Wednesday 3 September 2014

Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Conference - Day 1 #altc

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Conference 2014 took place at the University of Warwick 1st - 3rd September
The first day started with a welcome from the conference chairs - Sarah Cornelius, Linda Creanor and Joe Wilson - the 21st ALT Conference has arrived.  They encouraged everyone to engage and interact with ideas and with other delegates and use the conference hashtag #altc plus #innovate #educate #community to share experiences.

Christina Hughes PVC T&L at Warwick University gave a welcome address describing the conference as a 
'Smorgasbord of creative engagement'.  She talked about the global power of MOOCs and open educational models.
The first keynote speech was by Jeff Haywood from the University of Edinburgh and entitled Designing University Education for 2025: Balancing competing priorities.  He started with a quote from Terry Mayes 1995 'Learning Technology and Groundhog Day'.  It takes patience and persistence to make progress and move forward - has learning technology changed in the last 20 years or is it a series of new and exciting initiatives which appear and then disappear? Since 2004 there has been an explosion in online identities and range of tools and technologies.  These tools and technologies are not educational but social consumables - they are part of the user not the institution.  It is the changes in those sort of things that will have an impact on education and learning.  There is now a realisation that it is a certainty that wholly online courses are possible and can be of high quality.  
We may laugh at the 'trough of despondency' but often those technologies do come through, a steady maturity.  

Students do have positive feelings about online courses but do employers trust online education and qualifications?  There are a vast technologies, tools, applications - the conversation prism.  90% of technology in universities is brought in by and used by the students in creative ways - they are student oriented rather than institution oriented.

He then talked about MOOCs at the University of Edinburgh.  You've 'got to brag about MOOCs', everyone does and the slickness of marketing is apparent much more than for traditional courses. Moocs have reopened a debate at policy level about digital education. Courses can be run at large scale, charismatic lecturers can touch learners. Technological innovation is coming out of MOOCs - tools and applications - we need to capitalise on this as an opportunity.
How can we use the technology? Throughput of curriculum - learn at own pace, don't have to wait. How do we increase the productivity of education system?  However productivity is not the vision of many as their driver is to increase the quality of the content and experience.

So what of the future - 2025 - he predicts that, education will be on demand, self paced, location flexible, relevant to your life/ career, affordable, personalised, global and local, high value added.  Without technology then this would be undoable.  A vision is needed at policy level otherwise nothing will transform  - there needs to be a roadmap and investment.  The 'M' will be dropped from MOOCs to OOCs  meaning that students will take at least one core module wholly online and universities will offer most courses as open online courses.  

The technology of the future that will most impact on education is in the areas of security and the internet of things.  Students (and staff and courses) will have a Digital / |Physical co-presence.

 During the Q&A session he was asked about how support will be offered on an individual / small group basis? The answer was that offering support to small groups is not feasible are not at this stage or at least shouldn't be the focus.
What 'leaps' should be taken?
Invest in learning and instructional design, online assessment and learning analytics

It was an interesting talk - it shows that educational technology is higher up the list of priorities in Universities but presumably this because of financial considerations....and productivity....and globalisation

The other presentations I went to were:
Riding the unstoppable WordPress wave - ePortfolios - Alex Furr - University of Southampton
Different themes for different groups of students and different purposes eg medical students and language students. Promote employability - badges. To be successful they need to be embedded in the core content of modules.

Linking the real world to the digital world: QR codes in non-standard teaching spaces
Dan Jagger - University of Manchester
The presentation was about creating video tutorials for use in sewing labs.
Instructions were created in a simple web page for each sewing machine and then these were linked to via QR codes.  

Then two invited speaker sessions:
Bryan Mathers gave an interesting presentation and the slides were engaging with sketches and images
Performance or innovation - which culture for education?
Bucket or fire
Leadership - create a belief system
Make something awesome
Use images to explain ideas - a picture speaks a thousand words
He also said that if you're running a business,  don't run it as a democracy

Fiona Harvey talking about the Watching the Moocs go by - and the ALTMOOCSIG
There are 43+ UK MOOCs plus others not on platforms, The  Future Learn launch had a big impact on MOOCs in the UK. Should QAA have a say on the quality of a MOOC?
People are looking at the technology and seeing what they can use to offer courses?
Are you a teacher on a MOOC?
Participation rates are NOT a measure of success Massive is about reach, how far your knowledge spreads
Pick and mix modules - Change the model for education.
Again a great presentation with images of hands presenting information.

Next the drinks reception and dinner and tomorrow's another day...

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