Category Archives: altc2017

Drawing some pictures at #altc and beyond

Keynote: Bonnie Stewart – The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Over the last few years I have been, rather than taking notes in the keynotes (and other sessions) at the ALT Conference #altc drawing pictures. This is sometimes called sketchnoting.

My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. Having said that I do share them online, through Twitter (and Flickr).

Continue reading Drawing some pictures at #altc and beyond

Going down the #altc road again

This is an updated version of this blog post from 2016. It now includes details of the 2016 and 2017 conferences.

#altc in Liverpool

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!

Continue reading Going down the #altc road again

Opening and Closing at #altc

Bonnie Stewart

The opening keynote at the ALT Conference this year was by Bonnie Stewart.

Bonnie Stewart is an educator and social media researcher fascinated by who we are when we’re online. An instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Founder/Director of the media literacy initiative Antigonish 2.0, Bonnie explores the intersections of knowledge, technology, and identity in her work.

Bonnie’s presentation was entitled, The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the keynote, as I do like to be surprised, so hadn’t read the abstract. For those that do want to read it, here it is.

This talk opens up the intersection of learning technologies, open practice, and the idea of “norms” in learning and education. An exploration of the tensions around gatekeeping in higher education, the keynote examines our histories of norms and gatekeeping and the current trajectory and possibilities that openness offers learners and scholars, via learning technologies and digital practice. It also examines some of the dark corners of society opened up by the digital, and considers what this “new norm(al)” means for higher education. The talk frames our current moment as one of constant confrontation, and offers ideas for navigating confrontation overload while still preserving the spirit of openness and learning.

For me there were some key messages that came out, one of the main ones was that just saying you work openly doesn’t necessarily mean you are open to everyone. That open can sometimes be a solution, but can also sometimes be a problem. Listening to Siân Bayne the following day, the importance of anonymity (by definition not open) is something we need to recognise.

I do share much of my work openly, my Flickr images are Creative Commons licensed CC BY-NC 2.0 for example. However I also recognise as a white middle class, middle aged male that I have privileges and opportunities to be open that may not be available to others.

Bonnie recounted her early career up in the Arctic Circle and she said one thing struck her when she started was that she was white!

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

This resonated with me and reminded me of my early teaching career. I was bought up in Cambridge (not a real place) and at the time in the 1970s and 1980s wasn’t a culturally or ethnically diverse place. I started teaching in Somerset, first in Weston-super-Mare and then Bridgwater, both these places (back in the early 1990s) were predominantly white working class cohorts. I then got a job at Brunel College (now City of Bristol College) which is based in Ashley Down, literally a stone throw from the inner city district of St Pauls in Bristol. I don’t know why I didn’t realise but I was surprised when 90% of my students were not white. Like Bonnie did, I suddenly realised I was white!

The keynote also reminded me that the “norm” isn’t necessarily the “norm” for some people. Normal may be familiar, but reflecting on my time working in Bristol, the norm there was not familiar to me. My teaching needed to change to reflect the diversity and background of my learners and not my own background, which would have been inaccessible and unknown to the people I was teaching. We don’t always fit under a bell curve.

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Another thing that came out of her keynote for me, was the essence of open working in a closed bubble. I know that my network, which is made up of lots of people who work openly, is very much a bubble and for many outside that bubble, despite the protestations of openness is as much closed to them as if the people were working in a closed manner. Even within the bubbles, open practice can be a barrier for many. Some people do not have the advantages or privileges that many have and can not afford to share and be open.

I also liked her slide on technical problems versus adaptive challenges and is something I recognise from working with academic staff in various colleges and embedding the use of learning technologies.

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

It was never about the technology, it was always about the people. Interestingly I also found it was never about the pedagogy either, it was always about the people too.

As with other keynotes at the conference I also did a sketch note.

Keynote: Bonnie Stewart – The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Her keynote was recorded and out on the YouTube.

What did you get from Bon’s keynote?

Drawing at #altc

CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0
CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0

I spent the last week at the ALT Conference in Liverpool where I listened and participated in a range of sessions on learning technologies. As I did the previous year I did manage to make some sketch notes of the keynotes and some of the sessions. I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil.

My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. Having said that I do share them online, through Twitter (and Flickr).

Quite a few people came up to me to ask what I was doing, what app I was using and if I was sharing them. I had similar questions on Twitter as well.

Continue reading Drawing at #altc

Sketch noting at #altc

One thing I did at last year’s ALT conference was some sketch noting and I am hoping to do something similar at this year’s conference.

Last year I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil and I am expecting to use the same technology again. My original sketch notes were done with a single colour pen. When I moved jobs I invested in some Stabilo colour pens and a notepad and got some more interesting results.

One thing that I will be doing is preparing the canvas in advance, so that once the talk starts I can get straight into the writing, drawing and painting.

Continue reading Sketch noting at #altc

Making preparations for #altc or where do I buy the decent coffee?

I do think it is worthwhile taking the time to prepare for attending a conference, such as the ALT Conference in Liverpool in September

My first ALT conference was in 2003 in Sheffield, this was also one of the first “proper” conferences I had attended. After that conference I have attended many conferences here in the UK and abroad, but probably not as many as some people. I have attended as a delegate, a presenter, an invited speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering keynotes at various big conferences.

Now when attending a conference I make some preparations that will ensure I have a productive, informative and interesting time.

Attend it all…

Going for just a day may be all that is possible, but I would recommend attending all the days of the conference, so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. It will also provide the time to do everything you would like to do at the conference.

ALT-C 2009

Try to arrive before the conference starts and don’t leave until the end. There is nothing more frustrating and stressful than arriving late for a conference and sneaking into the back of the opening keynote. Wondering what you missed and probably a little flustered having rushed from the station and needing a decent cup of coffee.

Likewise, plan your travel so you don’t need to leave early and miss the final sessions and keynotes. Nothing is more soul destroying when presenting a session at the end of the conference and to find three people attending. I do recognise that the realities of life can mean you need to leave early, but planning in advance to attend all of the conference means that usually these can be avoided. You may miss something really useful and relevant.

Dave White

Don’t bring work to the conference.

You may be away from the office and you may have stuff to do, but a conference is not the most conducive environment for working. You have paid a fee to attend, it makes sense to use that time for the conference and not catching up with stuff. A conference is quite a tiring affair, so even if you decide not to partake in the social side of things and get work done in the evening you may find that this isn’t that productive. I once struggled to finish an urgent report at a conference, it was a horrible experience as I struggled with poor wifi connectivity, phone calls and focused writing. The report seemed to take twice as long and was half the quality of my usual writing. My approach is to block the time out in the diary, ensure and deadlines are either before (or well after) the conference. Ensure everything is done before I go and avoid taking things on just before the conference. I also ensure everyone knows I will be away and will say “no” to things that I know I won’t be able to complete successfully because I am at the conference. I also put an “out of the office” notification on my e-mail account, so people will realise they won’t get a response from me.

There is a flip side to this, when you’re in the office and a colleague is at a conference, let them get the most out of the conference, don’t send them e-mails, requests, etc…. Wait until they are back!

Helen Beetham

Plan your day

Do review the programme and find stuff you want to attend, make a note of it and write it down (or use the conference app, add to your calendar). There is almost a separate blog post discussing what sessions to choose, so will focus on the planning side of things. Having reviewed the programme I make a note of not just the title of the session, but also which room it is in. If you want to move between parallel sessions, it is useful to check the distance between them, nothing worse when wanting to see two interesting sessions, but missing one of them as you hiked across to the other room.

Some sessions will be very popular, so make sure you arrive on time (or before). I have delivered some sessions where there was standing room only.

Prepare for sessions

I like to be engaged with sessions, this can be simply by using a notebook and pen and make notes. These days I generally do one of two things these days, I either tweet about the session, not just posting images and quotes, but also ask questions on the twitter which have come out of the session. I try and remember to always add the hashtag #altc. More recently I have been sketchnoting the session, which to be honest is more for me than for others, but I do publish my notes on Flickr (and on Twitter). See this post by me on sketchnoting.

If you have questions, write them down, otherwise you may forget them. You probably won’t get picked to ask your question in a popular session, so why not post them on the Twitter or on the relevant session page on the conference website.

If you are presenting then have a look at my presentation tips in this previous blog post.

Prepare to chat

If you are shy and retiring like me, it can be challenging to engage people in conversations. I think it’s worth coming up with strategies to do deal with this. In sessions I always try and make the effort to introduce myself to the other people on the table, ask them where they are from and what they have enjoyed about the conference so far. Also come along to the ALT stand in the exhibition area where there will be ALT Trustees and valued members, who are more than willing to talk and chat (and make introductions if necessary).

Also engaging on Twitter before and during the conference can also make connections for good conversations and chats.

Decent coffee

If you like decent coffee then for most conferences be prepared to be disappointed. Most conference coffee has been made in advance of time and left to stew for a while. It may have been made from instant coffee, or possibly filtered. Whatever way it was made it will taste like mud! Rather than try and guess where I can get a decent coffee from, I now do a quick search around to find somewhere I can go either before the start of the conference day, during a break or afterwards. These coffee places can also be great locations for ad hoc conversations and chats. You also don’t need to stand in that everlasting queue for coffee.

coffee

I can say I am looking forward to trying the coffee at this local roastery.

So how are you preparing for the ALT Conference.

Planning your session for #altc

typing on a laptop

 

So I know you have already planned your session for the ALT conference next week?

No?

Good!

Even if you have planned your session, you might find these tips and advice useful.

Don’t run over time…

This always happens, even with good timekeeping from conference organisers there is nothing more annoying when a session runs over time, or more usually the session is cut short and we miss all the good bits. If you struggle to keep to time, rehearse and practice. Go through your presentation with a friend to check that it is just twenty minutes long.

Focus on the important

With short twenty minute sessions, you don’t have time. So don’t spend the presentation telling us your back story, history of the session, who was involved and the methodology. Get straight to the results, the impact and the outcomes. I have been to a lot of sessions in which most of the session is the background to the work rather than the work itself and the results. When I am attending a session at a conference I want to know what happened and what was the impact of what happened. You may want to consider delivering your planned session backwards, tell us the impact. Then describe the outcomes that enabled this impact. Then deliver us the results of your work. If you have time you can tell us the methodology, but by then you have us hooked. So we can always read the paper for the full story if it interests us, or we can read your blog post on the session, which brings me nicely onto…

session

Amplify your session

Do write a blog post about your session, tell us all about it, provide links, papers and biographies. Do reference this blog post in your talk. Follow up your session with a blog post, one thing that you could do is reference any questions which were asked with a fuller explanation. Use the Twitter to tell people about your session, use the hashtag #altc and describe your session and why it will be interesting. Use a tool such as Tweetdeck to send automated tweets during your presentation, with references, links, blog posts, images, etc… again with the hashtag #altc so that others can pick them up. Going through the ALT Conference website, invite people to your session.

microphone

Presentation

When presenting read your slides out.

Make sure you fill with slides with as much text as possible, just so you can ask people at the back can they read them.

Ensure graphs and diagrams are taken from a document so that the details are unreadable even from the front row.

Cover your presentation with organisational branding, so that everyone knows where you are from and can be distracted from the actual content.

Okay…

Seriously do think about your presentation. Think of the session as a story.

Don’t read your slides out, use the slides to inform and talk to the audience about the stuff you did or are doing. The slides should inform this not be all the talk written down. Despite everyone saying don’t read your slides, people still do it.

Less is more, sometimes more is better. So don’t cover your slides in lots of text. One slide with six bullet points has less impact then six slides with a single piece of information. Use less words (or even just a single word) and expand this when you present.

Images can be very powerful and can replace words.

Don’t use clipart though, go somewhere like Pixabay and find some decent photographic images.

When using graphs and diagrams, don’t just copy them from the paper you published, simplify them. Do they add to the story you are telling?

You may have no choice about the slide branding!

Follow up

People may want to follow up on what you have presented on. Can they contact you easily? You could do this with a slide, or some flyers might be easier. Always useful to follow up your session with a blog post. You can even ask others to do this.

So what are your session preparation tips?