Although I have been a member of Association for Learning Technology (ALT) for a while, I have never been to the annual conference. This year, however, this year I was fortunate to be supported by my institution to attend over the three days in Manchester (8–10 September 2015, University of Manchester, UK). There were a number of University of Huddersfield colleagues presenting work and hanging out as can be seen on the photo where Jess Power, Sue Folley, Vidya Kannara and Amanda Tinker (from left to right in focus of photo here) appear to be plotting something.
Already before the conference, I was slightly overwhelmed by the extensive programme and spent a long time trying to decide on what sessions to go to. But the reality of ‘being there’ became much more about getting a sense of the alt community than the specific content of any sessions. There are so many ways to follow-up on interesting projects besides attending a conference session. And some presenters, like Catherine Cronin and Viv Rolfe, created some very rich resources to accompany their presentation and enable people to explore open education: Going Open at #altc 2015, Wiki, video & summary of tweets from #altc session by Vivien Rolfe and Catherine Cronin.
I was really pleased that the conference was less focused on technology than I perhaps expected and that interesting discussions about education were happening. I really like these points made by Jonathan Worth and Donna Lanclos:
Can we provide an environment where students actually get comfortable with the idea of discomfort and inconsistent environments? #altc
— Donna Lanclos (@DonnaLanclos) September 10, 2015
‘In our rush to catch up with what tech does, I worry we’re losing an opportunity to be a strong voice in what tech will come to mean’ #ALTc
— Jonathan Worth (@Jonathan_Worth) September 9, 2015
Some of my highlights from the conference are:
- Keynotes were live streamed and available – how fantastic. Find them here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClipsFromALT
- The two students who joined Steve Wheeler’s keynote, Kate Bartlett (@kate_bartlett93) and Becca Smallshaw (@Becca_Smallshaw) were great because they highlighted the contextual and contingent nature of using learning technologies. And they both blogged about their experience of being at #altc (see the link in their names)
Love the students #altc bringing out issues of power and economic realities of technology and education!
— Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen) September 8, 2015
- The game where we tried to defeat the evil bot was a great addition to conference activities, just added some great ways to engage with others. Although I was rubbish at collecting the required stickers – especially compared to Hayley Atkinson, who did some amazing robot dancing to earn stickers!
- The questioning of predictions about the future of learning technologies, obsession with what will be the next thing, and dissection of the ‘hype cycle’ by David Kernohan in his presentation “I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream”
- Learning from Jonathan Worth’s keynote about the videos on Privacy and Trust in Open Education, make sure you take a look http://speakingopenly.co.uk/
- Meeting people in real life that I only know from Twitter was exciting
If you want to read more, take a look at what other participants thought, there are some really useful summaries and valuable reflections in here:
- Catherine Cronin has written a great post about how ALTC was not a tech-focused conference but about people and pedagogy, which really resonates with how I experienced the conference. Taking a Broader View at ALTC.
- Jenny Mackness has an interesting discussion of Jonathan Worth’s keynote including a lengthy comment from Jonathan expanding on the ideas from his talk. The Micro and the Macro of the EdTech World
- Vivien Rolfe’s post poses tough and searching questions about why we do engage in open education. ALT-C 2015 reflections: a heffalump in the auditorium?
- Martin Weller ponders some of the concerns for people who advocate for digital scholarship and encourage others to blog etc http://blog.edtechie.net/digital-scholarship/existential-angst-for-a-digital-scholar/
- You should definitely also take a look at the impressive sketch notes done by David Hopkins. Day 1 #ALTC 2015
- Sheila MacNeill has produced no less than two posts!
- There was also a lot of Virtually Connecting going on which looked very exciting, read all about this on Maha Bali’s blog. http://blog.mahabali.me/blog/educational-technology-2/hugs-handshakes-heartache-altc-vconnecting/
Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)