ALT-C 2009 Day One Roundup

Well, I am exhausted! It has been a busy day. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything, and yet it feels like I haven’t stopped.

Mike Wesch’s keynote this morning was very interesting. I’ve seen his youtube videos before and the content of his talk seemed very familiar. I don’t think I’ve attended one of his talks before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I have.

While I don’t necessarily agree with any conclusions he may make, I did find his research fascinating. I’ll go so far as to agree that technology and media do shape how we see the world and how we let the world see us.

There did appear to be the insinuation that the lecture theatre will always limit, to some extent, how far we can change learning and teaching. I suppose it is inevitable that every part of the learning environment imposes a limit of some kind, but does the lecture theatre impose a harsh enough limit that we need to break free of it? He didn’t necessarily say that, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that. ut at times like this (end of a long day at conference) I am reminded of my student days and I now (as then) don’t want to see a lecture theatre for a long time. However, two more days to go, so I’ll have to grin and bear it 😉

As for the rest of the day, there are a few things I want to pick up on.

Last year I attended an ‘audio feedback’ talk, and was very much taken with the idea. This year’s feed-forward paper renewed my interest in forms of feedback that differ from ‘boring’ text. There was, however, an important caveat that I had not thought of before. Audio feedback is a different medium from textual feedback, and therefore does (after the paper today I believe it does) require a slightly different set of rules to go with it. A different way of communicating is needed. Critical audio feedback delivered in an un-careful (so much feedback to record, recording teacher is getting bored/impatient) tone of voice can be very damaging for the receiver to the point of destorying their confidence rather than helping them improve. Speech is a much more powerful means of communicating than text. While there are dangers with text (difficult to deliver a tone of voice which can totally change the meaning of words) there are similar dangers with speech if you aren’t watching your tone or are more critical than you are positive.

When it came to the video feedback, video footage recorded live in the Biology lab of instructors walking around talking to students, asking and answering questions, I saw much potential. Such students did not recognise the value of the feedback at the point in which they received it, but looking back got the benefit of the feedback to themselves, as well as all the other feedback to colleagues. In addition the video played a valuable role in providing instructors lab instruction best practice (where done well) and opportunities to see where improvements could be made (where they see flaws).

Paper 132, the two year switch to Moodle was a very rewarding session. Many, if not all, of the experiences spoken of, could easily have been Kent’s story. One other member of the audience raised his hand at the end to say that he could hhave given the exact same talk, so similar was it to his experience too. One flaw in the project plan was that training had been given too early to their staff. Training that had been mandatory and unavoidable, with the result being that refresher courses had to be run by the time Moodle arrived. Looking at Kent’s Moodle project, we planned similarily early training sessions (although not mandatory) and as a result of poor attendance we have had to run more and more training sessions running into September (the month we said we would not run any!). The result is

  1. an absolutely insane (approx 6 hours a day, every day, 2 weeks straight) training workload for us (grrr!!) at a critical point of the year when we should be free to deal with day-to-day VLE queries (of which there are so many before a new year)
  2. staff that receive training very close the the point at which they are putting it into practice and, hopefully, not needing refresher courses.

Is (2) the silver lining or everything working out for the best? I’ll let others be the judge.

Paper 306, the SLE. It’s interesting to see people looking at the big picture. After implemennting Moodle it would be easy for them (and would be easy for us) to see Moodle as the final and sole product. But instead they are only looking to Moodle as a core set of tools, and specifically relying on a range of other tools to fill in where Moodle may have a feature, but doesn’t do it best.

This is just a very shallow scratch in the surface of Day One, and I am sure that by tomorrow I’ll have forgotten more than I will remember.

ALT-C 2009 HEA

Higher Education Academy
1 sponsor’s session


Eddie Gulc, Lawrence Hamburg, Derek Morrison, Martin Oliver, Sharon Waller

The ‘Enhancement of Learning through Technology (ELT)’ is a new Academy programme building on our work in e-learning. The aim of ELT is to support institutions to use technology for the enhancement of core activities, e.g. Assessment. This session will highlight key ELT activities, including our work with the JISC and will provide an opportunity for questions. Our approach is to leverage the expertise in the sector through a combination of intensive/highly focused activities, a discipline focus through our 24 Subject Centres, supporting communities, SIGs etc, and the integration of technology across Academy core programmes and functions.


ALT-C 2009 More VLEs and Design

More VLEs and design
1 short paper(s)
306 From Virtual Learning Environment to Strategic Learning Environment: Evaluation an institutional VLE to meet new strategic priorities
Susannah Quinsee, Anise Bullimore

Snakes and ladders, ups and downs. Pilots .. or phased implementation.

Review process, and finally decided on moodle. How dooes this relate to the portal which also includes collaborative tools?

Strategic learning environment evaluation vision.

People realy wanted the core functionality of a VLE. But want to use other things around it too. Most L&T occurs in the VLE, some happens outside. Want to use VLE just for core functionality, with increasing use of additinal technologies too.

core experts group from across the university defining the vision and articulating requirements – helped rethink realistically what they wanted to achieve

worked with Moodle consultants and found it easy to get moodle to do what they want and to meet their needs

using new ‘system’ as an excuse to use the ‘system’ better

ALT-C 2009 VLEs and design

VLEs and design
3 short paper(s)
132 We had a dream of replacing our VLE, now begins the responsibility of using these tools to enhance the teaching, learning and assessment experience.
Catherine Ogilvie, Jacqui Nicol, Emma Kennedy

Two year project to design and implement Moodle.

One year on from going live, a lot of use of static pdf/ppt content. But increasingly more interactive content.

Integration of other tools

  • portfolios
  • Turnitin
  • QuestionMark Perception

All new staff do PgCert HELT (similar to PGCHE) that uses Moodle as part of it’s delivery.

Other support available

  • elearning sessions
  • helpdesk support
  • one-2-one support
  • sharing ideas and best practice
  • online sessions ‘facilitating online learning’
  • promoting interactive tools

Lessons Learned:

  • don’t over-rate communication
  • flow of information and data integrity
  • regular meetings and updates


  • staff training delivered too early – when they came back to start teaching, they had forgotten their march training
  • inevitable change in core features
  • migration and structure of content not straightforward
  • clear understanding of departmental needs
  • lack of appreciation of administrative processes
  • desire to have similar tools to the old VLE
  • better communication
  • need for clear processes and procedures
  • scalability issues
  • content management problems


169 When Harry met Sally: can a ‘bricolage’ approach integrate with a systems-informed modular design?
Carmel de Nahlik, John Beech

‘You are encouraged to strive to be an internationally recognised scholar, but your day-to-day working life is dominated by bureaucratic procedures designed by people who sometimes fail to be recognised on their own corridor.’

Last week’s THES –

Object reuse, research methods, learning objects


279 Pedagogy meets Ontologies: Knowledge Representation for Creative Learning Design
Patricia Charlton, George Magoulas, Diana Laurillard

Design of LDSE ontology

  • share concepts and meaning within the project
  • enable others to build on our work
  • first attempt to create a model about theory and practice
  • first attempt to address inclusion of multiple theories
  • definition and use about what we mean by theory in learning design

Visual example of an ontology (using blooms taxonomy)

Core design to include theory and practice.

ALT-C 2009 Technology enhanced feed-forward

Technology enhanced feed-forward
1 research paper(s)
207 Technology enhanced feed-forward for learning
Sue Rodway-Dyer, Matthew Newcombe, Liz Dunne
(same room as the last session so no frantic running around)
Research paper. Not technology oriented, but teaching and learning.
Video of teacher circulating in a lab talking to students, checking their work, answering questions, asking them questions, praising, and explaining.
Feedback is a misnower, more interested in ‘feedforward’. Needs to be usable for staff and students. Example video is now used as part of training for new staff as well as for ‘feedforward’ to students.
Students don’t pay attention to extensive verbal feedback in labs, and don’t value it as such. Watching video after the fact is very helpful.
Stimulated recall: when you play the audio/video back to lecturer afterwards, then interview them afterwards about what they think the quality of their feedback was.
39% of students felt they got no feedback ever. They weren’t able to recognise the feedback that took part in the lab that the video caught actually happening.
capturing live video feedback time consuming (post processing etc)
audio feedback expected to be better than written – with tone of voice brining the feedback to life over written text, is it?

  • 80% of students wanted audio and written feedback
  • 20% thought written feedback was illegible
  • 10% thought feedback written and audio would have no impact on future performance
  • 76% wanted face-to-face feedback
  • advantage of audio feedback is greater depth and clarity
  • negative experience: did not like tone of voice, especially with critical comments
  • some could not listen to the audio feedback all the way through

Stimulated Recall:

  • balance between criticism and praise might need to be altered to be more positive to make audio feedback easier to hear for students
  • inappropriate language and terminology easy to slip into audio feedback than written
  • may come acorss more negatively than intended
  • pace of questions to class too fast
  • lab environment made learning difficult – noise levels

Feedback on stimulated recall: gives time for informed reflection which isn’t part of routine performance
Thought processes of audio feedback very different to written, the teachers need to learn the new skill. Almost like counselling – needing to be positive as solely-negative audio feedback seems to be emotionally/intellectually damaging.

ALT-C 2009 Infrastructure Innovation

3 short paper(s)
237 Dream on: Slow progress in developing digital media infrastructures
Susannah Diamond, Andrew Middleton
Where are we?
We know we want to be learnered centric, but the physical environment determines soething else. The technology around us has changes significant.y, it is now affordable, and simple to use. We don’t need production teams, central provision. Awareness of this new age. But where is the ‘glue’ or infroastructure that ties the pedagogy with the technology?
‘We believe the institutional infrastructure should allow staff and st to easily…u
User-generated digital media learning landscape. A user is anyone who ‘needs to say something’. Screencasts, podcasts, audio notes.
Motivation through student publishing. Real user generated channels.
Reality, example: getting media onto uni streaming server, via X, Y, and Z, getting the run-around being directed to different people.
What infrastructure for digital media production?

  • student support
  • ict literacy
  • educational development
  • access to kit
  • robust networks
  • storage
  • institutional drivers
  • academic support
  • production team
  • drop-in help
  • co-ordination

Do all these different people have the same perception of digital media? All alligned to the same plan?
Small national study – 10 UK universities, what they to to enable digital media.

  • lack of cohesion and strategic investment
  • legacy systems
  • piecemeal availability of equipment
  • ad hoc support
  • fragmentation and gatekeepers
  • user-generated content is considered exceptional, not main-stream
  • lack of infrastructural co-ordination

spectrum of institutional responsibility and individual responsibility??
we have

  • the ideas
  • the technology
  • a growing awareness amongst staff/students.
  • we are developing critial digital fluency

but we don’t have the glue to transform to mainstream
126 Socialising learners through on-line induction: Reflections on the transition to higher education
Richard Walker, Wayne Britcliffe

  • engaging a new generation of students with preferences for interactive & exploratory learning
  • famliarity with popular social technologiies
    • facilitating students to acquire good scholarship/information literacy skills
    • discipline and course level best practices
  • techniques to cope with information overload
  • socialising students into institutional discipline and peer group communities


  • provide incoming students with information about the uni/dept
  • provide academic support materials
  • facilitate interation with peers and between new students and the department
  • support thhe online registration pprocess


  • induction site set up over summer
  • runs september to end of autumn term
  • publicised through welcome pack
  • accessible only to registered students
  • vle access optional


  • Online tasks prior to arrival on campus
  • reading lists, timetables, catch-up material (catchup on a level materials form maths, chemistry, biology)
  • links to society (dept) page and student union
  • video clips


  • log-in peaked mid-september
  • limited access once term began
  • catch-up materials most popular
  • facebook preferred for social chat over the vle blog
  • questions focused on general information rather than subject/dept specific


  • Improve student voice within the module
  • students weren’t as aware of support services as they could have been – needed to be made clearer
  • more info on tutorials and practicals wanted
  • get 2nd/3rd yr students to post helpful info for 1st yrs

234 Appropriate and Practical Technologies for Students, Teachers, Administrators and Researchers
Sarah Sherman, Caroline Bell
Lovely photo of bloomsbury ( ahh nostalgia from having studied/worked there)

  • 90% comfortable using desktop tools
  • only 6/7% comfortable with online editing tools
  • 1 person hadn’t heard of e-mail

Created some Bloomsbury Personas, a generic student, generic teacher, generic administrator.
Stick-figure picture. APT model.
google docs bridging a gap
STAIRS – getting people to take incremental steps
using google docs for collaborative editing with immediate access of data to others then-and-there in class, eeepcs used to ‘network’ an otherwise computer-less room/lab.
plans: applying APT techniques in africa

ALT-C 2009 Welcome and Opening Keynote

Conference welcome and opening keynote
2 keynote speaker(s)
701 Introduction and welcome from the 2009 co-chairs and from the University of Manchester
Tom Boyle, Gilly Salmon
702 Michael Wesch – Mediated Culture/Mediated Education
Michael Wesch – Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, USA
Nice photos of Papua New Guinea, very ‘low tech’. MW spent several months there on a research grant. Huge cultural and linguistic divide. He lost sense of self and needed to rebuild his identity. Entire identity built up based on modern media. Introduced read/writing (for a census), many people didn’t have a fixed name, possession of a single name their ‘own’ name didn’t exist. Called each other by relationship or friend names, rather than ‘proper names’.
Media aren’t just tools, they mediate relationships. When media change, relationships change, cultural change. How are media tools shaping us?
Problem in US, high drop out rates – not in it to learn. Many not liking ‘school’ but not necessarily not liking learning.
Causes: growth of surburbia, modern mass production, 1-way communication of TV.
1992- MTV generation .. short attention spans

Thomas de Zengotita – quote

A brief history of ‘whatever’
Reality TV, wanting to be on TV.
Jean M Twenge, ‘Generation Me’
The search for identity and recognition. The search for the authentic self.

  • self-centred modes of self-fulfilment (disengagement)
  • negation of all horizons of significance (fragmentation)

Charles Taylor’s ‘Ethics of authenticity’ (1991)

  • not controlled by the few
  • not 1-way
  • group formation easy
  • indiviidual pursuits transformed into collective action
  • created by, for, and around networks, not masses

Why does it matter?

  • We know ourselves through our relations with others.
  • new media create new ways of relating to each others
  • new media gives us new ways of relating to ourselves

Youtube communities, people talking into their webcam.
The medium shapes the possibility of self-awareness.
The medium shapes the message – the medium is the message.
Our lecture theatres are part of our medium and despite the content of the lecture, we can’t avoid the roomm itself being part of the message.

  • To learn is to aquire information
  • information is scare and hard to find
  • trust authority for good information
  • authorised information is beyond discussion

from knowledgeable to knowledge-able
able to find information, question it, and create new knowledge
Crisis of significance in learning.
Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely. By Edward Tufte