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Updated: 17 min 33 sec ago

New Diploma in Teaching Further Education Skills qualification: elevating standards in further education

16/07/24

By Ann Gravells and Gavin Lumsden

A significant transformation is underway in the realm of Further Education and Skills (FE&S) training with the introduction of the new Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) qualification. The qualification commences on 1st September 2024. This update not only aims to enhance the quality of teacher training but also aligns with contemporary educational needs and standards. The transition from the existing Diploma in Education and Training (DET) to the Diploma in Teaching (DiT) reflects a progressive shift designed to better equip teachers for the evolving landscape of further education. This article delves into the details of this new qualification, the accompanying resources, and the comprehensive guidance provided by Ann Gravells and me to ensure a smooth transition for all stakeholders.

Understanding the new Diploma in Teaching (FE&S)

The new Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) is tailored for practitioners in England who teach learners aged 14 and above across diverse contexts including colleges, prisons, private training providers, and community organisations. The qualification is available from level 5 (typically offered by further education colleges) to level 7 (often provided by higher education institutions). While the core content remains consistent across levels, the depth of study, research, and complexity of assessment activities increase with higher levels.

The DiT qualification incorporates several contemporary educational themes such as Education for Sustainability, Digital and Online Technologies, and Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge. It is meticulously aligned with the latest Learning and Skills Teacher (LST) Occupational Standards, ensuring that trainee teachers are well-prepared to meet the demands of modern educational environments.

Key changes from DET to DiT

1. Content and Curriculum:
   – DET: General educational content.
   – DiT: Incorporates new topics relevant to today’s educational needs, such as sustainability and digital pedagogy.

2. Standards:
   – DET: Based on older teaching standards.
   – DiT: Aligned with the latest LST Occupational Standards, ensuring up-to-date educational practices.

3. Mentorship:
   – DET: Varied mentorship requirements.
   – DiT: Mandates two mentors for trainee teachers, one for pastoral support and another for subject-specific guidance. 


4. Teaching Practice:
   – DET: Requires 100 logged teaching hours and 8 observations.
   – DiT: Expands this to 250 hours (150 teaching practice and 100 non-teaching hours) with 10 observations, ensuring comprehensive hands-on experience


Transition guidance and checklist

To facilitate a seamless transition from DET to DiT, a detailed checklist and guidance document has been created by Ann Gravells and me. This checklist ensures that training providers, teachers, and learners are well-informed about the changes and requirements of the new qualification. Key aspects of the checklist include:

– qualification offering: confirming if current awarding organisations (AOs) offer DiT and if re-approval is necessary.
– choosing an AO: suggestions on selecting an AO if the current one does not offer DiT.
– funding and resources: information on funding options and updating resources to align with the new qualification content.
– mentorship and staff requirements: ensuring adequate training for mentors and verifying staff qualifications for teaching and assessing.

If you are a centre who would like to offer the qualification, please contact your awarding organisation, as not all are offering it.

New Book: “Achieving your Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) – Putting theory into practice for the qualification or apprenticeship”

In conjunction with the rollout of the new DiT qualification, a new book titled “Achieving your Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) – Putting theory into practice for the qualification or apprenticeship is now available for pre-order. This book promises to be an invaluable resource for both trainee teachers and educators. It aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice, providing practical insights and strategies for effective teaching in the FE and Skills sector.

The book covers a wide range of topics essential for aspiring teachers, including course design, lesson planning, teaching, learning and assessment strategies, the development of resources and the use of technology. It also emphasises the importance of reflective practice and continuous professional development, encouraging teachers to continually improve their teaching skills and stay updated with the latest educational trends regarding their subject.

Preparing for the Future

The transition to the new Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) represents a significant step forward in teacher education. It ensures that educators are better equipped to handle the challenges of modern teaching and therefore provide high-quality education to their learners. The emphasis on sustainability, digital technologies, and robust mentorship frameworks aligns with the broader goals of enhancing educational outcomes and fostering an inclusive, future-ready education system.

Training providers, teachers, and learners are encouraged to thoroughly review the guidance and checklist to ensure they are fully prepared for the new qualification. By adhering to these guidelines, they can ensure a smooth transition and continue to provide exceptional education and training in the FE and Skills sector. 

The introduction of the new Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) is a welcome change that promises to elevate the standards of teacher training, and ultimately benefit the learners who depend on skilled and knowledgeable educators. The transition from DET to DiT is set to be a positive and transformative experience for all involved.

Follow Ann Gravells and Gavin Lumsden for future resources and clear guidance, you can also find us on either www.anngravells.com or www.essentialteaching.uk

You can also join our Diploma in Teaching (FE&S) LinkedIn group for discussions and updates with like-minded educators and teachers.

>> Thanks for reading this AmplifyFE post! AmplifyFE is a strategic partnership between ALT and the Ufi VocTech Trust. AmplifyFE connects over 3000 professionals in Further Education and Vocational Education, providing a strong networking community to share, collaborate and learn. We connect innovators, industry and educators, therefore, AmplifyFE posts may include contributions with a commercial focus. AmplifyFE’s posts are included on the #altc blog to support networking, collaboration and sharing. For more information, please check AmplifyFE’s dedicated submission guidelines.

The #altc blog submission guidelines detail who can post and the type of posts accepted to this blog.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Fabrio: Bridging the skills gap in Computer-Aided Design

02/07/24

By Anirudh Vadiyampeta, COO & Co-Founder of Fabrio

Background

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is no longer a niche skill – it’s the universal language of modern creativity. From manufacturing everyday products to developing Oscar-winning special effects, CAD is fundamental to the entire design process. Yet, a concerning skills gap is emerging. A staggering 64% of engineering companies report a lack of skilled talent as a barrier to growth, with 56% of new recruits lacking the necessary skills upon entering the workforce.

The gap between education and industry becomes strikingly apparent in engineering education. While colleges and universities are integrating CAD into the curriculum, traditional teaching methods often leave out practical, industry-relevant CAD skills employers desperately need.

The Problem:
  • Time-Consuming Marking: Educators are bogged down by manual marking processes, spending countless hours providing feedback on CAD assignments. This leaves less time for valuable learner interaction and curriculum development.
  • Insufficient Feedback: Learners are not receiving adequate or timely feedback on their CAD work, hindering their progress and impacting their learning experience.
  • Industry Disconnect: Development of learning content is slow and often lacks commercial input. As a result, learning lags behind industry needs.
Fabrio: Bridging the Gap

Forward-thinking institutions are already taking action to bridge this gap. Leading universities like UCL and Imperial College London are incorporating Fabrio into their engineering curriculum, recognising the need to equip their learners with industry-relevant CAD skills.

At Fabrio, we’ve developed a revolutionary platform that empowers both learners and educators to meet these challenges head-on:

  • Interactive CAD Courses: Our courses are specifically designed to reduce teacher intervention and promote independent learning, allowing learners to progress at their own pace. This approach has been successfully implemented at UCL, where Fabrio is being used across various engineering disciplines.
  • Real-Time Feedback: Our unique add-in integrates seamlessly with industry-standard CAD software, providing learners with instant feedback on their design work. This real-time assessment feature is a game-changer, allowing learners to identify and correct errors immediately, fostering deeper understanding and faster skill development.
  • Industry-Relevant Skills: We bridge the gap between education and industry by teaching the practical CAD skills employers are looking for, ensuring learners are job-ready. We work closely with industry giants like Autodesk and RS Group to ensure that our teaching always meets the real-world needs of the industry.

By combining cutting-edge technology with industry-aligned content, Fabrio is transforming CAD education and preparing the next generation of engineers for success.

Call to action:

Help us to understand how CAD is being taught in your college or university by completing this very short survey https://fabriodesign.typeform.com/to/B5PQvfUZ

Join us on: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

>> Thanks for reading this AmplifyFE post! AmplifyFE is a strategic partnership between ALT and the Ufi VocTech Trust. AmplifyFE connects over 3000 professionals in Further Education and Vocational Education, providing a strong networking community to share, collaborate and learn. We connect innovators, industry and educators, therefore, AmplifyFE posts may include contributions with a commercial focus. AmplifyFE’s posts are included on the #altc blog to support networking, collaboration and sharing. For more information, please check AmplifyFE’s dedicated submission guidelines.

The #altc blog submission guidelines detail who can post and the type of posts accepted to this blog.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Notes from Unleashing your true potential Self-reflection growth Uni of Bath workshop Led by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan

12/06/24

by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan, ARLT SIG

This blog was originally posted on 10th June 2024 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog teeroumaneenadan.com.

7th June 2024 marked the second face-to-face workshop organised as part of the “Strategic Change” 2023-2024 ARLT SIG series of events. A similar workshop was delivered at LJMU earlier this yearsmall group discussions on strategies for change, panel conversations (Researching on antiracism – the people and the purpose) and external engagement with LTHEchat (LTHEchat post event notes on the antiracism agenda in HE) have also taken place to drive forward change in mindset.

The workshop at the University of Bath has been several months of conversations with the EDI coordinator and HR targetted at members of the MOSAIC network.

Amin Neghavati, ARLT SIG External Engagement officer, was keen to kick-start the conversation at Bath, and despite leaving the institution in early 2024, he still supported with the logistics of the event.

About the workshop

It was a completely free workshop, and the University of Bath provided for the venue and associated expenses. The aim of the workshop was to empower junior and mid-level POC staff and I ran exactly the same format as before, that is, pre-event activity involving reflection and self-discovery, and during the workshop I unpacked the issues the staff had been dealing with. I provided details of the workshop in a previous blog. Of course, there will be a post-event follow-up, and this is scheduled for 11th July 10-12.

There is also the 3-month and 6-month follow-up that participants have signed up for. As a facilitator, I can’t wait to see the growth in staff. I appreciate the participants who showed up on the day for engaging in the pre-event and post-event online activities, they are truly dedicated to their growth.

My personal thoughts: As usual, reflection is the hardest part of the workshop as most people rarely have allocated time for reflection in their personal life or as part of their work.

Another activity that is equally difficult for participants speaking of trauma, victimhood and overcoming barriers. This is usually the part of the workshop where some participants may get defensive or start to compare themselves with other people without knowing much about the challenges that these other people face too.

A solution I often propose is to broaden their knowledge, read, watch documentaries, whatever is necessary to know about the pros and cons and all the sides and perspectives of things, in order to avoid biases.

Participants were busy taking notes, they had quite a few pages written down and as a facilitator it is really rewarding to see tangible actions coming out of the activities and to witness breakthroughs – you know the kind of “Oh, I had never thought of that”. Sometimes simple solutions are the best and remember that you cannot get something without asking for it.

Picture with participants at the University of Bath

Moving forward

I have been approached to have similar workshops at other universities. Unfortunately, this is my last event under ARLT SIG. I decided to step down as ARLT SIG Chair earlier this year, so I will not be delivering any more free workshops for universities or ARLT SIG.

I am a doer and I enjoy the action more, there is really less competition on that front. I cannot wait to continue to do what I am great at – helping students and staff grow and making the Higher Education environment a thriving space where learning and teaching are done as they should be done!

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Should Initial teacher training include how to use AI

04/06/24

By James Kieft, Group learning and development manager, Active Learning

Since the launch of Chat GPT Artificial Intelligence (AI) has remained one of the most discussed topics within education. Just at my social media feeds and it seems like every other post mentions AI.  There is also a plethora of Teaching focused tools that are being launched that utilise AI in some way. 

In this blog post, I am going to consider if Initial Teacher training would benefit from including guidance on how to use Artificial Intelligence effectively to help teachers new to the profession better deal with the challenge of planning learning and creating resources in the first few years of teaching.  

An article in FE (Further Education) week in March 2023 highlighted the high turnover of College teachers with a quarter leaving after the first year and almost half leaving after three years. This is partly linked to workload and the time it takes to develop resources, plan lessons, mark assignments and provide feedback. 

Thinking back to when I started teaching weekends and evenings were regularly taken up with either the planning of lessons, preparation of teaching material or the marking of students work. That is without taking into consideration how tiring it is adapting to doing something new and learning how to work with the students. 

In my current role I lead on the development teachers across a group of Further Education College’s in the Southeast of England. Part of my role involves working with and supporting teachers who are new to the organisation. As is common with the sector 40% of those who join are new to teaching typically joining from industry. 

Just recently I have started delivering on our equivalent to the level 3 Award in Education and training. A course I have planned with a focus on developing skills and practical approaches they can use in the classroom. 

Within that course I have embedded opportunities where they could utilise AI to assist them in carryout certain tasks. However, I am conscious that when developing their craft as a teacher it is important that they understand processes and approaches such sequencing and chunking information and why to use them. Once they have grasped this, I then highlight how they could be used AI appropriately. 

AI can be their co-collaborator who helps with ideas generation, create draft resources or activities which they then refine meaning that they never have to start with a blank document, help them to save time.  

In addition to talking about how AI can help them save time, we focused on the importance of a well-crafted prompt. Going through what sort of information was needed to generate the best results. We then covered the importance of verifying the information generated to make sure that it is a correct and contains all the relevant information. 

The areas covered in the course include how AI can be used for: 

  • Creating an assessment rubric 
  • Lesson ideas and activities 
  • Drafting lesson objectives with the use of Blooms command verbs 

During the lesson we go through how they can use Microsoft co-pilot and Google’s Gemini.

Google Gemini seems better for generating ideas related content, it is more creative, with a greater variety of ideas than Copilot. I also like it will give you three drafts with different worded responses.  

However, be aware that Google will use the information contained within your prompt to help develop their large language model unless your organisation makes use of the recently announced Gemini for Google Workspace for Education to keep information private as Microsoft does for Copilot.  

With Copilot I particularly like the use of the sidebar that is available in Microsoft Edge as it means that you do not need to put quite so much information into your prompt as you can have it access information on an open page, that could include a PDF course specification.  

When it comes to video there are an ever growing number of AI tools, I find useful. 

 The first of these is Twee, it has lots of useful features not just linked to video, however, the features I have used the most are video based. All you do is simply paste in the video URL from either YouTube or Vimeo, select a five-minute extract and it can then it can: 

  • Create a transcript 
  • Generate some questions multichoice or open ended 
  • Create three summaries with only one being correct so students must choose the correct summary 
  • Creates a listening exercise, in which a student is expected to fill in the gaps in a video or audio summary 

Keeping with videos Quizizz a tool most of you are familiar with has also introduced a similar feature, paste in a YouTube URL, and it will do the same thing creating multichoice questions based on the content of the video.  

On the quiz creation front AI quiz creator is a very useful way of generating quiz questions you put in the topic title and it will generate multichoice questions, you then simply add the questions you think are most relevant, and it will generate a Google Forms quiz, or you can export the questions to Kahoot or Quizizz. 

I appreciate there is a wealth of AI tools linked to video and quiz creation that I have not mentioned. 

So, in short, AI absolutely has a place within initial teacher training, we need to make sure however that staff are clear on what is appropriate use and how to use it effectively. It needs to appear in their toolkit and hopefully with them utilising it, there will have less teachers who are entering the teaching profession looking to leave within the first year. 

This post was originally published on James Kiefts personal blog.

AmplifyFE connects 3000+ professionals in Further Education and Vocational Education. Since 2020, our network links communities of practice for digital learning, teaching and assessment. Through the partnership between the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and Ufi VocTech Trust, AmplifyFE supports professionals to share, collaborate and learn.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Rethinking Assessments with Generative AI: Strategies and Approaches

28/05/24

Co-authored by Ian Miller, Elisabetta Lando and ChatGPT.

The rise of generative AI has sparked a significant debate across the educational sector. Many teaching practitioners are grappling with the challenge of students using AI for formal assessments and presenting the work as their own, impeding an accurate assessment of the students’ abilities and understanding. However, putting a blanket ban on AI is not the solution, argues instructional technology expert Dr. Helen Crompton in April’s Active Learning SIG webinar. Instead, we need to rethink and redesign assessments to leverage the power of generative AI as a learning tool, working with AI rather than against it.

Assessments have traditionally focused on testing what students know, but there have been long-standing arguments for a radical overhaul of assessment methods. Back in 2019, Simone Bhitendijk of Imperial College stated in a TES interview that for active learning methodologies, such as the flipped classroom, to truly take off, assessments would need to evolve to reflect their interactive nature. Bhitendijk went on to say that it would “require a change in the wider ecosystem to accelerate the uptake” (TES, October 2019).

AI is indeed a significant change within the wider ecosystem. Assessments need to radically shift their focus from merely testing knowledge to evaluating the capabilities or competencies needed to apply that knowledge. Active learning methodologies, even with the use of AI itself, can offer a promising avenue for addressing some of these challenges.

Key challenges:

  • ChatGPT and other AI language models can easily generate written content like essays that may get passed off as a student’s original work.
  • Typical plagiarism detection tools struggle to identify AI-generated text reliably.
  • AI models can introduce biases, inaccuracies, and lack proper citations when automatically generating content.
  • The importance now, more than ever, is the need to explicitly embed digital critical thinking skills in all areas of education.

While not foolproof, Dr. Crompton suggests some short-term strategies to make cheating more difficult:

  • Require citations and references to be included and verify their accuracy manually.
  • Ask students to connect their work directly to class discussions, readings, and experiences.
  • Encourage collaboration, group work, and peer feedback as part of the assignment.

Note: Some of these tactics, such as citations and references, may eventually be outsmarted by AI, so they should be considered temporary measures.

The long-term solution, however, remains one of reimagining assessment:

  • Use real-world, authentic tasks like problem-solving case studies.
  • Incorporate practical components and multi-stage activities that are harder to automate.
  • Have students critique AI-generated content to build critical analysis skills.
  • Conduct debates with AI to develop argumentative reasoning abilities.
  • Use AI for mock job interviews to practise communicating complex topics.

The key is creating active learning experiences that demonstrate deeper understanding beyond just reciting information. This aligns with the concept of ”making thinking visible” (OU innovation reports, 2020), which lies at the heart of active learning methodologies (and indeed lies at the heart of this ALTSIG’s remit). However, “making thinking visible” can pose a significant challenge for educators, who often juggle time constraints and large student cohorts. Furthermore, using generative AI to create active learning assessments requires educators to master the AI tools themselves and learn to create prompts that generate assessments aligned with learning outcomes. This process will take time, and institutions must provide the necessary support for the development of these essential staff digital skills.

While initially disruptive, it might be worthwhile to look at the positives. According to some quarters, this may even be the end of essay mills. Embracing the technology’s capabilities prudently and with proper support could potentially enrich student learning in powerful new ways.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Insights from Award-Winning Collaborators

23/05/24

By Jane Secker and Chris Morrison

This blog post is written jointly by Jane Secker and Chris Morrison who were highly commended in the ALT Awards in 2023 for Leadership in Digital Education. The award was in recognition of the work they did during the pandemic to provide support to the higher education community on copyright and online learning issues. This included establishing the ALT Copyright and Online Learning Special Interest Group and a webinar series which still runs to date. 

Jane and Chris research, write, present and muck around together and have successfully collaborated for over 10 years, following discovering (incidentally in a Brighton beach bar) their shared passion to make learning about copyright fun, empowering and engaging.  

They tell us…. 

Last year we were jointly presented with a ‘highly commended’ award for Leadership in Digital Education. We do many things as a collaborative venture, finding over 10 years ago that we had shared interests (copyright, Star Wars, libraries, music, doing what we can to make the world a better place). But we also discovered that we had complimentary skills and values. As set out in one of our favourite books, Thomas Shenk’s Powers of Two, many creative partnerships (Lennon & McCartney, Marie & Pierre Curie, Ant & Dec – ok maybe not Ant & Dec) prove that two heads really are better than one. In our particular mix of leadership, we combine one person’s tendency towards perfectionism (looking at you Chris) and counter that with the other’s drive to get things done, tick off an action and move onto the next thing (sound like anyone Jane?). But bring that together and you have some kind of magic…. Plus, for anyone who’s spent any time in our company, a lot of bickering! 

Leadership however has traditionally been seen as an individual endeavour – that leading is about one person’s ability to create a vision and to motivate a team. However, in this increasingly challenging and diverse world, we are seeing a growing recognition that one person cannot do everything, there simply isn’t the time. And of course, we all have blind spots that we need trusted colleagues and friends to help us with. Therefore, co-chairs can be a really effective way to lead an organisation and share the load, but also amplify your message and make sure you aren’t just reflecting your own personal preferences to the detriment of your team or community.  

We were honoured to receive the ALT Award for the work we did during the pandemic and since then. It felt like a real recognition of what we had achieved and it was wonderful to attend the Gala Dinner and be applauded by the digital education community.  

It’s a relatively simple process to write an application and you can self-nominate. The key thing is to think about the impact of your work. Writing reflective pieces like for AdvanceHE fellowship and CMALT where you have to document the impact of your work, can be great to draw upon. Remember it’s not all about metrics too, it’s about how your practice might be changing and supporting others. And the award was great to include on our CVs, shout about on LinkedIn and include in our respective promotion applications. It also led to us both getting a personal congratulations from Senior Managers at both our institutions.  

So, if you think you wouldn’t be eligible for the leadership award because you don’t fit the bill of a typical ‘leader’ think again. If you work in partnership with someone else, or create and share a vision for something in learning technology in a non-traditional way then don’t be constrained by your or other people’s previous thinking. We encourage you to apply for the ALT Awards 2024 and wish you luck.  

We are now open for entries until Tuesday 11 June 2024, and we welcome submissions from individuals and teams based anywhere in the world. The awards are free to enter. Learn More.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Learning Rate of Change: How action research helps bridge the gap

21/05/24

By Jim Turner

As learning technologists, we are at the forefront of a rapidly changing educational landscape. New technologies, pedagogical approaches, and learner expectations seem to evolve at an ever-increasing pace. How can we not only keep up, but lead innovation and effectively tackle the complex challenges we face? Action learning offers a compelling solution. 

In a recent ELESIG webinar presented by Becky Quew-Jones highlighted a key principle: our rate of learning must be greater than or equal to the rate of change in order for us to maintain a sense of control and agency. For learning technologists grappling with the educational impacts of phenomena like AI, the rate of change is clearly leaving or sense of learning far behind. Action research could provide a structured way to confront through a methodology called ‘action learning’ that by bringing together diverse practitioners to investigate issues (action learning sets), question each other, share knowledge, take action, and reflect on the results. 

The basics 

Some key benefits of action learning for learning technologists include: 

  • Collaborative problem-solving – Action learning sets harness the diverse perspectives and experiences of participants to deeply explore challenges and uncover new solutions. For complex, people-centered issues without clear answers, this collaborative approach is far more effective than tackling them alone. 
  • Accountability for action – Rather than endlessly discussing problems, action research demands real action between meetings to move toward solutions. Reporting back to supportive peers creates positive accountability. 
  • Psychological safety to accelerate learning – Action learning sets provide a safe environment to openly share struggles and quickly develop new knowledge/skills. Honest dialogue and questioning fast-tracks the learning process. 
  • Links to research and practice – The cycles of action and reflection at the heart of action learning parallel the scientific method. It can serve as a systematic research methodology and also bridge research and practice by field testing new approaches. 

As learning technologists, we could employ this versatile approach for challenges such as: 

  • Evaluating and implementing emerging educational technologies 
  • Redesigning courses/programs for new modes of delivery 
  • Tackling issues like academic integrity, accessibility, or digital literacy 
  • Piloting innovative pedagogical approaches 
  • Improving technology adoption and support for faculty 
 Want more details? 

The presentation offered inspiring examples of action research in degree apprenticeship programs, academic integrity efforts, and research on workplace learning. Becky has recently used this process and published an article on a particular ‘wicked’ problem at the heart of her current job role. Here is summary of that process: 

  • Participants: Six representative apprenticeship ambassadors from large organizations with existing relationships with a business school for level 6 and 7 apprenticeships. 
  • Three Action Learning sets conducted over a 9-month period. Each set lasted 2 hours.
    • Set 1: Investigated barriers preventing curricular collaboration between university providers and employers. “Wicked problems” were identified and categorised into initial themes. 
    • Set 2: Reflected on outcomes of issues recognised in Set 1. Facilitated dialogue to overcome barriers and identify best practices to maximize translation of knowledge. A sixth theme (senior management buy-in) was added. 
    • Set 3: Reflected on outcomes of actions taken since Set 2. Promoted further dialogue to discuss best practices to enhance work-based learning experiences for current and future practice.
  • The researcher’s role was to gather the participants and facilitate the action learning sets. The participants acted as co-researchers. 
  • Data was analysed using a six-stage thematic approach, including transcription, coding, collating codes into themes, reviewing themes, defining/naming themes, and reporting. The data included the cyclical process of planning, acting, observing and reflecting was followed, with the goal of improving practice. 
In summary 

By convening action learning groups around these issues, we can accelerate progress and spread innovative practices across our institutions. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t require extensive training or resources to get started. We can begin by gathering a group of engaged colleagues, establishing ground rules for productive sessions, and diving into the cycles of action and reflection. 

In a time of disruptive change, learning from different methodologies can empower us as learning technologists to not only keep pace, but to drive educational innovation for the benefit of faculty, students, and institutions.  

What to try it out?  

Becky recommended the following . . .

1.      Watch the presentation recording 

2.      Coghlan, D., 2019. Doing action research in your own organization. Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization, pp.1-240. 

3.      Brockbank, A., & McGill, I. (2003). The Action Learning Handbook: Powerful Techniques for Education, Professional Development and Training (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203416334 

4.      Pedler, M. and Abbott, C., 2013. Facilitating action learning: A practitioner’s guide. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). 

5.      Pedler, M.M., 2012. Action learning for managers. Gower Publishing, Ltd. 

References: 

Rebecca Quew-Jones (2022) Enhancing apprenticeships within the Higher Education curriculum – an Action Learning and Action Research study, Action Learning: Research and Practice, 19:2, 146-164, DOI: 10.1080/14767333.2022.2056135 

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Writing a proposal for #ALTC24

16/05/24

by Kerry Pinny, Interim CEO and Chief Operations Office of ALT

Writing a proposal for a conference can feel daunting, so, we have written this blog to help you submit a strong proposal for our 2024 Annual Conference (ALTC24). If you don’t think you have anything interesting to share, think again! If you’ve never spoken at a conference before, now’s the time!

We know it is challenging to gain funding and time to attend conferences. To help, we have shared advice and an example business case to help you submit the strongest case to attend ALTC24. Speaking at a conference benefits you and your organisation and can help to further substantiate your case. As a thank you, our speakers receive a discount on the registration fee for the conference! Read ‘Writing a business case to attend ALTC24’.

All proposals will be peer reviewed by two members of the Conference Committee

This year, the Annual Conference will be in Manchester, UK on 3-5 September. Co-Chaired by Diane Bennett, Teaching and Learning Manager (Distance Learning) at The University of Manchester, and Scott Farrow, Head of Digital Learning at Edge Hill University we will be “doing, reflecting, improving, collaborating”.

Submit a proposal

Where to start

Start by thinking about what you want to achieve by speaking at the conference. Are you working on something interesting and think others will benefit from hearing about it? Do you have research you want to disseminate? Are you seeking collaborators or feedback? Do you have an idea or perspective you want to share or debate?

Then, read the conference themes. Our themes were authored by our Co-Chairs and give you direction on the topics we want to focus on this year. Do you have work, research or ideas that fit the themes? If so, make a note of your initial ideas. If not, don’t worry! Participation is important to ALT, so, we include a wildcard submission type for proposals that are not directly relevant to the themes.

Hone your topic

Think about your work and research. Do you have something to talk about that will help your peers? If so, that’s what we’re looking for! What have you worked on? What are you working on? Do you have reflections or lessons learned to share? What research have you completed? Are there initial results/conclusions you can share from your research? Have you been thinking about a particular topic and have perspectives, a framework or advice to share? Do you have something you’ve always wanted to get off your chest?

Pick a session type

Once you know what you are going to talk about, you need to think about how long you will need and what style best suits what you have to say. Your abstract will need to reflect the length and style of session. This year you can choose from:

  • 60 minute workshop (an interactive and practical learning session)
  • 30 minute research paper or case study
  • 15 minute presentation
  • 60 minute ALTC radio show

A workshop is an interactive and practical session. You might include discussions, practical demos or activities individually or in groups that will help delegates to explore the topic of your session. It is important that delegates learn or take away something from a workshop. The abstract should clearly detail what the delegate will learn or take away from the session and what they will be doing during the session. A session where you talk for 60 minutes is not a workshop!

A research paper or case study is a 30 minute session for you to showcase something you’re researching or studying. Ideally, a research paper or case study will be on a published or in-progress piece of research or study. If it’s not yet published or complete, it should be at a point where initial results or conclusions can be drawn from it and shared with delegates.

A 15 minute presentation can be on any topic in any style but remember, you only have 15 minutes! These short sessions are ideal for first-time speakers.

This year we have a new session type, the 40 minute ALTC radio show. ALTC radio was a great success last year and it offers delegates an alternative format to engage with as well as offering a creative and informal session type for speakers. Share the waves with colleagues, play your favourite tunes or chat about all things learning tech!

Pick a title

The title of your proposal will be the title advertised on the conference programme, so, it’s important to choose an effective title. Delegates may decide whether to attend your session without reading your abstract!

Keep it concise, to the point and make sure to mention keywords. Funny or catchy titles are welcome too so use your imagination. Ask yourself, does your title tell delegates enough about what they are going to hear?

Writing an abstract

The abstract is your 500 word advert for your session. It is a summary of the main points that will be explored in the session. Peer reviewers will read it and base their decision to accept or decline the proposal solely on the abstract. Delegates will read it to understand what they will learn from the session and decide whether to attend.

Your abstract should demonstrate to the reviewers that you have something relevant and valuable to add to the conference. Therefore, it needs to be focused, clearly describing the value of the session to delegates and the value of your ideas to the conference itself.

Depending on the session type you choose, your abstract should address the following questions as concisely as possible:

  1. What will your session focus on?
  2. Why is that focus important/relevant to delegates?
  3. How is it relevant to the conference theme(s)?
  4. Who is your intended audience?
  5. Why should delegates attend?
  6. What will delegates learn?
  7. What evidence or data are you going to use?
  8. What are the key findings, conclusions or implications?
  9. What will delegates be doing during the session?

Remember, reviewers and delegates may not be familiar with what you’re talking about or with your area of work. Avoid jargon, colloquialisms and acronyms.

If you are using data or referring to literature in your session, remember to include it in a reference list.

Avoid identifying information in your abstract where possible. To aid the double blind process and the fairness of the review, avoid mentioning names or other information that would enable a reviewer to identify you. You will be able to add that information back into the proposal later.

Proofread

Before submitting, remember to proofread your submission. Step away from your submission and review it with fresh eyes.

What happens next?

When the call closes, our Conference Committee will begin the double blind peer review process. Each reviewer will indicate whether the proposal should be accepted or declined and provide feedback. Proposers will be notified of the outcome along with the reviewers’ feedback in June. If your proposal requires revisions, you will be given time and instruction on how to make those changes. Once accepted, you will have until July to register as a speaker and your session will be published in the conference programme.

Need inspiration?

Still not sure you have anything to submit? Why not get some inspiration?

Look back at the programmes, abstracts and recordings from previous years. You can watch all of the recordings from our 2023 Annual Conference on YouTube. Read all the posts from previous conferences on our blog.

Submit a proposal

This year, #ALTC24 is heading back to Manchester on 3-5 September 2024 and we are looking forward to once again convening the Learning Technology community at this unmissable event. Learn more and register here – altc.alt.ac.uk/2024.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Writing a business case to attend ALTC24

14/05/24

By Kerry Pinny, Interim CEO and Chief Operations Officer

We know it can be challenging, in the current economic climate, to secure approval for funding and time to attend ALT’s Annual Conference. One way to gain support and increase the possibility, is to submit a strong business case with your request. 

A persuasive business case outlines how attendance will benefit you, your team and the organisation, why attendance is good value for money and how it will support your continuing professional development. The example is designed to help you write your business case.

Writing a case: first steps

An effective business case will make a strong connection between attendance and the benefits the organisation will see as a result. If you have never written a business case before, start by:

  1. Writing down the most important strategies, projects or challenges in your organisation.
  2. Thinking about how your work contributes to your organisation’s strategies and projects or can help solve its challenges. 
  3. Identifying the skills and knowledge that you need in order to contribute to the organisation’s strategy and projects or solve its challenges.
  4. Considering how attendance will contribute to your career development and CPD. You could review your annual appraisal or look at the essential criteria for a promotion or role you would like to apply for.
  5. Visiting the Conference website to identify and note the sessions in the programme that are relevant to your organisation’s strategy, projects or challenges.
  6. Using the conference programme to Identify and note speakers, sponsors or exhibitors you would like to meet and how meeting them will contribute to your organisation’s strategy, projects or solving challenges.
An example business case

The Association for Learning Technology’s Annual Conference is one of the UK’s largest conferences for learning technology and digital education professionals. Held over three days, the conference provides a valuable and practical forum for practitioners, researchers, managers and policy-makers from education and industry to solve problems, explore, reflect, influence and learn.

The conference attracts over 350 delegates from across the UK and around the world. Delegates are practitioners from Higher and Further Education, Schools and Industry at all levels of seniority. Delegates are in a wide range of roles including learning technologists, senior/executive leaders, developers, learning and development professionals, academics and researchers. 

At present, our [insert organisation] is focussed on [insert strategy, projects, challenges that are important to the organisation]. [explain how your role contributes to the organisation’s strategy, projects, challenges]. 

[Insert a session title] will help/support [me/my team/department/the organisation] [with what?] because the session will [what info is relevant from the session abstract]. (Repeat for 3-5 relevant sessions)

I have submitted a proposal to present [insert session title and brief abstract]. Presenting this paper will [why does presenting benefit you and the organisation?].

[During the conference, will you be visible on social media, blogging, podcasting etc?]

I am keen to develop [insert your CPD/career goals] and the sessions on [insert relevant sessions] will support me [list the ways the sessions will support your CPD/career goals].

While at the conference, I will have opportunities to network and connect with delegates. I plan to meet [insert a speaker, sponsor, exhibitor or delegate(s) you would like to meet (e.g. are there speakers from other relevant organisations)] connecting with them will help/support me/the organisation by [why will meeting these people be beneficial?].

The conference represents good value for money with over 100 sessions including three keynotes, from leading experts in the sector, panel discussions, workshops and research papers. All of the sessions will be recorded, therefore, I will have access to any I cannot attend as well as a significant resource I can continue to use after the conference. Including registration, travel and accommodation, the conference will cost [insert cost to attend].

After the conference, I will [explain how you will disseminate or share what you have learned with colleagues, the organisation or external networks post-conference].

This year, #ALTC24 is heading back to Manchester on 3-5 September 2024 and we are looking forward to once again convening the Learning Technology community at this unmissable event. Learn more and register here – altc.alt.ac.uk/2024.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

ALTC24: an update from our Co-Chairs

10/05/24

By Scott Farrow, Head of Digital Learning at Edge Hill University, Diane Bennett, Teaching and Learning Manager (Distance Learning) at The University of Manchester

It doesn’t feel like almost eight months ago we were dusting off our 80’s disco moves ready to celebrate at the ALT Award dinner at University of Warwick…but it was and now we’re into full swing with planning for the ALT Conference 2024 in Manchester.

So, what does 2024 have in store for the ALT Conference and how are plans progressing?

The ALT events team has been busy behind the scenes preparing for the event in Manchester this year. Diane and I are excited to be working with a strong team of committee members and we both feel really privileged to be able to co-chair an event which has been a huge part of our working lives for a number of years. Collaboration, empowerment and supporting improvement are all values we both share in our day-to-day work and something we hope to bring to the conference through the themes and via the work alongside the committee. Keep an eye open for future blog posts from others within the committee. If you’d like to meet them and find out more about them, visit the conference website.

This year’s themes were proposed with an eye on both the values we share as co-chairs and what’s current within Learning Technology across both further and higher education. You’ll see that the themes below link to some of the key priorities and areas of focus emerging from the ALT Annual Survey 2024.

This year’s conference will focus on:

  • Cultivating collaboration,
  • Reviewing, reflecting, re-imagining,
  • Inviting improvement,
  • Emerging research.

What will you be contributing?

One of the key findings from the annual survey this year was collaboration and the use of collaborative tools which was rated 2nd on the list of priorities for 2024. Another of the findings from this survey was dedicated time being the biggest challenge for digital transformation within organisations who responded. Additionally, within the Professional Development in Learning Technology survey findings, the importance of professional recognition continues to increase year on year and more professionals are seeking to change jobs.

Last week, we held our first committee meeting which included some thought-provoking discussion – including conversations about keynote speakers who have resonated previously and reflection on formats we feel have and have not worked at various conferences we’ve attended. We hope we can bring some keynotes and key sessions which will help challenge our thinking, leaving us to return to our workplaces inspired.

The committee will bring you further updates and news in the lead up to September, so keep your eyes peeled for those. If you’re missing your ALT-C fix, don’t forget the ALT YouTube channel has session recordings from previous years, including this playlist from the 2023 programme in Warwick.

We hope to see you in Manchester!

This year, #ALTC24 is heading back to Manchester on 3-5 September 2024 and we are looking forward to once again convening the Learning Technology community at this unmissable event. Learn more and register here – altc.alt.ac.uk/2024.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Empowering ESOL Excellence through Technology

08/05/24

By Deborah Millar, Executive Director of Digital Transformation, Hull College

In the dynamic realm of Further Education (FE), we at Hull College have experienced firsthand the power of technology to transform teaching and learning. Our pioneering use of Microsoft Translate has dismantled language barriers, notably enhancing our ESOL program. This initiative aligns with our dedication to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and has also garnered the prestigious ALT ‘Ethical Use of Edtech’ award last year.

ALT Awards 2023

Our experience is a testament to the transformation that technology can foster. Located in the City of Sanctuary, we face unique challenges and opportunities in supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Integrating tools like PowerPoint Live, Immersive Reader, and MS Translate has significantly boosted ESOL attendance from 65% to 91.5% and achievement rates from 77% to 90%. Beyond numbers, we’ve changed lives—enabling better job performance and facilitating social and professional integration. Our efforts have saved over £50,000 in administrative costs, showcasing the dual benefit of technological adoption in education.

“When the teacher used technology in the classroom, I couldn’t believe it. There were 10 of us with different backgrounds and languages, and we could all understand her. I had used technology sparingly before I came to the UK, but this has helped me make friends and settle in. I was alone, and now I’m not!”

The ALT Awards are highly regarded as a symbol of success and excellence. They provide a platform to recognise these achievements and share our strategies widely across the sector. The introduction of the new ALT Award for the use of Technology in Vocational Education, in collaboration with Ufi VocTech Trust for 2024, further emphasises the increasing significance of edtech across various educational fields. This is an excellent opportunity for institutions that specialise in vocational training to showcase their innovative approaches.

We encourage fellow institutions to consider entering the ALT Awards. Whether it’s showcasing groundbreaking projects or learning from peers, the benefits of participation are vast. Each entry not only stands to win but serves as a lighthouse of innovative practice that can inspire and guide the whole sector.

Our Tips for Writing a Successful ALT Submission:

  1. Use the ALT Awards Guidance and Framework to ensure your submission meets the judging criteria.
  2. Show how your project breaks new ground in educational practice.
  3. Provide compelling statistics and testimonials that speak to the tangible benefits of your initiative.
  4. Show that your project is replicable, increasing its appeal and potential impact across the sector.
  5. Prove how your project advances inclusivity, aligning with the core values of modern education.

Join us in celebrating and advancing the integration of technology in education. The ALT Awards are not just a competition but a celebration of innovation that is enriching the lives of learners nationwide. Let’s Continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible and inspire each other towards new heights of achievement.

We are now open for entries until Tuesday 11 June 2024, and we welcome submissions from individuals and teams based anywhere in the world. The awards are free to enter. Learn More.

The ALT Awards celebrate and reward excellent research and practice and outstanding achievement in Learning Technology. Established in 2007, the Awards have set a benchmark for outstanding achievement in Learning Technology on a national scale and attract competitive entries from the UK and internationally. All entries are reviewed by an independent judging panel chaired by the President of ALT.  

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

CEO Report to Members April 2024

19/04/24

Dear Members,

I hope you all enjoyed the spring break. As ever, we have been busy and I will share some important news and developments with you here.

OER24

We enjoyed a fantastic OER conference at Munster Technological University in March with over 200 delegates joining us in Cork. Our Co-Chairs, Dr Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin and Dr Tom Farrelly, created a brilliant programme with two insightful opening keynotes from Dr Rajiv Jhangiani and Dr Catherine Cronin and Professor Laura Czerniewicz which you can watch online.

My highlight was the Gasta sessions. Gasta means ‘quick’ in Irish and these quick, often light-hearted, presentations are always great fun. Gasta Master Tom was, as ever, a brilliant host. The Gasta sessions are also available to watch online. A haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathair, a cúig, GASTA.

A huge thank you to Gearóid, Tom, the Conference Committee and the Technology Enhanced Learning team who put a huge amount of work into making OER24 happen.

Annual Conference 2024

Of course, once we have finished one conference, we are on to the next! We are incredibly excited to bring the conference back to Manchester 3-5 September with our Co-Chairs Diane Bennett and Scott Farrow. We have had a fantastic response to our call for Committee Members and look forward to working with the successful applicants to shape the conference with Diane and Scott. Registration for ALTC24 is open!

This year the conference theme is doing, reflecting, improving, collaborating. The conference will focus on cultivating collaboration, reviewing, reflecting, re-imagining and inviting improvement. New to this year is the emerging research theme. We invite research or case studies to be presented and the papers will be published in our conference proceedings.

The Call for Proposals is open until 17:00 on Thursday 9 May.

We are trying a new kind of venue this year and I look forward to hearing delegate feedback on it. If it goes down well, it will enable us to be more flexible with the conference timing in future.

Annual Survey results

The findings from ALT’s Annual Survey have been published. Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT and generative AI tools feature prominently in the responses. Blended and hybrid models of learning remain dominant with VLEs, blended learning and assessment top priorities for 2024. Learning Technologist is the predominant job title among respondents and while professional recognition continues to increase and structural support for roles has improved, more respondents are seeking to change jobs.

AmplifyFE

Our AmplifyFE project, in partnership with the Ufi VocTech Trust, reached an important milestone at the end of its third year. To celebrate, we published a project report that reflects all that has been achieved by the AmplifyFE team in that time. We are now looking ahead to the fourth year of the project and to its continued success!

CMALT Committee

This year we have introduced a new CMALT committee. We had a fantastic response to our call with twice as many applications than we had spaces for. Those selected represent all pathways, a variety of geographic regions and industries. Their applications expressed very clearly their knowledge of CMALT but also, what they hope to achieve as part of the committee. Congratulations to Abi, Andy, Darren, Devampika, Hennie, Jade, Julie, Karisha, Laurie, Matt, Richard, Sammy and Vicky!

Participation is key to ALT and all other aspects of our work actively involve our Members. CMALT was the only exception. The Committee will help us to shape the scheme and support for candidates and I look forward to our first meeting in May.

CMALT Course

Our work to create an online self-paced CMALT course continues at pace with King’s Digital (King’s College London) and our Working Group. The course outline and plan are being finalised with feedback from the Working Group with the King’s Digital Team ready to create content soon. We have also signed an agreement to work with Catalyst IT EU to host the course on their Moodle platform. I am really excited to see the course taking shape and can’t wait to share it with you all later this year.

New #ALTC Blog editors

We also had a brilliant response to our call for #ALTC Blog Editors, once again with more applications than we had spaces. We have invited 5 new Editors to join our existing Editors Cat, Karen and Rachel with our first meeting in May. Congratulations to all our new Editors, Abi, Anna, Debayan, Liv and Lucy!

As ever, we are always looking for new posts so please consider submitting a post yourselves. We have guidance and our Editors are here to help!

CEO recruitment

As you all know, I have been acting as an Interim CEO since September last year. Since then the Board of Trustees has been thinking carefully about what the organisation needs. Expect an advertisement for a new CEO soon!

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Copyright Online Escape Room Take 2

15/04/24

By Erica Levi (Digital Repository and Copyright Lead) and Ann Jeffery (Education Technologist) at Coventry University 

Following Erica’s blog post in August, we wanted to update you on new episodes of the online copyright escape rooms. The Lord Schism saga is now available on its webpage.

The plot

Erica: In the new episode, I wanted to create interactive fiction—like those choose-your-own-adventure books and games where the story develops by actively choosing an action. I gained experience with my first branching scenario activity, which was to educate creators on licensing their work. Using Twine, I developed an appetite for coding and stretched my skills by learning to build my website using HTML.

The Lord Schism’s second game engages players in a new fantasy adventure in the land of Eryl. As with the previous game, it allows them to choose how to interact with the story and its characters, dictating their success in the mission while enhancing their understanding of copyright. I authored the story, and Ann worked out the tricky bits of coding and accessibility and chipped in with some ideas for the characters.

The plot in the new episode is that the resistance has discovered access to a secret portal to a mystical land, the Land of Eryl. Players are elite members who must secure it from the villain Lord Schism’s attacks. Everything in the game is rich in allegories, alliterations, quirks, and jokes. No spoilers but think of the very word Eryl. Apart from clearly being my names mashed together, it means ‘a place where people look for knowledge,’ and it is of Welsh origin, meaning watcher or lookout. Even the herald of the land is a heather, which is an Ericaceous plant.  

While I was keen to keep the game as a single episode, it soon became apparent that the topics were vast, so I had to split the game into three topical parts—no spoilers. It was great fun to plot the story together with Ann.

Accessibility and inclusion

Ann: I was instrumental in adding some features, including diversity, and increasing accessibility by adding alt tags to foster gameplay rather than as a description and improving readability. Narrative games present additional challenges to accessibility and inclusivity. I also reviewed the inclusivity of language: did the game promote an able-bodied experience through its action verbs; did it describe the game world in an accessible way? I looked at narrative game accessibility and captions/audio descriptions for television and film for guidance, as well as broader WebAim guidance and the Player’s Bill of Rights. Accessibility is still a work in progress as I aim to explore Twine screen reader support, which is a problematic area for Twine. I also explored the use of AI to create characters and ALT tags.

Images

Many images resulted from our experimentation with Adobe Firefly and its AI capability (part of Adobe Express), which uses licensed images from its collections. We accessed Adobe Express via our institutional licence via a Jisc agreement. The sounds are mainly Public

Domain from FreeSound

As a final note, Erica has deepened her appreciation of Adobe Photoshop and Audition, and is grateful for the help provided by media producer colleagues and another as a coding guru. They relieved us of some frustrations.

Now, it is up to you to play the three episodes of the Lord Schism saga. Please tell us if you spot factually incorrect information. Feel free to use the games to teach your audiences about copyright in a fun and unusual way. They work very well as group training; you can find an introductory slide on the website. Watch the space for the third part of the Land of Eryl episode.

Sources

Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. (2019). Twine accessibility testing report. Accessibility Testing Report (iftechfoundation.org)

Nelson, G. (2010). Player Bill of Rights in the craft of adventure. 2nd ed. https://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/info/Craft.Of.Adventure.pdf

Qiao, L., Sullivan, A. (2022). Twine Screen Reader: A Browser Extension for Improving the Accessibility of Twine Stories for People with Visual Impairments. In: Vosmeer, M., Holloway-Attaway, L. (eds) Interactive Storytelling. ICIDS 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13762. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-22298-6_37

© Coventry University. CC BY 4.0

Keywords: copyright, gamification, copyright literacy, accessibility, teaching, interactive fiction, Twine

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

ALT ELESIG Committee Elections: open call

10/04/24

We are looking for nominations for officer roles for the ELESIG ALT special interest groups

ALT ELESIG is a community of researchers and practitioners involved in investigations of learners’ experiences and uses of technology in learning across all education sectors. ELESIG, formerly the Evaluating Learners Experiences of e-learning Special Interest Group, was established in 2008 to advocate for the theory and practice of researching learners’ experiences in the context of technology-enhanced learning/e-learning. ELESIG became a special interest group of ALT in 2019.

Remit

We aim to build our capacity by:

  • sharing good practices and developments in learner experience research methodology and methods.
  • sharing the outcomes of specific learner experience research studies, including successes, issues and challenges.
  • identifying areas of shared interest for cross-institutional collaborations.
  • raising the profile of learner experience research within the sectors.
  • collaborating with other stakeholder groups involved with learner experience research, including students as partners.

In common with ALT Members Groups and SIGs this group will also:

  • Support activities in line with ALT’s strategic aims
  • Share ALT’s values of being participative, open, collaborative, innovative, inclusive and transparent

Our current priorities and ideas include continuing with our ELESIG Scholar Scheme, share regular updates via our Webinar Events and publishing timely blog posts on research issues. All our webinars are recorded and made available via the ALT YouTube channel. The new Officers can help us shape ALT ELESIG activities going forward. 

Nominations for Officer roles

Nominations are invited for the following Officers of the Organising Committee:

Chair;

Co-Chair;

Secretary;

Officer/s (Other)

We encourage representation from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

As per its Constitution, Committee Officers of ALT ELESIG are unpaid posts and will be appointed for 3 years.

Individuals may nominate for more than one role and should submit separate nominations for each. Committee Officers need to hold a membership within ALT (either individual or work at an organisation with an institutional ALT membership). These roles provide great opportunity for developing and evidencing leadership for Advance HE Fellowships and other CPD avenues. 

Expressions of interest

Expressions of interest should include:

  • A statement of interest, experience and envisaged contribution in relation to the Role of the Organising Committee as outlined in the Constitution, and willingness/ability to attend ALT ELESIG meetings. Maximum 200 words.
  • Proof of ALT membership (individual or institutional).
  • Submit expressions of interest to the form by 12:00 noon GMT 13 September 2024
Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Event Report: Learning technology supporting employability

05/04/24

By Neil Dixon (ARU), Rob Howe (Northampton), Uwe Matthias Richter (ARU)

ALT East England and East Midlands organised an event on Learning technology supporting employability at Anglia Ruskin University Peterborough (ARU Peterborough)

The event was structured into five workshops/presentations and a panel discussion and was held on 11 January 2024. The following report summarises the themes of the presentations and the Panel discussion. 

Digital skills and teamwork workshop/sessions

An example of curricular digital skills was demonstrated by Penny Langford (MK College). This aimed to develop an example of digital skills for employability. Participants produced a digital artefact as part of a group activity which intended to demonstrate the skills required in the future. Participants were split into different roles – creator, researcher, spokesperson or timekeeper. The workshop demonstrated that we need skills such as real-world problem-solving and team working in education to prepare for future employment.

Trudy Lynch and Elisha Owen (both ARU) talked about developing virtual team- and project work in the context of extra-curricular digital skills development. ARU’s Students at the Heart of Knowledge Exchange (SHoKE) provides students, academics and external organisations with a unique opportunity to work together in diverse teams on social challenges set by external organisations. They established students could volunteer outside their studies working in a virtual team to help each other solve societal challenges.

Another example of curricular teamwork was discussed by Uwe Richter (ARU), who demonstrated an example of a module running virtual team and project work. The session emphasised the different project roles of students with the project scaffolded in stages including project plan, risk assessment, and peer and team evaluation. This was an authentic project-based learning activity which addressed wicked problems. 

Authentic assessment sessions

Paul Heselwood (ARU) provided an example of an ARU’s Live Brief module where students work on a brief provided by an employer producing an assessed output. Paul talked about his evidence-based policing module where students gain experience in using digital tools to analyse data, such as Excel, specialist Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and risk terrain modelling applications. A positive outcome of using these tools is that students recognise limitations on solely using data for decision-making for policing. 

Jim Littlemore (ARU) described his module as based on the Live Brief concept. In Jim’s module,  students worked with environmental agencies for their nature-based assessment. Students got the opportunity to use technologies like drones and smartphones to capture environmental impacts, and mapping platforms, which help them gain digital skills in the context of real-world activities. Students were building team working skills, and experiencing realistic employment opportunities and the value of sustainability by visiting natural wildlife sites.

Panel discussion: Embedding employability into the curriculum 

The panel consisted of Rob Howe (Northampton) (chair), David Conway (Northampton), Jin Tan (Bedfordshire), Fiona McGonigle (ARU Peterborough) 

The discussion started with the question of how well employability is aligned to university strategies and aims. One goal that the panel highlighted is to align your employability strategy to curriculum development, as this is not always carried out successfully. The development and delivery of a new course should involve employers and alumni in the curriculum process in order to embed employability. The panel emphasised that employability should be an assessed part of learning, and managed as part of (curricular) and alongside the curriculum (co- and extra-curricular). 

An issue with (some) courses is that students are not necessarily exposed to the range of jobs available to them. The panel suggested that if we want to develop our own talents in the UK, we need to see whether employers can inform us on the type of roles available relating to different courses. This is still mostly unfamiliar territory within Higher Education, which is not used to working closely with employers to develop their course offers and delivery.  Higher Education tended to focus more on research and education which also relates closely to the metrics used in league tables and other success measures such as the REF (Research Excellence Framework) and TEF (Teaching Enhancement Framework).

The panel also recommended facilitating the development of lifelong learning skills. Whilst we can teach students skills in the context of their course, students may not be equipped enough to develop new skills unless they develop metacognition, interdisciplinary and lifelong learning skills and strategies. The panel also raised the need for information literacy as a key skill, including knowing what information is key and how to find useful information. 

Institutions also need to make learning more authentic. One view expressed was that Higher Education should serve employers. However, institutions have multiple, often conflicting identities, priorities and objectives. 

The panel felt that employability should be everyone’s responsibility. While the gold standard of employability has been work placements, the panel agreed that this was not feasible to implement for all students and courses. Alternatively, students can take part in projects, live briefs, authentic scenarios, etc. which give them a similar kind of experience to work placement in some respects. 

The panel concluded that Higher Education should be more proactive, rather than reactive regarding employability such as linking to employers and companies, exposure to jobs, industry placements, and real-life experiences. For students, discipline theory should not always be central in their learning. Instead, students also need experience of the types of jobs that their degree may equip them for, and they need to be able to relate to these jobs.

Summary

The event was well received and student digital employability will be taken forward as a main theme in future sessions. Please sign up for ALT EE’s mailing list to hear about future events.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

A look back at the White Rose Learning Technologists Forum

04/04/24

By Johanna Fenton and Ruth Clark, Co-Chair White Rose Learning technology Forum

On 29th February, the White Rose Learning Technology Forum (WRLTF) extended a warm welcome to both longstanding and new members to the HELIX space at the University of Leeds. Our afternoon kicked off with a networking lunch and an exciting opportunity for attendees to explore the VR equipment and demos created by the Digital Education Service at the University of Leeds, including a chance to experience the Omnideck, which creates a fully immersive virtual experience for participants.

Despite the magnetic pull of the various tech gadgets, we managed to coax everyone away from pieces of kit, to thank Graham McElearney,  the original founder of the WRLTF who has been chair for many years. Graham is now taking a well deserved break from chairing the group to focus on his new role at the University of Sheffield, which includes setting up a new makerspace there.  We’re looking forward to our invite once it’s set up Graham!

  • Current team structures post pandemic
    Our team dynamics have evolved as the world adapts to new norms. The various tables discussed their local structures and how they embed within various parts of their institutions.
  • Current challenges
    Our members encounter diverse challenges, including promoting our identity and services effectively, ensuring timely and optimal support, managing various technologies, maintaining the educational aspect of learning technology, and navigating the balance between quality assurance and enhancement. Additionally, we aim to motivate and incentivise staff to develop digital capabilities despite time constraints. How do we navigate these obstacles effectively, and how can we support each other?
  • Current or recent projects
    The room buzzed with excitement as attendees shared their current or recent projects. These snapshots offered a peek into the multifaceted role of learning technologists across different institutions and teams, including teams exploring online validated degrees and short courses, levelling the playing field through introducing wireless teaching, a course accessibility service, as well as sharing of E-Authoring projects to support flipped classroom approaches

These discussions aimed to showcase the diverse nature of the learning technologists role, and a chance to glimpse what this might look like for different institutions and teams, but also to help scope out themes for future events.

The steering group then facilitated an open discussion with members around what the network means to us and what we want from it. Key themes emerged, echoing earlier conversations. Participants view the forum as a safe space for candid discussions, emphasising trial-and-error experiences rather than just showcasing successful projects. The forum fosters mutual learning and encourages members to develop their identity as learning technologists, explore diverse practices, and share insights within a supportive community of practice.

The final discussions of the afternoon saw us breaking into small groups, those that were interested in joining the steering group (we’ll be in touch with next steps!) and those interested in gaining CMALT.

To wrap up the day, the team at University of Leeds provided a tour of the new HELIX space, which included visiting the makerspace, and different studios.

We hope that those who attended enjoyed the stay as much as the steering group did, and we look forward to welcoming new officers to the steering group in the coming weeks.  Once we’ve established the new roles, we’ll be looking to set some more events, get dates in the calendars and looking for speakers to share their stories and facilitate discussions.

Learn more about the White Rose Learning Technologists Forum.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Notes from ARLT SIG 20th March 2024 panel discussion Researching on antiracism the people and the purpose

03/04/24

by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan, ARLT SIG

This blog was originally posted on 27th March 2024 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog teeroumaneenadan.com.

I provide in this blog post a brief summary of the panel discussion and additional links for you to read, including previous ARLT SIG events related to the topic. This is a really short summary, I highly recommend watching the recording which is available at the end of this blog post.

Summary of Question & Answer

Q1. How did you happen into the DEI research/ How & Why did you start your journey into DEI research

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I shared my experience working with disability, women empowerment, internationalisation and antiracism – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Dr Emanuela Girei: Shared her work around gender issues in Italy. In the UK she worked with Race Equality Network in the housing sector, then worked with asylum seekers before moving to Uganda and then into academia in the UK.

Q2. Are there any specific challenges you faced/currently face in your research into DEI? Or at a personal level while researching into DEI?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: At a research level, collaboration can be challenging, you need to pick carefully who you collaborate with. At a personal level, there are challenges whenever you present different perspectives. At at institutional, sectorial and societal level, I highlighted the need to understand what DEI means, and what actions can boycott DEI – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Dr Emanuela Girei: She highlighted how working on DEI is a never ending job, there might be many steps forward and steps backward. DEI is a field where there is joy but also lots of grief and fear. Emanuela highlighted how doing decolonisation work as a White person is an uncomfortable work that helps her to self-reflect on her role.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: She pointed out the emotional labour of DEI and the lens DEI is being looked from. There are people who work around DEI for career advancement as it is very in vogue at the moment. She mentioned that it is still difficult to access funding, and there can also be imposter syndrome when doing research. Iwi highlighted how it is important to find your tribe of people with similar experiences and to learn to become tactical.

Q3. How have you gone about generating impact from your DEI research?

Dr Emanuela Girei: It depends what we mean by impact. DEI work is a collective effort. Emanuela highlighted that she creates impact by embedding DEI in the way she conducts research work itself.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: She recognises the importance of evaluation, dissemination and telling the story, and the importance to collate evidence of difference, quality and experience.

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I focus on going in depth, and then create a wave that creates subsequent waves. I highlighted that it is impossible to assess DEI on short-term impact. I do not sugar coat facts which is much appreciated by some people, and I have also taken the creative approach, writing poems around discrimination – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Q4. Of all your research activities/projects/publications/, which one is the most fulfilling for you? Why?

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green:Accomplished Study Programme in Research Excellence (ASPIRE) programme which addresses issues Black people face in doctoral studies. She later left for several of reasons – because it was harmful and there was appropriation of work. Nonetheless, she is glad to have done it.

Dr Emanuela Girei: 1) Apply for a PhD scholarship for int’l students. 2) Paper about whiteness and colonisation helped Emanuela to address some key question she had in her mind for a long time.

Check out the paper “Developing Decolonial Reflexivity: Decolonizing Management Education by Confronting White-skin, White Identities and Whiteness“.

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: 1) Tech-related: Application of internationalisation on assessment and learning technologies. 2) Non-tech: Free impact mentoring of marginalised students and staff in Africa & Asia – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Q5. Question 5 (Two parts): Challenges of researching antiracism and the intersection between antiracism and learning technology, and advise for anyone wanting to start their journey into antiracism and/or DEI research?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I highlighted the less commonly spoken issues: 1) Understanding the design and development process of technology. 2) Understanding were your platform comes from and its impact. 3) Is your platform inclusive? I have included further details and examples about this on my blog space.

I highlighted 3 areas: 1) Researchers come into DEI for various reasons 2) Researchers have their own biases. 3) If you fail, get back up and take another route. I have included further details and examples about this on my blog space.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: People do not like to talk about racism and people do not like to sit with their discomfort. People have a hard time understanding what equity is. AI can open opportunities but can also be a barrier.

Be mindful to protect yourself, find a network, find your tribe, and try to find a mentor.

Q6. Touching on White allyship, what will be your advice for any White colleague looking to research into antiracism/allyship?

Dr Emanuela Girei: She invites allies to look at racism and whiteness as social dynamics and structural processes. We are part of a system that awards priviledge and oppression according to the skin colour. You have a role to play – whether you choose it or not – you are part of this dynamic. Emanuela also encourages allies to engage personally in many different ways – e.g. reading, engage in relationship with those who have lived experience different from yours.

Q7. Using a specific example, what does your ideal antiracist institution look like?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I highlighted the need for committment by HEIs, access to capital, consistency by the regulators and commitment from the staff. I also mentioned this cannot be achieved in the UK because of its social fabric – I have included further details about this on my blog space.

Dr Emanuela Girei: An organisation that is able to look at racism within the organisation and they are able to look at it, name it and put in place systems and mechanisms to contrast it – which is different from writing policies and strategies.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: Intentionally, explicitly, authentically and consistently addressing racial bias whilst reflecting and actively implementing systemic changes to address it.

Question from the audience

I have included responses during the live session and also also responses that the panelists were invited to contribute offline.

Audience Q1: What is the impact of a non-representative staff group on the student population? Are there any ways to become more representative and open?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: Yes there are many ways to have a representative staff body. However, when we do representation we need to be aware that there is a quota system that is not working in the UK and anywhere else in the World. I also shared an alarming story about a student being bullied by a staff – Check out further details about this on my blog space.

Please refer to my response to Q5 during the panel discussion and I also provided many more examples in my prep blog.

Audience Q2: Do you think there are any specific research methods that help you more than others or is it just the right tool for the right question – e.g. action research. and if so – what is a good source to learn about this?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I do use action research a lot wherever applicable but it is limited sometimes to how active all stakeholders are over time as DEI project takes time. The research method really depends on your expected outcome from the DEI project – is it a new policy, policy change, implementation of solutions, etc. So, each project may require different research methods or a mix of approaches.

For example, last year I collaborated on a birth tourism project with a few medical doctors and a solicitor who were pracademics with the outcome being focused on both medical and immigration policy changes. I joined when the ethical approval was already sought, and this limited certain corrective measures. But I implemented few things wherever possible. For example, the research included interviewing women on the medical and immigration aspects of their personal experience with birth tourism – I realised that during initial interviews, there were few interviews where was no female interviewer. I ensured that all subsequent interviews had a female interviewer on board, and this resulted in a completely different conversation where there were times the women were highlighting how unhelpful their spouse or in-laws were and this created a whole new aspect that was not considered in the initial scope of the project.

Audience Q3: In understanding the impact of technology – what do you think is the key thing we should be collectively trying to understand?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: That DEI takes time and you need be willing to put in time and effort.

Negative impact is very real, whether we are aware of it or not. The worst impact is sometimes not recorded and do not reach staff. Staff need to be willing to spend the time to become aware of these stories. Sadly, the current HEI climate is about reducing the workforce, which then impedes staff time allocation for 1) going to the ground level and getting to know of the real challenges 2) working on solutions together with those who are affected. I have mentioned several examples in my prep blog to this panel discussion and also previous blogs which I have cross referenced, I have also included a “Further Reading” section at the end of this blog. Happy reading!

Further comments shared by the audience:

There are some comments in the chat space that are worth highlighting:

Recording

Further Reading

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT