Reading Maren Deepwell’s recent post about her #altc journey, it reminded me of the many conferences I have attended and like her the impact that they had on my life and professional practice. Going back to my experiences of my first ALT-C I was surprised I even went again!
Dogs can be wonderful pets, or so I have been told.
So ask me do I have a dog?
The answer is no.
Now ask me why I don’t have a dog?
I don’t have the time!
Over the last twenty years or so when learning technologists and others interested in embedding the use of digital technology to enhance and enrich teaching, learning and assessment, the one “problem” that arises again and again is that people don’t have the time.
I have been supporting staff for many years in the use of learning technologies, all the time when I run training sessions though I hear the following comments:
“I don’t have the time.” “When am I suppose to find time to do all this?” “I am going to need more time.”
Time appears to be a critical issue.
Even more recently running a workshop I asked people to identify the main barriers to embedding learning technologies and the answer everyone came back was, time!
I have written and spoken about this issue time and time again.
A long time ago, back in 2004 I presented at the Becta Post-16 e-Learning Practitioners Conference on the Myths of Time.
In 2007 I managed to find the time to spend some time talking about time on the blog and wrote a post about time.
Now ask me again why I don’t have a dog?
I don’t have the time!
I am aware that there are quite a few people out there who have a dog, and they seem to find the time to have a dog.
It certainly takes time to have a dog, time to walk it, time to stroke it, time to bath it, time to walk it again. When I am out and about see people walking their dogs and I believe that you have to walk a dog everyday. Where do people find the time for that?
Correct me if I am wrong, but dog owners have the the same amount of time as everyone else. They don’t live in some kind of timey-wimey temporal reality that gives them more time than anyone else.
So if they don’t have more time than anyone else, how do they find the time to have a dog? I don’t have the time to have a dog, why do they have the time?
And don’t get me started on the resources and costs of having a dog….
We know people who have dogs don’t have more time, but they like to spend time to have a dog. Therefore they must prioritise having a dog over other things they could spend time on. For them having a dog is a priority.
Now ask me again why I don’t have a dog?
It’s not a priority for me, I have other priorities that take up my time.
So when you talk to teaching staff about learning technologies, and they say they don’t have the time, or they need time; what they are actually saying and meaning is…
It’s not a priority for me, I have other priorities that take up my time.
This also explains why some other staff find the time to engage with learning technologies, they find the time, as they see it as a priority.
So how do you make the teaching staff prioritise or raise the importance of something that they see as a low priority or unimportant so that they feel they can’t spend time on it.
One thing that does get forgotten, is that everyday we use technology to make our lives easier and to save time. Often learning technologies can be used to make our lives easier and importantly save time.
Often we are so busy being busy that we don’t take the time to think about those tools and processes which could save us time.
So another question ask me why having a dog is not a priority for me?
Well that depends on who sets the priorities in my home, looks at his wife and children…. Even if I was the person setting the priorities, what I would be doing would be looking at everything else I was doing, prioritise them and spend time on those things. I may do that in a planned manner, the reality is that this is probably a more sub-conscious activity.
However if the household decided that we should get a dog and my objections about the lack of time were ignored, then we would get a dog and I would need to find the time, prioritising the dog over other things I considered to be a priority. Now I am sure a few dog owners out there would tell me how wonderful having a dog is, and maybe this would be something I would discover by having a dog. This can be an issue, I may hate having a dog!
You can take analogies only so far…
If people are concerned about the issue of time when it comes to using and embedding learning technologies then they are probably more likely concerned about how this will fit into their other priorities. So ask the question, who is responsible for setting the priorities of the teaching staff in your institution? Is it the teaching staff? Is it the executive team? Is it the teaching managers? Unlikely I would have thought to be the learning technologists
So if you are facing the real issue when talking to teaching staff of them responding that they don’t have the time, maybe you are talking to the wrong people! Or the wrong people are talking to the teaching staff.
Priorities in theory are set by the line manager, who is operationalising the strategic direction and vision of the institution. If digital is not a strategic priority can we be surprised that staff within that institution don’t consider it a personal priority.
How do you make digital a strategic priority? Well that;s another blog post, which I don’t have the time for at the moment, I have to walk the dog.
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.
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.
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).
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  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 
Then we have lunch, and before the final keynote I am looking at attending Building an e-learning platform in WordPress  again in room 2.218.
Another packed day and difficult choices on what to attend.
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 .
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.
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.
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  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  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  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.
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  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  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 . 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  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. . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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