Tag Archives: altc

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

ALT Online Winter Conference #altc

ALT’s Online Winter Conference, now in its fourth year, is back to showcase some of the best Learning Technology from ALT Members from across sectors.

The conference will take place online from 12 to 13 December 2017, giving ALT Members an opportunity to highlight the work they and their community have been involved with and to gain feedback from peers. This is a fantastic platform for you to hear about innovative ideas as new initiatives are shared in this creative environment.

To see the variety of topics covered in 2016, see last year’s programme.

For more information and to submit a proposal go here.

Deadline: 19 November 2017 for consideration.

To register complete this short form.

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

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?

Down the #altc road

altconfpodcast

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 Down the #altc road

Looking forward ALT-C 2016

Audience

With the announcement of the keynotes for ALT-C 2016, which I am looking forward to and sound exciting. It is interesting to reflect on the keynotes that have been before at previous conferences. There are a fair few of these keynotes available on the YouTube and there are many which had a real impact on me. I remember Martin Bean in 2009 and his stories that had the audience laughing out loud, still a powerful message despite finding out years later that the stories of the past were in fact made up.

What do you mean, someone made them up…

jonathanworth

I really enjoyed Jonathan Worth’s moving and though provoking keynote last year and who could forget Catherine Cronin’s Navigating the Marvellous: Openness in Education in 2014. I am sure that you can share your thoughts on memorable keynotes from previous conferences and the impact they had.

Though I have never delivered a keynote at ALT-C, I did do an invited talk in 2012 about tablets. I recently wrote a blog post about the half-life of keynotes which gained some traction and discussion elsewhere on the blogosphere (do we still use that term?).

The half-life of a keynote

Martin Weller wrote a really interesting response on the new or reused keynote presentation. He starts his post describing what he is doing this year.

This year I decided I would create new talks for every keynote, so it’s something I’ve been thinking about. I think the initial reaction is that creating new talks is better. But now I’m through my new talk phase, I’m less convinced.

Commenting on Martin’s post was Alan Levine, who mentioned how a post by Kathy Sierra helped him shift perspective on presentations.

Stephen Downes then came in with the audience experience.

I come into a presentation not thinking that the audience is lacking something which I can provide, I come in thinking that the audience already has the essential skills or abilities, which I can help them realize. This means every presentation is different, because every audience is different.

So what are your thoughts? So if you deliver at conferences, have you delivered the same presentation at different events and why did you do it?

No, I am rubbish at Twitter

Train

Last Wednesday it was pouring with rain and I was travelling to work. I don’t usually do this (even if you think I do do this) I posted a couple of old school Twitter status updates.

and then this one reflecting on the fact I didn’t catch a bus…

So I have to say I did smile when later that day I read Kerry Pinny’s post on why she thinks she is rubbish at Twitter and she said

I follow a number of people who tweet regularly sometimes about the most mundane topics like drinking coffee or the weather.

Her post did make me think and reflect on how I and others use Twitter.

Going over my tweets from those early heady days of the Twitter when I started back in 2007 my use was very much “rubbish” and lightweight. There were no hashtags and I appeared to tweet lots about coffee. I know why I did that back then there was very little idea on how the Twitter could be used. So in order to make the most of it I disciplined myself to try and tweet at least once or twice a day. I did that with other service such as uploading photographs to Flickr and recording Audioboos. Usually I would be working, have a break, make some coffee, sit back down and think to myself I must use that Twitter. What am I doing , oh yes having a coffee.

Back in 2009 there were many more people using Twitter. What was happening was that lots of people were publishing blog posts on how to use Twitter in a professional context and there was a right and wrong way to use Twitter so I wrote this blog post: Ten things people say about using Twitter, but really they shouldn’t.

One of the things that does annoy me about Twitter is the way in which people like to dictate to you how it should be used and how you should use it.

I still stand by most of what I wrote back then. Don’t tell people how they should use Twitter, let them know how you use Twitter and why.

As time went by I found Twitter useful in conferences, remember Twitter walls for those who didn’t do Twitter? As I started to deliver workshops and keynotes I found Twitter really useful for making and maintaining contacts and networks.

Twitter became an important source of news and links.

I now use Twitter for lots of reasons. I don’t just use it for my professional life I also use it for other stuff, sometimes serious, occasionally funny and usually tedious and rubbish stuff.

Yes I post links to my stuff, other people’s stuff and stuff in the news. Yes I post about conferences and contribute to tweetchats, I even ran one once.

I also post photos of my coffee and my lunch. I post photos of trains and boats.

I post mundane comments about the weather and the fact that I haven’t locked front door.

An important part of Twitter for me are the conversations.

I remember once someone saying they didn’t use the Twitter because it was just people posting what they had for their breakfast. I never saw that, so decided that every Sunday or so I would post what j had for my breakfast with the hashtag #thisiswhattwitterwascreatedfor and why not.

What I found interesting about that hashtag and tweets was how many people engaged with it, and why not?

I am for all and intents and purposes rubbish at this Twitter and the 4500 people who follow me must also be rubbish at Twitter. The 50 odd people who start to follow me each month must also be rubbish at Twitter.

The main conclusion I came to was we are all rubbish on Twitter.

If you find Twitter useful for something then use it. If you find the tweets of others useful then follow them.

Useful can mean interesting, fun, silly, inspiring, informative, whatever you want it to be.

Go do Twitter and be rubbish at it.

Top Ten Blog Posts 2015

Sand Bay

Over the last 12 months I have written 24 blog posts which is two a month. In 2014 I wrote 11 and in 2013 I wrote 64 blog posts and over a hundred in 2012. In 2011 I thought 150 was a quiet year!

The tenth most popular post on the blog in 2015, dropping one place from 2014, was written back in 2009 when Twitter was (at the time) looked like the height of the Twitter’s popularity. In the post Ten reasons why Twitter will eventually wither and die… I talked about how Twitter would, like so many other earlier social networks such as Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, would eventually wither and die… well I got that one right didn’t I? Still there are aspects in the post that may, at some point in the future ring true!

My opinion piece on Area Based Reviews for FE was a new entry and the ninth most popular post, I can do that… What does “embrace technology” mean? This was written in 2015 and looked at what we mean when we ask FE Colleges to “embrace technology” and how they could in fact do that. Embracing technology is easy to say, easy to write down. Ensuring that you actually holistically embrace technology across the whole organisation, as part of a wider review is challenging and difficult. We haven’t really done this before, so I don’t think we can assume it will just happen now.

Area Based Review

One of my many posts on Moodle was a re-entry at number eight Is the Scroll of Death Inevitable? This post was the ninth most popular post in 2013. One of the common themes that comes out when people discuss how to use Moodle, is the inevitable scroll of death. My response was that due to a lack of planning (even forward planning) that the end result more often than not would be a long scroll of death in a Moodle course.

Another new entry at number seven in 2015 was written and posted in December 2015 and was about time and why I don’t have a dog. I don’t have a dog #altc was a discussion piece was written for the ALT Winter Conference and looks at the over used excuse for not doing something, which is not having the time to do it. The real reason though, more often then not, is that the person concerned does not see it as a priority.

On The Streets of Vilnius
CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS https://flic.kr/p/a7RLz7
The sixth post was from the App of the Week series and was called VideoScribe HD – iPad App of the Week I talked about this app in July 2013 and was impressed with the power and versatility of the app for creating animated presentations. This has dropped four places, but one problem, is that the app isn’t available any more for the iPad.

The fifth post, dropping two places, of 2015 was another one from that series. Comic Life – iPad App of the Week. Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.

Climbing one place, the fourth most popular post was from my other series on 100 ways to use a VLE. This one was #89 Embedding a Comic Strip. This was a post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE. It included information on the many free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet out there. It is quite a long post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.

Climbing four places, at number three was a copyright post entitled, Can I legally download a movie trailer? One of the many copyright articles that I posted some years back, this one was in 2008, I am a little behind in much of what is happening within copyright and education, one of things I do need to update myself on, as things have changed.

The second most popular post in 2015 was Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week. This has risen two places and even I am not sure why this one is so popular!

Once again, for the third year running, the number one post for 2015 was the The iPad Pedagogy Wheel. I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”.

It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

So there we have it, the top ten posts of 2015, of which two were from 2015!

Here’s to 2016.