A post by Julie Voce, Head of Digital Education, and Mimi Weiss Johnson, Senior Educational Technologist, City, University of London.
Over the years we have been involved in many recruitment rounds for Learning Technologist roles at several universities and have picked up quite a few tips for how to write a good application and how to do well in interviews. With the increased demand for Learning Technologists in 2021, and many new roles being advertised, we thought it would be timely to share some of the things we have learned along the way in the hope that it might help someone out there move into the field or take a step up.
This series of blog posts, written for the ALT community, will cover the five areas we’ve identified as part of the application and interview process. These are:
Before we look at the application and interview stages for the job you want, there are some things you can do before you apply, to maximise your chances to be shortlisted through the application stage(s) and to be selected for an interview.
We hope that this series of posts on the recruitment process is also beneficial to existing learning technologists in how to develop themselves or look to their next role.Start now! Review job descriptions & identify your skills
Have a look at job descriptions for the role(s) you want to be doing. Roles in academic institutions typically get advertised via jobs.ac.uk, the ALT news digest, LinkedIn, and a variety of Jisc mailing lists. See what sort of things they expect you to be able to do and what qualifications they might ask for. This can help you with planning your own professional development in terms of training/qualifications as well as experience. For example, if you have never managed a project, but the role you want is asking for experience then see if you can gain that experience in your current role by attending an introduction to project management course and/or managing a small-scale project. You could also gain experience through shadowing a colleague or volunteering to work on a project with another team.
Make sure to take some time to identify your transferable skills, especially if you are moving into the field of learning technology for the first time, and check if these skills match the roles that you are interested in. Roles such as Assistant Learning Technologist are a great starting point as they tend to ask for transferable skills, rather than direct experience of supporting learning technology. For example, if you are currently working in a library, you might have customer service skills and experience in supporting staff in digital literacies. If you are currently working in IT, you might have experience in writing user guides and providing technical support. These are valuable and transferable skills that can help you to identify the right jobs for you.
Many Learning Technologist job descriptions ask for certification or accreditation in the criteria, such as CMALT (Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology) or Advance HE Fellowship, and for those more on an academic development side, SEDA Fellowship. If you do not have any of these yet, then one of the best things you can do is register for one of the schemes and start working on it. It will definitely look good on your application! These schemes provide a fantastic opportunity to reflect on your current role, where you want to be in the future and to generate some excellent examples of what you do that can be used in both your application and in the interview.Compile your examples
You do not have to wait until you are applying for jobs to start compiling your examples. Keeping a record of useful examples of your work can be helpful for job applications, but also for things like CMALT. When you look at job descriptions for the role you want to be doing, start compiling some of the common criteria from the person specifications and think about where you already have experience, e.g., training courses you have developed, examples of supporting users with technology, projects you have worked on, etc.Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes.
One of the best ways to find out what recruiters are looking for is to be on a recruitment panel. We have learned so much about what makes a good application and interview through being on recruitment panels. Start by attending the recruitment training offered by your institution and, if you can, get some experience of shortlisting and being on an interview panel. It is only through being on the other side that we have understood what works and what does not.Stop and think!
So, you’ve had a look for potential roles, and you’ve seen an amazing job advertised, but should you apply? Stop and think before you act.Review and question.
Take some time to review the job description and ask yourself questions such as:
Most job adverts provide a point of contact so do get in touch if you want to know more about the role. In our experience, very few people contact recruiters in advance of applying, but it can be helpful for determining whether this is the right job for you. People don’t often realise until the interview stage that this isn’t the job that they thought it was going to be. For example, the instructional designer who went through the whole recruitment process only to find out after being offered the role that it didn’t actually involve any instructional design work. If the job isn’t suitable for you, then don’t apply, as it is a time-consuming process for you and the recruiters. If the job is suitable, then asking questions can show the recruiters that you are keen and willing to take the time to investigate the job further.What’s next?
So you’ve decided you are interested in the position and would like to apply. In part two of this series, we will take a look at the application process and provide some tips to help you write an application that should get you shortlisted.
With thanks to our City Digital Education colleagues Taqveem Ahmed, Kathryn Drumm and Olivia Fox for their advice and feedback.
This post, and the subsequent posts in the series, have been written by Julie Voce, Head of Digital Education, and Mimi Weiss Johnson, Senior Educational Technologist, City, University of London.
If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.
The pandemic has fundamentally altered approaches to work, teaching and study. There has been an unprecedented shift to online learning during this time, with a huge demand for online courses as learners seek alternative methods of accessing learning content, with searches for ‘online courses’ being higher than pre-pandemic. In some ways there are a lot of positives to take from this, with one being the rise in the development of online course content and increased, easier access to resources.A call to action
The shift to online modes of teaching and learning has given me pause as an instructional designer. I wonder how much thought is given to quality, accessibility, and learner experience when we rush toward digital education? At the University of Edinburgh, our Online Course Production team took this as a call to action to share our expertise with those who are new to online course creation or looking to produce engaging online learning materials. More about what the team offers at the University, can be found on our Online Course Production pages.
During these past few months, my colleagues and I have developed a new 2-week course on FutureLearn, ‘How to Create an Online Course’. The course explores key concepts around:
The course combines readings and multimedia with interactive learning to help learners gain a deeper understanding of important topics. Experts from the University of Edinburgh and FutureLearn share their experiences and top tips for creating engaging online learning.
With an increased focus on digital education, it is vital we consider how we design and teach in online spaces. Whether you are teaching online for the first time, or are an experienced learning technologist, this course offers something for everyone.
No matter the subject matter or level of difficulty, all online courses have one thing in common – they must be designed with a target audience in mind. Yes, this sounds very obvious, but is commonly overlooked in favour of content. Yes, again, content is key, otherwise you won’t have an audience, but designing with solely content in mind is not enough. Designing an online course is difficult, it takes time and requires a lot of patience.
Our course aims to give learners the key skills that will help them create engaging online learning experiences.
Our course is agnostic of subject matter, platform and level of study, instead focussing on teaching educators how to create immersive and engaging learning content that puts the end user or learner at the fore. By creating this course, we are hoping that we can encourage those who are responsible for creating online courses to put themselves in the shoes of the prospective learner and ask themselves, “how would they like to learn?”.
Our team has a lot of great experience to share and It’s been a privilege and fulfilling opportunity to do this course and to be able to share this with learners around the globe. So join us on How to Create an Online Course as we will explore this in more detail.
Author Marcello Crolla, Information Services, University of Edinburgh, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter https://twitter.com/uoe_online
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.
Samantha Ahern, Faculty Learning Technology Lead (The Bartlett), UCL; Coco Nijhoff, Senior Teaching Fellow (Library Services), Imperial College London; Alistair Cooper, Educational Technologist, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge
How, as content creators and learning designers, do we start to think about and approach race and racism in our work? How do we do this individually and when working with programme teams?
In our previous post we introduced some of the ways in which race and racism feature in all levels of content creation. But how can we ensure we consistently consider and address these different aspects in our work?
Frameworks broadly offer a way to think about a piece of content creation as a whole. This includes interconnected activities and the context they fit into and who is involved. This can help to guide us into addressing each aspect with anti-racism, providing structure and ways to organise activities. In that many frameworks are designed to be flexible and adaptable, there is an opportunity to consider using these as a starting point for anti-racism content development.
Design for Diversity (D4D) framework
The Design for Diversity (D4D) framework provides an example to explore. Whilst it is not specific to education or digital learning content, the D4D framework contains tools and guided critical thinking exercises to undertake when starting work to help with “illuminating cultural and racial biases within your design, ideation, and creative processes.” As such is highly applicable to our field. For example, the framework asks us to answer these core questions when approaching a piece of work:
These are among the questions that might be used to employ a framework in taking an anti-racist approach. The framework has the potential to make explicit some of the unrecognised biases and practices when creating digital learning content – and result in a stronger piece of work in general.
UCL Creating an inclusive curriculum for BAME students staff toolkit
The UCL Creating an inclusive curriculum for BAME students staff toolkit specifically addressing race in Higher Education that can also be drawn on when starting to plan digital learning content.
The UCL toolkit focuses on four key themes: inclusive curriculum, inclusive teaching, learning and assessment, and belonging and creating safe spaces. Each section explains why the theme is significant and provides a selection of practical tips, resources and further reading related to that theme.
For example the Bartlett ‘Race’ and Space curriculum introduces a number of key questions on specific themes such as Racialised Landscapes, with core readings and resources identified. Teaching staff can bring these ideas and discussion points into their programmes of study. Work is currently being undertaken to convert this into online materials that students can more readily engage with.
University of the Arts London AEM and Attainment Resources
The University of the Arts London AEM and Attainment Resources resources include guidance on approaching teaching through materials and practical tools, with a focus on diversity and social justice. The series of tools can again help with a structure for a team to work through. For example, reviewing course unit design to examine how a unit is experienced for different students, with prompts to examine how different groups may or may not experience belonging or assessment or the content of the curriculum in the unit. After taking steps to explore the reasons for differences in attainment in that light, content creation within the unit is that much more informed and able to take place with specific locally grounded anti racist aims.
Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech
Another framework, one which is presented as a broad statement on how to approach anti-racist content development, is the Data Society Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech framework, presented by the Data Society, a U.S.-based non-profit thinktank. The aim of developing racial literacy is “a method for addressing the racially disparate impacts of technology” and is a capacity that can be developed and expanded.
ALT Ethical Framework
And of particular relevance for the ALT community is the soon-to-be-launched ALT Ethical Framework. This framework will include a range of tools and applied examples to support its ethical principles and can be applied from the individual to organisational level. Launching at the September annual conference, you can get involved in a range of ways now with the development of this framework.
This year’s Annual Conference artwork is now available in the altc shop! This year’s artwork was selected following a student competition at London College of Communication.
The overall winner of the competition was Gloria Corra. Gloria’s artwork can be seen widely across the conference website, social media and in other published material.
Show your #altc21 pride this year by purchasing some special edition merch, with three styles to choose from.
Available on face masks, t-shirts, jumpers, mugs and lot’s of other items, to help celebrate Learning Technologists even more widely.Learn about the artist
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this project. This experience has allowed me to look at the world of technology with a new set of eyes. The feeling of being part of this great community made me work on my projects with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation”Gloria Corra
Checkout our other available designs;
Sandra Huskinson email@example.com @FieryRed1ALT past and present a rogue’s gallery
As some of you may know I’m a keen photographer so it made sense for me as part of my process for writing this post to start by looking back through some photos and videos of ALT conferences past. I’m fortunate enough to have presented a couple of times, attended many times both in person and online, and also been involved in the volunteering to support conferences. It has been fascinating to take this very personal look back at the variety of content and the network of people I’ve met and seen present over the years.
ALT has provided both engaging and challenging keynotes and facilitating a wide range debates over the years never shying away from controversial topics. The VLE is Dead symposium at ALT 2009 (https://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/the-vle-is-dead-the-movie/ ) followed up ten years later by James Clay revisiting this topic with an insightful blog post ( https://elearningstuff.net/2019/09/02/the-vle-is-still-dead-altc/) has fired debate over many years and I’d love to hear James’ and the other panel members take on the use of the VLE in the last year. Is the VLE dead or has the pandemic resuscitated it?
In 2010 Donald Clark gave a thought provoking keynote ‘Don’t lecture me’ (https://youtu.be/Tbl-xXF8NPY). The reference to academics building a lecture theatre in Second Life has remained with me and the points about transforming courses was definitely relevant in the pandemic. More opinions can be found at his blog site. I particularly like his opinions on switching off video in (http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2021/03/disabling-video-may-be-better-for.html )
In 2016 Games Workshop founder and computing learning expert Ian Livingston gave a keynote ‘Code Create Collaborate (https://youtu.be/D7zOg4fe9L4 ), the reference to STEAM: Science, Technology, Arts and Maths resonated with me as an art graduate and is relevant now with the UK government looking at cutting arts in education. Ian is still advocating the power of using games in education (https://businesscloud.co.uk/ian-livingstone-cbe-its-time-for-schools-to-embrace-games/ )
Finally, I want to mention the original guy up a ladder, the wonderful and much missed Hans Rosling, presenting ‘A fact based world view’ in 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qAKMTDZbBQ&t=51s). Hans with Bill Gates in 2014 went on to talk about how to get vaccinations into the arms of children, which is so relevant now. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nDh8MQuS-Y ). I particularly loved his very visual way of explaining concepts.
All these presentations have stimulated ongoing debates, sparked ideas and truly made people think, providing the ALT community with opportunities to discuss controversial topics, and let off steam. The recent addition of the Gasta (https://youtu.be/8NRKESSftoM ) sessions comes to mind, as well as opportunities to gain new skills by volunteering for the programme committee, chairing sessions and providing support others via the ALT email lists and Special Interest Groups.
Looking through everything while writing this blog post was like looking at the history of learning technology, but for me it was always about the people. Being online never diminished the opportunities to network and whether it was in the early days via email or discussion boards or later via Twitter people have always connected and shared thoughts and offered help and advice. That’s the thing about this community of practice – the attendees have changed over the years but there’s always been enthusiasm for the sharing of opinions and knowledge. For me it’s always the people that count. There have been some wonderful highlights and I’m sure there will be more.
So what have I learnt? Forget the technology it’s all about the people, a topic or tech is never really ‘dead’ it gets recycled as people find new uses for it. It’s the tech that binds us but the interactions that make us.
I hope I’ve now sparked your interest and you’ll join this community at conference sharing your practice with and supporting others. These are my highlights – what are yours? #ALTHighlights
We are delighted to announce our first keynote speaker for ALT’s Annual Conference 2021. Mutale Nkonde is our first speaker, and will be joined by a whole host of other speakers who will be announced in the coming weeks!
Mutale Nkonde is the founding CEO of AI For the People (AFP) a non profit communications agency.
AFP’s mission is to eliminate the under-representation of black professionals in the American technology sector by 2030. We do this in two ways, the first is identifying, recruiting and developing technologists from traditionally under represented groups. And once we have built a diverse and inclusive workforce. AFP commissions projects which draw on insights gained from research into the unique ways advanced technological systems impact Black life.
We then collaborate with journalists, television producers, film makers and artists to develop content that seeks to educate general audiences about how racists logics become encoded to the technologies that we use in our everyday lives.
Prior to this Mutale Nkonde worked in AI Governance. During that time she was part of the team that introduced the Algorithmic and Deep Fakes Algorithmic Acts, as well as the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act to the US House of Representatives.
Mutale Nkonde started her career as a broadcast journalist and produced documentaries for the BBC, CNN & ABC. She now also writes widely on race and tech, as well speaking at conferences across the world and currently holds fellowships at Harvard and Stanford.
We are pleased to be able to offer our initial allocation of scholarship places to participate in ALT’s Annual Conference For details visit our scholarship page where you can submit your application.
Playing a part in the ALT-C Conference Committee – A newbie blogs about her role at the ALT-C Conference Committee and what she hopes to gain from the conference.
Looking for #edtech inspiration for the academic year ahead? Join ALT and a global community 7-9 September to inform your practice for 2021-22 https://bit.ly/3bQoCqD #altc #altc21
Tell me about yourself?
I have been at City University of London for the last 15 years in which 13 years of it has been spent in E-learning as it was known way back when! I have witnessed the expansion of technology enhanced learning and it continues to do so. I have led projects to do with Personal and Professional development Planning, Learning spaces and the Teaching Equipment in our learning spaces. I am always interested in what our new norm of learning will look like. As a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and with a particular interest in Student directed learning, I am most interested in seeing how we can do more then it being ‘just another zoom call..’
Why did you join the ALT-C planning committee?
As someone who has worked in the field of educational technologies for a while now, I felt it was time to join ranks with the ALT-C planning committee and I’m so pleased I did. Its already proving to be an exciting piece of work where you get to work with a bunch of really great people from a range of institutions across the UK. As a member of the planning committee of our internal Learning and Teaching Conference, I am hoping to come away with some real nuggets from the collective group. It’s also so nice to be working with some external people that I often don’t get to see as much.
Who are we all?
So, we have 79 committee members from 56 different institutions help steer the Annual Conference. We also have a very well established team, made up of co-chairs and secretaries who do the hard work for us. We get to do the nice bits like attending the committee meetings, adding our suggestions, playing an active part in the running of the conference and helping to make the conference a success for those attending.
You can find out who else is on the committee here.
What specifically inspires you about this year’s conference?
This year’s conference will be online which is exciting as it means I will be able to attend most of it. Not that its not nice to be away; but as a mum its much easier if conferences are online. ALT-C will be using this forum to understand how universities and colleges have moved into online and blended learning. I am excited to hear about how universities have managed this change and learn from their experiences of course.
The submissions have been themed in the following topics:
Over a course of 3 days from the 7-9th September, speakers feature from across sectors to share their perspectives. Full registration includes:
Where do I go to register?
To find out more, please don’t delay and sign up – https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2021/registration
Summer is finally here and that also means it’s time for the ALT Scotland Annual Conference before we all head for a much needed break. Joe & Louise, Co-Chairs would like to warmly welcome you to join the ALT Scotland Group and Speakers to hear current issues and thinking in Learning Technology for Scotland and beyond.
Learn more: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1460587914227351554
Tuesday 22nd of June 10.30 – 2.30 pm
Sign up using this form and you will be sent a Zoom invite.
Join us from 7-9 September 2021 virtually, at the ALT Annual Conference for a three day programme featuring speakers from across sectors, bringing us all together to reflect on the shared experience from our different perspectives. How has the past year challenged us? Where have we succeeded? What lessons have we learned? What might the future look like?Registration Fees
If cost is a barrier to attend the Annual Conference, apply for a free place via the scholarship route. Applications are welcome from all of the community, including speakers for the event. Full registration includes:
Please complete this google form to submit your application.Sponsor scholarship places
If your organisation is interested in supporting members of the community to attend the Conference by sponsoring scholarship places, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 01865 819009
I am writing to update you just ahead of next week’s Annual General Meeting, a big milestone for us. Thinking back to this time last year and the uncertainty our community was facing at that time, we have come a very long way. It’s been a very tough year and as an Association we have achieved much.Join the AGM and launch of the Impact Report 2021
This year we are celebrating the launch of our Impact Report as part of the AGM. We have achieved much to be proud of over the past year and we hope that you will join us to reflect on all we have done as a community.
Chaired by Professor Helen O’Sullivan, ALT’s Annual General Meeting 2021 will take place virtually at 10.00am (BST) on 15th June 2021. AGM papers are available to download from the AGM page. This year’s AGM agenda includes:
Individual, Certified, or Honorary Life Members and representatives of an Organisational Member of ALT are entitled to vote. If you are not able to attend the AGM, please use the proxy voting form to cast your vote: Proxy voting form.ALT Annual Conference by Gloria Corra, winner of the #altc student competition at London College of Communication Registration open for ALT Annual Conference 2021 – Shared Experience, Different Perspectives
Registration is open for the 2021 ALT Annual Conference, 7-9 September. ALT Members receive a 35% discount. This year’s Annual Association for Learning Technology Conference provides an opportunity to bring us together to reflect on shared experiences of the past year.
Scholarship Applications now open!
As part of ALT’s commitment to openness we are offering scholarship places to remove barriers for our community to attend this event. Find out more.A new partnership between ALT and Ufi
I am excited about a new partnership between ALT and Ufi – the VocTech Trust. Last year saw the launch of a new network to connect and amplify communities of practice for digital learning, teaching and assessment in vocational education – AmplifyFE https://amplifyfe.alt.ac.uk/ . AmplifyFE launched in October 2020 and already connects 500+ professionals in FE and Vocational Education. Working in a long term strategic partnership ALT and Ufi are now putting those insights into practice, with the aim to support and sustain the AmplifyFE network, where vocational teaching staff are able to acquire, develop and share the digital and digital pedagogical skills they need, in support of the overall aim “to catalyse change across the UK so that significant scale can be achieved in digital vocational learning for adults”. As the leading professional body for Learning Technology in the UK, with nearly 30 years of experience in supporting such communities, ALT is well placed to lead on this development.