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OER23 Guest Blog Post: OER as a tool to educate against discrimination


Guest post from our OER23 Committee Member Dr Teeroumanee Nadan. Originally shared 13 Mar 2023

As an #OER23 committee member, I volunteered to write a blog post ahead of the conference, but there I was with no clue on what theme to write about.

It has been a bit chilly for me here, so why not wear two hats, #OER23 committee member, and Chair of ALT Antiracism & Learning Technology (ARLT) SIG, and address the use of OER towards equity.

Open educational resources (OER) are to a large extent and relatively less discriminatory compared to books and journals which are not freely available, non-public libraries, and paid subscription resources such as newsletters, members-only resources, and so on. Although one can still argue that access to a digital device is still required. Nonetheless, when digital access is not an issue, anything that must be paid for is discriminatory to a certain extent, especially in this day and age.

Can education exist solely on OER?

The current state of academia (formal education) in the UK and its business model do not provide adequate opportunities to advance open education practices to the extent that they should be in the 21st century. High tuition costs (in universities) are often justified by access to learning materials (libraries, virtual learning environments) and access to knowledge experts (4* and 5* academics), which ethically is indirect discrimination toward many.

Then how about non-formal ways of educating against discrimation? Staff training, reading groups, conference materials, recordings, and the likes can still provide a huge wealth of OER learning materials in the fight against discrimination.

Why is OER important in fighting against discrimination?

Last year, the ARLT SIG committee decided to encourage OER materials in the Reading Group activities and to support online or hybrid events only, as in-person events discriminate against marginalised groups who may not have access to funds to travel to events (or even be accommodated). Anyhow, post-pandemic, it makes sense for us to continue to advocate for online and hybrid events for many other reasons as well (sustainable events, climate change crisis, inclusivity, and all fancy new and remodeled terms that organisations fecklessly get hyped on).

It is important here to specify that OER learning materials are not beneficial only for marginalised ethnic groups, that is, not only against racism. For instance, people with disabilities often find themselves short of money as government aid is inadequate for their day-to-day living expenses. In their dream for education, access to learning materials should not be a barrier. So, in effect, OER practices can be beneficial to a wider group.

Nonetheless, it is not only why OER is important in fighting discrimination but also how can it be sustained.

How to use OER against discrimination?

Source: Anonymous

Advancing and sustaining open education practices compels for a change in the way staff (educators and non-educators) involved in education see and perceive OER, it involves a greater focus on open education research and of course the hard decision to change educational policies. It involves actioning at every step and resisting the intransigent and non-complying human blocks in order for impact to be felt and seen.

However, while fighting discrimination, OER practices are not solely beneficial to the marginalised group. In fact, anti-discriminatory learning materials should be freely available to everyone, in particular to the perpetrators of discrimination. I recall when the CBC’s documentary “Deconstructing Karen” came out, I was wondering why it was not freely available.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER23 Guest Blog Post: A Conversation About Mastodon being a Welcoming Ecosystem for OER Practitioners


Clément Aubert and Alan Levine

Note: This blog post developed organically starting with open discussion of Mastodon in an OER23 Discord channel, where Clément and Alan decided to co-author in an etherpad, and they never even spoke together until the day before submitting this post. This is how connections are made in open spaces.

Who are you?

CA: I’m Clément Aubert, Assistant Prof. in Computer Sciences at Augusta University, GA, USA. Among other things, I am involved in OER creation, popularization and usage, as I always believed that educational material (and, in general, education) should be free. We are fortunate in Georgia to have Affordable Learning Georgia to promote and fund the creation of OER.

AL: Hello Clément, I am Alan Levine, currently based near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, working as Director of Community for Open Education Global. Like you, I operate from a core belief of openly sharing materials and ideas. I have been doing this even before I experienced an electric moment in 1993 at the Maricopa Community Colleges of plugging a little Macintosh SE/30 into an Ethernet port and publishing a first web page. Tim Berners-Lee’s dream of the web is still alive in me.

How did you first learn about Mastodon? What made you interested in it?

AL: I’ve been interested in informal networking before even the web was a thing. From trying twitter in early 2007 (where I described it as “the stupidest thing I ever saw”) but very quickly rising the curve of what I called the Twitter Life Cycle I found its affordances of expanding my key network connections and inputs of valuable resources unparalleled to anything before. Still, it was late 2016 that some colleagues introduced me to Mastodon (maybe blog posts from Kate Bowles and Laura Ritchie,  as a novel space for “small stories”?). Being still relatively unknown, Mastodon was fresh, quiet. My first account was @cogdog@mastodon.social — I can only trace my roots by scrolling all the way back to Nov 23, 2016 to see what looks now like childish chatter. I pretty much dabbled infrequently with just posting photos and quips from my small town in Arizona even including a post when I got to visit Kate in Australia.

I was pretty erratic with some posts in 2020 but picked up my participation in 2022 with the first wave of twitter departures given its purchase by a reckless billionaire. I tried to build interest in the OEGlobal community though my colleagues seemed not interested in creating an instance. 

Luckily my OERu colleagues Wayne Mackintosh and Dave Lane had started early with the instance I am on now (@cogdog@social.fossdle.org). I believe it’s better to start fresh in Mastodon rather than try to replicate what I did in twitter, so I am following a bit more conservatively.

CA: A colleague of mine (Pierre Boudes) experimented with diaspora* (a network very similar to Mastodon by many aspects) in its very early stages (around 2010–2011), and I remember not really seeing the interest of having a network to share “bite size” thoughts.

Ten years later, I now live in the USA and realize how damaging the private sector can be when it tampers with (or, actually, decides of) the content users see on their plat-forms. An online social media / social networking service is not “just” a tool to connect people, but constantly impact what users see. At the same time, it started to become crucial in my professional endeavors to “exhibit my network” (be it on linkedin, researchgate, twitter, you name it). Having always preferred “free” alternatives (that is, carried out by non-profit associations or funded by state governments) to commercial ones, it came quite naturally to me that mastodon was the ideal place to build this network and share my “bite size” thoughts.

AL: I vaguely remember diaspora but that was one of the many new things I did not try at the time. I remember the early work of Ben Werdmuller with Elgg as a social media platform and his later developments of a Create Once Publish Everywhere platform Known which I ran for a short time on my own domain , but never fully developed a workflow for it. I really frame the exhibiting of my work on my own platform, the Domain of One’s Own concept, and aim for anything published elsewhere to be the exhaust from sources I own/manage.

Get Federated!  flickr remix image by Alan Levine shared under Creative    Without getting too technical, what is the significance of a “federated” network tool?

CA: Think of them as regulatory instances. Regulations are sometimes perceived poorly, as awful diktats coming from some button pushers preventing entrepreneurs from freeing their creative power. But, in reality, they quite often enable progress: imposing only one type of chargers on phones (USB-C), as recently done by the European Union, will not bother anyone (or, at least, no citizens). Quite the opposite, it will make switching, recycling and re-using phones much easier. But it does not impose any type of activity on the phone: you can still use it in any way you like.

A federated network has the same flavor: it sets rules not to prevent users from expressing themselves, but to make sure they can be read and heard independently of the tool (think, phone) they decide to use.

AL: These are the virtues I support but at the same time I recognize that this ecosystem is much more complex for novice users and the simplicity and convenience that comes with commercial platforms is not there. I wish that was not an obstacle, but it seems like most people are not as invested in taking on more complex tools. I also have a theory that the rise of more time spent on small screens has had an effect on what we are willing to try as new approaches.

Also, I wonder a bit too about the verb tense, we are talking about being federated by platforms (passive tense) rather than us as individuals doing the federation, as we do and have done by networking above and beyond platforms.

Do you use it now? Why? Where does it fit in your other online activities?

CA: Yes! Because many colleagues use it, and because I am a bit isolated in the US (my research themes are more European-centered). I check it on a daily basis, carefully reading pretty much everything in my feed, and enjoying it for the most part.

AL: I have been dialing back my attention to the “birdspace” as its called in Mastodon- I removed the app from my phone, and give more time to Mastodon. I am trying new approaches, not following as many people, trying to follow more people I do not know, and being pretty regular about dropping follows. My aim is to see what’s new in a day in maybe 10 minutes of scroll time. In many ways, it feels as fresh and new as Twitter did in 2007, and more people revel in the “smallness” found there rather than seeing it as a place for megaphones. It’s refreshing how the developers respond to the community, the more careful attention to accessibility (the features for image descriptions are so much better), and things as simple as being to easily edit a previous post. At the same time, there is no universal search, so I rely heavily on bookmarking information I want to remember rather than relying on finding it later (which is nearly impossible)

I use IFTTT to create recipes to publish my blog posts automatically to Mastodon (and the other space) as well as a series of Pinboard bookmarked interesting sites I call “cool tech”, which is very easy to do– see https://cogdogblog.com/2022/11/gizmo-to-mastodon/ So I am able to share the same items to Mastodon that I also send to Twitter.

I actually am not a believer in just dumping everything from twitter (yet). I still get immense value out of both spaces, mainly for finding interesting software, projects, resources, people that I still get a regular dosing from. By using lists, and using Tweetdeck rather than the app or the Twitter web helps me filter out much of the foulness of Twitter.

flickr photo by Alan Levine shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Where is your “home” (instance)? Do you have more than one? Is that important?

AL: My current home is @cogdog@social.fossdle.org at an instance organized by Wayne Mackintosh and Dave Lane from the OER Foundation. I did the migration there (which was so easy) from my original account as well as a second one created elsewhere I never used. I run others! One for Open Education Global (my employer) @oeglobal@social.fossdle.org.

I also run @tdc@social.ds106.us for the purposes of migrating the DS106 Daily Create over to Mastodon. I might have two more I cannot remember right now! You might notice the convention of user names are more than an “@’” convention because you include the instance address as a second “@”.

CA: My current home instance is @clementaubert@lipn.info. It is hosted by my Alma Mater in France (Paris 13, more precisely their computer science department), run by colleagues there. They created it quite recently (in the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover of twitter), and I know personally pretty much all the persons behind the registered accounts! In other words: I feel home there, and believe that it is a very welcoming instance (well, provided you are an Academics in Computer Science…).

How can Open Educators create a valuable network for OER23 and beyond?

CA: That’s a tricky question that we certainly won’t solve with a blog post :-) What I enjoy with Mastodon is that it allows a more “fine-grained” version of newsletters or other group chat platforms: you can subscribe only to the conferences or venues you are interested in, instead of being “spammed” by all the announcements for all the conferences remotely related to your field. Also, you can obtain more valuable insights, as colleagues will feel encouraged to share questions or reflections that may seem naïve and not necessarily worth an “official” announcement, but that may highlight something you ignored for decades or trigger new ideas.

There is also, probably, a pedagogical approach to this tool, but I’m not sure I see it very clearly now.

AL: Try it! The first step is to enter with an open mind and sense of curiosity, and leave behind the expectations of another place. When teaching content creation, be it writing, photography, audio, I ask my students before just picking up a tool to first be a reader/viewer/listener and study the works of others. Mastodon or the fediverse itself, may not reveal its value from a first experience. Read, and participate, and look to find connections perhaps beyond your current ones. Or just play. 

See a continuation of this conversation in Mastodon

Send a post to me or Clément when/if you arrive, and we will be there to respond. And look for some interesting experiments ALT is setting up for OER23 as a safe place to make your first steps into Mastodon.

CA: Oh, and by the way, a good way of getting to know mastodon better is to follow the Mastodon: Research Symposium and Tool Exploration Workshop that will take place on 22nd and 23rd of June, 2023, in the University of Warwick, UK and online (hybrid event, GMT time)! Check out their call for presentations

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Open Scotland 10


To mark ten years of the Open Scotland initiative we’re delighted to be holding two events as part of the OER23 Conference to bring together members of the education community in Scotland to reflect on how the open education landscape in Scotland has evolved over the last decade against the backdrop of global crisis and uncertainty (Campbell and Wilson 2021). This is particularly timely as the conference is returning to Scotland for the first time since 2016, and visiting the Highlands for the first time ever. Hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness, one of the main themes of the conference is “Open Education in Scotland – celebrating 10 years of the Scottish Open Education Declaration.”

Thigibh a-steach! Come and join us at the OER23 Conference in Inverness to contribute to shaping the future of open education in Scotland!

Open Scotland Pre-Conference Workshop

When: Tuesday 4th April, 15.30 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: Open to all.

This pre-conference workshop, facilitated by Joe Wilson and Lorna M. Campbell, will reflect on the Open Scotland initiative and discuss ways forward for the open education community. We’ll briefly address the history and impact of Open Scotland and explore the role of Open Scotland and the Scottish Open Education Declaration going forward.

We’ll ask whether the aims of Open Scotland are still relevant, whether the Scottish Open Education Declaration has a role to play in the future, and how it can be reframed to reflect current challenges and priorities.

How can we encourage more teachers, learners and education institutions across the sector to engage with open education?

How do we ensure that the Scottish education community tunes in to global open practice and makes most of the possibilities of open educational resources , open research , open textbooks and other opportunities?

Can we effectively lobby the Scottish Government to adopt policies that support open education and OER at the national level?

How can we in Scotland, the UK, and internationally, align with the principles of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER (UNESCO 2019)?

We invite key leaders, influencers, educators, open practitioners and advocates across the Scottish education community to join us. This workshop is free and open to all. Remote participation will be available for those who are unable to join us in Inverness.

Registration: If you are not an OER23 delegate, please register here in order to participate: Open Scotland Pre Conference Session for External Delegates

OER23 Conference Closing Plenary: OpenScotland @10

When: Thursday 6th April, 16.20 – 17.00
Where: UHI Inverness and online
Who: OER23 Conference delegates

The closing plenary panel of the OER23 Conference will bring together open education advocates from Scotland and The Netherlands to reflect on the open education landscape in Scotland and internationally. We’ll discuss engagement with open education across Scotland, focusing on the benefits and affordances of open education and OER and how it can help to address local and global education challenges and priorities, while reflecting on the relevance of the original aim of Open Scotland: To raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education.

Panel participants: Lorna M. Campbell, Open Scotland and University of Edinburgh; Scott Connor, UHI; Maren Deepwell, ALT; Stuart Nicol, University of Edinburgh; Robert Schuwer, consultant and former UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources; Joe Wilson, Open Scotland and City of Glasgow College.


Open Scotland is a voluntary cross-sector initiative, established in 2013, to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. In the decade since its launch, Open Scotland has been supported by Cetis, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Association for Learning Technology, Reclaim Hosting, the University of Edinburgh and Creative Commons. Openness remains a key strategic principle for many of these organisations.

In order to achieve its aims, Open Scotland hosted the Open Scotland Summit (2013) and Open Education, Open Scotland (2014) at the University of Edinburgh, which brought together senior managers, policy makers and key thinkers to explore the development of open education policy and practice in Scotland. Members of Open Scotland contributed regularly to national conferences, and participated in international events including Open Education Global in Ljubljana, OERde14 in Berlin, Morocco Open Education Day, the Open Education Policy Network, UNESCO European Regional Consultation in Malta, and the 2017 UNESCO OER World Congress.

In 2014, inspired by the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration (UNESCO 2012), Open Scotland launched the Scottish Open Education Declaration (Open Scotland 2014), an open draft document that all members of the community were invited to contribute to. The Declaration called on the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and all sectors of Scottish education to endorse the principles of the UNESCO OER Declaration and ensure that educational materials produced with public funding are freely and openly available to all. With support from ALT Scotland and Creative Commons, the Declaration was brought to the attention of three consecutive Cabinet Secretaries of Education, however the Scottish Government declined to engage with these principles. Despite this lack of response, the Scottish Open Education Declaration has been influential elsewhere. It inspired the OER Morocco Declaration (Berrada and Almakari 2017), informed the OpenMed Project, and has raised awareness of open education within institutions, triggering discussions about open education at policy level.

Visit the Open Scotland blog to find out more about the initiative.


Berrada, K. and Almakari, A. (2017) Déclaration du Maroc sur les Ressources Educatives Libres / OER Morocco Declaration. Available at: https://openmedproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/OER-Morocco-Declaration.pdf (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Campbell, L.M. and Wilson, J. (2021) Open Educational Resources: An equitable future for education in Scotland. Available at: https://openscot.net/further-education/open-educational-resources-an-equitable-future-for-education-in-scotland/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Open Scotland. (2014) Scottish Open Education Declaration. Available at: https://declaration.openscot.net/ (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2012) The Paris OER Declaration. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/oer/paris-declaration (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

UNESCO. (2019) Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. Available at: https://www.unesco.org/en/legal-affairs/recommendation-open-educational-resources-oer (Accessed: 9 January 2023).

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Invisible assessment of engagement in online teaching and learning spaces


Online learning has seen a rapid growth in recent years with some studies saying eLearning has grown 900% since 2000. This trend has only been accelerated by the global pandemic as lockdowns forced practitioners from all corners of education to adapt to delivering lessons online. 

However, this rapid growth in online teaching programmes has greatly reduced the regular interaction between students and educators. During the pandemic the impacts of moving online and out of the classroom gained increased attention, with Ofsted finding both students and teachers reporting issues around communication and student engagement. It’s long been known that student engagement is connected to education success. The academic literature defines student engagement with three key themes: emotional (enthusiasm, interest), cognitive (self-regulation in learning) and behaviour (participation, interaction). Both emotional and behavioural engagement are harder to ensure and to track in an online environment as educators lose visibility of their students and students may feel isolated from their class.

To help address this increasingly pervasive problem, Conan Lab’s existing prototype uses AI analytics to “invisibly assess” the quality of student engagement during live video conferencing classes, across Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and feeds this data back to the educator. Through analysing the content of student interactions during lessons we aim to help educators better understand student sentiment and engagement. This in turn will help educators to reflect and learn how their students are responding to their lessons in a quantifiable way, but also to identify trends and changes in student behaviour. By identifying trends, it is hoped we can identify where a student’s engagement has dropped and where they may benefit from further support. This in turn will help students to access education more effectively and improve their learning experience. 

Conan Labs is currently developing software that can analyse these interactions in a virtual environment, with a view to bringing this into the physical classroom and connecting with other learning management systems to give a holistic view to educators about their students. 

We are currently looking for FE organisations that have some hybrid or online programmes and would be interested in acting as a trial customer during this MVP process. We are also keen to talk to institutions who may be interested in trialling this software in a live classroom as we develop the technology. We consider feedback from real customers as a key part of the development journey to tailor our product to best meet the needs of educators. If you or your institution would be interested in a free trial and feeding into the development of technology that could have a huge impact on students across the country, please reach out to us on our website and we will be in touch! 

This project is supported by Ufi VocTech Trust. Ufi, the VocTech Trust champions the power of technology to improve skills for work and deliver better outcomes for all. 

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Breaking down barriers to active learning


‘Part 1: Using a learning activities framework to develop an institutional Apps for Teaching and Learning toolkit’ by Dr W. Rod Cullen, Steven Williams, and Dr Janet Lord.

Welcome to the first of our three-part contribution, in which we share our experiences of developing a centrally licenced institutional “toolkit” of interactive Apps for Teaching and Learning. In this first blog post we will explain the background to the work we have been doing and how we approached the tricky problem of selecting a relatively small set of tools, for our institution, from the many that are available. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite to come along to Part 2, an interactive online webinar (24th March (13:00-14:00)), where we will share our approach to rolling out the toolkit to teaching colleagues and our evaluation of the impact this is having in our institution on the delivery of active learning. Part 3 of our contribution will be a follow-up blog post where we will share our findings and follow-up on any issues raised during the webinar.


In the years before the COVID19 pandemic, at our institution we had started to think about a tricky problem. Feedback from our students showed that they wanted to be more actively involved in their live teaching experiences rather than being passive recipients of information. A range of interactive apps for teaching and learning, including among others Kahoot, Mentimeter and Padlet were positive features of this feedback. While most of our teaching staff aspired to include more active learning in their provision using “freely” available versions of these kinds of tools was identified as a significant barrier to their use. Student and Teaching Staff perspectives are summarised in the Figure below. There were some instances where individual Departments, programmes and units were paying for specific tools but overall, this tended to add to the confusion for most teaching colleagues about what tools they could be using.

A tricky problem in summary

Given that there are hundreds of interactive apps for teaching and learning and it is not possible to provide and support centralised licenses for all of them, how might we select a toolkit of centrally licenced Apps for Teaching and Learning that would support most of our teaching colleagues to deliver the kinds of activities to which they aspire as inclusively and accessibly as possible?

Creating a learning activities framework

After some thought, we reasoned that if we could categorise the types of learning activities that our colleagues were undertaking with their students (rather than considering which specific tool/app they were using) we could create a learning activities framework. Having such a framework would subsequently allow us to identify and select the most appropriate app/technology for teaching colleagues to use in delivering specific types of activity.

We asked our eight Faculty-based Technology Enhanced Learning Advisors (TELAs) in collaboration with some of the teaching colleagues they supported to produce simple scenarios that described the technology enhanced activities they used in their classroom-based teaching, which app/tool they were using and the main challenges/issues they experienced. These scenarios were reviewed, and the activity types were categorised independently of the specific tools that were being used. Our initial activity types where shared and discussed with teaching colleagues through a range of institutional forums, in particular our Education Technologies Community of Practice and refined through several iterations into the Learning Activities Framework presented in Table 1.

Table 1 – Man Met Learning Spaces Framework

TypeSub-typeDescription of activities/toolsExample Apps (not an exhaustive list)Personal LearningNote taking/ managementTools that enable personal note taking, organization and management. May enable access to notes on multiple devices via online (cloud) storage.MS Word, OneNote, Evernote, Notion Nearpod, Apple Notes, Google Keep.Resource collation/ managementTools that enable bookmarking, tagging, organization and management of online resources e.g. websites, research papers. May enable collated resources to be shared with peers.Web Browser Bookmarks, Google Keep, Pocket, Pintrest, OneNote, EverNote.Presentation deliveryTraditional deliveryTools used to make primarily transmission presentations. For example: Tutors making presentations to a class of students; Students making presentations to tutors e.g. as part of group presentations; Students making presentations to other students in groups.PowerPoint, Prezzie, Google Slides, Mentimeter, Apple Keynote, Adobe Spark, Zoho Show, Sway.Asynchronous and independent deliveryTools that enable students to follow presentations independently on their own devices either in F2F or Online teaching situations. Some tools enable the creation of “homework” style study packages or self-paced tutorials combing both the presentation of content and in the provision of activities (e.g. quizzes, group work tasks) for students to complete.Nearpod, Lumio, Kahoot (Homework), Glisser, Formative.Tutor QuestioningSimple Objective testing e.g. multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and QuizzesTools that enable tutors to deliver simple MCQ and basic objective question types to students in real time, either on an individual or group basis, and present results back to the group as a whole. Such tools usually have the option of anonymous responses. Includes systems requiring specialized devices (e.g. clickers) or use of mobileOmbea, Vevox, Poll Everywhere, Socrative, Quizlet, Mentimeter. devices (e.g. laptops, tablets and smart phones).Complex objective testingTools that enable tutors to deliver more complex objective tests and provide a wide range of question formats that can be delivered to students in real time, either on an individual or group basis, and present results back to the group as a whole.Mentimeter, Quizlet, Moodle Quiz, Socrative.Gamified objective testingTools that enable tutors to deliver gamified objective test questions to students in real time, either on an individual or group basis, and present results back to the group as a whole. The tools enable a competitive team quiz environment to be created and include options such as fastest response weighting to scoring.Kahoot, Quizdom, Quizizz, QuizUp.Free text response questionsTools that enable tutors to deliver open question types with free text entry responses (single word to short paragraphs). Analysis and presentation of free text responses vary from tool to tool but may include word clouds, lists, editable whiteboard (responses can be edited and moved around by the tutor and or the students post hoc).Vevox, Mentimeter, Kahoot, Socrative.Surveying/Opinion seeking questionsTools that enable tutors to illicit feedback and or opinions from students. At Man Met these activities are focused on the process of “mid-unit reviews”. The activities may utilize a combination of MCQs and free text responses primarily for data collection purposes. Can also be used to survey opinions of “complex issues” in a class to stimulate discussion.Vevox, Mentimeter, Padlet, Socrative, Survey Monkey, Moodle Feedback, JISC Online Survey.Collaborative TasksCreation, Ideas generation, brainstorming collationTools which enable individuals or groups to collaboratively share ideas and make contributions to collaborative and creative tasks set by the tutor. For example: Students working in groups to create an infographic to explain a key issue or principle; Students working in groups to identify and record and list key factors related to a topic or task; Students working in groups to create a Mindmap of related aspects of a specific topic or task.MS Whiteboard, Padlet, Miro, Mural.Collaborative annotation and drawingTools that enable drawings to be created and inserted documents, images and, .pdf files to be annotated/drawn upon. For example, Tutors and/or students sharing .pdf copies of design drawings for annotation and critique by tutors and/or peers.MS Whiteboard, Miro, Mural.PlanningTools which enable structured planning of group task, activates and projects. Typically, these tools: enable the creation of work packages, timelines and milestones; allocation of roles and responsibilities to group members; and enable progress of work packages to be and signed off.OneNote, MS White Board, Trello, Monday.com, Wrike, Smartsheet.Working on shared documentsTools that enable students to create and work collaboratively in real time on the same document e.g. a PPT slide show or a Word document.SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Docs.Peer Review/ assessmentTools that facilitate peer-assessment activities.Turnitin, Moodle, Peerwise.Student QuestioningFree text generationTools that enable students to pose questions to tutors in real-time during teaching sessions or in follow-up to watching recorded sessions/lecture captures.Twitter, Vevox, WhatsApp.

Selection and roll out of an Institutional Apps for Teaching and Learning Toolkit

Having created the Learning Activities Framework, we were subsequently able to evaluate in consultation with teaching colleagues a selection of “popular” Apps and map out a toolkit to meet the requirements of most the active learning scenarios we had produced. Table 2 shows the 5 Apps, Vevox, Mentimeter, Kahoot, Nearpod and Padlet, that were selected for inclusion in our institutional Apps for teaching and Learning Tool kit and the activity types that we considered they supported.

Operationalising the Apps for Teaching and Learning toolkit

Please join us for an interactive case study webinar on Friday 24th March (13:00-14:00) where we will share our approach and experiences of operationalising this tool kit. In our webinar we will explore:

  • App selection (Learning Spaces Framework)
  • Procurement and the role of our vendor management team
  • Roll out to teaching colleagues and the role of IT support service
  • Our approach to accessibility
  • Training and staff development and the development of Tech for Teaching and Learning Community of Practice
  • Evaluation of the project and the impact upon active learning practices

We hope you will join us at the webinar, however, if you can’t make it, please watch out for the webinar recording and a follow-up blog post where we will summarise the content of the webinar and share our reflections on any issues raised.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER23 Guest Post: OEWeek OEG OER23 All the Opens


I am writing this just three days before the start of Open Education Global (OEG)’s annual Open Education Week March 6-10, 2023. And coincidentally (or not) we are a month out from the Association for Learning Technology’s OER23 conference hosted this year in Inverness, Scotland.

So much openness happening is between and beyond these two gatherings. As open does.

Just two years ago during Open Education Week we coordinated a live, open recording session between the leaders of OEG and ALT, published as an OEG voices podcast. Much has changed in that time span, including Paul’Stacey’s exit as OEG’s Executive Director at the end of 2022. And as we just recently learned, Maren Deepwell has announced as well her transition from a 15 year run as CEO of ALT. Open is always in transition.

In my role as Director of Community at OEG I think much about how we often talk about communities as things that are built in our physical, like they are constructed, defined places. But to me, especially aided by the affordances of online experiences, we float above, across, and between communities, often forming connections that are not bound by names or organizations, just common interests. Open is not contained nor constrained.

And that has been my experience in being a long time participant in ALT conferences participating in OER14 in NewcastleOER18 in Bristol, then the online OER 20OER21, and OER22 versions. Whether in person or online the OER conferences have an energy from its enthusiastic and interesting colleagues. Open has a vibrant pulse.

The week of March 6 when this post is published marks OEG’s annual effort to celebrate and bring attention to open education awareness and achievements from around the world. In its 12th year of Open Education Week, OEWeek is always a completely distributed event. All of its activities are planned and implemented first for the local/regional interests of — wait a minute, Alan, most people who are part of ALT and OER23 know what OEWeek is about! And they are already participating in related activities. Open sometimes is an inner voice.

And it is easy to find events this week to participate in via the OEWeek schedule (where times are always converted to your local time). ABeyond the scheduled events, Open Education Week also collects open assets– resources, open resources that are available at anytime. Also, we keep open the contribution form for OEWeek items, so it is not too late to add more this week. Open can stay open beyond deadlines.

This might be counterintuitive, but I would ask to perhaps find a slot or two this week to maybe look for something to participate in that you might nor normally choose to sign up for. Really? Yes! I made a habit a few years ago while at conferences to pick at least one block of time to attend a randomly chosen session, maybe a topic outside my scope or from people or organizations I was unfamiliar with. I nearly always found more than one bit of useful interest by stepping outside my usual patterns. Open expands via serendipity.

So here is the thing.

I am always looking for the (open) ways we can connect beyond/in addition to conference presentations, workshops, and all the webinars, so many webinars. Open expands in the in-between spaces.

That’s why “connect” in in the name and purpose of our OEG Connect community– which is open to view, open to join, and where many OER23 participants are already active. We have an area specifically for OEWeek that I hope can offer enough curiosity for you to explore more inter-event participation, or to share what you have experienced during Open Education Week. Just a few examples to pique your interest from the three main areas:

  • Know About OEWeek News and updates you may not find elsewhere, such as:
  • Do OEWeek Activities Yes, we create a few activities open to participate in anytime, but also where anyone else can create/post one. As one example:
  • Share OEWeek Activities There is too much going on during OEWeek for any one person to track, so here is we ask/offer a space to share a highlight/summary of a session or post more information a relevant resource related to about OEWeek. For example:

We hope whatever the OER23 community is doing during Open Education Week, that you can find ways to connect (there I go again with that word) with more via these other channels we are offering at OEGlobal.

And speaking of connection– Maren Deepwell and are plotting some pre-conference online activities to take place before OER23.

2019/365/121 Open AND Awesome! flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Hope to see you during this Open Education Week and beyond. Yes, open is awesome.

Written by Alan Levine.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Four perspectives on AI and the student digital experience: Reflections on a recent ELESIG event


It is difficult to escape conversations about the recent release of ChatGPT. This sudden jump in awareness and capabilities of AI raises questions about the student learning experience and how we might understand its impact. This blog reports on a recent ELESIG round table event with four contributors to discuss AI and the students experience. Who was on the panel

The panel was made up of:

  • Rhona Sharpe is the Director for the Centre for Teaching and Learning at University of Oxford. She played an important role in developing the ELESIG network and has focused on the student experience for many years.
  • Olatunde Durowoju is the Faculty Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at LJMU. He is interested in the way AI might level some of the inequalities between different students.
  • Sue Attewell is Head of EdTech at JISC and is jointly running the National Centre for AI in Tertiary Education which has been focused on supporting education to adapt to this change.
  • Rob Howe is a well-known early adopter of technology and is Head of Learning Technology at the University of Northampton.
What did they say

There was a wide range of viewpoints, ideas and insights. The recording is available at the bottom of this blog post, so you can catch up with the details. But here are what I believe were the main points.

Keep calm and carry on adapting

One key message to the academic community was to not to panic.

  • We have been here before: That the way this change has become visible has hidden a very slowly changing process of AI assisting many writing tasks over the past few years, such as Grammarly etc. We have faced technological change before and will probably follow the same arch of change.
  • Things are still developing: In the short term there will be more noise created by this technology, such as revelations around data protection, and the ethics behind the training data, that might make us reconsider how we are using the tools. In the long term we do need to flex and adapt to these developments, but sudden short-term reactions might have ripple effects that we haven’t considered.
  • Increasing assessment types: Making sure there are a wide range of assessment types on the programme would be very beneficial for many reasons. As would the reduction in assessment bunching, better support for understanding assignment requirements, and other well-known assessment support processes. Now is the time to address these and use tools like the JISC AI maturity model to help review the institutional approach. We need to find time to experiment, evaluate, share findings, to understand this change rather than reacting to calls of “it’s here, we must do something right now”
Keep connected

Academic development and learning technology community are being seen as critical in articulating this change within institutions. Once again, as with COVID, we find ourselves in positions of responsibility.

Keep talking: The widespread sharing and community events around this topic are really encouraging. There will not be one single answer to this so attending, talking, and sharing are all positive. This event as well as many other well attended sessions, demonstrate how the community are sharing their knowledge and challenging each other to think differently. AI effects will be wider than ChatGPT so further development will be a constant going forward. It is impossible to predict where we might be on the technology s-curve (Scillitoe, 2013), when it might begin to flatten out, or indeed if it ever well in this particular area. Clarity of understanding will be emergent, and involve cycles of innovation, evaluation, sharing and adopting, all through a critical lens as to wider impacts.

Student engagement

This session was focused on the student digital experience. Obviously, the panel saw the active involvement of students in exploring, discussing, and experimenting with the technology as a key process in understanding and moving forward.

  • Developing the student voice: They are our active experimenters, and seeing the opportunities and risks through their eyes will help us reduce our assumptions about their use of this tool. So, it would be a big mistake to leave students out of our conversations moving forward. We are making lots of assumptions about what they might do with this technology, their attitudes towards it, and their general attitudes to cheating. There is a need to focus on the new skills required to use these technologies effectively.
  • Expanding information literacy: One ever-present skill is the need for data and information literacy, and the cornerstone of past digital skills inventories, but now even more essential.
  • Reexamining misconduct: Another area that needs to be re-examined is the research into why students cheat. There is a rich vein of literature in this area, and getting acquainted with previous findings might further develop our shared understanding.
  • Productivity: There is a growing debate around the increase of all of our productivity when engaged with these tools. However, a criticality needs to question the superficial benefits of generating more stuff, over digging deeper for the pearls.
Think ‘equality’

AI provides an opportunity to reduce some of the barriers and provide a more equitable educational landscape for specific individuals or groups of students.

  • Bots to support students: As an example, the current focus is tending to concentrate on providing the content of the essay, whereas the strength of this technology may lie in supporting the structure of writing and offering improvements to text rather than the content itself. Other scenarios discussed included how specific AI bots might become part of our students’ network of support, offering practical and immediate assistance.
  • Increasing exams: AI has also reignited the debate around the relative benefits of exams versus coursework. Increasing the number of exams may have unintentional consequences. Richardson’s literature review highlights the need for more research is needed on this impact, however tentative conclusions include findings such as white students tending to get better marks in all assessment types, but all ethnic groups get better marks in coursework over exams (2015). A review of assessment anxiety literature recommends more work on developing student resilience (Howard, 2020).
  • Training data bias: Perhaps this offers an opportunity for a refocus on the research, reflection and development of practice around assessment preparation. Other equality considerations lie in the bias within the AI training data, that will impact on the work in decolonising the curriculum as well as raise other risks.

Join ELESIG to hear more about our activities and events.

Written by Dr Jim Turner, Liverpool John Moores University, Chair of ELESIG.


Howard, E. (2020) A review of the literature on anxiety for educational assessments. Ofqual. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-review-of-the-literature-on-anxiety-for-educational-assessments (Accessed: 22 February 2023).

Richardson, J.T.E. (2015) ‘Coursework versus examinations in end-of-module assessment: a literature review’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(3), pp. 439–455. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.919628.

Scillitoe, J.L. (2013) ‘Technology S-Curve’, in Encyclopedia of Management Theory. Thousand Oaks,: SAGE Publications, Ltd., pp. 847–849. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452276090.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

OER23 guest post: GO-GN since OER22


The Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) was founded by Professor Fred Mulder (OU, Netherlands) in 2013 to bring together Doctoral researchers around the world researching on OER topics, and promote impactful research into OER.  The network is currently managed by the OER Hub team, led by Professor Martin Weller, and based at The Open University (UK). At this point you may well know all about GO-GN, but let’s recap some of the things we do and have been involved in the last year, just in case. 

In April 2022 GO-GN co-chaired our first conference! We were thrilled to welcome colleagues online and face-to-face for OER22 in London. We were equally delighted to welcome eight GO-GN members and alumni to London, UK, for our first face-to–face workshop in over two years. It was fantastic to see so many GO-GN’ers participate and 20 members or alumni were listed as (co-)authors on presentations and featured in 25 conference sessions, including the plenary and showcase.  Participating in this year’s OE Global in Nantes, France during May was another highlight of 2022. 13 sessions featured GO-GN’ers or the team across the three days. GO-GN were also conference supporters for ALT-C 2022. GO-GN was also represented at i-HE2022 in Athens, Greece with a presentation about research trends within the network. 

Central to the GO-GN open education approach are the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). EDI is core to the GO-GN mission and we have been focused on how to better support members in Global South regions and raise awareness of the network. In addition, GO-GN has supported the EDI project recently finished in two phases: In phase 1, GO-GN focused on Africa and provided recommendations to inform about the EDI strategy; in phase 2, GO-GN focused on Latin America to improve understanding of what EDI means within that region, and to identify how GO-GN can better support potential members to develop strategies for increasing engagement. In February 2023 we released our GO-GN EDI guidelines.

As the network has continued to grow, and members complete their doctoral studies, we have an increasing number of alumni members. How to continue to support our alumni beyond their doctoral studies as well as continue to support collaboration in an expanding network has been an important focus.  One good recent example is the GO-GN fellowship scheme. The motivation for this fellowship scheme was to provide formal recognition of members after they have finished their doctoral studies to become an alumnus of the Network in the format of a post-doctoral scholarship. The Fellowship scheme provides visibility and recognition in return for specific contributions to the Network. This presents a means by which alumni can stay involved and share their expertise with the members. With the collaboration of our fellows, we have produced the GO-GN Fellowship Reflections Report and a set of interviews on our YouTube channel.

GO-GN provides and supports a range of different activities for and by our members. Building on the success of previous experience, we continued to offer a wide range of activities during 2022, including another of our popular new member research specials and guest speaker webinars. We also held the second of our Wikipedia edit-a-thons which saw members add 1,200 words and 20 references to open education articles. In terms of open research and excellence, 2022 saw the publication of our annual Research Review, our publications and other outputs continue to receive a high level of interest from the open education community and beyond with more than 35,000 annual visitors to the website. We are currently working on a new version that integrates our awarded Research Methods Handbook and Conceptual Frameworks Guide.

This year we will celebrate a decade of the network! Will we see you this year at OER23 in Inverness to start our celebrations?

Artwork included in this post was created by Bryan Mathers, Visual Thinkery and is licensed CC BY 4.0 

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Get involved in Anti-Racism in Learning Technology SIG


We are looking to recruit a Vice Chair, External Promotion Officer and Events Officer to become an Officer of the Anti-Racism in Learning Technology Special Interest Group.

We welcome expressions of interest from suitable candidates for these roles by 28th Feb 2023.

Find out more and express and interest in the Vice Chair role.

Find out more and express an interest in the External Promotion and Events Officer roles.

What are the benefits of becoming an Officer?

This presents an excellent opportunity to take on a committee role. No prior experience is needed, young professionals in the sector are welcomed to apply and full support and mentoring will be provided in this role.

Opportunity to engage with the wider ALT community and external organisations.
Opportunity to collaborate with professionals who work on antiracism and advocate for antiracism practices and policies within the learning technologies sector.

About you

As per the Members and Specialist Interest Group policy, you must hold an active ALT membership. Find out more about becoming a member.

You do not need to have experience of being on a committee or organising events, however, your availability and willingness to support activities for the ARLT SIG community will be key.

In line with ALT’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy we are keen to ensure that the committee reflects diversity. The SIG would benefit from committee members from different backgrounds and particularly working at junior levels and from different geographical areas, to bring wider perspectives to the table.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

5 Interactive Climate Change Education Tools to Wow Your Students


We are excited to be a part of the OER23 conference committee and to contribute our expertise in climate literacy and educational tools. This conference is an important opportunity for the OER community to come together and share ideas about how to best support teachers and students in their climate education efforts. We look forward to attending the upcoming OER Conference in April, in Inverness, Scotland, and we send our best wishes to all participants.  
As educational researchers, it is our motto to impart knowledge and “know-hows” of important issues faced by our society, to help learners understand and adapt themselves to the environment and succeed in becoming valuable assets to the community. 

Climate change is one of the most challenging problems faced by humanity in the 21st century. The chaotic and intricate facets of climate change can only be addressed by involved participation from all members of our communities with technologically sound and educated solutions. 

Educating our youth about the urgency of climate change is imperative, and is the first step in taking action on climate change. To attain the goal of a sustainable future, it is essential to equip learners with the knowledge and skills to deeply understand the climate crisis and its potential impacts on the environment. 

Employing interactive tools, such as simulations, digital resources, and web-based activities, have the potential to engage students in meaningful dialogue, spark creative problem-solving, and provide the essential foundation in making informed decisions about their future.  

By focusing on the development and usage of interactive tools that are tailored to the needs of learners, we can ensure that climate change education is effective and engaging to all learners. 

International science and climate advocacy bodies such as NASA, IPCC, NCAR and UCAR provide certain educational interactive tools that have tremendous potential in motivating learners’ interest and engagement by depicting real-time data on current weather, climate, emissions and effects, and future projections of these parameters. 

These climate change resources are only limited to specific national research groups, and rarely utilized in K12 classrooms. This lacuna needs to be alleviated, and we believe one way to do this is by introducing interactive tools in existing climate change curricula. Here, we present 5 interactive climate change education resources that teachers can use in their classrooms, in ways that help understand climate change and its implications. 

1. Climate Trace 

Climate Trace launched in 2020, is an innovative easy-to-use interactive resource which uses observational scientific data, AI and ML technologies, and remote sensing-based tools and imagery, to trace the amount of anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. Educators teaching climate courses can employ this tool to teach learners about the Greenhouse effect, and the amount of GHG emissions emitted by different sectors. This interactive tool can serve as a supplement in creating awareness among young learners and researchers alike, about the Greenhouse effect and emissions, and their role in global warming. 

 2. Earth.nullschool.net  

Earth.nullschool.net is a part of the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) collection of educational resources. The interactive website depicts a fascinating view of planet Earth with visualization maps of near real-time and historical air, ocean, chemical, particulate and space modes. The tool allows users to see current weather, ocean, and pollution conditions, as forecasted by supercomputers, on an interactive animated map. Educators can utilize the platform in their classroom activities to visualize weather elements, atmospheric composition of gases and particulates, giving their students a unique and engaging learning experience. 

3. Climate Reanalyzer 

Climate Reanalyzer is a powerful tool for educators to bring climate data into their classrooms. It is a climate data visualizing platform that is funded by the National Science Foundation. The tool provides access to climate information from climate reanalysis models and observational data from weather stations, weather forecast models, and a 10-day time series forecast of user-specified locations. Animated maps help learners visualize the various climatological parameters such as temperature, sea ice, rain and snow – overlayed on a 3D interactive globe. Teachers can use the platform to create interactive learning activities, such as analyzing the effects of climate change on specific locations, comparing current weather conditions with those of the past, and predicting future weather patterns. 

4. Interactive Atlas (IPCC) 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a section dedicated to an “Interactive Atlas” that is well suited to be effectively used in #ClimateEd classrooms. Atlas is a climate projection visualization map on a spatial and temporal scale, on a 3D interactive globe. Teachers can use Atlas to discuss the gravity of the climate change situation, by designing learning activities that allow learners to interact with different scenarios of climate projections, identify climate impact-drivers, and gain a better understanding of the importance of preserving our planet’s biosphere. 

5. Choose Our Future (game-based) 

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Center for Science Education is yet another fantastic climate exploration tool for young learners. The “Choose Our Future” allows learners to see variations in their GHG footprint according to the choices they make such carpooling to school instead of using individual car, or taking an international vacation instead of local travel. These small decisions by players affect the numerical values of GHGs emitted by them. Teachers can make learners realize the effect of their daily habits on the climate through this game of choices. The average global temperature changes based on the choices made by the learner. 

In addition, the Learning Zone covers a ton of classroom activities that include games and simulations, interactive videos, animated learning companions to make atmospheric sciences more fun and engaging for K-12 learners.  

We hope you find these climate change educational resources useful in your classroom activities.  

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now”  

Leonardo Di Caprio, Actor & Environmentalist

This guest blog post is a collaborative effort by –  

~ Poulomi Chakravarty, PhD (she/her) is an environmentalist and teaching faculty of climate education. Her interests lie in the field of climate science, micrometeorology and environmental science.

~ Sai Gattupalli (he/him) is a fourth-year learning sciences PhD student in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sai is an advocate for open educational resources, and his research focuses on game-based learning and computing literacy.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Top 10 for 2022: Research in Learning Technology Journal


After a successful year for the Research in Learning Technology Journal, here is a brief summary of the top ten most downloaded articles in 2022.

  1. Parental involvement, learning participation and online learning commitment of adolescent learners during the COVID-19 lockdown This is the most downloaded article from the journal website in 2022, and looks to examine the level of online learning commitment and the contributory roles of each of the factors to online learning commitment of adolescent learners. 
  2. Learning in virtual reality: Effects on performance, emotion and engagement This study looks to compare learners using traditional textbooks, video, and VR conditions in overall performance.
  3. The seven principles of online learning: Feedback from faculty and alumni on its importance for teaching and learning Effective online teaching and learning requires a carefully designed classroom that promotes student engagement with faculty, peers and course content. This research included an investigation of the importance of faculty–student communication and collaboration; student–student communication and collaboration; active learning techniques; prompt feedback; appropriate time for tasks; high performance expectations; and respect for diverse learning styles (preferences) (Chickering and Ehrmann 1996) to faculty in their online teaching and to alumni in their online learning. 
  4. Embedding educational technologies in early years education  This survey of 335 practitioners builds on research which challenged the view that educational technologies are rarely used in early years settings. Previous research tends to focus on individual devices. This research looks at the range of devices being used and, instead of investigating how often they are used, considers how they support pedagogical practice. 
  5. Smartphones as digital instructional interface devices: the teacher’s perspective Globally, many nations have put in place policies on technology enhanced teaching and learning in an effort to keep abreast with the rapid advancement in technology. However, the use of technology in education has been slow in many third world countries, inclusive of Zimbabwe. COVID-19 restrictions inadvertently accelerated the adoption of digital instructional interface devices (DIIDs). Smartphones are preferred DIIDs because of their popularity amongst children as well as teachers. This study was therefore carried out to determine the penetration rate of smartphones in science teachers, and also to probe teachers’ views on learners being allowed unlimited access to smartphones. 
  6. Playful learning: tools, techniques, and tacticsOver the past decade, there has been an increased use of playful approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. Proponents argue that creating ‘safe’ playful spaces supports learning from failure, management of risk-taking, creativity and innovation, as well as increasing the enjoyment of learning for many students. However, the emergent field of playful learning in adulthood is under-explored, and there is a lack of appreciation of the nuanced and exclusive nature of adult play. This article will first examine the theoretical background to the field, providing an initial definition of ‘playful learning’ through the metaphor of the ‘magic circle’ and presenting a hypothesis of why play is important for learning throughout the life course. Second, it will frame the field by highlighting different aspects of playful learning: playful tools, techniques, and tactics.
  7. A review of predictive factors of student success in and satisfaction with online learning Throughout this review, a broad range of factors that affect performance and satisfaction within the online learning environment for adult learners are be examined including learning outcomes, instructional design and learner characteristics, followed by suggestions for further research, and concluding with implications for online learning pertinent to administrators, instructors, course designers and students. 
  8.  Questions of quality in repositories of open educational resources: a literature review This paper reviews key literature on OER and ROER, in order to understand the roles ROER are said or supposed to fulfil in relation to furthering the aims of the OER movement.
  9. Online microlearning and student engagement in computer games higher education Using a self-reported system of Likert-based diagnostics, 135 videos in use at Solent University’s computer games area were analysed.
  10. Animating student engagement: The impacts of cartoon instructional videos on learning experience Our final article in the top 10 downloaded articles for 2022, explores the use of a series of animated videos to teach advanced accounting at an Australian university. 

To find out more about the journal, or to submit an article, visit the Research in Learning website.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

M25-LTG Winter Meeting Belonging and Community


On December 6, the M25 Learning & Teaching Group met for a hybrid meeting, with its first in-person contingent since November 2019! The presentations were also streamed for online participation. The afternoon started with lunch for those attending in person at the new Royal College of the Arts campus in Battersea, before kicking off with a welcome from Puiyin Wong (RCA), Sue Harrison (KCL), and Geraldine Foley (City, University of London. Julie Voce, also from City, University of London attended online, along with many others (myself included).

Building Belonging in HE (Sunday Blake, WonkHE)

Watch Building Belonging in HE recording.

The busy afternoon then started with Sunday Blake presenting the main findings from the WonkHE report on student belonging at university. It was interesting to hear that one prompt for this project was the lack of clarity around what “belonging” means in higher education, one of the aims of the project was to determine what this meant to students. The scale of the research was impressive: over 5,000 students participated in surveys across 15 universities. Further, nearly 250 of those students kept in-depth diaries for researchers to analyse to get more qualitative understanding.

Bringing together all these responses, Sunday shared the report’s theory that connection, inclusion, support, and autonomy are the key pillars, all of which should be supported via holistic mental health support. Interestingly, more students (55%) reported a sense of belonging at course level, compared to at university level (39%). Digging into that finding, the report found that best practices at course level included students interacting with others on their course, but that the emphasis from students was not around seeking friendships per se as simply connections. Examples that students reported effectively created this included informal coffee mornings initially set up by staff, then taken over by students. In online spaces, they suggested WhatsApp groups that are created by staff, but then staff leave, and students continue. The groups being created by staff means that students are equally aware of the opportunity, but then students taking them over and staff bowing out ensures they can be effective peer support spaces. Notably, there were differences reported between what mature students wanted versus younger students. Primarily, mature students emphasised wanting to be part of a learning community and improving their academic experience, rather than seeking support networks the way that younger students may more frequently seek. This was a popular discussion theme throughout the rest of the day.

When assessing how inclusion fits into belonging, the report found that inclusion tends to be about accessibility of teaching & learning materials as a default. Students reported significant benefit in having accessible materials without having to go through intensive bureaucratic processes and potentially “other” themselves to request them. Unfortunately, 54% of staff surveyed reported that accessibility does not have a clear standard, and 72% reported a lack of staff knowledge in making materials accessible. The report strongly recommends that staff receive neurodiversity and inclusive design training including how to communicate neurodiversity support to students.

Another aspect of inclusion was wanting course materials to be representative. Perhaps contrary to staff perceptions, the students reported that this was not about having students’ own identities necessarily being represented in the course content. Instead, student concerns were more about academic rigor and employability considerations of not having access to breadth of examples and knowledge. For example,
students are concerned that medical textbooks not including examples of symptoms on different skin colours negatively impacting their ability to succeed after graduation. Students suggested that acknowledging gaps in the curricula was better than ignoring them, for example a module on “world cinema” should consider its title if only some parts of the world are discussed in depth. The report also recommended that staff could ask for students to volunteer new additions to the curricula.

The report also found a correlation in students reporting a sense of belonging and self-perceiving strong academic skills. The report therefore recommends embedding academic skills training throughout university, not via a deficit model. Similarly, the report recommended a variety of assessment styles across the curriculum. It also suggested that institutions help staff consider a “feed-forward” approach for responding to student feedback.

WonkHE is now working on research to think about what factors influence staff feelings of belonging, the biggest threat found so far in the research is job insecurity. This is similarly a survey-based effort, so far with 430 staff responses across institutions.

Student Digital Community (Elisabetta Lando and Rae Bowdler, City, University of London)

Watch Student Digital Community recording.

Our second presentation featured Elisabetta Lando (City, University of London) presenting an evaluation of staff and students’ experiences of using Teams sites to support learning and teaching that she conducted with Rae Bowdler (City, University of London). They conducted this evaluation with ten staff members and twelve students across different schools of City about their experience of using Teams.
From student focus groups, Elisabetta and Rae found out some themes. First, students reported that Teams in a module works well when staff have good organisation and skills in using the capabilities of the technology. Students appreciated the ability to communicate easily with lecturers, both via chat and via calls (when invited by the lecturer). Teams was additionally seen as beneficial for students because of how it enabled students to work in groups and collaborate via channels and chats. However, existing challenges around cameras on/off in meetings and the implications for engagement in live sessions remained.

From this work, Elisabetta and Rae recommend helping students collaborate on Teams via chats and channels instead of non-university alternatives like WhatsApp, as Teams is more professional and secure. They also suggested building positive feedback from students on working together, creating guidance for students on how to create their own spaces on Teams, and ensuring staff know how to use all the features in Teams. They are already building a community of practice for staff throughout the university on using Teams to continue to expand this work.

Bake off and bingo!

Following this presentation, in-person attendees participated in the first ever in-person #EdTechBakeOff and a networking & learning technology bingo. Meanwhile, those of us online were led by Julie Voce in trying to complete the bingo with online attendees.

I am pleased to report that we nearly got there! If you were a webmaster in the old days of the internet, or currently work in library services, or still use Mahara, let us know! We have made the bingo cards available via a Creative Commons licence for anyone else who would like to use them.

Congratulations to Bake Off winner Emma Bayne from the Royal College of Art.

https://twitter.com/Puiyin/status/1600176197224128526 Blended & Hybrid Student Community (Puiyin Wong, Royal College of Art)

Watch Blended & Hybrid Student Community recording.

After being stuffed with cake and interrogating peoples’ history of using various educational technologies, we heard a presentation on building intercultural student communities with the aid of technologies from Puiyin Wong (Royal College of Art). For this research, Puiyin looked at 23 students across 15 countries and 9 ethnicities and 5 staff across 4 countries to determine how cultural backgrounds impact student community formation. She found that 43% of students reported a good experience with building a sense of community via blended learning. However, 56% reported that peer engagement was harder with distance learning. Key findings from student feedback on hybrid learning: 43% found it hard to engage with students from other cultures when everyone is in different modes of attendance. 56% thought that hybrid “created a two-tier system” and 72% thought that it was easy for in person students to ignore online students. Puiyin aimed to make her presentation interactive, with a Padlet for people to engage with ideas and discussion questions.

Community Building for Learning Technologists in the Conservatoire Sector (Evan Dickerson, Guildhall School of Music & Drama)

Watch Community Building for Learning Technologists in the Conservatoire Sector recording.

The penultimate presentation focused on community building for learning technologists in the conservatoire sector by Evan Dickerson (Guildhall). He outlined how there was a lack of community amongst conservatoire educational technologists, despite there being some people working in this area. He then detailed the initial steps to create a community, which were received quite positively. We look forward to seeing how this specialist community continues to grow!

https://twitter.com/Puiyin/status/1600158976913469440 Transferring interactive academic skills to an online learning experience (Sian Lund & Juli MacArthur, Royal College of Art)

Watch Transferring interactive academic skills to an online learning experience recording.

Finally, we heard from Sian Lund and Juli MacArthur, both at Royal College of Art, about their experience transferring interactive academic skills to an online learning experience. They explained how they used Talis and Padlet in four- and eight-week pre-sessional summer courses to support the English language skills for 150+ students coming into postgraduate degrees. Sian and Juli discussed how Padlet was used as a micro-blog type activity for students. Although this is not the most common Padlet use case, students found it easy to learn and use, it looked more modern and professional compared to built-in Moodle versions, and it was easy for students to write in and read from. Students then engaged in the learning process of reading and assessing English language sources via Talis to develop skills interactively. They reported these two uses of educational technology being quite successful in improving skills and popular with students.

The day then concluded with a pub visit for those attending in person. Looking forward to the next M25 session!


Miranda Melcher, Educational Technologist, City, University of London
Julie Voce, Head of Digital Education, City, University of London

Find out more about the M25-LTG Member Group and get involved.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Gratitude Connection and a So-What


I am deeply grateful for the role GO-GN/ALT/OER plays in my scholarly and personal life, particularly over these past few years. That gratitude bookends my work, and I hope that my research and practice make visible the impact this community has on those in and around it. 

The OER23 Conference theme is “Advancing Open Education Practices.” Pondering this theme provides an opportunity to consider ways in which we have employed “Care in Openness”, asked “Open For Whom” and thoughtfully enacted research and pedagogy in a time of crisis. I have been fortunate to receive support from my institution, GO-GN and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to participate in these conferences in my role as coordinator of OpenOKState.

OpenOKState  is the Oklahoma State University Libraries’ program initiating campus support for open practices. Priorities of the OpenOKState program include intentionality regarding the ethical use of learning analytics and identification of shared vocabulary highlighting alignment of open practices and scholarly work. The interventions the OpenOKState team has designed to move toward those priorities are largely influenced by the research and practices shared at ALT/OER conferences. This year’s theme prompts us to evaluate not only the effectiveness of our program interventions, but why and how the ALT/OER conferences have been so impactful.

It boils down to feeling safe enough to consider brave ideas. Let’s take a two minute time-out for some theory. 

Diffusion of innovation theory

Diffusion of innovation theory (Rogers, 2003) is commonly used to make sense of the rates at which innovations diffuse, but our program is particularly concerned with what the theory suggests about how communication in and among people impacts whether the innovation diffuses at all. The theory defines an innovation as an idea or practice perceived as new (Rogers, 2003) which diffuses through social communication channels over time. Bridge communications can increase diffusion by connecting people from homophilous groups to create new heterophilous groups. The theory states that interactions outside our local social/communication network can increase our consideration of ideas or practices we perceive as new. 

New places, new people, new ideas. 

Polyvagal theory

I’ve been digging into polyvagal theory as part of an exploration of how to design and enact trauma-informed pedagogy. Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory provides “physiological and psychological understanding” (Dana, 2018) about how our autonomic system drives the way we respond and interact with and on our surroundings. The theory articulates levels of response from (level one) surviving to (level four) thriving, depending on the threat level we identify in our surroundings. In the level four response we identify a relatively threat-free environment, activate our social engagement system and “have access to a range of responses including calm, happy, meditative, engaged, attentive, active, interested, excited, passionate, alert, ready, relaxed, savoring, and joyful” (Dana, 2018, p. 26). When our social engagement system is engaged we receive and send “cues of safety and invitations to come into connection” (Dana, 2018, p. 27). 

And when we connect, we can experience ideas or practices we perceive as new. We innovate.

The So-What

I heard about GO-GN and the OER20 conference from an ed tech research friend I knew from another professional organization. She pointed me to FemEdTech on social media and sent me links to the OER19 conference recordings. Intrigued by the presenters’ emphasis on relational and process aspects of open practices, I applied to join GO-GN, partnered with Deb Baff on a square for the FemEdTech quilt, and requested support from my university to attend OER20. My funding proposals spoke specifically about the conference as an opportunity to, in theory terms, innovate my scholarship by interacting with people outside of my local social network. 

The OER20 conference was scheduled April 1-2, 2020. The theme was “Care in Openness”, and the ALT team was uniquely qualified to adjust the conference format as the scope of the pandemic became apparent. The conference planning and programming committees were attentive to communities’ need to feel safe while also committed to facilitating connection. They communicated regularly as the conference format shifted, including logistical information as well as memes and gifs about fun and safe ways to greet each other. 

Once the conference moved online, this commitment to safety and connection continued. Moderators were present in each session to provide tech support as we made our way together in what felt then like an unfamiliar space. Participants were invited each day to share pictures of their slippers as we nervously joked about presenting in our pajamas. We chatted with new friends about families, shared what was outside our ‘temporary’ home office windows, and laughed together as our pets barked or crossed nonchalantly in front of the camera. 

The ALT team and their partners were scholars, researchers, and expert practitioners who, intentionally and with care, facilitated our ability to send and receive “cues of safety and invitations to come into connection” (Dana, 2018, p. 27) in unaccustomed spaces during a scary time which necessitated ideas and practices considered new (Rogers, 2003). It might have been hard on-screen to see eye crinkles, but they found other ways to help us communicate safety and engage with each other. For me, the OER20 conference experience provided a meaningful foundation for interaction in other conferences whose format shifted from F2F to online. I took ideas and practices with me from that conference to the next, and the next, continuing to identify opportunities to cue safety and invite engagement.

By the end of the year, the slippers I had laughingly posted a picture of during OER20 had holes in the toes. Many of us have holes in our hearts and homes. 

But I also know that Jeff’s dog is named Rocket, and that karaoke across an ocean is difficult but not impossible. I know that people and practices soaked in care can create an environment that sustains connection and curiosity, even when life is scary and uncertain.

Putting these experiences in the context of theory helps me understand why what the ALT/OER20 team did worked and transfer that understanding to my own practice with intentionality and care. OERX and OER22 reinforced these understandings. I am certain OER23 will do the same, and I am gratefully looking forward to connecting with you all soon.

~Kathy Essmiller

Guest post from our OER23 Committee Member Kathy Essmiller. For more information about this year’s conference and to join us from 4-6 April 2023, head to the conference website.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Mission Mastodon: Get involved in a new server experiment


Yesterday saw the start of a new server experiment on Mastodon. Over the next three months ALT Members are invited to join in an exploration of this social space, and learn more about how to use it for personal and professional use along the way.

We are excited to partner with Reclaim Hosting to offer 3 fun, informative sessions focused on Mastodon. The sessions are open to all and free to attend so you should have no issues accessing them here. The sessions will offer interested parties valuable insight into how the federated social media software Mastodon works, with everything from joining a server, to helping them find their way around, as well as providing a peek behind the scenes of the moderating and hosting process. We need you to join the sessions, participate and report back:

  • Session 1: Mission briefing: 19 January 2023 at 16:00 GMT (WatchRecording)
  • Session 2: Verifying your progress: 23 February 2023 at 16:00 GMT (Watch Live)
  • Session 3: 30 days until self-destruct: 23 March 2023 at 16:00 GMT (Watch Live)

For any of the above sessions you can join the Reclaim Discord server to join the chat during the live broadcasts: https://reclaimed.tech/discord .

If you’d like to register and get reminders about each session, head over to the ALT website and register now.

Why are we doing this?

The server we set up will act as a platform for our communities to explore and get to know Mastodon. The server will be temporary, but depending on what we learn along the way, we will decide how to proceed. So, whether you are completely new to the fediverse, or looking for other edtech folk to connect with, join us to explore and learn together.

ALT and Reclaim EdTech are already active on Mastodon, and many in our communities are, too. We are looking to learn more about how we can support folk in this space, how community servers might function, how they could be moderated and what the costs involved might be, too.

This is an opportunity to learn more about being active on Mastodon as well as learning about setting up, hosting and moderating servers for communities like ours and complement what we can learn from already established communities and servers with hands-on experience. 

Join the server

Curious? This is your opportunity to join our Mastodon server and get involved. Watch the recording of the first session and join in with the experiment. Everyone welcome!

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

CEO Report to Members January 2023

Dear Members

This is a special year for our Association as we celebrate thirty years since ALT was established in 1993. As we prepare for to mark this important anniversary as the leading professional body for Learning Technology in the UK and as an independent charity serving our membership, we want to focus on how we can build on what has been achieved as well as what’s ahead.

Help shape what’s next

Our work across sectors, serving a growing community with diverse needs and priorities depends on your input and we invite you to complete ALT’s Annual Survey for 2023. Help shape what is ahead and contribute to our 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. The purpose of this survey is to:

  • Help map professional practice and development in Learning Technology;
  • Chart how Learning Technology is used across sectors;
  • Understand current practice to better meet the needs of and represent our Members. 

The Annual Survey also helps to improve ALT’s monitoring and reporting in order to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. The closing date for responses is 5 February 2023 . Complete the survey now

New events programme launching for 2023

Our events programme is at the heart of the work we do and attracts over 5,500 participants a year. Through a varied programme of webinars, workshops and conferences we increase access to expertise and continuing professional development (CPD) for Members and participants from across education and training sectors. ALT’s new events programme that has been developed to meet the needs of our community and deliver value for our Members. 

  • We are launching a new annual virtual summit for (emerging) leaders which  will focus on key issues identified through our annual survey; 
  • Our highly successful CPD webinar series will expand to include experts from across sectors, offering regular professional development aligned with the CMALT accreditation framework; 
  • ALT’s flagship Annual Conference and OER Conference will continue to innovate as leading hybrid conferences in their field;
  • Our new in person 1 day events, taking place annually across the UK, will expand opportunities for networking and knowledge sharing. 

We are really excited to bring new events into our established calendar of activities and to continue our CMALT Webinars and support the work of ALT Member and Special Interest Groups.

Find out more about new event benefits for Members.

New MoU between ASCILITE and ALT

I am delighted that we have an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ASCILITE. There is a long-standing collaboration between ALT and ASCILITE and in recent years we have actively worked together on initiatives including CMALT Australasia and baselining best practice Open Access journal publication. 

This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides a framework for areas of joint working between ASCILITE and the Association for Learning Technology. It sets out how the two organisations will work together to ensure that shared objectives are taken forward and provides a platform on which to build joint working.

Did you miss…?

A quick summary of highlights from across our community: 

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Notes from ARLT SIG 3rd Nov meeting Anti-racist Approaches in Technology with Liza Layne


By Dr Teeroumanee Nadan for the ARLT SIG

Following the Black History month meeting and what this means for Learning Technologists the ARLT SIG community met in November for something closer to the day-to-day job: anti-racist approaches in technology.

I provide in this blog post a short summary of the session supplemented with some examples, along with a summary of the Q&A session and additional links for you to read. Sadly, there is no captioning embedded in the recording, and YouTube captioning is one of those technological features that will fail a discrimination test. I will request for chapters to be added to the video so that you can read this blog and pick relevant questions to you and watch the video from that section if possible.

Coding Black Females & FutureLearn Course Summary

Coding Black Femalel is the organisation behind the Antiracist Approaches in Technology FutureLearn course. They have been around since 2017, and it has been a much-needed space for Black women in the tech sector. The slides (at the bottom of this post) and their website has further information on their mission and their aim.

The FutureLearn course highlights racist stereotyping in technologies (in particular consumer products) along with outlining concepts to be considered to create technologies that do not have biases into them. The course is split into 3 weeks with a reflection every week:

  1. Week 1 – What is racism? How does racism impact our everyday life? What issues you can face with technology, and how tech is impacted by social nuances and economic nuances? How systemic racism impacts technology here in the UK?
  2. Week 2 – Examples of antiracist technology. How are organisations tackling this? How do individuals impact the building of AR tech? What you as an individual can do so that racism does not roll out in the project you are working on. Week 2 also has some tech-for-good scenarios where people are building things that are positive for society.
  3. Week 3 – How to ensure we build tech without biases? How do you set up your team? Week 3 also has some suggestions of how, as part of a product cycle, to ensure everything that you build represents society and is not aimed at only one group.

Antiracism in Tech

I would like here to highlight here some common examples of how AI with racist algorithms. In 2015, Google Photos’ face recognition “Face grouping” has been the subject of criticism because of its racist algorithm – Google Photos Tags Two African-Americans As Gorillas Through Facial Recognition Software and Google apologises for racist photo blunder. In addition, Google had restricted its AI recognition, thus a search for “black man” or “black woman” would only return pictures of people in black and white, sorted by gender but not race. This is, however, not the first time that racist AI was widely rolled out in consumer products. In 2009, Nikon’s famous “Did someone blink?” screen message would frequently pop up when an Asian person got photographed, despite being a Japanese company headquartered in Tokyo – Nikon camera says Asians are always blinking. Another Google feature, Google search autocomplete, has been in the headlines since early 2010 and we still hear of how discriminatory Google’s algorithm is – How Google’s autocomplete reveals racist, sexist and homophobic searches: Researchers claim search function ‘perpetuates prejudices’Google Has a Striking History of Bias Against Black Girls and Ten years on, search auto-complete still suggests slander and disinformation.

You might also recall another count of racism, this time closer to home, when in 2019 Cat Hallam simply wanted to renew her UK passport online (https://bit.ly/3YzWyP4).

During her talk, Liza highlighted that diversity is not the answer; you, in fact, need a team that has inclusion and equity. In your work environment, you need to incorporate an understanding of how (ethnicity) data can be used in order to make sure that we have an “even spread of individuals that represent society as a whole”. I could not but reflect on what this means to us in our day-to-day work. Are we taking representation into consideration when forming teams? Are we capturing ethnicity data? It is no surprise that time and again, within ARLT SIG, it has been highlighted that antiracism work in tech tends to come from the US, while we shy away from addressing systemic issues within the UK. Liza highlighted that “when we talk of racism in the UK, it is more than likely rushed over”.

Summary of Question & Answer

As backup chair, I had a few questions prepared so happy reading and most importantly happy understanding! Note: This is not a word-to-word captioning of the video.

Q1. In the UK, Black people represent 1.9% of the tech industry and Black women only 0.7%. Given that software project management is very cyclical, 1.9% Black people throughout the cycle of product design and development is very little.

That is why the US fixes racism in technology first, they record ethnicity, but in the UK we do not record ethnicity. Some level of consideration is taken in the product life cycle, however even this is questionable as we keep hearing about instances every year. For example, Google search autocomplete with racist prejudices. What does a diverse team mean? A point worth reflecting here is : does a team with two people of colour (but of the same ethnicity and perhaps different gender) count as diverse?

Q2. How to overcome the issues with Black people trying to fit in and not wanting to raise issues or looking for reaffirmation of their competence? How do we encourage the younger generation when there is only 1.9% Black people in the industry?

We need to raise awareness that it is not easy to get through to the career ladder, we need to have role models and we need to speak up. In the tech industry, there have been gender biases in the past (and even to some degree now). Black people are here and are present, but remain untapped because people choose to ignore that Black, competent people are here. We need to have conversations and show different role models, showcase different pathways to tech (not necessarily the traditional pathways). We also need to encourage people to stay in their posoitions. Because of racism, many people reach a crossroad whether they have to decide whether to leave or to stay. It is rekatively easier to get some people up the ladder, but it is difficult to make them stay, because of the burden of racism.

Q3. Experience of working with 10000blackinterns (https://www.10000blackinterns.com/)

There are many internship programs that help young people, in particular girls. However, we have to question where do these women go, where do they end up? Do these young women stay in the tech roles? Do they go sideways because they feel they have hit the glass ceiling even at the entry level? It is great that we are getting people to some junior positions, but then what happen to them? Women of colour still feel reluctant to speak, their expertise is still not called upon as much as the white male.

Q4. We live in a capitalist society, what can leaders do to influence political leaders to make the tech industry more equitable (although some laws have loopholes and laws are not entirely deterrent to racism)?

Networks help a lot, but at the same time we need to make people visible. We need to capture matrix on what is going on in organisations. Everybody should have the opportunity to speak up ?(if they feel comfortable doing that). In the US it is easier to lobby for certain things, they record ethnicity but there is still some other biases. In start ups of less than 200 people, they do not have to record ethnicity. There are many good good organisations e.g. Tech Talent charter (https://www.techtalentcharter.co.uk/home) It is also important to have people who are willing to stand up for you, you are stronger if you have the people help support you.

Q5. Black History Month

It is nice to highlight individuals, but Black people are Black throughout the year. It is also the same with Pride month. If you fall in a particular category, it remains so throughout the year, not just for one year.

Q6. Black people within Academia

There used to be very few Black people in Academia, but this still continues as there are still very few Black people in higher positions. There tends to be over-exploitation of Black people with expertise either to join committees or project groups, you need to pay the people to do these, not request free work. This is an issue in a lot of industries, but until we come to the point where we record ethnicity data, we will not come to a point where we can understand the real issue, there is a big problem of the visibility of Black people at mid-level in all industries, not just tech. Women (in general of any colour) they drop off.

Further comments

  • Academia was built for White, straight, and non-disabled males.
  • Some tech solutions restrict the number of characters in people’s names, very much focused on Western European names which tend to be shorter. It is important to question who built the platforms for students to fill in their details? And then you get people wanting to shorten students’ names or call them by a different Western name.
  • The term BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) is misleading, it includes people of ethnicities who look White. Sometimes we need to categorise into Black and Brown. Grouping everybody together makes no sense, it hides the real statistics about what is going on about the ethnic background and obviously in bringing solutions. Hiding ethnicity under one big bubble is not a solution.
  • Assessments have biases, for example, if you look at Applicant Tracking Systems you have to question who has built the system?

Recording & Presentation

YouTube recording for Liza Layne’s presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO913NCCMzw

Liza Layne’s presentation slides are available at: http://bit.ly/3UMJVO9

Further Reading

Did you enjoy reading this? To become a member of our community see Membership details here – https://www.alt.ac.uk/membership

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Digital Badges Add to your badge collection via the AmplifyFE Community Space


By AmplifyFE

In our sector, we know that stickers and badges are not just enjoyed at school. There’s something special about earning something tangible that you can show off, even if it’s just to yourself, in your own diary or notebook. Digital badges can provide this feeling of value and kudos in the same way and so much more! 

Organisations and institutions use open digital badges for multiple purposes, not just recognition of achievements. They can be used to motivate and reward, showcase official memberships, and accredit continual professional development.

ALT offers a range of digital badges to recognise professional development and active engagement in peer review, peer assessment and governance, with a total of 10,000 badges issued to date (ALT Impact Report, Sept 2022). Badges have been awarded for hosting a webinar, attending a conference, being a CMALT assessor, and writing a blog post alongside many other recognitions. The AmplifyFE team has been busy creating the following digital badges. 

The AmplifyFE Community Space Member Badge from the Open Badge Factory is awarded for:

  • Attending a community space webinar 
  • Attending a community space meeting 
  • Signing up for the AmplifyFE mailing list 

The AmplifyFE Community Space Presenter badge is awarded for:

  • Hosting a webinar 
  • Taking part in a podcast 
  • Doing a Spotlight presentation at a community space meeting
What is the Open Badge Factory?

Open Badge Factory is the platform we use to share open badges with our community space members. Badges are fully verifiable and show who and when the badge was awarded, alongside details about the badge.

Example: AmplifyFE Community Space Presenter Badge

If you haven’t already received a badge, sign up to our mailing list to stay updated and receive one during our next allocation of badges. 

What can I do with my AmplifyFE open badge? 
  • Add your badge to your email signature
  • Claim your badge on Open Badge Passport 
  • Share your badge on social media 
  • Showcase your badge in your CPD record/eportfolio
  • Add your badge to your CV/ LinkedIn profile/website
  • Share on social media
  • Download Badge Image
  • Add to your email signature
  • Share on your open badge passport
What is the AmplifyFE Community Space?

Amplify FE works to connect and amplify communities of practice for digital learning, teaching and assessment. The AmplifyFE Community Space works across the whole Further Education and Training sector in its widest terms engaging with vocational educators and those who support them.

Learn more about our community space and sign up for upcoming events. 

Did you enjoy reading this? To become a member of our #altc community see Membership details here – https://www.alt.ac.uk/membership

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Meaningful use of technology


By Sammy White


FE is the most inclusive sector of education, everyone is welcome to come and learn with us. Yet it can be exclusive in its application of technology. From campus to campus within the same college group levels of access to technology can vary wildly. Examples of Level 3 graphics work on the latest Mac’s yet entry 1 ESOL have one hour a term in the library on the campus desktops are sadly common. How with such varied levels of access to technology do we ensure that when we do use technology, it has meaning?

Imagine that dreaded OfSTED deep dive into your area and that conversation about your use of technology. What does a good use of technology look like for you? There are models of SAMR or TPACK to help reflect, but ultimately you know your subject and you know your students. Therefore you know how to make the use of technology meaningful in your setting.

It is obvious to a visitor when students are doing something new and special because of the need to use technology in the session. Routine therefore becomes important but how do you avoid a tokenistic routine where you use technology for the sake of it? A formative assessment done on a device using technology might be a great routine but what do you do with the results of that formative assessment? How do you adjust the direction of learning informed by those results? 

In truth that can be challenging to do without the use of technology. But having to access the results on an online quiz platform, digest students results and then adjust mid session can be cognitively challenging. Another option might be an exit ticket reflection where students share their thoughts on the session and describe what they learned. A quick rating of their progress against the learning intention with a follow up question where students describe their learning or define where they want toe extend their learning is a simple 2 question format. 

Capturing this digitally in a Form that results in a spreadsheet means you can digest the results, when you have time, and adjust the direction of learning, ready for the next session. Students could access this form via a link shortener every lesson, building that routine or via a QR code on the wall. With date and time stamps allocated in the spreadsheet this could be routine across all your groups. Could you capture this student reflection in another way? Yes, but would students be as honest? This might make technology a good option to elevate this learning experience.

Professional trust is a key part of making the use of technology meaningful for students. Teachers, lecturers, workshop leaders are the experts on their students, they know what works best. Let’s trust professionals to find meaning for their use of technology in their classroom, with their students.

This blog was written as a draft formulation of the author’s ideas before submitting her contribution to the new open source journal Future FE Pedagogies. Sammy would welcome your thoughts, ideas and comments to help her extend her thinkpiece. You can share them via a Mentimeter poll here: https://www.menti.com/alf51ub9pomt

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT