ALT

The mediating role of technostress in the relationship between social outcome expectations and teacher satisfaction: evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic in music education

RLT Journal - 29/01/24

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted significant changes in education, including a widespread transition from traditional, in-person instruction to online learning, which has also affected music conservatories. This study investigates the relationship between social outcome expectations and teacher satisfaction with remote education (SRE) among conservatory music professors during the pandemic. Rooted in the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), the study examines whether technostress mediates this relationship and whether the intention to use information and communication technology (ICT) moderates it. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 108 Italian conservatory teachers through an online self-report questionnaire. The results indicate a negative indirect effect of social outcome expectations on teacher satisfaction through technostress. However, surprisingly, the direct effect was positive and stronger. The study suggests that social expectations lead to technostress. Still, they also present an opportunity for music educators to embrace the challenge of remote education and increase their satisfaction with it.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Spatial learning using Google Streetview in an online wayfinding task

RLT Journal - 26/01/24

The use of navigation applications changed the way people find their way in an unfamiliar environment. A combination of maps, images and textual route instructions shown (or with audio) on one screen guides the user to the destination but may sometimes be overwhelming. This article investigated the spatial knowledge participants acquired after being presented with different types of route instructions, human and computer-generated, in an online wayfinding task using Google Streetview (without the 2D map) of an unfamiliar environment. The results showed a significant difference in the wayfinding performance for deviations from computer-generated instructions, whilst there was no difference in the time spent and the scene recall. Sketch maps revealed both route-like and survey-like characteristics. But most sketch maps are characterised by high route-likeness. Furthermore, this study showed a significant effect of the environmental layout on the participant’s performance based on deviations incurred during wayfinding. The results of this study have implications for improving navigation system instructions and design as well as for learning with geospatial technologies.

Categories: ALT, Publication

We invite you to complete ALT’s Annual Survey 2024

ALT Announce - 25/01/24
[ALT's Annual Survey 2024, Insights from across sectors] [1]

ALT'S ANNUAL SURVEY 2024

 

Dear Members, 

We invite you to complete ALT’s Annual Survey 2024 [1]. ALT’s Annual
Survey has been running since 2014, helping shape the future of ALT by
providing a unique insight into how Learning Technology is used across
sectors as well as identifying emerging trends in current and future
practice. The survey provides an important insight into how professional
practice within the field of Learning Technology is developing.  [...]
Categories: ALT, Announcement

Launching the ALT Annual Survey 2024

ALT News - 25/01/24

We invite you to complete ALT’s Annual Survey 2024. ALT’s Annual Survey has been running since 2014, helping shape the future of ALT by providing a unique insight into how Learning Technology is used across sectors as well as identifying emerging trends in current and future practice.

Categories: ALT, News

White Rose Learning Technology group meeting

ALT Events - 24/01/24

Sign up: Please sign up via this form to let us know if you will joining us

Event details: This event will be an opportunity for members of the White Rose Learning Technology group to meet in person, and have facilitated discussions around some of the current challenges and projects they’re working on across the different institutions.

Refreshments will be provided prior to the start of the event, with opportunity for networking and a tour of some of the new facilities at University of Leeds.

If you are based in the White Rose area, but haven’t been to one of our events before, please join our mailing list (https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa-jisc.exe?A0=WRLT), and we hope you can join us in person on 29th February.

Categories: ALT, Events

Enhancing postgraduate students’ learning outcomes through Flipped Mobile-Based Microlearning

RLT Journal - 23/01/24

This study examines the effects of implementing a Flipped Mobile-Based Microlearning (FMM) approach on postgraduate students’ accessibility, engagement, knowledge retention, overall learning experience and academic achievement. A quantitative multiple methods approach was employed, utilising a two-group quasi-experimental design and a survey questionnaire to gather data. The results suggest that the FMM approach may have positive effects on accessibility, engagement, knowledge retention, overall learning experience and final exam scores when compared to the traditional learning approach. The findings support the efficacy of integrating FMM, highlighting its potential for enhancing the learning process and academic outcomes. These results have implications for educational practice and research, emphasising the value of technology-enhanced learning approaches, active and interactive learning experiences and the promotion of student motivation and attitudes towards learning. This study underscores the broader applicability of FMM and suggests its potential for improving educational outcomes across different educational levels and subject areas.

Categories: ALT, Publication

#AmplifyFE - Experiences of CMALT in FE

ALT Events - 23/01/24

Join Certified Members of ALT Lynne Taylerson (SCMALT), Rachel Oner (CMALT), and Sammy White (ACMALT) as they each share and reflect on their experience of CMALT in Further Education. 

Categories: ALT, Events

ARLTSIG: #LTHEchat

ALT Events - 23/01/24

LTHEchat #284 will be led by guests Dr Teeroumanee Nadan @Tee_Nadan with Amin Neghavati @neghavati, Rachel Branham @ARLT_SIG & Dr Olatunde Durowoju @OADurowoju

The guest swill be joined by other officers of ARLT SIG: 

  • Roshni Bhagotra, Events Officer.
  • Chris Rowell, Events Officer. He will be tweeting from @chri5rowell

You can read the blog post The antiracism agenda in Higher Education – is it a showpiece or is there real impact? to learn more.

Categories: ALT, Events

The antiracism agenda in Higher Education is it a showpiece or is there real impact

#ALTC Blog - 23/01/24

This blog was originally posted on 18 Jan 2024 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog teeroumaneenadan.com.

Blog post ahead of my participation in LTHEchat on 7th Feb 2024, along with other officers from the Antiracism and Learning Technology Special Interest Group (ARLT SIG).

LTHEchat #284 will be led by guests Dr Teeroumanee Nadan @Tee_Nadan with Amin Neghavati @neghavati, Rachel Branham @ARLT_SIG & Dr Olatunde Durowoju @OADurowoju

The guest swill be joined by other officers of ARLT SIG: 

  • Roshni Bhagotra, Events Officer.
  • Chris Rowell, Events Officer. He will be tweeting from @chri5rowell

In this blog, we take you onto some initial reflections on antiracism in the Higher Education (HE) sector in preparation for some deeper conversations during our #LTHEchat session.

Antiracism a found-and-lost cause

Where do we even start with defining antiracism in the modern world? The more we dig in, the more we seem to notice people having discomfort after discomfort, thus avoiding to address the cause of this problem.

If it is not the discomfort, we witness the old age scheming of divide and conquer – we get labelled, we get boxed, we get dehumanised! Nowadays, of course, we have the added umbrella of Access, Belonging, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice & Respect which has unintentionally (or even intentionally in some cases) diluted the antiracism agenda. 

The past colonial history of the UK places British society in the hotspot for the need for change. Of course, with the digital era, we are talking more about it, but justice may never be served whether we look at it from a ‘justice as fairness’ perspective or a ‘meritocratic’ conception of justice! 

Antiracism in HE

George Floyd, George Floyd, George Floyd! 

By the end of 2020, this name echoed in very much every meeting in the HE sector. Since then, there has been a movement towards the creation of new roles around more diversity. Nonetheless, there are not many stand-alone roles solely dedicated to antiracism. There are of course the likes of the BAME network, which may be supported by a Race Equality Charter (AdvanceHE 2024a) – if you are lucky to have one in your institution (AdvanceHE 2024b); but this network is still largely seen as an optional practice and there is still a lot of argument on the naming of the network itself. It is more comfortable for most of us to prolong any discussion than to take action and create an impact!

If you are brave enough, we invite you to do further reading ahead of the LTHEchat session and to reflect on the discomfort of everyday actions from teams/departments/institutions in the sector:

In this chat, we will get take you on a one-hour journey of reflections on what role we are all playing in either perpetuating racism or transcending it. Within the HE sector, we have adapted to the digital era and use various forms of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and other tools and platforms to either facilitate education or services needed on the journey. While staff navigate through the plenitude of platforms, there are the odds of creating inequity and letting racism seep into the HE sector.  We may have all come across one such example, but what we decide to do about it, is what matters the most. We invite you to check out some of our 2022 & 2023 blogs on what the ARLT SIG community thinks about antiracism in the sector.

  • Black History Month and what it means for Learning Technologists by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan. (Nadan, 2022d).
  • Anti-racist Approaches in Technology with Guest Speaker Liza Layne. (Nadan 2022e). 
  • Anti-oppressive Pedagogies in Online Learning with Guest Speaker María Miguéliz Valcarlos. (Nadan, 2023a). 
  • Achieving inclusive education using AI with Dr Olatunde Durowoju (Nadan 2023b). 
  • Why antiracism and why not something else? By Dr Teeroumanee Nadan (Nadan 2023c).
It is time to create impact!

It is clear that justice may never be served, neither in the HE sector nor in the society at large, anyway from whom do we get this justice? There is therefore a need to focus on action and impact, and this can only be done when we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable talking about racism and feel empowered to dismantle it – but most importantly it is when White people allow the non-White staff to feel and be empowered!

This blog would not be complete without reflecting on our own reasons for doing what we do to reduce racism in the sector.

When I came to the UK, I realised that it was common practice to brush uncomfortable topics under the carpet. I have observed this in every academic institution that I have worked at. What motivates me the most is treating the cause rather than the symptom!” Dr Teeroumanee Nadan – Read the full blog

“.. technologies are being and will be used by a wide array of learners from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds all over the world yet there is a noticeable lack of diversity in the world of EdTech and digital education” Amin Neghavati – Read the full blog

“.. as a White woman, it is my responsibility to use my privilege to dismantle racist systems wherever it lives. For me, this work is about equal access to high quality education and without understanding limitations to that access, we just are not doing our jobs.” Rachel Branham – Read the full blog

“It became apparent, through some of my research projects, that the HE sector has still not fully explored the use of technology in addressing many of the racial inclusion challenges facing the sector. … My motivation is that I can contribute in a small way to centering this issue within the HE sector and Education Technology industry” Dr Olatunde Durowoju – Read the full blog

We hope to see you en masse on 7th Feb to chat about this topic with officers of the ARLT SIG!

References
  1. Advance HE (2024a). ‌Race Equality Charter. [online].  Advance HE. Available at:  https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/equality-charters/race-equality-charter
  2. Advance HE (2024b). Race Equality Charter Members. [online]. Advance HE. Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/equality-charters/race-equality-charter/members 
  3. Nadan, T. (2021). ‌Equity analysis of 6 job blurbs – a podcast for TalkingHE. [online]. Reshaping HE – International, Inclusive & Digital Ed. Available at:  https://teeroumaneenadan.com/2021/12/22/equity-analysis-of-job-blurbs-talkinghe-podcast/
  4. Nadan, T. (2022a). Navigating racism with pseudo-antiracists. [online]. Reshaping HE – International, Inclusive & Digital Ed. Available at: https://teeroumaneenadan.com/2022/05/26/navigating-racism-with-pseudo-antiracists/ 
  5. Nadan, T. (2022b). ‌Modern slavery in UK HEIs. [online]. Reshaping HE – International, Inclusive & Digital Ed. Available at: https://teeroumaneenadan.com/2022/02/01/modern-slavery-in-uk-heis/ 
  6. Nadan, T. (2022c). ‌Race equality in learning technology. [online]. Reshaping HE – International, Inclusive & Digital Ed. Available at: https://teeroumaneenadan.com/2022/02/06/race-equality-in-learning-technology/ 
  7. Nadan, T. (2022d). Notes from ARLT SIG 20th Oct 2022 meeting – Black History Month and what it means for Learning Technologists by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan. [online]. Association for Learning Technology. Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2022/11/notes-from-arlt-sig-20th-oct-meeting-black-history-month-and-what-it-means-for-learning-technologists/  
  8. Nadan, T. (2022e). Notes from ARLT SIG 3rd Nov 2022 webinar –  Anti-racist Approaches in Technology with Liza Layne. [online]. Association for Learning Technology. Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2022/12/notes-from-arlt-sig-3rd-nov-meeting-anti-racist-approaches-in-technology-with-liza-layne/
  9. Nadan, T. (2023a). Notes from ARLT SIG 9th March 2023 webinar – Anti-oppressive Pedagogies in Online Learning with María Miguéliz Valcarlos. [online]. Association for Learning Technology. Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2023/06/anti-oppressive-pedagogies-in-online-learning-with-maria-migueliz-valcarlos-notes-from-arlt-sig-march-meeting/
  10. Nadan, T. (2023b). ‌Notes from ARLT SIG 7th June 2023 webinar –  Achieving inclusive education using AI with Dr Olatunde Durowoju. [online]. Association for Learning Technology. Available at: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2023/06/notes-from-arlt-sig-7th-june-meeting-achieving-inclusive-education-using-ai-with-olatunde-durowoju/
  11. Nadan, T. (2023c). Anti-Racism & Learning Technology SIG: Why antiracism and why not something else?. [online]. Association for Learning Technology. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCoTQ1XgMo 
  12. Santanu, V. and Nadan, T. (2022). Episode 14 – Discrimination in Recruitment. [online]. TalkingHE. Available at: https://anchor.fm/talkinghe/episodes/TalkingHE—Episode-14—Dr-Teeroumanee-Nadan—Discrimination-in-Recruitment-e1clspi/a-a773mv3
Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Weekly News Digest - Issue 733, 22 Jan 2024

ALT Announce - 22/01/24
https://go.alt.ac.uk/445Iq1R

 

View in your browser [1]

[Association for Learning Technology: improving practice, promoting
research and influencing policy.] [2]

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST - ISSUE 733, 22 JANUARY 2024

WELCOME TO YOUR WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FROM THE LEADING PROFESSIONAL BODY FOR
LEARNING TECHNOLOGY IN THE UK. We support a collaborative community for
individuals and organisations from all sectors and provide professional
recognition and development. Each week we will update you on the latest
news and publications, events, jobs, and calls for proposals from across
the learning technology community. [...]
Categories: ALT, Announcement

Become an #altc Blog Editor

ALT News - 19/01/24

Having our Members take an active part in the work of the Association ensures that our activities are shaped by Members’ priorities and also offers valuable opportunities for professional development and recognition.

Categories: ALT, News

Stepping Back to Move Forward: Applying Systems Thinking to Digital Education

#ALTC Blog - 18/01/24

by Jim Turner and Irina Niculescu

Tackling today’s multifaceted education technology challenges requires updated thinking capacities fit for dynamic systems and times. Systems thinking offers methods to help understand intricate dynamics, unravel assumptions, and chart integrated action amidst uncertainty. Read on to learn more. 

Last week, the latest ELESIG webinar was run by Irina Niculescu, a senior learning technologist from University College London (UCL). The event, tailored for beginners, aimed to uncover how systems thinking can stabilize analysis amidst complexity and guide clearer strategic direction-setting. As a far-reaching conceptual framework, systems thinking has evolved over decades, intersecting diverse fields from management science to sustainability. Irina is interested in its connections outside of Western science to connect with other cultural traditions such as Buddhist philosophy. During the session, Irina used Peter Senge’s view of it as a “framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.” First emerging in the mid-20th century, it now permeates many disciplines and practices after half a century of development. With sociotechnical systems rapidly increasing in complexity, systems thinking has gained even greater applicability amidst today’s uncertain world. The table below helps us to see the differences between ways of seeing things. Both are important but sometimes linear thinking becomes dominant. Three key insights struck me during the session, which I would like to develop in the blog.

Linear / Analytical ThinkingSystems ThinkingReductive & separate elementsHolistic and integratedFocus on elementsFocus on relationshipsCause and effect thinkingEmergent thinking Seeing Wholes, Not Just Parts

Systems thinking helps learning technologists analyse educational challenges more thoroughly by looking beyond superficial events or technical issues to examine the interconnected structures, patterns and beliefs that shape what happens. As Irina put it, “It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things and also foreseeing patterns of change, rather than static snapshots.” Applying this holistic lens leads to better solutions that address barriers at multiple levels, not just tackling surface issues. Equipped with systems approaches, learning technologists can facilitate more meaningful analysis leading to impactful recommendations. The session analysed examples like online student disengagement and insufficient authentic assessments to identify associated patterned tensions and underlying structures. This style of joined-up thinking forces fuller consideration of the academic, technological and social ecosystems in which problems manifest.

Questioning Mental Models

Hands-on use of systems thinking tools like the “iceberg model” enables learning technologists to have more insightful collaborative analysis sessions about complex educational issues. Irina sees it as encouraging us to “acknowledge what’s seen from the outside what’s visible, as the tip of the iceberg, and go a bit underneath the surface and see what is happening that led to that ‘event’ taking place.” Facilitating this kind of reflective dialogue could lead to a more shared systemic understanding that could be invaluable when say co-designing educational solutions. So learning technologists skilled in systems tools could foster better idea generation and solution design. And by externally exploring our internal mindsets together, we gained practical experience in how systems thinking methods can reveal limiting perspectives and normalise continual collective reflection.

Integrating New Habits of Thinking

Applying systems thinking approaches alongside design thinking, learning design, futures thinking and other established methodologies enriches the capacity of learning technologists to operate effectively in digital education contexts. No one lens gives the full picture. Systems reveal interconnections between structures, mindsets and actions shaping how things currently unfold. Other frames imagine future possibilities or creative innovations. Layering these gives sophisticated multidimensional perspectives that are often missing when problems are treated superficially or in isolation. Developing your literacy in these multiple lenses expands our understanding of the complexities of being a learning technologist and how to think contextually, facilitate participatory problem-solving, and build connections across silos, all invaluable skills when guiding educational transformation.

As emphasized, systems thinking is an iterative journey that complements other forms of thinking. It is about opening capacity to see anew rather than perfecting strategies. Study resources were shared for those inspired to continue nurturing systemic worldviews.

The session left me excited to integrate fresh habits like looking longer term for patterns, surfacing assumptions collaboratively, and sketching concept maps to continue grasping systemic complexities underpinning digital education with more compassion and clarity.

Here are 3 key resources curated by Irina which can help you start or continue your learning journey with systems thinking:

If you want to discuss this topic further, collaborate or have any questions,  please get in touch with Irina via email i.niculescu@ucl.ac.uk

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

ALT Assembly Online Meeting

ALT Events - 17/01/24

The ALT Assembly meets regularly online and also holds annual face-to-face meetings, usually at ALT's Annual Conference each September.

Agenda: Assembly meetings actively contribute to ALT's current strategic priorities, focused on consulting you, our active Members, on new developments. Thus each meeting will be chaired by a Trustee and focus on a specific theme or topic. Members and Special Interest Groups will be invited to share updates from their groups.

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

If you have any specific questions about the ALT Assembly please contact enquiries@alt.ac.uk

Categories: ALT, Events

ALT WM: Career development for Learning Technologists

ALT Events - 17/01/24

Come and join ALT West Midlands for a discussion about Career Development for Learning Technologists. Our industry can feel overwhelming with opportunities and it's difficult to know which direction you might want to focus your career development. In this session, we'll discuss the different development opportunities available and what impact they could have on your career.

Categories: ALT, Events

Cork City in March

#ALTC Blog - 17/01/24

by Donna Lanclos

Cork City in March! Why?  In this case OER24. I am on the program committee.  I am in the program.

I’m ready.  It promises to be a good time, and a worthwhile time.  If you are going to go to the trouble of travel, it should be both.

I’m always ready to go to Cork.  I have been since I first got there, in the Autumn of 1990, ready for my undergraduate junior (3rd) year abroad.  Up until September 1990 I had only traveled in North America (the US, with some day trips to Canada and Mexico).  As of September 1990 I had my first international home away from home:  Cork.

Undergraduate me, extremely enthusiastic.

I grew up on US Air Force bases, and so big urban centers have always seemed fun to me but were not necessarily always my comfort zone.  I went to college in suburban feeling low-rise town Santa Barbara, CA.  Cork was a big enough city to have Things to Do (Concerts!  Films!  Museums!  Restaurants! Festivals! etc.) but also small enough to walk around (or occasionally take the bus) and feel like I could get to all of the important parts easily.  And it was (and still is) well-placed as a base to explore the countryside, and occasionally get over to other cities like Galway and even Dublin…

My mental map of Cork City remains very much that of an undergraduate in the 1990s, complete with pubs that are no longer there (RIP the Western Star), a focus on the university I attended (UCC), and a sense of how long it would take me to walk with all of my shopping from the city centre to my house (RIP Quinnsworth’s, although the Dunnes is still there I think…)

Since the 90s much has changed in Cork, and there is much that I recognize as the same.  I can still walk around the Lough, cruise by the Abbey pub (and cruise in for a pint), walk past St. Finbarr’s on my way to the city centre, and criss cross St Patrick’s St and the Grand Parade, eventually winding up on the North side of the river in range of the Shandon Bells.  Or I can walk along the Mardyke to Fitzgerald Park along the Lee, and take the paths across to Franciscan Wells, which was not there in the 90s but is one of my new favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out in the city.  I can walk past “the Wash,” The Washington Inn, one of the extremely student-y pubs that I don’t go in anymore but that is very close to Costigan’s, where I am likely to encounter a music session if I get there on a weeknight.

I am sentimental about Cork.  To me it’s a city that feels easy to live in, at a scale I can handle on a day to day basis, and with a rich list of things to do.   My experience of the people in Cork, my friends, my teachers, colleagues, and the folks I encounter when I am  out and about, is that they are generous and hospitable and especially keen that you remember where the real capital of Ireland is even after you have left it.  

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Generating inclusive images to represent students Animated Inclusive Personae Part 1

#ALTC Blog - 16/01/24

by Katie Stripe, Imperial College London.

Developing Inclusive Curricula Using Digital Personae’ (Imperial College London, 2024b) is a workshop run by the ‘Attributes and Aspirations’ (Imperial College London, 2024a) (AA) team based on their work using inclusive personae to make their course more inclusive. This workshop was also run as a CPD webinar for ALT in 2021 (Stripe, 2021). The Graduate School at Imperial wanted to use the theories presented in their workshop in their provision. However, much of their content is delivered as animations. This raised a question around how to source appropriate imagery for different educational scenarios.

The personae created for AA are represented by photographic headshot style stock images, which are hard to source. They also do not offer the flexibility needed for transferral to other scenarios, such as animation. However, bespoke graphics and animations are expensive and have a long development period. This makes them challenging for use in most teaching and learning scenarios.

The Animated Inclusive Personae (Stripe and Meadows, 2024) (AIP) project aims to address some of these issues by developing a solution that, by using templates, will enable any user with minimal training to create an inclusive character. It will also enable them to develop a representative digital image that goes with it. This project started in August 2023. There will be more to share when characters are developed. In this post, we share some of the issues with ‘off the shelf’ content that led to this project.

Stock Photos

The stock photo route has been used so far in the creation of the personae for AA (Stripe, 2024). Due to the nature of the programme, we not only had to find images that were diverse, but also to find images that would be suitable for a LinkedIn profile of our hypothetical students (it is a career skills development programme). This is challenging for a number of reasons and has led to feedback that all our personae look very similar in terms of body shape and style.

Representing ethnicity

Finding appropriate images to represent different ethnicities is challenging. For AA, we use the Articulate 360 content library (Articulate 360, 2024), as it comes as part of the package which we use to develop the content. Searching for ‘Black Male Student’ returned the images shown in fig 1. One of these images is clearly female (and Asian), one of them is white, and one of them is a firework. Some of the issues shown in this selection are created by the way images are tagged and databased rather than the images themselves. Nevertheless, there is limited choice.

Figure 1: Articulate 360 search ‘Black male student’

Shutterstock (Shutterstock, 2024a) produces a slightly better array of images (fig 2) for the same search term, at least they are all people and all present as Black males. Nevertheless, the images all show people of a similar body type.

Figure 2: Shutterstock search ‘Black male student’

The ability to purchase vector image cartoon characters does offer an element of flexibility and a range of poses.

Representing gender

Finding images that present as either male or female is relatively simple. However, within the AA programme we wish to be as diverse as possible and required images that do not represent an obvious gender. The first issue to navigate is what search terms to use. Searching for ‘androgynous student’ and ‘non-binary student’ return similar results none of which are appropriate (fig 3), and in the Articulate content library, one of them is a burger.

Figure 3: Storyline 360 search ‘non-binary student’

While it is true that anyone of the individuals pictured may use they/them pronouns, if the aim is to show someone that does not present with an obvious gender, then these do not work. As above, this is an issue of image tagging but highlights some significant gaps in the image banks.

Shutterstock (Shutterstock, 2024b), again, produces slightly better results on the same search in terms of diversity (fig 4) but there are very few images of a person on their own and none are really appropriate for the ‘headshot’ image that would be ideal for the purposes of AA. Furthermore, the cartoon style image portrays a very odd body shape and could be seen as perpetuating stereotypes.

Figure 4: Shutterstock search ‘non-binary student’ AI generation from a photo

It is possible to create cartoon style images from a photo using AI tools. While this approach would never be appropriate for the AIP project, it is nevertheless worth exploring the graphic styles that could be produced, and looking at the positive and negatives of AI image generation.

Media.io (Media.io, 2024) is an online tool which takes a photographic image and converts it to a variety of different styles, some ‘realistic’ and some cartoon style (fig 5). Below from left to right show the original stock image and the filters ‘Disney’, ‘Kawaii’, and ‘Big Eyes’.

Figure 5: Medio.io AI generated images

While obviously cartoon images, they all reflect the original image quite well.

AI Nero (Nero AG, 2024) also offers an option to translate a photograph using AI to create a semi realistic digital avatar. The results here are not ideal (fig 6). The avatar generated from the image used above, which in AA represents a student from Singapore, returned an avatar with light hair and blue eyes. Similarly, the image used in AA that represents a student of Black heritage returns an avatar that has a completely different skin tone.

Figure 6: AI Nero images from photographs

While this was done on the free version, it shows how AI tools can misrepresent racial profiles.

Online avatar creators

There are numerous websites available that offer the ability to create a digital avatar the ones discussed next are those which are free and do not require an account of any kind, although others have been investigated and offer the same general options but on a wider scale, including in some cases the ability to design a body as well as a head.

The first issue is that most tools request you start by selecting a gender. Get Avataaars (Stanley, 2024) does not, it works on a single, generic, head shape and allows you to change the hair, accessories, and clothes within a set of limited parameters. This kind of create your own kit highlights the second issue, which is the limitations of using anything that has defined sets of characteristics.

Get Avataars allows you to change eyes, mouth, and skin tone which allows me to generate a pale, crying, bald man, who is in disbelief (fig 7).

Figure 7: Bald crying man in disbelief

Which may be fun, but with seven skin tones – one of which is Simpson’s yellow – this definitely does not give you the ability to represent a range of students. While in an attempt to create something to represent the two personae shown above produced slightly better results than AI (fig 8) it still does not produce something representative and is certainly limited in the ability to scale up and create more images.

Figure 8: Get Avataaars images

Avatar Maker (Avatar Maker, 2024) and Cartoonize (Colorcinch, 2024) both work on the same set of parameters and offer a wider range of options than Get Avataaar including 15 head shapes (with options for eyes, nose, mouth and ears). They also offer hairstyles and outfits, but these change, depending on the gender. The main benefit of these creators is the availability of a full colour palette, allowing skin tone and eye colour to be changed by HEX colour codes. Using these tools, I was able to create something that was more representative and with more variety (fig 8), but still limited the headshot style of image.

Figure 9: Cartoonize images Bespoke images

All this leaves us at a point where we have decided to create our own using artists. Watch this space to find out what happens.

References
Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Researching on antiracism - the people and the purpose

ALT Events - 15/01/24

This is a joint session with the Antiracism and Learning Technology Special Interest Group (ARLT SIG) and Evaluations of Learners' Experiences of e–Learning Special Interest Group (ELESIG). We are organising this event in response to the community's request to cover more sessions around this topic and also to garner interest in antiracism issues in the sector with the support of with other ALT Groups and SIGs. Dr Olatunde Durowoju will lead a panel discussion with 3 panelists: Dr Yuchen Wang, Dr Emanuela Girei & Dr Teeroumanee Nadan.

A summary blog of the event and further information will be available on the ARLT SIG blog space following the event. Check out the biography of our panelists!

Dr Yuchen Wang is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Strathclyde Institute of Education, University of Strathclyde. Her research interests include inclusive education, children’s rights and participation, educational technology, and sustainable development. She was one of the core authors of Scotland’s ‘National Framework for Inclusion’ (3rd edition, 2022), and her edited book ‘Artificial Intelligence and Inclusive Education: Speculative Futures and Emerging Practices’ won the 2020 Springer Nature New China Development award. She is the course co-leader for PGCert Inclusive Education and regularly delivers professional learning workshops for practitioners.

Dr Emanuela Girei is a leader in Management at Liverpool Business School (LJMU). Emanuelas research agenda lies at the intersection of management, organisation studies and development studies, particularly on whether and how management theory and practice can contribute to making organisations, institutions and societies more just, equitable and sustainable. Within this agenda, one of Emanuelas key research interests is decolonising management knowledge and research.

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan works mainly around Internationalisation, Inclusive & Digital Ed. She approaches HE challenges based on her own HE scholar experience in different countries and her collaborations with different institutions across the globe. She has been working around DEI since her student years in the UK, by founding the Women in Academia Network at her Alma Mater University of Reading and advocating for changes for female students & staff. She also worked with students with disability, bringing simple solutions to allow them to continue and complete their study of choice. She is currently the Chair of the ARLT SIG and advocates for digital equity

Categories: ALT, Events

Notes from ARLT SIG 11th Dec 2023 discussion Strategies for Change by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan

#ALTC Blog - 15/01/24

This blog was originally posted on 18 Dec 2023 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog teeroumaneenadan.com.

On 11th Dec, members of the Antiracism & Learning Technologies Special Interest Group (ARLT SIG) (https://bit.ly/3zqImwT) community met around the theme of “Strategies for Change” – in direct response to the community’s Have Your Say survey from the summer, where people-centric strategies were top suggestions from the community.

I summarise in this blog the questions that I had set for this topic and the group discussion. I had initially planned to run through 4 out of the 5 strategies to create change, but since attendance altered on the day, we went through only 2 steps, which were in themselves very powerful to kick-start some changes.

Let’s delve into activities, experiences shared, and general feelings. The first 2 steps covered in the workshop were:

  • STEP 1 – RAISING AWARENESS
  • STEP 2 – REMEDIAL CHANGE

The 2-hour discussion was limited to these two steps with 1 question each, as this discussion is a difficult one, in particular being open to talk of one’s experience and to transcend one’s own limits – which is key to creating the potential for change.

Two additional activities were included:

  • Building Momentum
  • Pledge for Change

I provide below a summary of what was discussed around those questions and activities and share my personal views on some of the topics as well. Whilst this was not a recorded session, I commend the participants in attendance who contributed to the group discussion and the ARLT SIG officers who took the time to join in the discussion and provided backend support in the smooth running of the session and took notes in the discussion groups.

Anonymised summary of STEP 1 – RAISING AWARENESS
  • STEP 1. RAISING AWARENESS
    • Share one example of racism you have been through, or witnessed or dealt with. What happened? Why it happened?
      • Participants were then requested to share how they felt hearing the different stories shared within the small group.

Two main themes came up from group discussion: students’ experiences and international staff’s experiences. To maintain anonymity, these are summarised briefly below:

It is common for students of X ethnicity to plagiarise – it is part of their culture

Lack of diversity in students’ online discussion groups leads to racism

Int’l non-White lecturers perceived as incompetent by students

Int’l non-native English speaking lecturers bullied by students

Int’l non-White Staff with qualifications & competence not recognised

Hearing those stories, participants felt:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Embarrassed
  • Difficult to express their feelings
  • Annoyed
  • Not surprised

Participants recognised the power of personal stories from those who have lived experiences of racial injustice. An additional observation was the need for cultural awareness and being open to different cultures. Participants appreciated the opportunity to increase their cultural and historical awareness, and global understanding of racism by hearing the stories shared.

My personal thoughts: I believe participants found this exercise powerful for two main reasons:

(a) POC who never had the opportunity to share their stories finally found a safe platform to do so. One participant shared that they did not know that this group existed, and extended support to the ARLT SIG committee especially for similar workshops or even in-person events. However, this was not the case for all POC, a few had resistance and were not ready to embrace the first step for change. One powerful comment that came out was that many POCs have to constantly ”defend” their existence.

(b) White people in the room realised and acknowledged their lack of first-hand experience. One participant shared they felt the session was informative but was uncomfortable as they did not have any “real” story to tell. The willingness of the White people who attended to be in a virtual room only to listen and widen their understanding is much appreciated since they are the missing links for real change and impact.

Anonymised summary of STEP 2 – REMEDIAL CHANGE
  • STEP 2. REMEDIAL CHANGE
    • Taking a step back, discuss what should have happened to avoid the situation at a team/departmental level, line managerial level & personal level?
      • What structural change is needed at each level?

Participants were invited to pick one or two of the stories shared in the earlier group for discussion in this part of the session.

  • Disciplinary procedures to stop repeated racist behaviors.
  • Redress or rebalance power – Who makes decisions?
  • Identify what hinders people from following procedures

It was important for participants to discuss and acknowledge that remedial actions are to be taken at various levels.

The participants identified the need for equity and dignity for everyone. It was discussed that we need to be more intentional and purposeful in our efforts to apply the same standard to everyone and to leverage bureaucracy to promote equity.

At a higher level (institution-wide), a lack of disciplinary procedures was flagged as a key component that needs to be re-visited to successfully address racism. Participants discussed:

  • Are there clear procedures on where/how to escalate in efforts to do the right thing?
  • Are disciplinary measures in place and applied to avoid the perpetuation of racist behaviours?

At the managerial/team level, it was recognised that there was a need to redress and rebalance power. Participants questioned:

  • Who is making the decision?
  • Is there adequate clarity on individual remit – who has the authority to make certain decisions?
  • Is there accountability and transparency?
  • What is the impact of power? What is intentional or what is not?
  • Could procedures be a good segue way to level out power?

When it comes to equitable approaches, the question arose as to who is the expert on equal opportunities related to antiracism. It was recognised that there is a need to level the playing field for an individual who may be holding onto more feelings/ideas. The need to diversity and expand teams would bring more perspectives in decision making.

At a personal level, our own readiness to “See it – Say it – Sorted” was discussed. Participants considered the need for:

  • Opportunities to be reflective, in particular, to check one own privilege
  • The need to “unlearn and relearn”
  • The willingness and courage to speak out about injustices, question decisions, and acknowledge the gaps/lack of accountability!
  • Opportunities for self-retrospection to answer (a) What hinders us from implementing the procedures? (b) What feelings impact our ability to do the right thing/the equitable thing.

My personal thoughts: The discussion was very intense, particularly the remedial steps at a personal level. One thing that was also discussed was to have procedures to support those who do not have a voice or who may not be aware of their rights. Unfortunately, even a 1000-page procedure cannot bring a victim of racism to take steps towards justice for themselves. Having a voice and being aware of one’s rights sits at the self-development level. There is definitely a need for a follow-up of this workshop, as personal-level change is detailed further in Step 4 of the strategies for change.

Reflection & Committment Activity

Two additional activities were included in the workshop:

  1. Building Momentum
  2. Pledge for Change

I was keen for the conversation to continue beyond that one-hour meeting, and provided the participants with a commitment, which was to email me with any personal commitment they would take to change things in the future:

  1. An immediate action you will take this week/this month
  2. An action (or commitment) you will take in the next 3 months (on your own or in your team)
  3. An action (or commitment) you will take in the next 6 months (on your own or in your team)

My personal thoughts: The “Building Momentum” was sadly not understood by all participants, it was meant to be a self-reflection, but there were a few respondents who deviated from the intended outcome. With regards to the “Pledge for change”, I am used by now that people omit or forget this activity, as it is very hard to openly commit to changes and be accountable and follow through.

Moving forward

I hope you have found some of the discussions that emanated from this event useful and hope you can discuss some of them in your own team, department, and institution.

Committee members who attended the event appreciated the content of the workshop, so we may run it again!

One suggestion we received in the past has been to run longer sessions expanding over 1 hour. Whilst longer workshops include more free labour from officers involved, it was noted that not all registrants attended on the day. It was decided to ensure that unpaid antiracism works are not taken for granted in the future.

Along the line of longer workshops, in-person workshops are planned for this academic year to cover these topics in more detail.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Weekly News Digest - Issue 732, 15 Jan 2024

ALT Announce - 15/01/24
https://go.alt.ac.uk/445Iq1R

 

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WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST - ISSUE 732, 15 JANUARY 2024

WELCOME TO YOUR WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FROM THE LEADING PROFESSIONAL BODY FOR
LEARNING TECHNOLOGY IN THE UK. We support a collaborative community for
individuals and organisations from all sectors and provide professional
recognition and development. Each week we will update you on the latest
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OER 2022: Not me not mine not myself

#ALTC Blog - 12/01/24

by Dr Eamon Costello, Associate Professor of Digital Learning at Dublin City University.

“Leaflet” by Liam Costello CC BY 4.0

What is in store for OER24? I gave a glowing review of OER23, in the form of a satire, but I must warn you that there are no jokes in the post you are about to read here. That is because OER 2022 in London was a strange post-pandemic experience for me. The world seemed a lot bigger than before. I remember realising what a giant melting pot London was, how Dublin seemed a spoon of cold soup by comparison. I remember a woman outside a tube station handing me a leaflet about the word of God. On the back they said, don’t pay for this leaflet. It should be distributed for free. Spread this word.

“This is street-level open publishing”, I said to myself, “We are so back!”

People sometimes look down on religion, see it as backward, a type of weak belief. People can believe in all sorts of things – God, Science, Education – but whatever you believe one thing is certain: all knowledge is provisional. Beliefs are strange things. We need to hold them in a particular way. If you believe in your beliefs too much they can start to feel like actual things. You might forget altogether that they are just beliefs. They might start to feel solid, real, superior to the weak beliefs of others.

PhD students in educational research are encouraged to think about their beliefs and reflect on them (reflexivity) and in this process are invited to disclose themselves somehow, with the aim of conducting better and more honest research (positionality). As Holmes (2022) warns however, this is not in itself a panacea and nor is it easy or unproblematic:

No matter how critically reflective and reflexive one is, aspects of the self can be missed, not known, or deliberately hidden, see, for example, Luft and Ingham’s (1955) Johari Window – the ‘blind area’ known to others but not to oneself and the ‘hidden area,’ not known to others and not known to oneself.

(Holmes, 2020)

One of our core beliefs is that we have a self. This is a very persistent and, it must be said, useful belief. It comprises narratives of the past and the future: our goals, our dreams, our vendettas and grievances, fantasies and fears. The near constant inner narration of one’s life, this selfing, is actually a painful process. It is only when we become absorbed in the activity of our work, or drop into some space of other appreciation, that the story of the self temporarily stops. In these moments of no-self we experience a type of peace. For some reason we feel more like ourselves at the point when we have forgotten ourselves.

A great presentation at OER16 – The Self as OER, by Suzan Koseoglu and Maha Bali (2016) – called attention to openness of people rather than open content and resources. We could equally open doors to the concept of no-self as OER. We could consider the idea that there is no stable self when we really go looking for it and rather there is merely a tangle of thoughts, bubbling up from a pot of emotions, that arise from the body. And, that if that is true, then all of this – is not me, not mine, not myself.

An important part of life is not allowing the mind to overtake us with useless thoughts. From the perspective of no-self you are not your thoughts. Thoughts are just here. You can give up thoughts when they do not serve you. Conversely, when you have good thoughts, you can pass them on.

In one sense Open Education is just giving. It is not something to make us feel clever or superior. It is not even something to make us feel good. Indeed, a lot of the time it might make us feel uncomfortable. It may be giving students “opportunities to unpack their cherished worldviews and ‘comfort zones’ in order to deconstruct the ways in which they have learned to see, feel, and act” (Zembylas , 2015). But its promise is that once we give something we get something. It is the hope that we can gain some release from that which we think we cannot do without. It is the promise of liberation from whatever it is we hold too tightly; of education as the practice of freedom (Hooks, 1996).

The other half of Open Education is receiving. Sometimes to give is the easy thing, and it is much harder to receive. In this sense being open is being able to receive and accept something. Being open to new ideas, possibilities and beliefs. Being open to the possibility that “what we have fully available to us as we wake up each day is stranger, deeper and more beautiful than anything we could imagine” (Costello, 2022).

I wish I still had that leaflet from the lady at the tube station in OER22 with its sharealike message. The memories of that day seem really vivid. In a strange city, heading to an exciting conference, I was more open to experiences than I usually am.

I remember putting my hand out, and as she gave something to me, I tried my best to receive it.

References:

Costello, E. (2022). Rewild my heart: With pedagogies of love, kindness and the sun and
moon. Postdigital Science and Education, 1-17. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-022-00318-z

Holmes, A. G. D. (2020). Researcher Positionality–A Consideration of Its Influence and
Place in Qualitative Research–A New Researcher Guide. Shanlax International Journal of
Education, 8
(4), 1-10.

Hooks, B. (1996). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. Journal of
Leisure Research, 28(4), 316.

Koseoglu, S. & Bali, M. (2016) The Self as an Open Educational Resource (2016)
Presentation at the OER 2016 conference. https://www.slideshare.net/edp05mab/self-as-
oer-selfoer-oer16

Zembylas, M. (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: The tensions of
ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and education, 10(2), 163-174.

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Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

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