborative nature of open source software. Just as groups of programmers realised that releasing their software projects openly created opportunities for others to contribute, build, and improve on their work, open educators in the late 90’s took those same principles and applied them to educational resources. The open education movement was born and, much like the OER’s that began the movement, open education has been revised, reconceptualized and reborn many times until we now have an entire eco-system of open practices spawned from the original OER movement.

However, as open education has continued to grow, the use of open source software to support open educational practices has not seemed to keep pace, and much of what we consider open education today is built on a foundation of proprietary technologies. This includes the ways in which educators connect with each other to build a PLN.

I still want to build and maintain a PLN. A PLN has been at the heart of my own lifelong learning for over 15 years now, pre-dating Twitter and going back to the early days of blogging. I’m invested. But I don’t want to continue building my PLN on platforms that are increasingly at odds with my own professional values as an open educator.

It’s unrealistic to think that anyone should just shut off a carefully curated network that they have spent years building in Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn (you know LinkedIn is also doing some stuff with your data too, right? They even have a special site for government to explain how they can “Unlock LinkedIn’s unmatched demographic data on 546M+ global professionals” to better reach and influence them. One of those global professionals is you). So instead of thinking of moving to a new platform as an all or nothing affair, I am thinking of this as a long game, one where I am going to have to inhabit multiple spaces at the same time as I transition to new spaces.

One of the open source spaces I have begun exploring is Mastodon, the open source federated social media platform that can be installed and locally controlled by a group of like-minded educators. Mastodon offers many of the same features of Twitter minus the data mining or corporate control.

Like the development of open educational resources is best done collaboratively, using open source software like Mastodon requires more than a lone wolf approach to be sustainable. Which means options for hosting those solutions that are built on are collaborative and cooperative models of shared technology ownership, like the burgeoning OpenETC community in British Columbia that I have been involved with.

As we begin to frame our discussion about what it means to work openly in an age of surveillance, we need to consider deeply the dissonance many of us feel using platforms that do not reflect our values as open educators. It is a dissonance I know I feel daily.

But there are alternatives. There are different ways we can do things that are more resilient and less reliant on commercial platforms. It will take work. It will take effort. But, first and foremost, it will take a willingness to stop doing things the way we are doing them now and do things differently, and OER20 provides us all a fantastic opportunity to talk about how we can go about doing just that.

Categories: ALT, OER - Conference News

OER20 People, Community and Connections…by Deb Baff

#OER20 - 16/01/20

OER20 will take place on the 1st and 2nd April 2020 in London. I’ve been involved in organising the OER Conferences since 2014 and have had the pleasure of helping to review abstracts, chair and present sessions and also attend as a delegate . The OER Conference is quite a big part of my life. For example, I’m involved in OER20 in a number of different ways :


This year’s theme for #OER20 is ‘The Care in Openness’.

The call for proposals focused on caring pedagogies, open educational and scholarly practices as a form of care and asked how we can build sustainable communities and participatory practices with this in mind. There have been several excellent #OER20 guest blog posts that would be worthy of a read if you haven’t seen them yet ( Frances Bell , Laura Santana, Christian Freidrich, Jade vu Henry and Claire McAvina ) and there are many more planned over the next few weeks so make sure you book mark it !

In their opening blog post back in October 2019, the OER20 Conference Chairs Daniel, Jonathan and Mia ask :

What are your thoughts about care in relation to openness, technology and education? What role does care play in your own working days? We hope to gather all the key ingredients that can help blend open education and caring pedagogies. So tell us, what is your special recipe?

Here are some of my thoughts on this ….

Care: Openness, Technology and Education

As a member of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) staff team, I have the absolute privilege of working for an organisation that not only has technology and education at the core of its business but also truly values openness. This is evident and highly visible through the excellent open leadership demonstrated by our Chief Executive Maren Deepwell and Martin Hawksey our Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer and is eloquently highlighted in the series of blog posts and podcasts entitled Virtual Teams : Openly sharing Our Approach to Leadership.

Openness runs through every strand of the ALT strategy and is an instrumental element of our daily working lives. We are a distributed organisation and as such we all work remotely. Our working practices and procedures are very thoughtfully and deliberately set out with such care in a way that it actively encourages well-being and work life balance. I feel very valued and supported in my daily work. I am of course mindful of the fact that this is often not the experience of others.

As Membership Manager for ALT with responsibility for developing member services and our CMALT accreditation, I am keen to ensure that my own approach embodies such a caring approach.

My own experiences within Open Education to date have shaped who I am, and this in turn has shaped my values and my relationships with other people. I believe it is important to connect with others in a meaningful, kind and supportive way. This will ensure the sustainability of our community.

I have been involved with the OER Conference since 2014. I helped to organise the #OER15 Conference ‘Mainstreaming Open Education’ in April 2015. I was quite new to the Open Education world in 2015, and delivery of the conference was a critical output from the project that I was working on at the time (OER Wales Cymru). As Project Manager, it was really high stakes for me that the conference was delivered successfully. Working with colleagues from ALT and the Organising Committee was an experience that I will never forget. I found a community that I loved and I have volunteered to be part of the OER Conference Organising Committee every year since.

The connections I have made through volunteering in this way have also in turn introduced me to the wider network outside of the conference including the Global Graduate Network (GO-GN), #LTHEChat, #ALTC , #SocMEDHE, #BYOD4L and many more.

I have been welcomed with warmth, compassion and kindness in these communities and encouraged to develop and grow. I have been fortunate to have made very many real friends through this process, some of whom I have met in person, others who I am yet to meet in person.

With this in mind, I came across a post the other day on the Hybrid Pedagogy blog by Cate Denial that really resonated with me. In her post, A Pedagogy of Kindness (Hybrid Pedagogy ) Cate gives a really honest account of why she chooses to practice kindness in her teaching and the importance of both believing students and believing in them. She talks about how ‘a pedagogy of kindness asks us to apply compassion in every situation we can and not to default to suspicion or anger’ (Denial, 2015)

‘I’ve found that kindness as pedagogical practice distills down to two simple things: believing people, and believing in people’ (Catherine Denial 2015)

I love being part of the Open Education Community and there are very many reasons for this. Some of which are more tangible than others. If I may, on a very personal note, share that I have found so much strength through connecting with others. Particularly memorable for me is that members of the community treated me with such kindness and compassion during a very difficult time during the #OER15 Conference ‘ Mainstreaming Open Education‘ when my lovely mum passed away. Despite working together for over a year to help bring things to fruition, on the actual day of the conference I was unable to be physically present , choosing instead to be with my mum during her final days.

I wrote this note in a reflection piece in my blog a few years ago …

Sadly my elation at the organisation of the OER15 conference was hit by the sudden illness and subsequent death of my mum which meant that I couldn’t actually attend on the day. I was deeply touched by the sheer compassion and care that I was afforded by the whole Open Community during such a difficult time . My mum actually watched some of it online with me shortly before she died and I was humbled by the mentions and thank you’s that I received which made not only me but my mum very proud. Although each OER Conference will always be a difficult anniversary for me it will also be a joyous time to be involved with such an amazing community….

Being able to still feel part of the conference through joining in virtually provided me with the strength I needed at the time. People took the time to check in with me and support me.  Even though I was not there on the day I still felt included and connected to the community. I was treated with great compassion.

In my view, connecting with people through compassion and kindness is vital in building sustainable open communities. and this is something really close to my heart. It is important for people to gain a sense of belonging.  Kathy and I will explore this further in relation to our session at #OER20 ‘ The Global Heart of GO-GN’ in relation to the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN). We are looking for participants so if you are a member of GO-GN please get in touch with us @debbaff @KathyEssmiller

I love being part of the wider Open Education Community itself. I’m part of something bigger. I feel connected. I feel valued. I care about the community and I feel cared for. I feel I belong. ~ Deb Baff 2017

So for me, the key ingredients that help blend open education and caring pedagogies come down to three things … people, community and connections and it is through engaging with compassion, care and kindness that we can sustain our open education community. I hope to do more of the same at #OER20. Will you join me ?

Debbie Baff


Categories: ALT, OER - Conference News

Analysing construction student experiences of mobile mixed reality enhanced learning in virtual and augmented reality environments

RLT Journal - 16/01/20

Mixed reality (MR) and mobile visualisation methods have been identified as important technologies that could reimagine spatial information delivery and enhance higher education practice. However, there is limited research on the impact of mobile MR (MMR) within construction education and improvement of the learners’ experience. With new building information modelling (BIM) workflows being adopted within the architecture, engineering and construction industry, innovative MMR pedagogical delivery methods should be explored to enhance this information-rich spatial technology workflow. This paper outlines qualitative results derived through thematic analysis of learner reflections from two technology-enhanced lessons involving a lecture and a hands-on workshop focussed on MMR-BIM delivered within postgraduate construction education. Seventy participants across the two lessons recruited from an Australian university participated to answer the research question: ‘Does applied mobile mixed reality create an enhanced learning environment for students?’ The results of the analysis suggest that using MMR-BIM can result in an enhanced learning environment that facilitates unique learning experiences, engagement and motivation. However, the study outcome suggests that to understand the processes leading to these learning aspects, further empirical research on the topic is required.

This paper is part of the special collection Mobile Mixed Reality Enhanced Learning edited by Thom Cochrane, James Birt, Helen Farley, Vickel Narayan and Fiona Smart. More papers from this collection can be found here.

Categories: ALT, Publication

ALT Assembly online meeting

ALT Events - 15/01/20

The ALT Assembly meets monthly online, with two annual face-to-face meetings in March and September.


The meeting will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. If you have not used Collaborate Ultra before, it may be helpful to consult our webinar FAQs at

If you have any specific questions about the ALT Assembly please contact Debbie Baff Membership Manager (

Categories: ALT, Events

ALT Assembly online meeting

ALT Events - 15/01/20

The ALT Assembly meets monthly online, with two annual face-to-face meetings in March and September.


The meeting will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. If you have not used Collaborate Ultra before, it may be helpful to consult our webinar FAQs at

If you have any specific questions about the ALT Assembly please contact Debbie Baff Membership Manager (

Categories: ALT, Events

ALT Assembly online meeting

ALT Events - 14/01/20

The ALT Assembly meets monthly online, with two annual face-to-face meetings in March and September.


The meeting will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. If you have not used Collaborate Ultra before, it may be helpful to consult our webinar FAQs at

If you have any specific questions about the ALT Assembly please contact Debbie Baff Membership Manager (

Categories: ALT, Events

Celebrating the success of the ALT Online Winter Conference 2019

ALT News - 14/01/20

We hope enjoyed the 2019 ALT Online Winter Conference - thank you for taking part! We are celebrating the 2019 Online Winter Conference and it’s success, by sharing this new infographic with you. 

We would like to thank all our presenters for contributing to a very engaging programme of sessions, and our volunteer session chairs for helping things run smoothly, as well as all of our delegates for attending and making it such a vibrant, interactive event.

Categories: ALT, News

Human Data Interaction: The Future of Skills, Education and Training

ALT News - 13/01/20

The Human Data Interaction (HDI) Network Plus is a 3-year programme of supported workshops and funding, structured along a series of core themes related to how people interact with data-driven systems and the implications of those interactions. so far, we have successfully funded six projects on the themes of Intelligible AI and Beyond Smart Cities and we look forward to funding a further 21 projects under the banner of HDI!

Categories: ALT, News

M25-LTG Autumn 2019 Education 4 0

#ALTC Blog - 13/01/20

In November 2019 nearly 60 people attended the Autumn meeting of the M25 Learning Technology Group (#M25LTG) at King’s College London. This event was themed around ‘Education 4.0’ and brought together sessions on education surviving industrial revolutions, what Education 4.0 could look like, holographic lecturers and the ‘cold indifference’ of technology.

The event got underway with an opportunity for participants to experience Jisc’s Natalie 4.0, an immersive learning and teaching experience using Oculus Go to put you into the shoes of a student ten years in the future.

Enter into the 4th Industrial Revolution

Ruth Drysdale (Senior co-design manager at Jisc) started the event with a session entitled “Enter into the 4th Industrial Revolution”. We were provided with an overview of the advent of industry 4.0 and how it will impact the provision of education. Ruth discussed how education institutions need to create rounded, creative individuals who have the transferable skills needed to adapt as the world of work, driven by industry 4.0, evolves.

Ruth Drysdale from @Jisc up as the first session at today’s #M25LTG, looking forward to #Education40. #ALTc

— Dom Pates (@dompates) November 18, 2019

We learned that the broad themes of Education 4.0 cover the transformation of teaching, creating an adaptive model of personalised learning, re-imagining assessment and creating intelligent digital and physical estates. We also saw how the Jisc Digital Experiences Insights report highlights the divide between skills needed for the workplace and these skills being provided to students as part of their course. For example, 69% of HE learners & 50% FE learners recognise that digital skills are important in their future career, but only 41%feel that their course is preparing them for the digital workplace.

Ruth concluded by sharing theJisc Digital Capabilities Framework and the resources Jisc offer in supporting institutions to equip their staff and students to thrive in a digital world.

Creating Education 4.0

For our second session we welcomed Professor Gilly Salmon (Academic Director, Online Education Services) and John Brindle (Learning Technologist, University of Liverpool), who guided us through an hour-long workshop for Learning Technologists on “Creating Education 4.0”. In this workshop, we were asked to step through a portal from Education 3.0 to Education 4.0 (sparkly lights provided!) and share what thoughts and emotions came with stepping into the 4.0 world.

@2standandstare walking through the portal to Education 4.0 at #m25ltg

— John Brindle (@johnbrindletel) November 18, 2019

Following this we divided into groups and, using de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, discussed how we would reshape the curriculum/mode of learning to enable students to make their best contribution to and benefit from the 4.0 world. 

  • Our positive yellow hats brought ideas of learners creating/co-creating their own educational experiences; personalisation, accessibility and inclusivity improvements; flexibility of delivery and a truly international learning experience. 
  • Our cautious black hats noted concerns around losing communities of learners; technology replacing people; lack of human interaction; parity of student/staff digital skills and the issues of Machine Learning for student assessments.
  • Red hats discussions brought feelings of excitement; concern; caution and confidence, all wrapped in the potential of opportunity and lack of certainty as to what the future brings.
  •  And, the creativity of our green hats saw opportunities for using AI, VR and holograms (foreshadowing!); the removal of assessments and students taking ownership of their content and data.

Following our interesting discussions, groups fed back on their conversations and creative ideas for implementation (blue hat) of Education 4.0 ideas for a preferred and viable future and added their discussions/images onto Padlet.

The Holographic Academic

After a short break and more opportunities to engage with Natalie 4.0, Dom Pates (Senior Educational Technologist from City, University of London) took to the stage to discuss “The Holographic Academic” and the potential of holography in higher education.

Dom took us through a brief history of holograms from Kate Moss’s 2006 appearance at the Paris Fashion show to Indian Prime Minister Modi simultaneously addressing voters at campaign events in 2014. We then looked at the example of the “world’s first holographic event at a university” when Imperial College Business School ran a Women in Tech event which provided a live panel discussion with two speakers on stage in London sat alongside two hologram speakers live from New York.

@dompates talking about speculative design. Question, is this how we can design future learning experiences? #m25ltg

— John Brindle (@johnbrindletel) November 18, 2019

Following the introduction to holography, the second part of the session enabled us to discuss “speculative (learning) design” and consider what challenges/benefits holographic projection could bring for an institution based on a series of different “what if…” prompts e.g.

  • What if your institution had perfected a technique for creating interactive holographic likenesses for long-dead experts in a range of academic fields?
  • What if your colleague was asked to deliver a lecture holographically with 10mins notice?
  • What if the union had voted for strike action to protest the imposition of 30% cuts in academic staff in favour of holographic delivery methods?

After discussing our challenges and benefits we took to producing artefacts (a prototype, sketch, video, poster, email, tweet etc) which could support the introduction of holography.

All watched over by machines of cold indifference

Concluding the afternoon, we welcomed Chris Fryer (Senior Systems Administrator at the London School of Economics and Political Science) who provided a different lens on Education 4.0 and gave us a cautionary insight into what we can learn from a history of automation and mechanisation. Chris has blogged about his talk in the LSE Learning Technology and Innovation Blog

"Distributed expertise of the taxi driver has been concentrated into a machine but this time there are no looms to smash". Machine learning at the #M25LTG with Chris Fryer

— TrabiMechanic (@TrabiMechanic) November 18, 2019

Chris highlighted a history of the textile industry and the Jacquard Loom concentrating the profits of the industry in their capitalist owners pockets and discussed a more modern example, explaining the Machine Learning services individuals can rent from Amazon and how it can be used to identify customer churn.

When looking into Learning Technology, Chris highlighted that Machine Learning is being deployed using VLE data points to predict student pass/fail rates and course retention levels. If costs become associated with these Machine Learning metrics they could, if not carefully understood, replace the expertise we have in our institutions. This presentation provided a thought-provoking end to an interesting afternoon and we thank all our presenters and participants for their enthusiasm and engagement.

Our next meeting will take place in Spring 2020 at BPP. Further information, including the event theme, will be circulated via the M25 Jiscmail list closer to the time.

Sue Harrison, Senior Learning Technologist, King’s College London

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Patterns in students’ usage of lecture recordings: a cluster analysis of self-report data

RLT Journal - 09/01/20

Students’ usage of lecture recordings can be characterised by usage frequency, repetitiveness and selectivity in watching, lecture attendance, and social context and location in which students watch the lecture recordings. At the University of Münster (Germany), the lecture recording service was evaluated over three semesters. The data were combined and used for a cluster analysis with the aim of being able to describe the students’ distinct usage patterns. The cluster analysis was performed using partitioning around medoids with Gower distance. Five clusters of students were identified, which differed mainly on the amount of lecture recordings watched, whether the lecture recordings were watched completely or partially, whether the recordings were watched once or multiple times, and the number of lectures the students missed. The five clusters are interpreted as representing different ways of utilising lecture recordings. The clustering provides a basis for investigating the usage of lecture recordings in the context of different approaches to learning and learning strategies.

Categories: ALT, Publication

ALT Assembly online meeting

ALT Events - 09/01/20

The ALT Assembly meets monthly online, with two annual face-to-face meetings in February and September.

The webinar will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. If you have not used Collaborate Ultra before, it may be helpful to consult our webinar FAQs at

The Assembly is the overarching Member committee advising the ALT Board of Trustees. The Assembly is chaired by the President of ALT, Martin Weller, and provides greater representation for Members and in particular Member groups, in the governance of the Association. 

This meeting is open to all Members of ALT who are Members of the ALT Assembly, including:

  • Editors of the blog and journal
  • Members of the Editorial Board
  • Members representing Conference Committees
  • Members representing Member Groups
  • Members representing Special Interest Groups
  • Honorary Life Members
  • CMALT Lead Assessors
  • Members involved in CMALT development
  • Trustees
Categories: ALT, Events


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