ALT

OER20 Conference: Call for proposals now open

ALT Announce - 17/10/19
Dear Members

We are delighted to announce that the OER20 Call for Proposals in now
open. The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2019.

The 11th annual OER conference for Open Education research, practice and
policy will be co-chaired by Mia Zamora, Daniel Villar-Onrubia and Jonathan
Shaw. Read more about the conference co-chairs
<https://oer20.oerconf.org/meet-the-co-chairs/>.

The conference will be held from 1-2 April 2020, in London, and is themed
around Care In Openness. Covering issues of privilege, equity, precarity,
power relations and public interest, OER20 will put the spotlight on both
the value and limitations of care in open education. [...]
Categories: ALT, Announcement

OER20 Conference: Call for proposals now open

#OER20 - 15/10/19

Organised by the Association for Learning Technology in the UK, this is the 11th annual OER conference for Open Education research, practice and policy.The conference will be co-chaired by Mia Zamora, Daniel Villar-Onrubia and Jonathan Shaw.  Read more about the conference co-chairs.

We are delighted to announce that the OER20 Call for Proposals in now open. The 2020 conference will be held from 1-2 April 2020, in London, and is themed around Care In Openess. Covering issues of privilege, equity, precarity, power relations and public interest, OER20 will put the spotlight on both the value and limitations of care in open education.

We are particularly interested in receiving proposals from people who have an interest in the following conference key themes:

  • Theme 1: Openness in the age of surveillance
  • Theme 2: Sustainable open education communities
  • Theme 3: Open education for civic engagement and democracy
  • Theme 4: Criticality and care in open education
  • Theme 5: Caring pedagogies and designing for diverse communities of inclusion
  • And also Wildcard submissions : open education practice, research or policy session proposals that address the overarching conference theme.

We have a number of submission formats this year, including:

Reflective practice presentations Reflective practice presentations offer a contribution towards the practice of open education, e.g. case studies, descriptive accounts, etc., but with a reflective and critical component.

Time: 20 minutes (typically 15-minute presentation, 5 minutes Q+A)Abstract word limit: 500 Research presentations Research presentations offer a theoretical and/or empirical contribution towards open education; located clearly in the field through, for example, a literature review.

Time: 20 minutes (typically 15-minute presentation, 5 minutes Q+A)Abstract word limit: 500 Workshops Workshops may follow a variety of formats, but all are hands-on, engaged and interactive. Due to the high demand for these sessions, we have to limit the number of workshop proposals to those who clearly demonstrate how participants will engage.

In both cases, please specify the topic, format, chair of the session, and all participating as facilitators/panel members.

Time: 60 minutesAbstract word limit: 500 Alt-format [7 minutes maximum] Alternative short formats are very welcome, e.g. demos, Pecha Kucha, spoken word, TED-style talk, multimodal presentations, performance, improvisation, screening a digital story, web content, etc. This format asks you to be creative, to share an idea in a way that speaks to hearts and minds.

Time: 7 minutesAbstract word limit: 500 Open spaces Facilitate spaces for people to engage in emerging conversations. We invite experienced facilitators to offer to create a space for participants to interact and engage with issues during conference. Please provide as much information as possible regarding suggested topic/question, format, anticipated time requirements, anticipated number of participants, how participants will engage, etc.

Time: 30 minutesAbstract word limit: 500

To submit your proposal, please visit our OE20 Conference website where you will find full guidance, and our submission form. The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2019.

Categories: ALT, OER - Conference News

OER20 Conference: Call for proposals now open

ALT News - 15/10/19

Organised by the Association for Learning Technology in the UK, this is the 11th annual OER conference for Open Education research, practice and policy.The conference will be co-chaired by Mia Zamora, Daniel Villar-Onrubia and Jonathan Shaw.  Read more about the conference co-chairs.

Categories: ALT, News

Maren Deepwell in conversation with Pat Lockley

#ALTC Blog - 15/10/19

This time I am joined by Pat Lockley (@pgogy), Chief Pogoing Penguin, Pgogy Webstuff. Pat’s work has long inspired me and one of my favourite projects that Pat is involved in is the PressED Conference – a tweeting WordPress conference. So I am particularly excited to find out more about Pat’s work and what’s on his mind just now:

Maren: Tell us about what you are currently working on?

Pat: So I’m mostly working on a glaucoma disease progression and treatment model for Moorfields / UCL. I’ve only just finished a version of it, and the delay is largely down to the fact it’s hard to stop helping prevent blindness to answer questions.

How does an ALT member end up here – well, it started with working on various courses to help build capacity for ophthalmologists in West Africa. These courses happen on UCL’s Extend platform, and are available to various cohorts as part of a blended learning project with the online courses used as a prerequisite of a practical course in West Africa. So I started out making articulate content for them. I’ve seen a lot of sliced up eyeballs for my troubles…..

Bar that, I am working on a few WordPress sites (I pretty much am always doing this). Just finished migration the Sociological Review onto WordPress. Helping out with a UWE / Loughborough / Warwick project on storytelling and droughts with some visualisations. Helping a charity to develop a new theme, moving another charity to a new host. Just helped the Foundation Year Network to get more from their WordPress install. I work on a ridiculous number of projects at any one time. I am sure I’ve missed one. 

I spend a lot of time in WordPress, and so I’m helping out the WordPress Governance Project – https://wpgovernance.com/ . The goal of the project is try to introduce a governance structure so people using and developing WordPress know how and what decisions are being made. Anyone who is interested can get involved in the project, so join in if you want to contribute.

Individually, though this may question the meaning of the word “work”, I am working on giving back to projects I use, perhaps not use, perhaps rely on. So as well as the governance project I help out with WP Campus Security Blog (https://wpcampus.org/category/security/). Which is a vital read if you’re using WordPress at all. WP Campus is worth a look too. It’s an awesome conference on using WordPress in Education – https://wpcampus.org/. They organised a fund to help sort out the accessibility issues in the new WordPress editor. Really important stuff.

Longer term, I’m working on building a WordPress security tool, an improvement on the neoliberal tyre fire that is openness, and a top secret project to help get rid of some of the barriers that mire almost every thing in elearning.

Maren: What influences your work? 

Pat: Choice. There’s nothing more than I dread than saying no. That’s not through some acquiescent, submissive character trait but just the sense of admitting something isn’t possible saddens me. Perhaps there’s a terrier like never quit trait in me that just wants to get things done.  Do I believe there’s such a thing as a lost cause? No.

Before I got into elearning, I was in IT support. I spent a long time working out how to fix problems. It was a bit of a culture shock to suddenly have such big systems around me which I couldn’t change / or couldn’t be changed at all.

When writing code to make open source, it’s always on the back of your mind how others may use it. So you’ll see little side paths and short cuts all the time. An example of this is when me made the laws MOOC for the University of London. You can see some of the thinking behind it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw6mmKtKduo. We tried to assume there was never one path everyone would take and built accordingly.

Maren: Current recommended reading?  

Pat: Oi Cat, Oi Dog, Oi Frog and Oi Duck-Billed Platypus. Three seminal elearning texts and not just what I read to my kids before they pretend to go to sleep. They all focus on the dangers of rules and taxonomies created by unquestionable, unelected dictators. Which is basically elearning naming conventions gone awry.

The last education book I read was Illich’s Deschooling Society, which introduced “false public goods” to me as a concept. I’ve found that a really useful tool to look at a lot of things.

Maren: How do you make your to-do lists.. analogue or digital or both? 

Pat: Well, I tend to work on the basis that if it’s important I’ll remember it. I use trello a bit on projects, but I tend to spend a lot of time coming up with new cards and ideas so things tend to get cluttered. Once to-do lists become two dimensional things tend to get a bit weird.

I’m very stream of consciousness in most things, so I tend to not think to do, but instead just do.

Maren: On work travel, you are never without..? 

Pat: Dongle, my almost classic car age Nissan Micra. I have my phone and laptop too, but sadly I’ve not named them yet.

Maren: Which learning technology makes the biggest difference to your work (and why)? 

Pat: XAMPP (https://www.apachefriends.org/index.html). XAMPP is an easy way to get a web server onto your laptop. Once you’ve got a webserver, you can install WordPress, Moodle…. a fair lot of elearning tech. Using this you can really open up open source code and start to make changes and learn how things work.

Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?

Pat: Back in the day, I had a band, and on myspace bands had to list their influences on their profile. My band has “who wants to be influenced anyways”. That’s very much my take on heroes. However, we live in a time of imposter syndrome and increased anxiety, so anyone one of you working at a public college or university, working to help people learn, working to help increased public knowledge, is a hero to me.

Someone asked me this question about 7 years ago. The person I named has sadly gone downhill so fast that I am loathe to name someone again in case I’m cursed. However, it might be that I see a lot of villains and not heroes. There are so many people out there who need to really stop and take some time considering their influence and being more careful with their words. There’s so much self-publicity masquerading as debate. Some silver tongues covering us brass necks.

You didn’t ask me to list the villains though. Shame eh

Oh, Natalie Lafferty’s bravery in doing the pressED (pressedconf.org) conference with me was somewhere beyond heroic. 

Maren: If you had learning technology superpowers for a day, what would you change? 

Pat: I’d fly around and gather up every VLE and then fly to the nearest black hole and push them in. Then I’d take that black hole and push that into another black hole. Then I’d take that black hole and push it to the edge of the universe, take a selfie with it (black holes have lovely smiles) and then leave it. I’d still write every now and then, I’m not a monster.

If you think that’s excessive, ask yourself if I’ve really made them harder to use and more inaccessible by placing them in a black holes at the edge of the universe?

To be immodest for one brief moment and paraphrase Bentham, but VLEs are no longer nonsense on stilts but nonsense on stilts on rollerskates. Calling them wobbly gives the false impression it was ever not wobbly.  It’s not even the fault of the VLE, it’s the fault of sending one tool to do a million jobs, and finding that masters of a trade beat jacks-of-all-trades. The single tool culture / approach / methodology is just a sunk-cost fallacy. 

Giving people a choice of system brings overheads, but using a system which has an ability to be slightly more varied would be a good start and I suspect start to reduce time spent saying “no, it can’t do that”

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags?  

Pat: #pressEdConf19 #pressEdConf18 because I am biased. #lthechat is good.

#altc is also good, and you get to appear on one of those network diagrams Martin draws each morning. It must take him ages to do. He should be paid more.

Maren: What’s the best way for someone to learn more about what you do?  

Pat: If you’ve got this far and you’re still interested, @pgogy on twitter or on facebook. At some I need to restart my blog. I do a lot of stuff no one knows about, and it makes sense to start sharing that.

Maren: Thanks for taking the time to join me, Pat, #altc!

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

The importance of induction courses in online international programmes

#ALTC Blog - 10/10/19

A common assumption when launching online programmes aimed at global audiences is that, provided the potential applicants fulfil the entry requirements (e.g. English language requirements, academic qualifications, etc.) they are already well prepared to start their online studies. Yet this is a dangerous assumption.

My experience leading the delivery of online international programmes is that, international students come from diverse education systems and may not be aware of the skills required when studying online, a delivery model that some students may not be familiar with. Hence the importance of the induction course.

What are the benefits of having an induction course in an online international programme?

The purpose of an induction course is twofold:

  • To make new students aware of the type of skills and knowledge that they need to develop to be successful in their studies.
  • To inform those new students about the resources and support provided by the programme to help students develop those skills.

The induction course is essentially the gateway to everything students need to know before they start their courses.

When developing an online induction course, we need to address three key questions:

  • What topic/contents should the course cover?
  • How much support would the induction course require in terms of academic, technology and admin support?
  • What sort of interventions/remedial plan can we put in place for those students who require additional help?

Julie Andrews would say, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start: the course topics.

What topic/contents should an induction course include?

When designing induction courses, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or work in silos. Your induction course can be built upon existing high-quality materials already available in your institution. You only need to repurpose those resources providing a digital narrative to students. Likewise, other colleagues may benefit from your induction course and repurpose it for their own requirements. These are the benefits when educators work as a community of practice.

The induction course should typically cover topics such as:

  • Technology for studying online (and include minimum requirements to study online).
  • Digital literacy.
  • Academic, organisational and time-management skills.
  • Referencing and scholarship.
  • Library resources.
  • Other students support services etc.

Some induction courses also mention academic regulations, deferrals and other aspects that are usually covered in the Student Handbook. My advice is to keep the induction course concise providing links to the relevant resources for further information. As a rule of thumb, an induction should be completed in a couple of hours, including any coursework.

As mentioned before, the costs of writing the course can be reduced by repurposing any resources that your colleagues may have already developed as well as using Open Educational Resources (OER). 

The costs of providing academic support can also be reduced if you include self-assessment methods in which students can self-assess different sets of skills, comparing their answers with a model answer or generic feedback. Activities based on self-assessment can save the tutor’s time while underpinning students’ assessment literacy, a skill that students will need to develop to understand the assessment methods of their academic courses.

Admin and technology-related costs for running an induction course are usually low provided the course is delivered via the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)/learning platform and the enrolment procedures are integrated with the institution’s Management Information Systems (MIS).  Under those assumptions, admin support can be kept to a minimum of a couple of hours per week, just to monitor student progress through the course. Most VLEs in the market include reporting tools that can facilitate this task.  

The induction course can also include ‘getting-started-with’ and troubleshooting guides in which students can test if they have the hardware and software requirements to run the technologies and web tools that will be employed in their online studies. Including technology-testing activities in the induction course can reduce the costs of supporting technology in the long term and will take certainly take away the stress of having to fix technology problems while running synchronous or asynchronous activities in a live course.

Early interventions: what to do and who to contact?

In the induction course, you should make clear to the students who they should contact:

  • For any queries relating to the learning activities, topics or the coursework.
  • For any problems relating to the learning platform or the learning technologies used in the course.

If the induction course is monitored by an online tutor or course administrator, this staff member is usually the ‘first-port-of-call’. Otherwise, students may be directed to different addresses depending on the type of help that they need (i.e. technology-related queries are usually diverted to technical support services while queries relating to the course topics are diverted to an academic tutor).  

Some students may find difficult to self-assess their knowledge and may require additional help. Be prepared to support these queries as self-assessment does not mean zero running costs. Provided the self-assessment coursework is well designed, my experience is that only a low percentage of the students will require additional help with the tasks (let’s estimate less than 5% of the course cohort).

The best way of implementing early interventions in an induction course is to make students aware of the help available for any gaps that they may have identified in their skills and knowledge. The induction course should make clear to students where to go and who to contact depending on the identified shortfalls.

I hope that this blog post gives you a good insight into why, when launching international online programmes, it is important to spend some time developing an induction course:  The ultimate purpose of the induction course is to let students know they are not alone if they find themselves struggling with some of the topics or skills covered, that there is  help in place at the beginning of their studies when remedial action can still be taken.

Post by Mari Cruz García, an education consultant whose expertise is the development of international programmes (online and blended learning). Currently, she works at Heriot-Watt University and is on Twitter at @soyunbotruso1.

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

FHEDAWG webinar: Discussing and sharing approaches to VLE accessibility

ALT Events - 09/10/19

This webinar is organised by ALT as part of our work with the Further Higher Education Digital Accessibility Working Group (FHEDAWG). This time we welcome a special guest Gavin Henrick who is an experienced educational technology consultant, with over 15 years’ experience delivering education solutions with a focus around online and blended learning technologies, such as Moodle. Gavin and his team has been working on evaluating, remediating and improving platforms and content with an accessibility lens taking a bigdata / smalldata approach. 

This session will be a discussion and information sharing on how people are approaching the accessibility with regard to their VLE and Online Learning Content specifically. As part of this webinar Gavin is inviting attendees to consider and contribute experiences around:

  1. What are the challenges right now around accessibility?
  2. What type of testing do they carry out (if they carry any out)?
  3. What resources are they using to help fix the issues found?

Gavin is also inviting attendees to share any other questions they would like covered which can be asked via the Vevox Q&A App 

Categories: ALT, Events

ALT Online Winter Conference 2019: Registration and Call for Proposals now Open

ALT Announce - 09/10/19
[image: Assocation for Learning Technology]
<https://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=2355&qid=121791>
<https://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=2356&qid=121791>
Registration and Call for Proposals open for ALT's Online Winter Conference
2019

Dear Members of ALT,

The ALT Online Winter Conference will take place online 11-12 December
2019. Now in its 6th year, our Winter Conference is back to showcase some
of the best Learning Technology from ALT Members from across sectors. [...]
Categories: ALT, Announcement

Winter Conference 2019: Call for proposals and registration now open!

ALT News - 08/10/19

The Online Winter Conference will take place online 11-12 December 2019. Now in its 6th year, the ALT Online Winter Conference is back to showcase some of the best Learning Technology from ALT Members from across sectors. It is free to attend and open to all.

Register for the ALT Online Winter Conference 2019

Categories: ALT, News

ALT Assembly online meeting

ALT Events - 08/10/19

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 https://www.alt.ac.uk/events/webinar-faqs

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

Swords and sorcery: a structural gamification framework for higher education using role-playing game elements

RLT Journal - 03/10/19

Students attend the first sessions of your units and then disappear, some of them forever, and some of them have no clue what is going on or they work for other units’ assessments. When it comes to providing them with formative assessment, it is not always well received as it is perceived as extra work. The purpose of this article is to define a gamification framework based on structural gamification that focuses on that weak part of your cohorts that do not engage as much, and it does that in a great way, as it embeds video game rules and role-playing into the curriculum. This is achieved through implementing game elements to the entire second-year cohort (N = 34) of computer game development students, in the unit ‘Engineering Software Systems’. The goal is to motivate and engage the at-risk students of the cohort with lower activity, attendance and involvement in the unit.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Have your say for ALT's new strategy - update from the Chair and Chief Executive

ALT News - 02/10/19

Dear Members

We wrote to you in July 2019 to update you that we will launch the next strategy for ALT and together with the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sheila MacNeill, I am excited to share an update about how our work is progressing.

Categories: ALT, News

Save the Date! Education, Open Participation and Democracy: Critical Reflections

ALT News - 30/09/19

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and Wikimedia Deutschland are inviting you to an open evening “Education, open participation and democracy: critical reflections”. The event, inspired by the OER20 Conference theme “The Care in Openness” will focus on the ways in which Openness, individuals and communities can foster a participatory and democratic culture in Open work and in society in general. 

Categories: ALT, News

Living under occupation: Palestinian teachers’ experiences and their digital responses

RLT Journal - 27/09/19

Unlike most neighbouring countries in the world, teachers in the occupied territories of Palestine face extraordinary conditions and challenges. These are due to the continued Israeli occupation. This article reports on a large-scale survey of Palestinian teachers. It explores the impact of the occupation on the professional lives of the teachers around Nablus, and indirectly on their students and communities, and on their digital responses. Follow-up focus groups explore their feelings, experiences and reactions, providing greater insights into this complex and troubling situation. The article underpins further work on appropriate digital literacy. It does however also provide an insight into the challenges to rigorous fieldwork outside the mainstream of the developed North and specifically in a region of conflict and occupation.

Categories: ALT, Publication

ALT s new Membership Manager Debbie Baff

#ALTC Blog - 26/09/19

Hello, my name is Debbie Baff and I have recently started as the new Membership Manager for ALT Association for Learning Technology.  I joined on the 1st September 2019 so you may have spotted me during my first week at the #ALTC conference in Edinburgh!

CC BY NC 2.0, Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology

My previous role was as a Senior Academic Developer at Swansea University however  I have been involved with ALT for a good few years now as a member and volunteer, as such it is an absolute delight to be officially one of the team on a full time basis ! 

As a bit of background about me, I have a keen interest in Open Education and am Secretary and Co-Chair for the ALT Open Education Special Interest Group .   I’m interested in online, social and networked learning and am in my third year of a part time PHD in E Research and Technology Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University. I tweet at @debbaff and have a somewhat neglected little blog https://debbaffled.wordpress.com/. I’m involved with a number of other initiatives across the open education community such as #lthechat #byod4l and #socmedhe19.  You can find out more info here

My role focuses on leading ALT’s work with its growing Membership and managing the CMALT professional accreditation framework. This is an exciting time for me to be joining the amazing ALT Staff Team particularly as we have just introduced our new Associate CMALT and Senior CMALT pathways so I will certainly have a lot to get my teeth into.  I also support the work of Members and Special Interest Groups, their governance and development through the ALT Assembly. My first assembly meeting as a staff member will be next week and I am really excited to be involved with helping to devise the new ALT Strategy 2020-2025 for the next five years.  As a member, please do get involved directly in the consultation process and make use of our Strategy Suggestion Box

I’m really looking forward to getting to know more members over the forthcoming weeks and months. Please feel free to drop me a line (membership@alt.ac.uk)  to say hello – I would love to hear from you.

My amazing ‘virtual me’ sticker complete with appropriate doses of ‘Deb Pinkness’ courtesy of @mhawksey

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

Maren Deepwell in conversation with Mia Zamora

#ALTC Blog - 24/09/19

This time I am joined by Mia Zamora (@MiaZamoraPhD), one of the Co-Chairs for next year’s OER Conference and Associate Professor of English & Director of MA in Writing Studies, Kean University. Mia and I often only get to meet virtually in conference settings, so it’s a particular pleasure for me to find out more about Mia’s work and what’s on her mind just now:

Maren: Tell us about what you are currently working on?

Mia: #OER20 I am thrilled to be invited to co-chair #OER20 with wonderful collaborators Daniel Villar-Onrubia & Jonathan Shaw from the Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University, UK. We are having a great time working together while we prepare for a very special #OER20 conference. We have been thinking a lot about theories of care, and we have decided to embrace these ideas as the theme for next Spring’s conference. Covering issues of privilege, equity, precarity, power relations and public interest, #OER20 will put the spotlight on both the value and limitations of care in open education. We would like to address several critical questions throughout the conference: -In the age of data surveillance and significant risk on the open web, how can we map out and give visibility to the critical component of care practices? -How can we build sustainable communities, participatory practices, and civic engagement for the public good and a healthier democracy?

Equity Unbound (#unboundeq) is an equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural curriculum that builds critical digital literacies in a global context, highlighting issues of web representation, digital colonialism, safety and security risks, and how these differ across contexts. I have launched this project with co-founders Maha Bali & Catherine Cronin, and we have together developed this curriculum with the motto “the only way to make borders meaningless is to keep insisting on crossing them” (Mounzer, 2016). Together we have included undergraduate and postgraduate students in our own courses, as well as educators and students in other contexts and countries, and also interested individuals outside formal education. This Fall 2019, we are gearing up to energize a new “round” of Equity Unbound collaboration.  This includes a focus on data literacy integrating great resources from Tactical Tech (based in Berlin) including their “Data Detox Kit” and the “Glassroom Exhibition”. In addition, our Equity Unbound research component includes a collaborative autoethnography we are currently writing which critically reflects on both our theory and practice.

Networked Narratives (#NetNarr) – I am also currently writing an article that maps a connected learning approach to the teaching of electronic literature as I share specific strategies for an open pedagogy of play.  My case study is an open participatory course entitled Networked Narratives which I have co-designed and co-taught with Alan Levine over the course of Spring 2017, Spring 2018 & Spring 2019.  Seeking to transform what is possible in the real world, we have designed a world-building fictional community while exercising collective civic imagination.  By taking a cue from the age of alchemy, #NetNarr has been a three year openly networked writing collaboration that pursues transformation through “digital alchemy”. 

Maren: What influences your work? 

Mia: I think there might be two consistent threads that influence all of my work:

The first is my personal and academic interest in transnational experience and identity.  I am Filipino-American, and my early research (in the field of Comparative Literature) was heavily influenced by postcolonial theory, questions of embodiment, and the challenges that arise when crossing both literal and metaphorical borders.  This early work has lead me to my current interest in intercultural learning in open networks and issues of equity in higher education.

The second thread of influence is my ongoing interest in transformation(s) regarding textuality – from the analogue sense of text to digital con(text).  I am someone who thinks alot about how we tell our stories, and how our current storytelling tools have changed what can be written when embracing a computational environment (i.e. electronic literature).  How have our writing and reading (and thinking) processes been transformed by digital tools and open networks of collaboration?

Maren: Current recommended reading?  

Mia: It is summer time!  For me that means I am reading all the time (it is my favorite past time besides taking a walk).  I think of reading as the greatest luxury of all. I savor it, I take my time (and still, I always feel like I don’t get enough reading time).  Here is what I am reading at the moment:

For work: 

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shosanna Zuboff

Algorithims of Opression by Safiya Noble

For my soul:

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr

For my love of mysteries:

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Maren: How do you make your to-do lists.. analogue or digital or both? 

Mia: I have a little blank book that goes with me everywhere.  I write down most of my reflective half-thoughts and the seeds of fleeting ideas in there.  But for itemized lists (i.e. tasks or groceries), I use my notepad in my iphone.

Maren: On work travel, you are never without..? 

Mia: …my little blank book and my iphone. My laptop too.

Maren: Which learning technology makes the biggest difference to your work (and why)? 

Mia: My Reclaim Hosting server!  … So I can make endless websites (subdomains) for my various courses and my other work (learning networks, installations, participatory art projects, etc.).  It is critical to all the things I do.

I will also mention google docs, simply because so much of my best collaborative writing and thinking is done in this context.

Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?

Mia: This is so so hard to answer.  I could go on and on and speak about so many amazing people.  But I guess I will just try to scratch the surface by mentioning a few:

My dear “Equity Unbound” partners Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin.  These women are a lifeline for me. They nuture my thinking and my reflection, they help me through harder days, and they are just good for my soul.  

Alan Levine is an incredible collaborator and a good friend, and I have learned a million things (little and big things) from working with him.  He also reminds me to stop saying “I’m sorry”. I love him for that.

Howard Rheingold is a font of wisdom, a kind mentor, and a kindred free-spirit that inspires me to tend to the big (wonder-filled) picture when life seems too task-oriented.

A quick shout out to two very special communities: 

  1. The Virtually Connecting network – a group of generous, smart, and fun people who keep on learning and discovering in the open.
  2. The “Connected Learning” community from the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub & the National Writing Project.  I have learned so much from so many bright minds in these intertwined networks.
Maren: If you had learning technology superpowers for a day, what would you change? 

Mia: My superpower would be to help everyone understand that data (algorithims) may be able to show us WHAT happens, but not WHY it is happening.  And I would make it clear to everyone that the algorithm often doesn’t offer the big picture. Algorithms can be a useful tool. But if I had this superpower, I would be sure everyone really knew that human behaviour is more than the sum of our data.

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags?  

Mia: Hashtags change (sometimes they are on fire, and sometimes they are sort of dead or quiet).  That said, I would like to mention #connectedlearning, #netnarr, and #unboundeq.

Maren: What’s the best way for someone to learn more about what you do?  

Mia: You can check out my website: miazamoraphd.com. Or check out my twitter (@miazamoraphd) or instagram (miazamoraphd) feeds.

Ask any of my students what I do, and you will hear that I listen and I pay attention, I tell stories, I ask challenging questions, and I model what it means to have a curious and open intellect.  I share my knowledge in order to grow our collective curiosity.

Ask any of my colleagues, and you will hear that I work hard, that I am a mentor to many, that I research and write in a way that is always connected to my teaching.  Also, that I want to change the world at least a little bit for the better, and that I love to explore complex ideas in collaboration.

Ask my children, and they will say that I like to talk to them and hang out, that I read and walk and travel, I doodle and paint, I cook and bake, and that I organize and generally take care of things.  They might throw in that I am a professor, but they don’t care about that all too much.

Ask my husband, and he will probably say I do just about everything (except gardening and guitar, which are his things). 

Maren: I really enjoyed talking to you, thank you Mia!

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Voices #altc 2019

ALT News - 19/09/19
Subheading: 

At the end of every ALT Conference, we collect links to relevant blog posts, resources, photos, and videos of the conference. If you would like to add yours to this ever-growing list, please email your submissions to enquiries@alt.ac.uk or share using the #altc hashtag on Twitter and we will add your contribution. We look forward to seeing more content, and re-living the 2019 Conference!

Categories: ALT, News

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