Category Archives: alt

ALT Online Winter Conference #altc

snowy road

Following from last year’s first Winter Conference in Edinburgh this year ALT are moving online, in the week commencing 7th December to showcase some of the best Learning Technology from ALT Members, individuals and organisations from across sectors.

The format of the event is designed to be multimodal combining both asynchronous and synchronous communication and to cross boundaries sharing the work and expertise across ALT SIGs and Members’ Groups and the community.

It’s free to participate, but you can also make a financial contribution to support the event and help us continue to run open events for the community.

Find out more and register to participate at http://go.alt.ac.uk/ALT-Online-2015-Reg

Submit a proposal at: http://go.alt.ac.uk/ALT-Online-2015-Call

Making a financial contribution: http://go.alt.ac.uk/1K425y5

If you’d like to find out more about the different ALT Member Groups and how to join, visit our get involved page: https://www.alt.ac.uk/get-involved

Keynote: Laura Czerniewicz

Here are the slides from this morning’s keynote at ALT-C 2015.

There is also a recording of the talk.

Laura Czerniewicz is the Director of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CILT) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. Previously the leader of UCT’s OpenUCT Initiative engaging with open scholarship from a southern perspective, she was also the founding Director of the university’s Centre for Educational Technology. She has worked in education for several decades as an educator, academic and strategist. A rated researcher, Laura’s interests include academics’ and students’ digitally-mediated practices, issues of inequality, and the changing nature of higher education.

I found this an interesting talk, lots of questions, but as Laura says, very few if any answers to the many problems she discusses in her keynote.

The main thrust of her talk was the importance of commons and openess. There is a conflict with market-led on the solutions.

I have been “messing” about with sketch noting at the conference and here are my notes from the talk.

Sketch Notes

Room 2.218 – ALT-C 2015 Day 3

It’s the final day of the annual Association of Learning Technology conference here in Manchester. I found an excellent little coffee shop in the university buildings across the road. Very nice coffee, good value and outstanding environment (it use to be the Science Library).

Coffee

This morning’s keynote is considering inequality as HE goes online with Laura Czerniewicz.

At 10:35 I am off to the session with Amber Thomas from Warwick on Participatory approaches towards more consistent and coherent learning technology provision [926] in room 2.218 This resonates with the project I am working on for Jisc on building digital capability.

After the coffee break , back to room 2.218 for David Kernohan’s session, “I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream”: Trends and patterns in education technology prediction [808]

Then we have lunch, and before the final keynote I am looking at attending Building an e-learning platform in WordPress [811] again in room 2.218.

Another packed day and difficult choices on what to attend.

Feltagging – ALT-C 2015 Day 2

044

It’s the second day of the annual Association of Learning Technology conference here in Manchester. Yesterday was an exciting and exhausting day with some great sessions.

Disappointed that the Museum Café is closed for three weeks, so no real coffee for me.

Really looking forward to the keynote this morning from Jonathan Worth, who will be talking about photography and his journey.

After that I am presenting a FELTAG session in 4.206. In this session we will be talking about ideas and strategies in regard to implementing the FELTAG recommendations.

After the coffee break, straight into digital capabilities with Helen Beetham and Lou McGill, Here Comes Everybody: digital capabilities across roles and boundaries [908].

After lunch, I am going to 4.204 to see CMALT: recent trends in learning technology specialisms and CPD opportunities as I am working with the team to get our CMALTs.

The ALT AGM is at 4:05pm where the business of ALT will be confirmed.

At 4.45pm in the Main Theatre I will be leading the FELTAG SIG and open FE forum. Find our how working together and collaboratively we can support each other to support the implementation of the FELTAG recommendations.

So another busy day.

Marmite – ALT-C 2015 Day 1

It’s the first day of the annual Association of Learning Technology conference here in Manchester. Everything kicks off, after the introductions and welcome, at 10:50 with the first keynote from Steve Wheeler, the marmite of keynote speakers.

Steve Wheeler

The abstract doesn’t give very much away about what Steve is going to talk about so we will have to wait and see what it will all be about. Looking forward to a heated discussion on the Twitter.

After the usual coffee break, popping over to the Museum Café for a decent coffee methinks, it’s a series of parallel sessions. One of the challenges of ALT-C is finding the right session to go to. This isn’t an issue of signage and location, but finding a session, that will inspire, challenge and make you think. There is nothing wrong with going to a session that you know you will enjoy, but sometimes you need to find a session that will challenge your approaches and make you rethinking about how you work.

Often I go to a session that is been delivered by someone I know, whom I have heard before, and I will know deliver an interesting and thought provoking session, but often it just reinforces my thinking and thoughts. This doesn’t mean I won’t go, but you take it for what it is.

I was going to attend Using CMALT as a vehicle for team-building and professional development [990] as I am working with my colleagues at Jisc in helping them (and me) to complete their CMALT. This is less a session that will challenge and inspire, but more of a session to help and support my practice. Alas I found out yesterday it has been cancelled, so time to choose something else.
I quite like the sound of To BYOD or not to BYOD: Factors affecting tutor acceptance of faculty and student mobile devices in their classroom practice [856] as I am currently reflecting on the different models around learners bringing their own devices.

There are generally two reasons behind BYOD, the first is a financial saving, if learners are bringing their own devices then the institution won’t need institutional devices, this reduces capital outlay when refreshing equipment and reduced support costs. The second reason is to create a paradigm shift in the way that learning takes place by taking advantage of the devices learners are bringing to college or university.

In terms of the first reason, the potential savings that can be made need to be offset with the improvements in infrastructure that need to take place to ensure a seamless experience for learners.

The second reason also requires investment, but more investment in ideas how to design a curriculum that takes advantage of BYOD, how to deliver sessions when learners are using their own devices and also designing their assessments.

Similarly I also quite like the thought of attending Sharing stories around the microphone: digital storytelling as a collaborative learning experience [1013] as digital story telling is something I am aware of, but actually know very little about.

Over lunch I will be on the Jisc stand, available to discuss digital capabilities with interested parties.

ALT-C 2009

I am trying to choose between a few sessions, most of which will aid my thoughts in the project I am currently managing for Jisc. This session, Learning technology from the middle out: Breaking down functional tensions and resistances between stakeholders to lead institutional change [913] sounds like it might well be of interest in how they overcame the barriers that institutions face when building digital capability.

Don’t tell Lawrie, but I am also interested in attending Badging the Open [940] as I do feel I need to know more about the practical aspects related to open badges and the impact they can (or may not) have.

At 3:05pm I am going to attend Lawie’s and Donna’s session, Are learning technologies fit for purpose [881]. This is going to be a fun sessions, one that I am sure I am going to enjoy.

This presentation and paper will open up the debate, reporting on discussions and engagement after the original debate and eliciting more viewpoints to further the discussion and encourage delegates to think critically about their existing use of technology. It will also propose a continuum of practice with technology, seeking to not identify a right or wrong answer, but instead provide a series of questions, checks and balances that institutions should consider in their deployment of technology.

At 4:45pm it’s a pity that Bex Ferriday’s session, Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow [803] has been cancelled as Bex’s sessions are bright, loud and fun. So a slightly more serious option will be Harmonious Developments in Learning Technologies; how to align IT and LT cultures. [1009]. This session reminds me of my presentation on the dark side I delivered at FOTE 14 in London.

After a long day it doesn’t stop and I will be off to the Palace Hotel for the Gala Dinner.

So what does your day at ALT-C look like?

Travelling – ALT-C 2015 Day 0

Voyager

As I write I am sitting a slightly cramped seat on a CrossCountry Voyager train to Manchester, heading towards the annual Association of Learning Technology conference. This is the first time since 2012 that I have attended the full conference. I missed it in 2013, having just finished one job and starting another, and could only attend one day in 2014.

I will be presenting in two sessions and also supporting in a third. In addition I will be on the Jisc stand talking and discussing digital capabilities.

What I like about the ALT conference is a combination of the sessions, the people, the networking and the sharing of ideas and solutions.

ALT-C 2009

I have attended ALT-C before in Manchester and the venue is quite nice, however the coffee leaves a lot to be desired. As a result at previous conferences I would pop over the road to the Museum café where the coffee is pretty good.

I think I have packed everything, nowhere near as bad in some years demonstrating mobile learning or other technologies, as I would often have a complete suitcase full of laptops and devices. A few years ago I would bring a portable TV studio with me… two jobs later that’s one “gadget” I no longer have.

I think I have remembered all my cables and chargers (along with a four way gang). I am also intending to take more photographs this year, but instead of using an iPhone, it’s a 16GB model with limited storage space, I am going to use my Canon DSLR. The fact I also have multiple lenses means I am intending to capture the essence of ALT-C on film (well digital images and upload to Flickr).

Looking over the programme, there looks to be some great sessions and keynotes, looking forward to it all.

Taking the time for ALT-C 2014

altc201401

Last year I missed ALT-C, the Association of Learning Technologies annual Conference, as I had literally just started at Activate Learning. Though the conference coincides with the start of the academic year in FE, I did manage this year to attend the second day at the conference.

This has been for me for over ten years one of the best conferences on learning technologies, the topics, issues and subjects that are covered are inspiring, informative and certainly make you think about what you do and what you are going to do.

altc201402

The sessions at this year’s conference have been just as inspiring and as good as I have seen in previous years. I particularly enjoyed Catherine Cronin’s keynote and the session from Dave White.

altc201403

As well as the informative sessions, it is also good to make contact with fellow learning technologists from HE, FE and other sectors. Sometimes the conversations over coffee are as useful and interesting as the sessions in themselves.

It’s a pity that I could only make one day this year, but I certainly am going away with lots to think about and follow up over the next few weeks.

Assessing Assessment – ocTEL

This week on ocTEL we’re looking at assessment. As part of my thinking I reflected on the use of quizzes in Moodle.

Designing Moodle quizzes is much more than just been able to use the quiz tool from a technical perspective. There is a real art to crafting questions so that they not only allow the learner to test their understanding, but also require a higher level of thinking.

If we look at the following multiple choice questions, the format of which is one of many different types available on Moodle, it provides the structure and the practitioner provides the question and the answers:

Which is these is a mammal?

Shark
Dog
Spider
Crocodile

This question does not test understanding, most students would be able to guess the answer or would not find it challenging. Within Bloom’s Taxonomy this is testing knowledge only, the bottom layer of the triangle.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

In terms of feedback, you can design Moodle quizzes to provide feedback on questions. So you can explain why their answer is wrong or right and where to look for further information or support.

Onto a similar question:

What is the capital of Australia?

Sydney
Melbourne
Canberra
Melbourne

If we look at this question if you didn’t know the answer then you would need to do some research. However as with the previous question within Bloom’s Taxonomy this is testing knowledge only, the bottom layer of the triangle. It’s more challenging than the first question, but if you didn’t know it already then a quick Google search and you have the right answer.

So what about this question:

Which of these is the odd one out?

Odd One Out

The “problem” with this question is that there is no single right answer. The answer needs an explanation, and it’s the explanation that demonstrates understanding of the question, not the answer.

If we look at Bloom’s Taxonomy it is possible with this question to go all the way to the top.

However Moodle will struggle with assessing a question with no “right” answer and certainly would not be able to assess the explanation.

You could provide generic feedback on why there is no “right” answer, but that may not be useful for all learners. Feedback needs to be personalised to be really effective. Students generally don’t appreciate generic feedback.

This doesn’t mean that Moodle quizzes aren’t an useful tool for checking learning, but its limitations in assessing higher order thinking needs to be considered when designing assessment.

This Page has been Blocked – ocTEL

Blocked

After posting my reflection on the Adventure Game I was reminded of Fantastic Contraption. This is a puzzle game that require logical thinking, but because of the design of the game there is no one answer, you can be very creative. It’s also very social as you can share your “contraptions” with others. I have seen some very innovative and interesting “contraptions” from others within the game. You can also return to your “contraptions” to improve them and make them better. This is a much better puzzle game and more engaging for me than I found with Lost in the City. I thought I should try and have a go at the puzzle game recommended on the ocTEL site. Alas the site was blocked, I was using the free public wifi at the local library. So despite wanting to try out the puzzle game recommended I couldn’t.

So how about I look at Fantastic Contraption instead? Well this is a fun engaging puzzle game. It requires logical thinking and elements of trial and error. Unlike something like Lost in the City, there isn’t a single solution you need to find, there is an infinite number of solutions to each of the puzzles. You can also go back and fine tune your solutions.

Fantastic Contraption

This is quite engaging and there is an element of satisfaction when you find a neat or clever solution. 

There are levels that can appear to be unsolvable and these initially proving challenging can after a while be somewhat demotivating. If there is a level that you can’t solve, you probably will stop playing the game. However as the “recipe” doesn’t really change much across the different levels, you can have enough of the game and when the next game comes along you will probably stop playing, I know I haven’t played for ages.

As for what can I learn from the game, well that’s a more challenging question. I am not entirely sure if there is too much I can learn from the game, there’s elements of physics and logic, but I am not sure how useful the skills learned will be in real life and how transferable they will be. When it comes to problem solving, I would have thought logical and fine tuning a solution would be useful, but I don’t see how this game would result in gaining those skills. If anything the game doesn’t “teach” those skills, and it would be difficult to learn those skills from the game. What is a more likely scenario is that this kind of game would appeal to someone who already has those skills.

I think another interesting point from all of this is the fact that I couldn’t access the puzzle game from the ocTEL webiste. Site blocking is an issue with any kind of MOOC or TEL activity when the learner has to access a third party site as part of the learning and that an “administrator” has deemed to be “unsuitable”. The key question is how easy is it to have the site unblocked. In my case probably unlikely as I am using the public wifi at the local library. What is also quite interesting, but could be worrying for learners, is the comment “The request was logged”. You could imagine a learner thinking that if they went to too many blocked sites they would lose their internet access. It’s an interesting aspect of this MOOC that I suspect hasn’t really been thought about.

Site blocking is still prevalent on public wifi, train wifi, school and college wireless too. For example CrossCountry Trains blocks YouTube and iPlayer as there is insufficient bandwidth on the train. A lot of sites are also blocked on 3G connections due to the default content control on these services. I remember a VLE I worked with in the past was blocked by Vodafone Content Control.

When designing TEL activities (and MOOCs) as mentioned in a previous blog, consideration must be given to alternatives for those occassions when sites are blocked. Also it makes sense to check out how these activities and tools work away from university and college systems, on free wifi or 3G networks.

Active Play – ocTEL

Lost in the City

Have found a little time this week to look at ocTEL.

Over recent decades, game-based learning has grown as a form of TEL. It encapsulates many principles of active learning, such as engagement in an authentic context, learning by mistake-making and reflection, experiential learning, collaborative learning and learning by problem-solving. As such, it is worth considering the techniques that games use to engage learners and what can be learned from them. Four game genres with obvious learning potential are adventure games, puzzle games, role playing games and strategy games.

Playing “Lost in the City” reminded me of how much I hate these kinds of adventure games and how frustrating I find them. Now I did give it a fair go and spent over 15 minutes playing the game, of which the majority of time was spent trying to find a single small object on the screen. This was very un-engaging and very demotivating.

Personally I don’t think I could learn anything from this specific game. I also think the frustrations acted as a disincentive to learning.

This is not an “adventure” game, this is a game with puzzles that appears to be an adventure, but isn’t. These are not even “useful” puzzles as far as I am concerned, they are logic puzzles that have to be solved in a particular way or in a specific order, the “challenge” is to find that order out to solve it. The problem with this is that there is no real logic to the process and it’s much more trial and error then actual logic. Also with only one specific solution, you can’t be creative or find alternative ways of solving the problem. This does not reflect the real world.

The other aspect is that too often you spend a long time trying to find (as in the case of “Lost in the City”) that final key, that elusive number. This is not learning, unless you’re learning to be patient! It’s merely frustrating and annoying, as far as I am concerned it’s not even a game.

For me a true adventure game should allow for freedom and flexibility. Then it can be more of a learning experience.

I can see how some people may “enjoy” this kind of game, but also can see how some people think such games “could” be used to teach subjects like Health & Safety, as in spot the danger. However such games would annoy many learners for the reasons I outlined above, and therefore could be a choice, but allow other ways of learning.