Call for Abstracts

ALT-C 2012 – a confrontation with reality. The 2012 conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), 11-13 September 2012, Manchester, England

Call and Guidelines for the submission of abstracts of Short Papers, Short Presentations (Pecha Kuchas), Symposia, Workshops, Demonstrations, and Hybrids

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The call for proposals closed at midnight GMT on Monday 12 March 2012.


1 Welcome and introduction
2 The call for conference abstracts
3 Submission deadline
4 Publication
5 About the conference
6 Abstract submissions
7 Guidance for different session types 
7.1 Short Presentations (PechaKuchas) (10 mins - 7 for presentation and 3 for discussion)
7.2 Short (oral) papers (20 mins - 12 for presentation and 8 for discussion)
7.3 Symposia (60 mins)
7.4 Workshops (60 mins)
7.5 Demonstrations (30 mins)
7.6 Hybrids (30 to 80 mins, typically 40 to 60 mins)
8 The reviewing, selection, and acceptance process
8.1 Criteria for proposal review and selection
8.2 Review and selection
8.3 Full acceptance
9 Presentation at the conference
10 Best Short Presentation Awards
11 The online submission system
11.1 Information required from submitters
11.2 Tag list
11.3 The submission process
11.4 Queries about the submission process

1 Welcome and introduction

Welcome. Whether you’ve been involved in ALT for years, are new to the learning technology domain, or are an experienced practitioner, supplier, funder, policy maker, researcher, writer, or presenter from other fields, please take the time to review this call and guidelines document. With your help the 2012 ALT Conference can be a truly outstanding, influential, and enjoyable event internationally.

Speaking in June 1962, John F. Kennedy railed against our tendencies to “hold fast to the clichés of our forbears”, “subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations”, and “enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought”. He called for a “new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality”. See for the full text of the speech. We are again at a time when we need to confront the realities of the current environment in education: the aspirations of students, the resources available and the technology that can be deployed.

ALT, the Conference Co-Chairs, and the ALT-C 2012 Programme Committee call for high quality proposals for inclusion in the ALT-C 2012 programme.

This document is the call and guidelines for abstract-based submissions, namely: short papers; short presentations (PechaKuchas); symposia; workshops; demonstrations, and hybrids. The call for full Proceedings Papers is here.

2 The call for conference abstracts

We invite the submission of abstracts for sessions of the following types.

  • Short presentations (10 minutes). There will be the opportunity to present up to nine overheads in a “PechaKucha” format – the screen images cycle at fixed 45 sec intervals followed by a short question section giving a ten minute slot to present the key themes of work completed or in progress. (see
  • Short papers (20 minutes)
  • Symposia (60 minutes).
  • Workshops (60 minutes).
  • Demonstrations (30 minutes as part of a 30 or 60 minute session)
  • Hybrids (typically 60 minutes). We have had a number of proposals outlined to us that have characteristics of more than one of the above. An example might be a set of linked positions laid out on a theme in PechaKucha format, followed by a structured debate.

As in previous years, we are particularly interested in innovative and creative presentations of wide scope, provided that we are convinced that these will be of high quality, and of interest and value to conference delegates. We are hoping that the Hybrid format will make innovating easier.

In line with the themes of the conference title, proposals which describe changes with some aspects of problem solving, mainstreaming, openness and sharing, sustainability and entrepreneurialism are particularly welcome.

3 Submission deadline

The extended deadline for submissions is midnight GMT on Monday 12 March 2012.

4 Publication

Accepted abstracts will appear online before the conference and they will also be hosted online in ALT’s repository after the conference. The collection of abstracts will be identified by an ISBN and printed copies will be lodged with the relevant copyright libraries after the conference.

ALT is committed to an open publication model for conference contributions. By submitting a proposal to ALT-C 2012, authors agree that they or their employer retain copyright, but that the abstract if published will be licensed for use with a Creative Commons “Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)” license (see

5 About the conference

The time, effort and money that learners invest in their education need to be matched by commensurate learning experiences, improved use of technology in learning, and effective methods of delivery, all underpinned by sustainable business models. Here are three of the hard questions that we face, both as institutions and as individuals, each centered on the development of knowledge about technology in learning:

  • How can learning technology better support the core processes of learning, teaching, assessment, recruitment and retention?
  • What will be the place of open educational resources and other kinds of free, shared, low cost or informal support and organisation in good provision?
  • How should we respond to learners themselves, who are increasingly voluble in their desire for value for money and for effective use of technology?

The conference themes will be:

  • Problem solving – finding effective solutions to technical problems, and using learning technology to solve institutional problems;
  • Mainstreaming – applying learning technology on a large scale in pioneering ways that enthuse learners and are welcomed by teachers and administrators;
  • Openness and sharing – methods and frameworks for collaboration and sharing of knowledge and resources between practitioners and between providers, and the evidence to justify this;
  • Sustainability – of technologies, models, and approaches;
  • Entrepreneurialism – moving resources from where they have low yield for learning and for learners to where their yield is higher.

6 Abstract submissions

For short papers, short presentations, symposia, workshops and demonstrations:

  • The maximum word count is 450 words. References will be counted towards the 450 word limit. Longer abstracts will not be reviewed. This is a change on previous years' practice.
  • References should be those that are key to the contents of the abstract – ideally two or three and at most six. They should follow Harvard System (parenthetical referencing – see This is a change on previous years’ practice.
  • We encourage you to include in your abstract two sentences explaining why the session you propose is important to the field and likely to be of interest to conference participants.
  • The abstract text should not contain headings, footnotes, or presenters’ names. The abstract title and presenter names and organisations are entered into the submission system in separate fields.
  • Authors should submit an anonymised version of the abstract (including references) that will be used for “double blind” reviewing purposes. Accepted papers will then be resubmitted in non anonymised form in due course.
  • The anonymised abstract should have all author names, institutions and references to the authors work removed. This may lead to some references having to be replaced by “ Reference to authors’ work”
  • A list of author-provided tags (keyword metadata) is required for each submission: see section 11.2.
  • Contributions must not have appeared elsewhere, in whole or in part.
  • ALT may approach those submitting proposals to seek clarification or request changes so that they better fit the conference programme;
  • ALT reserves the right to make sense-preserving grammatical edits to accepted abstracts during the proof-reading and publication process.

7 Guidance for different session types

7.1 Short Presentations (PechaKuchas) (10 mins - 7 for presentation and 3 for discussion)

This format was successful at our 2011 conference. A presentation consists of up to nine images in a “PechaKucha” (PK) style format. Each presenter will have a 7 minute slot with images automatically moving on at the end of a fixed 45 second time. Three questions only will then be allowed. Discussions can of course carry on after the presentation and there will be opportunities to have further dialogue both online and face to face at the conference. If several PKs are linked (for example by a common theme or a shared funder) then there are opportunities for a hybrid presentation (see below).

Individual Short Presentations need to be described in a 450 word abstract. At the proposal stage, only an abstract is submitted. As a guide, the abstract for a short presentation will usually include the following topics in the following order: Background, Approach, Results, Conclusion.

Exceptionally, short presentations which are not in PechaKucha format will be considered. Prizes will be awarded to the best short presentations during the conference.

To see an example of a PechaKucha delivered at ALT-C 2011 see

7.2 Short (oral) papers (20 mins - 12 for presentation and 8 for discussion)

An abstract for a short paper should describe and analyse either innovative work or some other significant contribution to the field of learning technology. The short paper format is suitable, e.g., for reviews of projects, for substantial work-in-progress, or for discussion or position papers. In 12 minutes it is difficult to present a considerable body of work, such as a complete project. Instead, presenters need to draw out and focus on key areas or points. These may, for example, be a theory or model generated from data, a framework used to analyse experience, or key results that have significance for future activities.

Individual Short Presentations need to be described in a 450 word abstract. At the proposal stage only an abstract is submitted. As a guide, the abstract for a short paper will usually include the following topics in the following order: Background, Approach, Results, Conclusion.

7.3 Symposia (60 mins)

A symposium normally involves a panel of presenters who discuss or debate a key theme. Debate is of the essence and so a symposium should not consist of a series of presentations followed by some time for questions. The panel must work together on a theme and pose issues for debate. Panel members may choose to defend or argue against a position, theory, model or concept; highlight areas of uncertainties; or offer different interpretations of well-known studies and their results, etc. Sometimes one or two panel members take one position or viewpoint and the other panel members argue against that position.

A key outcome of a symposium should be that, with contributions from the audience, an area of knowledge has been redefined or that new understandings have emerged.

As a guide, the 450 word abstract for a symposium will include the following topics: Background, Ideas to be explored, Structure of session and activities, Intended outcomes for participants. You should also include in your abstract indicative timings to clarify the structure of the symposium.

7.4 Workshops (60 mins)

Workshops involve active participation and discussion with the focus on participants being able to develop skills, conceptual understanding or practical ideas for future implementation in their own practice. A workshop should ideally cover new processes and approaches, especially those involving creativity and fresh explorations; enhance the ability of participants to evaluate research or reflect on practice and help participants solve problems in the context of their own organisation.

A workshop session must involve significant audience participation – note that a presentation plus a discussion does not constitute a workshop. A workshop session might involve a large proportion of the conference delegates doing some active problem solving in a flat-floored space laid out in “cabaret” style.

As a guide, the 450 word abstract for a workshop will include the following topics: Background, Ideas to be explored or skills to be acquired or problems to be addressed, Intended outcomes for participants. You should also include in your abstract indicative timings to clarify the structure of the workshop.

7.5 Demonstrations (30 mins)

Demonstrations give an opportunity for participants to engage with practical examples of the use of technology in learning, teaching and assessment. The applications or tools to be demonstrated should be relevant to the conference theme and involve aspects of innovation. Audience engagement may be by demonstration only, or by ‘hands-on’ use of the application(s) being demonstrated. In either case, a significant part of the session should be spent on demonstration or ‘hands-on’ use.

As a guide, the 450 word abstract for a demonstration will include the following topics: Background, Description of approach used, Structure of session and activities, Intended outcomes for participants. You should also include in your abstract indicative timings to clarify the structure of the demonstration.

All rooms will be equipped with good wifi and so demonstrations that are based on internet access by participants will be easily possible provided they are asked to bring network enabled devices. If software needs to be downloaded in advance, then this should be put down as a specific requirement as part of the submission.

7.6 Hybrids (30 to 80 mins, typically 40 to 60 mins)

This format allows novel proposals to be made rather than fit everything into a set of fixed formats. Examples that have been suggested include a set of linked PechaKucha presentations followed by a debate: two “rival” demonstrations followed by a critical discussion, a user consultation event involving voting, and a set of presentations from an initiative followed by an overview or vice versa.

We are open to suggestions about the format but all must contain some element of reflection and evaluation, relevance to the conference theme and audience participation of some kind. However, you need to justify your format within the abstract.

You should also include in your 450 word abstract indicative timings to clarify the structure of the presentation.

8 The reviewing, selection, and acceptance process

After review and possibly one cycle of change and re-submission, the abstract editors and the conference Programme Committee select abstracts for potential inclusion in the conference. After at least one presenter has booked their place at the conference, and only then, the paper is fully accepted for inclusion in the conference programme and publication.

In the case of any presentation of one hour length or more, the assumption is that the presentation can be scheduled on any day of the conference. If a day needs to be moved at the request of the presenters, ALT reserves the right to shorten the presentation.

8.1 Criteria for proposal review and selection

Abstracts will be refereed according to appropriate criteria drawn from the following.

  • Relevance to the conference title “a confrontation with reality” and/or to one or more of five conference themes.
  • Usefulness to conference participants including those from outside the UK.
  • Contribution to scholarship and research into the integration of learning technologies into education.
  • Relevance to the needs of learners.
  • Appropriate reflection and evaluation.
  • Clarity and coherence and conformance to guidelines.

In the above, education is considered broadly and includes formal and informal learning settings in schools, colleges, universities, the workplace, homes and communities, at any stage in learners’ lives, including continuing adult education.

Proposals that are merely anecdotal or describe implementation without reflection, evaluation or linking to theory and research are unlikely to be accepted.

8.2 Review and selection

Abstracts will be blind reviewed by two anonymous reviewers. The four Abstracts Editors (Laurence Habib, Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, Dónal Fitzpatrick and Mark Childs) then work with members of the Conference Programme Committee to select papers for the conference.

Some proposals may be selected on the condition that changes are made, including changes to format of presentation or timings, and the authors will be given feedback from the reviewers/editors that specifies the nature of the changes required. The revised, resubmitted proposals which should now be non anonymised will then be reviewed by the editors to assess whether the reviewer/editor comments have been addressed satisfactorily, becoming accepted or rejected accordingly.

This year we will not be asking for information about AV and room layout requirements. Thus this will not form part of the review procedure. AV and room needs will all be dealt with through the booking process.

8.3 Full acceptance

After selection for inclusion in the conference, at least one presenter must book to attend the conference by a deadline date that will be notified at the time of provisional acceptance. Only when this booking has been made will the paper be fully accepted for the conference.

9 Presentation at the conference

You will have the time mentioned above for your presentation according to presentation type. Time limits will be strictly enforced. Guidance on presenting will be provided on the conference web site or by email closer to the conference.

10 Best Short Presentation Awards

All accepted Short Presentations (PechaKuchas) will be eligible for an Award. 

11 The online submission system 

The online submission system for ALT-C 2012 will be available through the ALT website from mid January 2012.

Anyone submitting a potential contribution to the conference must create an account on the online system. If you are submitting more than one proposal you can use the same account for each submission.

If you need to rework a submission before the deadline you will be able to do this by logging in, accessing the submission and amending it. To withdraw a submission email

Note that this year there is no difference between authors and presenters - it is assumed that all the authors that subsequently register for the conference will be involved in presentation.

When submitting an abstract you should not submit any files: that is only required for proceedings papers.

11.1 Information required from submitters

The submission system will require the following information.

  • Title of your proposed presentation.
  • The theme under which it is submitted.
  • An abstract of up to 450 words including references, in anonymised form. This should include two sentences explaining why the session you propose is important to the field and likely to be of interest to conference participants.
  • Name(s) of author(s), and their affiliations, in the order you wish them to appear in the programme.
  • Session type (chosen from the selection of demonstration, research paper, short paper, short presentation, symposium, workshop or hybrid).
  • Indicative timings in abstracts in the cases of workshops, symposia, demonstrations and hybrids.
  • A set of author-generated tags to help in assigning reviewers, and to help people who are considering attending the session to understand its focus. Please choose these tags carefully before you start the submission process, and read carefully the tag specification in section 11.2.
  • Intended audience(s) in abstracts, e.g. practitioners, researchers, policy-makers.
  • Intended outcomes and activities for participants in abstracts.
  • You will also need to answer other questions regarding registering for the conference etc.

11.2 Tag list

Please give the tags associated with your submission carefully. These will be used to allocate appropriate reviewers and, if your paper is accepted, to help us group papers suitably into sessions, and to supply information to conference participants.

You can chose any tags that you wish but you may find that the inclusion of some from the lists below will enable easier and more relevant assignment of both reviewers and session and make it more likely that you will attract a reasonable audience.

Your tag list must be in this format.

  • Tags are separated by a semi-colon and start with a small (lower case) letter.
  • Tags which are constructed from multiple words are elided with second, third, etc word initially capitalized, with a similar treatment for numbers, for example: learnerExperience or web2.0.
  • The plural form is used for tags describing physical objects, for example: tabletPCs or eBooks.
  • The singular form is used for concepts and approaches, for example: costBenefit or socialConstructivism or learnerExperience.
  • Acronyms that normally appear in capitals are retained as such, possibly pluralised. Only common acronyms can be used, for example: LT or VLEs or JISC or CPD.

Possible tags to include that could help demonstrate alignment with the themes are – this list is not exhaustive:

confrontingReality; problemSolving; effectiveness; effectiveSolutions; addressingInstitutionalProblems; largeScaleLT; mainstreaming; pioneeringUses; enthusingLearners; savingMoney; helpingAdministrators; sustainability; sustainableModels; sustainableApproaches; sustainableTechnologies; entrepreneurialism; futureproofing; shiftingResources; highReturns; openness; sharingKnowledge; sharingResources; scalability; longTermValue; international; ALT; CMALT; movingLearners; systemWideImprovements; efficiency; yield; returnOnInvestment

Other common tags could include – this list is even less exhaustive:

ethics; evaluation; evidence; learnerVoice; immersiveLearning; disciplineBased; VLEs; CPD; OER; training; experience; futureLibraries; web2.0; learningDesign; methodology; research; initiativeResults; ethnographic; languages; technology; informalLearning; transfer; savings; quality; benefits; repositories; openSource; privateProviders; enterpriseArchitecture; uptake; caseStudy; tools; preservation; digitization; DFE; BIS; JISC; national FundingBodies; lifeWithoutBECTA; LSIS; learningObjects; MOOC; reusability; HEARs; transcripts; recordingAchievement; assessment; NSS; impact; mobileDevices; peerSupport; support; mentoring; staffDevelopment; socialNetworking; podcasting; evaluation; onlineTutoring; onlineCommunities; learningPlatforms; handheldDevices; learnerAcceptance; schools; FE; workBasedLearning; distanceLearning; openAccess; openContent; OER; openEducationalPractices; onLineLearning; simplification; selfDirectedLearning; cloudServices; fees

11.3 The submission process

This year we are using a new system – OCS, provided by the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada. We intend there to be all the help on the system that you will need.

After the deadline of midnight GMT on 12 March 2012 you will be “frozen out” from the system until the reviewing is complete. When you are subsequently asked to change things or submit a non-anonymised version then the same interface will be used.

11.4 Queries about the submission process

If you have any other queries about the submission process or you want to withdraw from the process please contact a conference administrator at:

Last updated 13/03/2012

© The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) – – but licensed under a Creative Commons “Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)” license (see