Maren Deepwell marendeepwell in conversation with David Hopkins hopkinsdavid

#ALTC Blog - 19/06/19

Welcome to this regular interview series on the #altc blog. For this interview, I am delighted to welcome David Hopkins, CMALT, FHEA, who many of our readers will know as an influential voice on Twitter as @hopkinsdavid.

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

David: I have two main area of focus at the moment; the line management of learning designers at Coventry University Online (CUOL), and development of processes and working practices that define the work produced by the CUOL Studio (made up of learning design, digital media and project management). Since CUOL opened its doors, so to speak, in September 2017 the operation has grown to a team of over 70 and are developing and delivering materials for a growing number of fully-online postgraduate degrees. In the first 18 months, give or take, we’ve been busy producing high quality materials to fit the requirements of the business and degrees currently under development. Focus is now shifting to new areas for CUOL and new challenges, such as understanding if the production model being used for postgraduate study is suitable or fits the perceived production cycle of short courses, undergraduate degrees and even specialist qualifications. The hard part is working out the strategy and process for this kind of activity when we may not yet have enough information on the specifics (eg accreditation, qualification, length of study, etc). The ability to work collaboratively across the different CUOL functional teams is key to our success, as well as working closely with academic teams from the whole spectrum of the university.

Maren: What influences your work? 

David: I find a great deal of influence for my work comes from those I work with, and this has always been the case. I have been lucky to work with some great people throughout my career, and I hope this continues for many more years to come. I have also been lucky to connect to some other great ‘influencers’ through attendance at various events and through daily interactions on both LinkedIn and Twitter. You don’t necessarily have to be active in all the different realms where connections can take place, but being receptive to the environment and the openness and willingness others have to share can be a good thing. It has been for me.

Maren: Current recommended reading?  

David: I’ve just finished re-reading the Ernest Cline ‘Ready Player One’ book again (paperback), which I’d thoroughly recommend for anyone who has a remote interest in either the 80s or games/gaming and virtual reality. No, I haven’t seen the film and I am in no hurry to either. The trailers for it looked spectacular, but clearly some things were changed to get this epic story into a 2 hour film, and I don’t want my vision of the story spoiled.

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

David: I have never found a to-do list system that works. I have tried keeping logs and lists in a Moleskin notebook, I’ve tried OneNote and Trello, but none have worked or lasted more than a day or so. I’m just not a list-making sort of person, despite knowing I should make and keep them. The most effective or efficient type of list is an email I keep in my draft folder (ie never sent) that I add important info or work related deadlines to. But that often goes un-updated or I forget. I just don’t like lists!

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

David: When I’m travelling I become very paranoid about making sure I’ve got everything I need and it’s all fully charged. Sometimes for work travel I’ll need to take my MacBook, so I’ll have that and the mains charger. As it’s a new(ish) MacBook I need to be sure I’ve got the appropriate adaptors so I can plug things like USBs or projectors in (you can’t always rely on the ability to present or show your screen remotely or wirelessly). I will have my phone (iPhone) on me all the time so I’ll have an Apple Lightning USB cable for charging, although I would rather use my portable charger, which is good for a couple of full charges for my phone (and someone else’s if they need a little juice to get them through the day). Alongside this I’ll have my set of Bluetooth headphones … none of the in- or over-the-ear ones for me (in-ear are too uncomfortable and the over-ear make my ears too hot), I have a good set of AKG Y50BT. I was after a set of noise cancelling ‘phones originally but couldn’t stretch that far financially, but these do a reasonable job of blocking some surrounding noise out too.

As always, I’ve got at least two spare USB cables (USBc and Apple Lightning), you never know how they can be useful to others. Alongside all these gadgets I’ll have a notebook of some sort, depends on what I’ve got at the time (at the moment it’s a Minions Moleskine notebook!) and a bag to carry it all in.

After speaking to friends and colleagues at or around events I know we’re all very different, which is where the inspiration for my #EdTechRations book came from. The idea of sharing our very different needs and paranoia around cables and power packs and extraneous cables for a day or more away. If I’m away for more than one day I’ll often take my tablet (previously an iPad, nowadays a Kindle Fire) to watch something from Amazon Video, Netflix or other streaming apps in the evening. I’ve just finished watching the Amazon Prime Good Omens, so am on the lookout for a new series to get into.

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

David: The single item of technology that has made the biggest difference to my learning (my interpretation of the question) was my first iPhone (3GS, about 2010?). I went from a ‘dumb’ phone to this thing in my pocket that was more than just a phone and internet access, it was linked to everything and everyone, all the time, and wonderfully structured into little pockets of pre-determined content in the shape of apps and things. It has consumed many evenings and weekends, many trips to the coffee shop and the occasional meeting too. My smartphone has helped me find my way through an unknown campus and reminded me where I should be and when. I’ve shot planes down and jumped over exploding flowers, I’ve solved puzzles and shared photos of my dinner. My phone has reminded me of my children’s assembly times as well as important meetings I don’t want to be late for, as well as enabling me to connect to people who share my enthusiasm for learning and learning technology. And Lego. Don’t forget the Lego!! We all need more Lego.

Two quotes stand out for me in the importance of understanding what the massive impact smartphones have had on me (and everyone else). These are:

1 The tweet from Bill Thompson ( inspired my last book, #EdTechRations, and is just so true for so many of us today;

“Have realised that I very rarely check my phone. I am however umbilically attached to my networked pocket computer, used for many tasks.”

2 Anthony Chivetta said in 2008 ( that “the need to know the capital of Florida died when my phone learned the answer.” As a student representative he went on to explain the use and impact smartphones and technology has had, and is still having, on learning and students by saying

“Rather, the students of tomorrow need to be able to think creatively: they will need to learn on their own, adapt to new challenges and innovate on-the-fly … students of tomorrow will need to be their own guides as they explore the body of information that is at their fingertips. My generation will be required to learn information quickly, use that information to solve new and novel problems, and then present those solutions in creative and effective ways. The effective students of tomorrow’s world will be independent learners, strong problem solvers and effective designers.”

Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?

David: The list is long and extremely distinguished, and grows almost daily. There isn’t a good way to list them all and I don’t want to single any one person out as so many people have influenced me on my journey. Perhaps just look at my Twitter profile and the people I follow, those are the ones who matter the most. Today.

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

David: The superpower to prevent confusing and often conflicting uses of different terms to mean the same thing, or people using terminology incorrectly. When you say course do you mean the degree course, or are you referring to the module/unit level, or something different? Perhaps that’s too specific, perhaps I’d rather have the power to help all stakeholders in the design, development and deployment of distance, online learning to understand what we’re doing, and why, in order to help the process and writing of materials? Yeah, that’d be good if we could get over that hurdle.

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags? [or equivalent if you don’t use hashtags] 

David: Ahh, which hashtag to use, and when? That’s the perfect storm isn’t it? I’m sure I read some research a few years back that found that the optimum number of hashtags, for marketing or brand awareness, was no fewer than two and no more than three? It seems fairly sensible, but my favourites are #altc, #learning, #EdTech #OnlineLearning .. and two of my favourites are #EdTechRations and #EdTechBook (obvs.).

If you’re going to use a hashtag made up of different words, please consider the accessibility to the tag by capitalising the different words, it makes it easier for screen readers to read, more here:

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

David: For a long time it’s always been my blog as ‘the’ place to go to follow my ramblings and thoughts, but I’ve neglected it for the last year or so. I keep meaning to get back to the blogging but I find a lot of what I would say is already being said by more prominent and more eloquent people. Ho hum! Where comments and conversations would happen on blog posts quite a lot in the past, that trend seems to have stopped. Wouldn’t it be great to resurrect that practice again, get the connections and collaborative juices flowing, just like it was when I started doing all this stuff 10-12 years ago?!

I am, however, still active on Twitter and LinkedIn, so any connections or conversations anyone wants to have, find me on either of those networks and let’s get working! It is only through the back and forth of these connections that we can learn from each other and help others. These are exciting times for learning and learning technologies, but we need to keep working at it and challenging ourselves.

Maren: Thank you, David, for a great chat #altc!

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 marendeepwell in conversation with Elizabeth Charles ElizabethECharl

#ALTC Blog - 19/06/19

Welcome to this new regular interview series on the #altc blog. For this interview, I am delighted to welcome Elizabeth Charles, Assistant Director of Library Services at Birkbeck, University of London.

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

Elizabeth: Well, I am currently working on several fronts. I am working with colleagues to ensure that our web presence and the content we (the Library) provide in the VLE are accessible and complies with the Public Sector Bodies Websites and Mobile Application Accessibility Regulations, as well as looking to hear from our colleagues in the Information Technology Service as to what approach is being taken and how is that going to be supported and communicated to all relevant staff in the institution. At the same time, I am also contributing to the discussions and sharing of practice, resources and standards and policies via the FHEDAWG (Further Higher Education Digital Accessibility Working Group) (recent webinar on inclusive design) and the other sub-groups via the Jiscmail discussions groups. I think clarity is starting to emerge but there is still so much to be decided and then implemented in a timely fashion. 

I am preparing to update our version of the Digital Skills Awareness Moodle module course that was created collaboratively with the Bloomsbury Learning Environment member institutions and will be available for reuse under Creative Commons Licence later in the year. I should start this hopefully mid-June! 

I am on a Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group (outside of the Library) and we are working towards sharing good practice and resources, as well as putting on seminars and events for colleagues in Birkbeck to discuss this issue which is broader than just the curriculum. Within the Library, over the summer we hope to undertake a proof of concept project looking at what’s on the reading lists we receive. We are currently in the process of reviewing the parameters and what data is required and available and how this data will be organised. I am also writing two articles and have completed the first draft of both articles.  Almost ready to submit one for publication, just need some time to sort out the references. Having read the Black, Asian and Minority Student Attainment at UK Universities I am trying to identify ways that the Library can help in #closingthegap and contributing to the discussion on this at Birkbeck and how the Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group can provide input and support to address this. Finally, amongst the other day-to-day stuff that I do, the Library is getting ready for the first phase of a two-year refurbishment of the Library to begin in earnest after the exams!!  What could possibly go wrong?

Maren: What influences your work? 

Elizabeth: My passion for widening participation and lifelong learning of which education, digital literacy and skills to use relevant learning technologies are key drivers.  These influence my work heavily and that is why I chose to work at Birkbeck.

Maren: Current recommended reading?  

Elizabeth: The two books that I just finished reading are Caroline Criado-Perez – Invisible Women: Exposing data bias for a world designed for men; Simon Sinek – Start with the Why. I am currently halfway through Tressie McMillan Cottam – Thick: And other essays.  I would recommend all three of them highly.

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

Elizabeth: I haven’t got to the stage of using  Trello but I use Outlook/calendar functions and I have a handwritten list pinned up on a notice board in my kitchen.

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

Elizabeth: My iPad and a book (print or e).

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

Elizabeth: Google Apps For Education because it is ubiquitous and can be used individually and in conjunction with each other to do so many interesting and collaborative activities or projects without having to download additional software.

Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?

Elizabeth: Hmmm that is a difficult one!  I am going to say that my learning technology heroes are those who take part in the LTHEchat on a Wednesday evening.  The topics covered are varied and some are more in my area of expertise than others, but I always learn so much from those chats about theories, practices, resources and research.

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

Elizabeth: I would make all learning technology accessible.

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags? [or equivalent if you don’t use hashtags] 

Elizabeth: #LTHEChat, #UKlibchat #decolonise.

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

Elizabeth: Follow me on Twitter @ElizabethECharl  and look out for me at webinars, seminars, conferences, or invite me for a chat over coffee, f2f or in digital space. Also have a look at .

Maren: Thank you, Elizabeth, for a really interesting conversation!

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: find out more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

ALT Events - 19/06/19

This webinar is organised by ALT as part of our work with the Further Higher Education Digital AccessibilityWorking Group (FHEDAWG).

The webinar will be accessible from one hour before the start time at the following link:

Session Summary

On 23 September 2018, the government brought the EU Web Accessibility Directive into law with a statutory instrumentPolicy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology produced to report to shape the implementation of the regulations to promote inclusive teaching in FE and HE. Since the report’s publication Robert and his team have continued to engage with the Cabinet Office, the Office for Students and Department for Education, and we are beginning to see some of the recommendations adopted. The FE and HE sectors have also responded to the recommendations in the report, by forming a Digital Accessibility Working Group, of which Robert is a co-chair. This webinar will explore what the new regulations and implementation efforts mean for universities and disabled students.


Robert McLaren is the Head of Industry, Technology & Innovation at Policy Connect, a cross-party not for profit think tank. His work covers data, design, manufacturing and assistive technology policy. Robert is a co-chair of the FE/HE Digital Accessible Working Group, a member of the DfE Assistive Technology Expert Group, and a member of the Bournemouth University External Advisory Board on Assistive Technologies (Research) and co-founder of the AT Officers’ Network (HE). Robert is dyslexic and was first introduced to assistive technology when he received a Disabled Student's Allowance as an undergraduate.

Technical Support

The webinar will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and we will issue joining instructions approximately three days prior to the event. Even if you are familiar with Blackboard, it is important that you check in advance that your system and connection are capable of handling a session. More support on using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is available from, and refer to the guidance at

Categories: ALT, Events

Developing and evaluating virtual anatomy resources for teaching allied health disciplines

RLT Journal - 18/06/19

Allied health professionals require an understanding of anatomy for purposes such as planning radiotherapy, or treating muscle imbalance. In practice, they will rarely see the structure they are treating, but seeing it during their education is invaluable. To reveal deep structures in the human body, neighbouring structures are unavoidably removed as a donated human body is dissected. Academic and clinical staff approached the challenge for students’ understanding of the male reproductive and urinary system, which is indeed disrupted by dissection. An existing radiotherapy planning instrument Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training was used to create videos of real patients’ internal structures. Structures difficult to see in dissection, models and images were transformed from magnetic resonance and computerised tomography scans into videos that appeared three-dimensional, for use by students learning anatomy. Qualitative evaluation of these anatomy videos suggested that they can be accessed at students’ convenience and can be customised with captions, pauses or quizzes. Quantitative evaluation suggested that offering assessment-related incentives may not result in all students choosing to access the videos, but that those who did performed better on both labelling and short answer explanations of related content on immediate and short-term testing.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Maren Deepwell marendeepwell in conversation with Maha Bali bali maha

#ALTC Blog - 13/06/19

Welcome to this new regular interview series on the #altc blog. For this first interview, I am thrilled to welcome Maha Bali, Associate Professor of Practice, Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo.

Maren: Tell us what you are currently working on?

Maha: Ok wow. Several things.

Related to my teaching, I teach a digital literacies and intercultural learning course, and I plan to integrate the Data Detox Kit  and Glassroom Exhibition (see, partnering with Tactile Tech to offer their open source work an Arabic/Egyptianized version (this should hopefully also work well with the digital literacies campus project, too!!!); and also to use sava saheli singh’s Screening Surveillance videos (available here: ) into my course next semester inshallah and hopefully have students ask her questions  on Twitter or Zoom or such. I also hope to do some kind of co-located work with Mia Zamora (Mia, Catherine Cronin and I had co-created the open, connected, equity-focused curriculum Equity Unbound last year so this would build on that work. Mia is also OER20 co-chair!!) with the Data Detox Kit and any other points of intersection we find. Funny enough, Data Detox Kit partners with Mozilla and our Equity Unbound project was mentored under Mozilla Open Leaders. Kind ofs all comes full circle

In terms of research and such there are a number of things I am working on:

  • Coming soon, I co-authored with Virtually Connecting co-directors an article in eLearn Mag on Intentionally Equitable Hospitality, which is the approach that underpins our values and guides our actions. It’s our own naming of what we do. Will be published in this special issue here:
  • Coming later, I just finished a book chapter on doing Autoethnography on the internet (I blogged some early drafts of parts of it here) .  It made me want to do a collaborative autoethnography book on Virtually Connecting…
  • Coming soon, in Media and Communication journal, an article about doing digital literacy with a feminist approach in a postcolonial context. Now published OA here
  • Also working with Rajiv Jhangiani, Robin DeRosa, Catherine Cronin and Laura Czerniewicz on an edited collection of critical perspectives on open education. And on an article extending the work of Cheryl Hogkinson-Williams and Henry Trotter’s work applying Nancy Fraser’s framework of social justice to non-OER-based Open Educational Practices. I actually incorporated some of this into the Intentionally Equitable Hospitality article I mentioned earlier
  • I’m giving a workshop, seminar and keynote in Cape Town in August inshallah.
Maren: What influences your work?

Maha: Really pretty much any work that focuses on social justice, and particularly the practice of it, not the abstract philosophical aspects of it. So if I were to talk about broad influences on my work in general, they would be:

  • Generally the work of bell hooks, Edward Said
  • Curriculum theory. Recognizing not all curricula need to be content or outcome based but they can be based on processes that promote learning and other important less measurable values; or a curriculum can be social justice based. A quick reading here
  • Elisabeth Ellsworth’s writing on the complex practice of doing critical pedagogy in the classroom
  • Lina Mounzer’s highly emotional article War in Translation which influenced Equity Unbound and so much of what I do
  • My daughter influences my work. Just being a parent makes me reflect a lot on so many things related to education!!
  • My students and the kind of ideas they bring to class and blog and talk about
  • Virtually Connecting- I meet so many people I wouldn’t necessarily have ever met and the conversations sometimes spark some new ideas or directions for my thinking. Because we have a team of people organizing sessions, I often don’t know who will be on or what to expect… it can be really thought-provoking. And you build longer relationships with people you may never have come across anywhere. One example of a wonderful group I met recently are the co-directors of Whose Knowledge (Siko Boutrese and Adele Vrana) and Majd Al-Shihabi at the Creative Commons Summit – session recording available here:

If I were to talk about something more specific, I’ll mention it in the recommended reading :)

Maren: Current recommended reading?

Maha: Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams & Trotter article mentioned earlier ( ).

This is an old article on Hybrid Pedagogy but it really influenced me to think about rigor differently. Beyond Rigor. By Sean Michael Morris, Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel, 2013.

I also recently discovered this book on Data Feminism (draft open access here:

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

Maha: Mostly digital. I have docs and tables (sheets can be better coz you can color code stuff automatically- my colleague Nadine Aboulmagd modeled this).

But sometimes one morning at work I’ll make a written list and enjoy crossing it out throughout the day. But for anything longer than one day, it has to be digital so I can find it on different devices and update it anywhere. I lose paper!

Also, that is a really surprising question.

Maren: On work travel you are never without… ?

Maha: Ha…. my phone? As you know, I had to travel without my laptop several times, including my OER17 keynote because of the laptop ban on flights at the time. When I was younger I used to travel with several books, several cassette tapes and papers and a copy of the Quran. Now it’s all on my phone. And I like to have data roaming.

Funnily, for this question, I almost said “my daughter”, but if I can travel a short one-day trip to a nearby country, I don’t take her. I’m not sure what will happen as she gets older; it will be more difficult to take her out of school to come to trips with me, but also easier to take her with me to the actual conferences because she’ll be old enough to keep herself busy or maybe even enjoy the conferences, especially since she knows so many of my friends and colleagues because of Virtually Connecting and from previous trips.

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

Maha: Twitter, Slack and Google docs.

  • Twitter obviously for connecting to people I wouldn’t otherwise ever connect with
  • Slack for how it allows me to compartmentalize different projects within any team I am working with. Especially Virtually Connecting where different people work on different events at different times.
  • Google docs for how it allows such smooth collaboration with people both in my department at work and international collaboration such as co-authoring articles. I love the opportunity to comment and discuss on the margins and suggest edits rather than edit over someone’s work without permission. I wish there had been Google docs when I was doing my PhD dissertation and that my supervisor would have agreed to use it.
Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?  

Maha: Hmmmmmmmmmmm so many people!!! I’m afraid to start listing them and forgetting someone important.

As this is you interviewing me, I have this in my mind: Martin Hawksey :) for his generous practice online and in person.

Others: The Hybrid Pedagogy folks (so mainly Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris) and the University of Edinburgh folks (Sian Bayne, Jen Ross, Jeremy Knox et al) because they were my earliest influences (ca. 2013) on how to integrate critical pedagogy perspectives with edtech when I was frustrated with technopositivist discourses in edtech. Of course Audrey Watters for her critical straight talk (it always makes me realize how little I know and how much clouds my vision). I am also very much influenced by folks from South Africa: Laura Czerniewicz, Sukaina Walji, Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Paul Prinsloo. Their discourse makes much more sense to me because I can relate to their context so much more than discourses coming from US/UK/Australia.

And honestly, so many people within Virtually Connecting for how they make things work every day. We revise our processes all the time in order to “make it work” with the underlying equity intentions. Autumm Caines, Rebeca Hogue, Helen DeWaard, Christian Friedrich and additionally the group who worked with Mozilla Open Leaders to review our processes (Nate Angell, Wendy Taleo, along with Helen and Rebecca).

And Alan Levine. So much of what I can do with tech is because of his open practice of sharing the how-to behind his work.

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

Maha: Remove anything that uses numbers to represent human beings. The direction towards learning analytics and machine learning is heavily centered on quantifying and abstractly analyzing human data to produce supposed “insights” to support decision-making. Not only is much of all this stuff biased and likely to reproduce inequality… it is also dehumanizing.

Maren: What are your favourite hashtags? [or equivalent if you don’t use hashtags]

Maha: I think hashtags are mostly a temporal thing for me. Whatever I’m doing at the time. One of my faves used to be the #DigPed hashtag but it’s not as busy as it used to be, I think.

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

Maha: I would say a combination of my blog, my Twitter profile and generally catching up with some Virtually Connecting conversations – although I don’t have much control over the actual content of those, who is on them, etc. If you’re very academic, my publications and some of my past keynotes here: though now I realize I should probably list my audio appearances coz sometimes they’re really what I’m thinking about in that moment!

Find out more about Maha’s work Maren: Thank you, Maha, for a great conversation #altc.

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

Apply for a funded place at ALT s Annual Conference

#altc 2019 - 13/06/19
A small number of funded places are available this year thanks to the Doug Gowan Memorial fund, which also supports professional development and CMALT accreditation.

Call for Members to get involved in ALT

ALT News - 13/06/19

It’s that time of year where we invite our Members to come and get more involved with ALT.  Taking an active part in the work of the Association ensures that all activities are shaped by Members’ priorities and also offer valuable opportunities for professional development and recognition.We are seeking expressions of interest from our Members from:

Categories: ALT, News

Call for Expressions of Interest to Chair the 2020 ALT Annual Conference open until 15 July 2019

#altc 2019 - 12/06/19
We are seeking experienced Co-Chairs for the 2020 ALT Annual Conference Committee. The Co-Chairs will play a major role in planning and delivery of the conference in 2020. For information about previous ALT Annual Conferences please visit The ALT Annual Conference is the UK’s main conference for Learning Technologists and one of the largest conferences […]

Call for Expressions of Interest to Chair the 2020 ALT Annual Conference

ALT News - 12/06/19

We are seeking experienced Co-Chairs for the 2020 ALT Annual Conference Committee. The Co-Chairs will play a major role in planning and delivery of the conference in 2020. For information about previous ALT Annual Conferences please visit

Categories: ALT, News

Registration open for ALT Annual Conference 2019 – Data, Dialogue, Doing

ALT News - 11/06/19

Registration is open for the 2019 ALT Annual Conference, 3-5 September in Edinburgh. Register now to take advantage of the significant early bird savings. ALT Members also receive an additional 20% discount.

ALT’s Annual Conference 2019 is seeking to confront and challenge established assumptions, approaches and accepted truths in relation to key dimensions of digital education, focusing on the following conference themes:

Categories: ALT, News

Registration open for ALT Annual Conference 2019 – Data, Dialogue, Doing

ALT Announce - 11/06/19
Dear ALT Members,

Registration is open for the 2019 ALT Annual Conference, 3-5 September in
Edinburgh. Register now <> to take
advantage of the significant early bird savings. ALT Members also receive
an additional 20% discount. If you would like to help promote registration
then there is some text below which is also published on the registration
announcement page
you can share via the following social media links: Share on Facebook
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Categories: ALT, Announcement

Guest Post: Getting To and Getting Around Edinburgh by Lizzie Seymour

#altc 2019 - 10/06/19
  Edinburgh is a wonderfully welcoming city, and is really accessible for getting around. The conference itself will be hosted at the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall and Appleton Tower which are within easy walking distance from the city centre, but I’ve tried to put together a small transport guide for the rest of the […]

Chief Executive Officer s Report June 2019

#ALTC Blog - 05/06/19

Dear Members

Now in my seventh year as chief executive of ALT, I’m writing these important updates for you, the Members of ALT, with a clear sense that the community I serve is not only growing in numbers, but also in diversity in all senses of the word.

What it means to be working in Learning Technology, what our different role descriptions and job titles mean, how they influence career progression, strategy and the way we articulate our professional practice is an ongoing and important conversation: one that many Members on the Members’ mailing list, the altc blog, at Assembly meetings and on blogs, social media and at events engage with.

To me, the discussions articulate and remind me of how important it is that we continue to examine and question our relationship with technology, how it is used for learning, teaching and assessment and what impact it has in the broadest sense, from individuals, to classrooms, institutions and on a global scale. ALT’s own definition of Learning Technology remains at the heart of that endeavour.

As a professional body for a diverse community of professionals, we welcome everyone who has become a Member of ALT in the past few months and also thank all who have renewed their membership this year. Thank you.

ALT’s importance as the leading independent professional body for Learning Technology in the UK continues to grow as our membership expands, bringing together more insight, expertise and contrasting perspectives in our network that benefits all involved as well as the wider public.

Coming up in the next three months, here are some key dates for your diary:

  • ALT’s Members Assembly is now firmly established and meets monthly online;
  • Call for Nominations for Trustees and the AGM Calling notice for this year’s AGM has been published, deadline 10 June and the AGM this year is on 4 September;  
  • Early bird registration for the 2019 Annual Conference is now open until 9 July offering a discounted rate in addition to the 20% Members save;
  • Senior and Associate CMALT will open for registration ahead of the Annual Conference, where we will formally launch the new accreditation pathways following a successful pilot scheme. Look out for more information via the weekly news digest in the run up to the conference.

There have been many other developments in recent months that have resulted in resources for Members and also the wider community, including a new report with a focus on gender equality in Learning Technology based on data from ALT’s Annual Survey, a record 18 research articles have been published in the journal already this year, covering topics such as smart learning environments, motivating teachers in further education and learner engagement – and featuring new article level metrics of article downloads as well as a new integration with Publons.

I want to close my report by reflecting on an important strategic milestone that we reached in recent months: the establishment of the final Members Group in the East of England. This means that we now have active Members Groups in all parts of the UK and you can view the map and find out more on the Members Groups and Special Interest Groups page.

At their recent meeting the Board of Trustees warmly welcomed this important marker of achieving what our strategy set out three years ago, and took inspiration from progress overall as we look ahead to setting out the next strategy for 2020 onwards.

One thing is for certain, there are exciting times ahead for us as an Association powered by our Members and I am really looking forward to what the next months have in store for us.

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

Closing date coming up for 2019 Trustee elections

ALT News - 05/06/19

We invite nominations for 2 Trustees to serve an initial three year term to be elected by Members.

We are also seeking expressions of interest for the role of  Vice-Chair of the Association to serve an initial three year term to be appointed by the Board of Trustees (formally called the Central Executive Committee).

Categories: ALT, News

Reflections on the White Rose Learning Technologists Forum 17th April 2019

#ALTC Blog - 31/05/19
Alistair McNaught on web accessibility.

A post by Louise Stringer, York University,

The Forum met at the University of York recently to consider issues surrounding accessibility and inclusivity. There were three very different sessions, considering legislation and content creation.

Of course a pressing issue at the moment is the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. Alistair McNaught from JISC kicked off proceedings with an overview of the implications of this legislation for learning technologists and other HE staff, including a rather snazzy graphic to summarise the timeline for compliance. I think everyone appreciated this, as the timeline is pretty complex! I won’t go into details of the regulations and deadlines here, but if you’re not yet familiar with them, I recommend this report on Accessible VLEs (particularly Chapter 2), or UK Government guidelines.

From my perspective as a ‘technology-enhanced teacher’, Alistair’s key point was that this legislation isn’t really new accessibility requirements, but more a shift in the burden of responsibility. Instead of students having to request adaptations to overcome barriers, it’s now the institution’s responsibility to provide natively accessible websites and documents. So essentially, the new legislation demands an inclusive design approach to materials design.

Next up was a hands-on workshop on “Everyday inclusion in everyday teaching” by Kirsten Thompson from the University of Leeds, focusing on content creation. This was a really enjoyable session, with two key takeaways. Firstly, to build an inclusive learning environment we have to consider the needs of all our students, especially in light of internationalisation and widening participation efforts. So although the new legislation focuses on removing barriers arising from disability, to be fully inclusive we need to go further and also think about how to remove barriers due to diversity in linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds, being a mature, part-time or distance student, having caring responsibilities or a low income etc.

My second takeaway from Kirsten’s workshop was that a key strategy to develop accessible materials is to allow students to adapt a document’s format or how they interact with it. For example, instead of giving module information on a static PDF, using a cloud-based document like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs lets students change features such as the text size, background colour and line spacing to suit their needs. Kirsten also demonstrated the Microsoft Immersive Reader tool, which visually enhances text and can also read the text aloud. This seems a really useful tool to support a diverse range of students – it gives students a lot of control, and it’s based on familiar technology so doesn’t need specialist skills to use. Check out the University of Leeds Inclusive Teaching site for more tips.

The final session was an introduction to the Blackboard Ally tool, from Nicholaas Matthijs, Gillian Fielding and Peter Hirst from Blackboard. The main function of Ally is an automatic accessibility checker for pages and documents on a VLE or website. After checking, an icon reflecting the accessibility score is shown next to each document (staff-facing only). A tutor can then click this to see what the issue is, learn why it’s problematic and also get instructions on how to fix the issue. A lot of my colleagues have reported that they don’t really know where to begin with creating accessible materials, so I think this could be a really useful nudge to raise instructor awareness and empower them to create more accessible VLE sites and documents. The second key function of Ally is that it can create alternative formats of documents for students, such as a braille or audio version, or an ePub file for use with an e-book reader. Giving students this control lets them select the most appropriate format, removes the need for specialist tools and doesn’t add extra burden to instructors. Winning all round!

Thanks all for a thought-provoking and productive afternoon, and especially to the speakers and organiser Graham McElearney and Lilian Soon.

Louise Stringer, York University, @Lou_Stringer on Twitter

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

Guest Blog: An outsider perspective on ALTC by Steven Verjans

#altc 2019 - 31/05/19
  This guest post contains a brief reflection on the ALT community from the perspective of a non-UK participant. This year I celebrate 10 years of involvement with the Association for Learning Technology, which seems a good time to look back and reflect. In 2010, I participated in my first annual ALT Conference in Nottingham. […]


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