‘Riding Giants: How to innovate and educate ahead of the wave’ is the title & theme for the 2014 ALT Conference – my first ALT conference.
With the conference themes being weaved thoughout the three days (education, innovate, communicate) the opportunities are here for all delegates to take what they need, give back (through questions, discussions, informal tweet ups, etc), and enhance not only their own ideas and practices but those around them.
I don’t want to say I’m surprised by the level of engagement, as that implies I might think that we (learning technology-type people) have such a low level of engagement or closed-door mentality at these events (which we don’t), but I am enthused and proud when I look around the room at the discussions and engagements that are taking place. From lunchtime to coffee breaks, to break-out activities to keynote speakers, this first day has been energetic and had a buzz around ‘being together’ I’ve not experienced since my first FOTE conference in 2009. There is clear symmetry in what we are all feeling as part of the Learning Technology fraternity these days; from MOOCs to student engagement, academic buy-in, digital literacy, experiences, virtual vs. real worlds, etc. as there are so many overlaps between session presentations.
The 2014 ALT Conference is just around the corner (in more than just time – it’s being held at the University of Warwick, which is where I now work!), and I’m getting ready for it.
The theme for this year (and my first ALTC) is ‘Riding Giants: How to innovate and educate ahead of the wave’ , and the wave I’m trying to crest at the moment is planning the sessions and presentations I want to attend. It’s not helped by the fact so many of them are interesting, and that so many of them occur at the same time as each other.
Peter Reed (@reedyreedles) has made some important and thought provoking posts recently. This is a kind of reply / addition / reflection / enhancement of those posts from my own perspective. Let the games begin … but first it’d help if you had read Pete’s posts:
That’s the short answer. I’m not sure there is even a question there, but I like what Pete has said, I agree with him on both posts. Learning Technologists (LTs) do need to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades, a master of none (or nearly none). Continue reading
It’s useful to reflect on progress, or projects, or my work in general. Seeing as this is my 6th (or 7th – see I’ve lost count already) week in my new role at Warwick Business School (WBS) I thought I’d reflect on my ‘general’ duties as a(nother) newbie … how do my new days at WBS compare with my old days at Leicester and Bournemouth?
No more Blackboard! Well, that’s not entirely true as I’m now using Bb Collaborate to support core WBS activity and DL programmes. I’ve been learning the subtleties of how WBS work with and run Bb Collaborate sessions and how it integrates with the VLE (myWBS).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … I like(d) Blackboard and will kind of miss it. Once you understand the subtleties of what it is and how it works you can do what you want, most of the time. In my experience people who moan about it the most have spent less time trying to work with it, almost fighting against it.
What is Kindle Matchbook? Announced by Amazon last year, Matchbook is (from LifeHacker) “that will allow owners of hard copies of books to purchase extremely cheap ebook versions for their Kindle collection.” If you bought a paper copy from Amazon you could be eligible to buy or download an eBook edition.
From the link above (make sure you’re logged into your Amazon account) you can click the ‘Find your Kindle MatchBook titles’ button and the website will look through your purchase history and see if any match. Naturally, none of my purchases do – eligibility in MatchBook is determined by the publisher and whether they include their title in the scheme. There is also discrepancy as to whether this is available in the UK or not yet.
Next week is the 2014 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Dublin. The programme looks very comprehensive and has 6 streams in motion, which means it’s going to be very difficult to attend and cover all the sessions I want to attend – which means I’m going to have to be very selective about what, and who, I see.
Here’s my first impressions of what I will try and see -
Wednesday, April 30.
- Keynote / Prof Stephen Heppell. I have met and talked with Prof Heppell on numerous occasions (at Learning Without Frontiers in 2011 and during my time working at Bournemouth University) and know that his unique perspective and style will make this keynote both interesting and hugely profound on the issues affecting education today. This is one session you do not want to miss. Continue reading
This resource from Vicki Davis – “A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom” on Edutopia is a good starting point for planning the inclusion of social media in learning spaces.
Vicki closes by saying something very similar to what I submitted to the Mobile Learning – “Improving Learning with Mobile Technology” eBook:
“Social media is here. It’s just another resource and doesn’t have to be a distraction from learning objectives. Social media is another tool that you can use to make your classroom more engaging, relevant and culturally diverse.”
The list consists of:
- Tweet or post status updates as a class.
- Write blog posts about what students are learning.
- Let your students write for the world.
- Connect to other classrooms through social media.
- Use Facebook to get feedback for your students’ online science fair projects.
- Use YouTube for your students to host a show or a podcast.
- Create Twitter accounts for a special interest projects.
- Ask questions to engage your students in authentic learning.
- Communicate with other classrooms.
- Create projects with other teachers.
- Share your learning with the world.
- Further a cause that you care about.
What would you add (or remove) from the list to help others utilise students and their devices?
Image source: Life on the wire (CC BY 2.0)
When it comes to developing materials and learning resources for your course, I think it’s important to know when to keep it simple.
We have all seen examples, or know of some, where every possible bell-and-whistle has been applied, in good intention, but the final result has made the course complicated and heavy.
Here are a few tips on how, and why, to keep it simple, which apply as much to online distance learning courses as well as campus courses:
- Signpost: provide little ‘signposts’ to learning resources, assignment details, marking criteria, timetables, etc. to help the student. The larger the course or course materials then the more complicated the course structure could be, and the more lost a students will find themselves in your course. Continue reading
[Read this next bit as though it's a well known Sinead O'Conner song]
It’s been 5 years, 30 days, and 53 minutes since my first tweet. Here is it:
In that 5 years, 30 days, etc. I’ve made nearly 25,000 tweets. Admittedly not all of them are relevant, interesting, insightful, funny, or worth repeating, but some of them have been. Some of them have been ideas, sharing, conversations, photos, jokes, people I’ve met or places I’ve been, books or journals I’ve read, etc. Some are re-tweets (RT), mentions, replies, etc. And some are just banal observations for no other reason than Twitter was available and somewhere I can put a random thought, observation, rant, or other piece of useless information. Continue reading
Regular readers will know I have written my thoughts and experiences about ‘what is a Learning Technologist’ for a number of years. Indeed the series of posts is into double figures now and consist of my own reflections, posts I read, research, and conversations I have with others in my ‘profession’.
In these discussions and collaborations I have also been attributed as a spark for others who have also started to question the role, and their role, in ‘learning technology’in others. This is by no small feat, but an honour in that the conversations are widening and engaging many more individuals and helping to focus and drive a deeper understanding of the roles, the individuals in the roles, and the expectations placed on the role (from ourselves, our colleagues and peers, our networks and associated organisations – like ALT or SEDA – and our employers).
One such, ongoing, conversation is with Wayne Barry (@HeyWayne) who is himself writing a series of posts on ‘Who are the Learning Technologists?’ on his blog. Now on his fifth post I thought I’d add a little to the conversation here to highlight, broaden, and engage the question(s) further.