ALT-C 2009 Keynote and Closer

Keynote and close
2 keynote speaker(s)
704 Terry Anderson
Terry Anderson – Professor and Canada Research Chair in Distance Education at Athabasca University
opening slide -worldle tag cloud

  • taxonomy of the many
  • open learning


  • we must continuously improve the quality/effectiveness/appeal/cost/time efficiency of the learning experience.
  • student control is integral to life-long education and learning in 21st century
  • education for elites is not sufficient for planetary survival

Harmonising disruptive technologies

  • managing and aligning pedagogical, technical, and administrative issues is necessary when using emerging technologies
  • takes leadership and disruption

no real systemic innovation since 1960s
net presence means creating and sustaining social capital
choosing the right tools
wengler’s ideas of community of practice
distributed web 2.0  group tools – wiggio
what motivates learners?

  • personal and social relevance
  • opportunity to do well abd be recognised
  • chance  to meet cool peope and engage in coolactivities
  • disequilibrium
  • rewards

Google wave …
networks of practice rather than communities of practice?
network pedagogies – connectivism, participatory pedagogy, complexity
student organised networks
open education
open journals
open scholars
moodle plugin – brainify
open textbooks – flatworld
705 Closing session with the ALT-C 2009 and ALT-C 2010 conference co-chairs
Tom Boyle, Gilly Salmon, Richard Noss, Vanessa Pittard
Into something rich and strange – making sense of the sea-change
next year in Nottingham

ALT-C 2009 Blog Innovation

Blog innovation
2 short paper(s)
36 Developing reflective practitioners through the use of blogs: a collaborative approach to learning communities
Alison Hramiak, Helen Boulton

  • reflective practice entry variable
  • evidence of development as professionals within transcripts
  • builds up through both placements – a definite progression seen
  • very few using blogs for teaching (these were ict teachers!!!) – sometimes firewalls were a problem in schools preventing the use of blogs
  • one who did use it with students, said that students did not find reflection easy

Inhibitors during NQT year:

  • real life
  • access
  • lack of training

103 Blog-it and they will come’: Challenges for engaging teachers and learners with wikis and blogs
Megan Warin, Jan Metcalf, Martin Edney, Mike Cameron, Steve Lyon
we are not creating learners, not creating enquirers any more… they will think what you tell them to think.
wikis are trying to shift the way that learners relate to education
students don’t necessarily agree with us about how the best way to learn is
some students don[t like everyone seeing their work, or see it as an excuse for less face-2-face teaching.
looking at academic first contact with new tech

  • academic practice
  • academic community
  • learning

good practice:

  • german language students, journals. keeping track of learning and reflecting on what went well.
  • wikis as a bank of knowledge where students can share experiences, review and critique papers
  • project management blogs – students from business course and compsci teamed up for a project, they documented their activities and shared best practice

Engage, Empower, Embed

ALT-C 2009 Learner Support Technologies

Learner support technologies
3 papers in a mixed session
288 Students and Mobile Devices: Choosing which Dream (Research Paper)
John Traxler
The world is awash with personal digital connective devices.
Technologies constantly consuming knowledge. This is connected to learning. Connected to communities generating and discussing ‘learning’.
Citizen journalism. Individuals creating and reporting on and consuming news without the mass media.
Modern technology lets us cut out the middle-men. e.g. Stephen Fry using twitter cuts out the need for a press officer or even a need for the press, he communicates right to his ‘fans’.
Opportunity for physical and virtual  to merge.
Mobile devices have become so ubiquitous and ‘vital’ they are seen as another limb, part of us.
Inside institutions, they still buy the hardware of learning. But that technology may not be the expectation of the students.
A few years ago was this notion of digital convergence. Taken from PCs all being fairly standardised. As a platform it is stable.
With mobile devices they still haven’t converged into a single platform. Students may have different devices from each other today, and then they all again different different devices tomorrow.
161 A Taxonomy of Podcasts and its Application to Higher Education (Proceedings Paper)
Ana Carvalho, Cristina Aguiar, Romana Maciel

Audio in learning.
Podcasts, a renaissance of audio  for learning?
podcasts as a way to change classroom practices
listening is instintive, opposed to reading which has to be taught
comprehension enhanced by spoken word, adds clarity and meaning

  • podcasts let lecturers emphasise information lecturers feel is critical for students
  • enables flexible learning
  • reaches wider audience

podcasts let you offer advanced extra content for advanced learners or for remediation  of weaker learners
two types of podcast:

  • authentic content
  • teaching materials

Taxonomy of podcasts
following assumptions

  • not for use in classroom
  • not lectures recorded face-2-face
  • should be reusable

feedback/enhanced podcast/6-15mins/??/informal/analyse
guidelines/vodcast vidcast/>15mins/experts, local community, reports, etc/informal/develop motivate
authentic materials/screencast/>15mins/??/informal/mediate for reflective learning
76 User technologies and the future mixed economy of education (short paper)
Tony Toole, Haydn Blackey
Exploring future possibilities of delivery of education. Mobile computing is changing the way we access information. Open courseware – massification of information.
Impact on education: be transformed and global, require new business models
JISC eTutor project.
Exploring two ideas about the future of elearning:

  • resources sourced from the web
  • delivery through web 2.0 services

They created 2 web2.0 learning environments, with 2 different styles, created visual gateways, the trialed with students.
first one used wetpaint

  • learner-side technologies will be provided by the learner
  • learning environments wll be constructed from web services
  • learning resources will be sourced globally from the web

In a future mixed economy of education

  • what is role of institution?
  • what is role for state? fund students wherever they go rather than institutions?
  • is globalisation a win-win situation? cheaper for both student and state?

distance learning is the growth area of higher education

ALT-C 2009 Day Two Roundup

Pedagogic Innovation

I didn’t really see much pedagogic innovation (boy, that phrase is difficult to type on an eeepc 1000 keyboard on a rocking train), but there were a few nice things.

QR codes. I can’t see our lecturers using them in lectures to relay information to students, but the idea of a library book/journal/etc search spitting out a QR code is interesting. Student can then snap it with their mobile, walk to the shelf with all the info they need and more converted into text form on their phone. No need to scibble down location onto a scrap of paper.

Visitor/Resident principle. Kinda like Prensky’s Native/Immigrant idea, but trying to get around the negative connotations of being a digital ‘immigrant’, trying to separate it from being a generational thing. There still seems, to me, to be connotations that being a resident is better than being a visitor, but that’s my own bias, seeing myself as a resident. This distinction however isn’t about competency, but about the use one makes of online systems. You could be as ‘power-user’ fully knowledgeable aboutt using online systems etc, and dip in and out where necessary to ‘get the job done’ without maintaining an online persona, without ‘leaving something of yourself behind’ in the sense that a resident does.

But what’s the point? It isn’t about identifying yourself and feeling smug if you fall into the bracket you wanted to be in, and them pitying those that fall into the other. The point is to identify and categorise your students, your target audience, and make sure thst they way in which you present your learning doesn’t exclude them. If they’re all residents, that would allow you to embrace, perhaps, a different teaching style. if you have a half/half audience, that doesn’t necessarily exclude you from a new style, as long as there is sufficient differentiation to benefit all, and you ensure your implemntation doesn’t exclude anyone. If you’re looking for me to tell you how, tough luck.

The paper (271) on flexible working (nothing to do with gymnasts) seemed more like a sales pitch for the beyond9to5 ‘platform’, I wasn’t too impressed with the paper. Though I should make sure I am on record saying I fully support the principle and ideals of flexible working. If we want to embrace the new technologies to teach in new more flexible ways, what’s stopping us working in new flexible ways? Nothing.

Being the fourth paper of the session, I may have been in fatigue-land. Something about drawing pictures, pencil on paper, in order to design stuff. Truly rocket science!

Redesigning Teaching

No Frankenstein-monsters being created by grafting technology and teacher together, although making a campus fully covered by wireless (802.11) and bluetooth sounds like it’ll mutate staff and students (or just insta-cook them!).

But seriously, the little mobile apps zapped out to every phone in the room was pretty cool. Yes we had to be in discovery mode with security off. Yes, we’re naively trusting of the man that told us we could trust him. I seriouslly hope a campus full of students has more sense! If not, they deserve everything they’re going to get from their less scrupulous colleagues.

Tony Lowe’s drag’n’drop apps were also really cool. Needing everyone in the room to have a laptop to participate, I think we’re not there yet for class work. For work at home, awesome. Great tie in to last year’s keynote from ummm.. that guy tottering around on a ladder regurgitating his TED talk, yeah, Hans Rosling.


Martin Bean’s keynote. How to make a keynote fun, take the p out of Americans. No, seriously… yes! Best. Keynote. Ever. (ALT-C 2009 anyway)

I was concerned at Martin’s background working for the great enemy of societ. Yes, I mean Microsoft. An ex-Microsoft guy moving to the OU? Surely a sign that the OU is about to reach singularity, and not in a good way. But once you listen to Martin speak, either he’s a very good Trojan-horse, or his enthusiasm and ideals managed to escape Microsoft unscathed. Freedom of information, or resources, of education. Very inspiring. Best thing I can say is, go watch it for yourself! (I may even remember to come back here and provide a link).

Infrastructure Technologies

Hyperlinked information. And we’re not talking about twenty pages of content neatly linked back and forth. We’re talking aboutsufficient hyperlinking between different bits of information that lets a user choose their own path, rather than have a path chosen for them. Is it really beneficial? Probably not for everyone, possibly for only some. Is it worth going for this approach when designing e-courseware? I find it very difficult to advocate such a seemingly disorganised approach. When it comes to designing e-courseware, should we even be doing so? Or letting students freely search and discover their ownwas materials as suggested elsewhere! educational use

Lecture capture systems, on a large scale, sound grand and appealing. I don’t think there was really anything in that paper that really challenged though, and no reason should. It seems to be working well for them, and I wish we had similar funds to be able to invest in this. What I would take from this, is the approach theyto have two groups, one on raw implementation from the technical perspective, and one one the educational use, to make sure that educational use was being considered at every stage in the wider context without being consumed/distracted by the technical implementation. Of course this does assume that those implementing a project have a clear vision from the educational use group, a vision that isn’t going to change and undo all the worrk of the implementors.

So, finally, Huddle. This was just a sponsor session, trying to flog their product. As such I wasn’t put off it, which I guess is a small victory for them. I wasn’t however wowed by it. Especially in context of so many other sessions where the concept of a single University-owned product is seen as out-dated with a move to a more open approach letting students choose what they want to use.

ALT-C 2009 Huddle


1 sponsor’s session


Huddle is a UK-based Web 2.0 online collaboration company. Recently named as one of the top 50 start-ups to watch by Business Week magazine, Huddle is increasingly used by educational institutions globally to enable collaboration for staff and students.

Are you interested in how Web 2.0 applications are being used by educators? Come and learn how Web 2.0 technologies are enhancing the teaching and learning experience, and how you can engage students in learning by encouraging social networking and collaboration with their peers and tutors.

Huddle combines unified collaboration with social networking. Doubles in size/revenue every two months. Launched April 2007. UK based company.

Anytime, anywhere, any device access.

ULCC survey of HE/FE

  • 61% reviewing cloud-based IT solutions
  • 95% using email too enable collaboration

JISC report:

  • impetus for change coming from students
  • they want to be engaged with technologies they are familiar with
  • employability skills are changing
  • institutions must relevant to the lives that students lead

ALT-C 2009 Infrastructure Technologies

Infrastructure technologies
2 short paper(s)
92 Effective Technology for Effective Reading: Innovative use of hyperlinks in online readings for low prior knowledge learners
Jon Loose

If a learner is able to navigate their own way, they can facilitate a representation of the information as they take their own path through the text, so hypertext is good.


  • non-linear structure is beneficial to learning


  • not directing the user can inhibit knowledge construction
  • can be disorienting
  • lack of coherance
  • need for prior knowledge
  • metacognitive demands

Reading Styles:

  • Linear Readers:
    • fast
    • slow
  • Lookback Readers:
    • Non-selective reviewers
    • topic structure processors (best comprehension)

(Hyona & Nurminen, 2006; Hyona, Lorch, & Kaakinen, 2002)

Can hyperlinked text facilitate low-knowledge learners?

152 Large scale implementation of a lecture capture system: a value added initiative?
Philip Bradley, Carol Summerside, Mark Agar, Phil Ansell, Robin Humphrey, Julian Knight, Az Mohammed, John Moss, Carys Watts, Janet Wheeler, Dave Wolfendale

Top down approache, decision to roll out across site

2 groups. implementation group, educational-use group

used lectopia rebranded as ‘ReCap’ to get across that it was in addition to lectures rather than replacement –

Videos behind password protected site, available only to University members – not open

Book system in advance, then when mic picks up sound (as long as it is turned on), it starts recording, and afterwards you are emailed a link.

Educational uses

  • lecture recording
  • supplementary information
  • reprocessing of support materials
  • staff training materials
  • conferences and public lectures
  • recruitment and marketing
    • i.e. open day videos for overseas students
  • administration
  • research seminars

Institutional Implementation

  • ReCap Education Steering Group

Feedback and Evaluation

  • overwhelming student positive response
  • 92% of students said it didn’t affect their attendance of lectures
  • staff disagreed

Main staff issues are training and getting them to accept that it records the performance of the day, no editing, warts and all.

5 year vision

  • Ubiquitous, all locations allow
  • increase ease of use to
    • editing
    • lecture room control
    • desktop capture
  • integration with VLE
  • transition from pilot to production service
  • searchability

Costs: 2-5K per lecture theatre

ALT-C 2009 Day Two Keynote

Keynote speech
1 keynote speaker(s)
703 Martin Bean
Martin Bean – Vice-Chancellor Designate of the Open University

Scepticism about innovative technology is not new.

many funny quotes on how paper, ink, and pens are relied on too much and won’t supercede the then present ‘tech’

Thomas Friedman ‘The Changing Landscape’

  • globalisation is a reality
  • competition is global
  • we work in a turbo-charged environment
  • business goes where the talent is

Changing nature of HE

  • Globalisation
    • so many options out there, competition across the world
  • Massification
    • despite increase of supply, can NOT keep pace with demand with traditional brick and mortar
  • Privatisation
    • fastest growing delivery sector is private education
  • india and china outpacing US and UK investment in HE and research
  • collective challenge – need to educate citizens for new types of work
  • STEM is key for a competitive workforce
  • innovation agenda is vital
  • increasing importance of sustainability
  • transforming information into meaningful knowledge

classroom like being on an airplane: sit down, put trust in the pilot, turn off electrical devices

many students have not known a world without: www, mobile phone, sms, video files, mp3s

UK homes: 70% in 2008 had internet

went up by 2 million into 2009

  • learning in the workplace needs to become integral
  • break down barriers between formal and informal learning
  • got to put learner in the middle, learner-centric focus

The opportunity for technology:

  • extending the reach of high quality education to all
  • nurturing powerful communities of learning
  • enabling relevant, personalised, engaging learning
  • giving educators greater insight and more time
  • agile, efficient, and connected learning systems

Making change possible – three key considerations (in order of importance)

  • people
  • process
  • technology

when it fails, 9 times out of 10 it is because of too much time spent on thinking about the hardware/software than on brainware

change delivery models

  • content creation
  • consumption
  • manipulation

OpenLearn -free learning resource

going multi-channel

producing a whole new generation of innovative/engaging content – not just repurposed material

education meets social networking

exciting, fast, disruptive, inhernatly social


  • rich personalised resource archives
  • learner selected mentors
  • enabling people and processes to embrace technologies
  • motivated learners create their own reuse models
  • innovative learners create their own sharing contexts

ALT-C 2009 Redesigning Teaching

Redesigning teaching
2 demonstration(s)
153 Navigating the mine field: Mobile devices in education
Patrick Lockley, Claire Chambers, Gary Priestnall

Bluetooth broadcasting devices, a device broadcasting to up to 21 devices simultaneously.

Broadcasting static content at first.

SPLINT – spatial literacy in teaching

Mobile learning objects. tend to be on a single platform, which can exclude some. Generally outside development, and big budget.


  • mediascape
  • ookl
  • hot lava mobile
  • mobipocket creator
  • microsoft oneapp

Ideal is to create small apps with run-anywhere content, no connection or signal needed once you have the app.


  • Jave not fully supported and is not always cross platform.
  • android and iphone/touch apps – not cross platform
  • web-content unreliable over bluetooth

So decided to go for flash lite, runs on many devices and is a self-contained object.

Didn’t want expensive licences etc, so made their own tool that outputted flash lite. TED

  • wanted powerpoint look and feel
  • wysiwyg
  • no learning curve
  • template driven
  • no coding required
  • rapid development
  • rapid consumption



viral learning objects

want to fully bluetooth the campus to distribute material across whole campus

bluetooth broadcasting box costs £400

188 Developing a class room response system for drag and drop activities
Tony Lowe

demos needing laptops.

  • student engagement – participation
  • activities to promote application, repetition, and reflection – build associations
  • appropriate feedback – dtect and encourage
  • assessment data for teacher to allow real time adaptation of teaching – contingency




  • engagement/participation
  • application and reflection
  • feedback
  • assessment data for teacher decision making

ALT-C 2009 Pedagogic Innovation

Pedagogic innovation
4 short paper(s)
119 Using QR Codes in Teaching and Learning: Delivering the dream
Andy Ramsden

QR codes. Mobile/webcam scannable images (2D barcodes) that with the right software will translate into defined pieces of information/tasks. i.e. URL, some text, a pre-defined SMS message.


Library dynamically generates QR codes, their code is free and they can send it.


125 It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there: using the ‘Visitor-Resident’ principle to guide approaches to the participatory web.
David White, Marion Manton


Is it like Natives and Immigrants? Which basically meant old people don’t understand stuff.

Visitor/Resident isn’t the same sort of thing. It’s a sliding scale, but best described as 2 distinct things.

Visitors, when they log off, leave nothing behind. Residents partially live online, they have a persona online which partially remains behind when they log off.

Resident likes being communal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are collaborative. Can workk autonomously as part of a collective. Not a hive mind. Micro-celebrity, the individual as a brand.

Being adept at one technology doesn’t necessarily translate to being good at another.

Visitors want to use the internet for s specific task, but won’t go beyond that. Goal oriented.

Educational culture isn’t a skill.

need to understand how/why to use something in order to /use/ it. teaching someone how to point/click use it doesn’t mean they ‘get’ it.

Need to understand which of your students are visitors or residents, proportional, and then understand the technology, is it a tool or is it a space?

Not about academic or technical skills, but about culture and motives.

271 Beyond 9 to 5: Learning and community design to support flexible working
Helen Whitehead, Liz Cable


203 Sketching interviews: a method to elicit internal representations for the design of learning support systems
Brock Craft

Attributes/elements of learning design.

A lot of interpretation of drawings/sketches and translating it into implementation in order to design ‘good’ UI for learning.

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.