Where Sheila's been seen this week #altc2013

The ALT-C conference is always a bit of an annual highlight for me and many others in the UK learning technology community. It’s always a great place to catch up with old friends, make new ones and meet online ones in person. This year was particularly special for me as not only did I get a short paper presentation accepted but I was also one of the invited speakers. I even got to be interviewed by Martin Hawksey for ALT-tv.   And, of course the highlight of the week for me was being awarded the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award.



I can’t begin to explain how much that recognition and validation of my work from my peers means to me.  As I said in my post yesterday it is also a huge validation of the work of all my Cetis colleagues,  and I hope goes some way to explaining the themes of my invited speaker session where I tried to emphasis the role of networks and sharing in allowing innovation and ideas to spread and thrive in our community. Have the space for thinking outwith institutional pressures is vital, and I really hope we don’t lose it.

Unsurprisingly there was a lot of talk about MOOCs over the three days, including my own session where I reflected on my own experiences of MOOCing and some of the strategies I have developed to navigate myself through various courses.  There was a lot of discussion about dropping out, and if we should think of MOOCs as courses or as Stephen Downes said in his keynote, more like newspapers where it doesn’t matter if you don’t read the whole thing. 

I’ve dropped in and out and even finished a few MOOCs now and to be honest I’m not sure it matters that much what you call them. If you are going to engage in any kind of learning you need to have time (and be realistic about that commitment). You also need the confidence to develop your own “learner driven strategies”.  I think for a lot of people particularly in the educational learning technology community MOOCs maybe the first time in a long time that they have experienced what is traditionally seen as failure by not completing a course. We really do need to have some major mindshifts about “completion = success”.  I could rant on about that for hours but won’t instead you can have a look at my presentation from yesterday where I examine my own experiences. 







Learning Technologist of the Year #altc2013

I was (and still am) absolutely thrilled to have been awarded ALT’s Learning Technologist of the Year award at the annual conference dinner last night. The recognition of my work by my peers is fantastic and I join a very elite club including James Clay, Josie Fraser and Cristina Costa. As I’m not a traditional learning technologist, this award is even more significant to me as it is recognition of the role of people like me who work to support innovation in the sector through community building and sharing, my presentation from yesterday’s showcase illustrates more. Although an individual award, I have to thank my good friends and colleagues Christina Smart and Lorna Campbell for doing the hard work and filling in the application form and then telling me 🙂 In many ways this is a team award and recognition of the work of everyone at Cetis. I’d also like to congratulate all my fellow award winners – there really is some brilliant work being done in the sector, and it is great that it is being celebrated by ALTs award scheme.

I was also overwhelmed by all the good wishes from people not here in Nottingham this week I received on twitter and facebook. And I have to share this particular one from Jisc colleagues Lawrie Phipps and Myles Danson. I do hope that they managed to get out of that car last night.


My life as a sponge #altc2013

This week I’m at the ALT-C conference in Nottingham, and in a slight change to plan my invited speaker session was shifted to yesterday afternoon.  In my talk I tried to convey the complexity of working in innovation and the need for space for people to connect, reflect and share.   As well as warning people of the danger of “following the shiny things”,  I also wanted to convey the importance of have people like me who have the space to look at new things outwith an institutional context and feedback into the sector. I also may have mentioned shoes and Sponge Bob Square Pants . . .

Here are my slides, and once the recording is made available I’ll put that on line too.

What Sheila's seen this week

It’s been a bit of a strange week this week, but work wise I’ve mainly been thinking about the ALT-C conference next week and I’ve been enjoying exploring the new conference platform designed and built by my good buddy and colleague Martin Hawksey.

I’m delighted (and slightly terrified) to be one of the invited speakers this year,  and I’ve been thinking a lot about my presentation  titled “my life as a sponge” which will be a bit of ramble around the theme of innovation via Sponge Bob Square Pants.  I’m also presenting a paper on Learner driven strategies and technologies for effective engagement with MOOCs, based on my own recent experiences. And even more excitingly I have made the short list for the Learning Technologist of the Year award so will be joining my fellow nominees on Wednesday morning for a showcase of our work.

A couple of non ALT things tho have caught my eye this week including the news that SNAPP  (Social Networks Adapting Pedagogical Practice) is now working again. For anyone interested in learning analytics and exploring  networked behaviour in discussion forums it’s well worth a look.

Also on the analytics front here’s really interesting video presentation from Kirsten Zimbardi,  University of Queensland called “Analytics of student interactions with electronic feedback using UQmarkup” -which is an “academic friendly” system for giving feedback to large cohorts (c. 1,000 students).