ALT-C 2011

‘Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate’

Conference abstracts

Not long got back from my first ever ALT-C conference – this year held at the University of Leeds. It was a great opportunity to network and meet people who I follow on twitter in real life! Anyway, I took pages of notes so I’d better get them typed up fast before I forget everything!

ALT-C Website

Plan Ceibal:

We were first welcomed by John Cook and the Lord Mayor of Leeds (wearing serious bling!) This was followed by Miguel Brechner, who is the President of the Uruguayan Centre for Technology and Social Inclusion. What he showed us was astounding! His task (Plan Ceibal) was to make sure that every child and teacher in Uruguay had their own laptop – and access to the internet (see BBC report here)!

  • 1 laptop per child – all thought it was a dream!
  • Main reasons for for doing it: Equality – Learning – Technology
  • Fear from the teachers was the biggest problem
  • On reflection – IT WAS WORTHWHILE!
  • Children became more motivated & poorer children watched less TV – parents were also using the laptops and therefore ‘up-skilling’
  • The role of the teacher has changed – they have stopped being ‘wikis of information’ and more like mentors and motivators.
  • The schools have now become the centers of activity in the community
  • To own a netbook was a privileged – now it is a RIGHT!
  • ‘The journey is the reward’ – in some houses there are more computers than beds! Some schools have no electricity – but great broadband!

Google Apps

I don’t think that Solent is quite ready for putting all our stuff in the cloud. We have a lot of open source systems that we like to look after and customise – but there’s no reason why we can promote the use of these tools to our students. I mean, hey, I use blogger, google docs, google plus and their search engine! Google have a range of apps just for education:

They also did  little bit of ‘showboating’:

Teachers’ Friends

This session looked at ways in which technology was being used to enhance teaching and learning and comprised of four short papers:

1. ePortfolios in Teacher Training – friend or foe

At Nottingham Trent uni they looked at giving all their trainee teachers an ePortfolio where they cans tore their ‘stuff’ and develop their resources in.

2. iPads for giving feedback

At Middlesex Uni all assessments must be submitted online and feedback to be returned online. The Learning Tech team got 5 iPads and put out a call for staff to come up with ideas of how they will use them eg: Feedback on a poster presentation – recorded audio.

  • Decided on iPads as they are the ‘new in thing’ – and were loved by the 5 academics
  • tutors even used the iPads for other things
  • Many tutors ended up buying their own at the end of the project
  • Issue – they only had the wifi version – and they needed the internet the whole time! 3G would have been better but who would have paid for them?
  • iPads were great for reading dissertations and other long essays – text can be annotated and highlighted
  • surprisingly the staff ‘wanted training!’ and FLASH!

3. Promotion of Audio Feedback

Sheffield Hallum uni have been trying to encourage their staff and students to use the recorders built into their phones to record feedback conversations and assessment reviewing.

  • See Hounsell et al integrated extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
  • With the shift in working conditions, staff have been asked to work ‘smarter’ – using recorders they can give more in-depth feedback in a cheaper and innovative way
  • Different types of media-enhanced feedback: Audio, Video, Screencast
  • Students love it as it’s personal and clear

4. JISC Techdis HEAT Scheme

This scheme aims to promote and provide grants for projects that look into the use of technology to assist those with accessibility issues. It stands for ‘Higher Education Assistive Technology Scheme’.

  • 8-10% of all HE students are registered disabled – so that’s 240,000!
  • The project is aimed at: teachers/lecturers, library staff, career and employability officers, staff developers and IT Specialists.
  • Great software to look at: Comic Strip
  • Next round of funding could be available soon.

Learning Powered by Technology

This session was streamed live using Adobe Connect Pro – a product that we use at Solent – and presented by Karen Cator (the Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the US Dept of Education).

She started off talking about education and that it was it’s ‘internet moment’. During the SuperBowl so many people tuned in just for the adverts. The adverts were cleverly designed so that people would ‘share’ them online using social media to spread their message. Such examples included the car ad below:

  • There is so much exciting stuff happening outside of education
  • we have 24/7 access to the internet in our pockets!
  • there are so many opportunities for social interaction where learning can take place
  • Military – says that ‘Technology is a force multiplier’
  • National Education Tech Plan – how can we create an interconnected teaching profession? How can we ensure that everyone has access to what they need exactly at the point they need it?
  • How can we make things more transparent and portable (ePortfolios?)
  • We need to create more deep, engaging and compelling assessments – not the fluffy crap that they’re used to at the mo!

Digital Posters

This was a great little project that I think could be useful for our students wanting to talk about their visual work.

  • Students who were deemed to have poor academic writing skills and literacy would often shy away from getting help and advice.
  • When applying for placements, their email manner and application forms were also poor
  • To help them to get used to thinking on their feet they were set tasks in their International Business course:
  1. Student set a 2hr research task based on a country of their choice
  2. Student then picks between 4-6 images and puts them on one Powerpoint slide
  3. Using screen capture software the student then uses the images to remind them of their research as they ‘talk’ through what they’ve discovered
  • The students know that what they produce will be shared around the class and with their lecturers – they’re then more likely to seek help on improving.  This will hope to improve their confidence in other areas of their learning

See video below of Peter Elbow’s interview about his writing experience and how he over came it:

Promoting E Tools in Education

Tony Tool is a lecturer and gave us a demo of how he’s using Web 2.0 to teach:

  • He states that all academics should be able to create their own Google Sites – that it should now be a ‘key skill’ for all academics.
  • A website has been put together to give training to staff on the use of Facebook for Teachers, Web 2.0 for for Teachers, Google for Teachers

The Long Walk

  • Trainee teachers in ‘outdoor activities’ plan and prepare an 18 day walk through the outback.
  • They use their pebblepad ePortfolios to plan the event – as opposed for ‘this is what I’ve done’
  • As part of their assessment they have to create an action plan and a webfolio of ideas to support it.
  • Assessors then use Jing to review portfolio and record a ‘walk-thru’ screen cast with audio
  • Could be useful as a project at Solent?

remodeling Computer Science

  • Students were given a module that was entirely self-directed – this way they were able to ‘discover’ their own information and ways of understanding.
  • ‘Pedagogy is the teaching of children’ – Andragogy is the teaching of adults.
  • Heutagogy – self-directed learning! The learners are now in charge of their learning!

Comparing Pedagogy, Andragogy and Heutagogy

  • Need to remember that learners are NOT customers – they’re not always right! Can be deemed ‘clients of a professional service’
  • DECADE project: Domain, Expertise Capture in Authoring and Developing Environments – Active CVs and portfolio building
  • Evidence > Activity > Progress!

Life stories

This was a lovely session where a research questionnaire was sent out to staff to record their first experiences with technology. This included two stories read out to the room where lecturers recounted what it was like to have their own tv and their first time using a computer!

Can RSS feeds support trainee teachers?

Derby uni were determined not to keep ‘holding their students’ hands’ throughout their education. Instead they collated a number of key generic resources as a rss feed (using Netvibes) and shared it with their students in the hope that they would add to it with subject specialist resources.

  • There was a very ‘low’ response rate to their call
  • No respondents used ‘citation managers’ (ie Refworks)
  • Shame 😦

Group Blogging – Learning together online

Steve Wheeler gave us an insight to student blogging and how they are able to ‘self monitor their progress’.

  • ‘In the act of writing…we are written’ (Daniel Chandler) See here for paper
  • By group blogging the students could monitor how their peers were doing and compare what stages they were all at. For example, if someone hadn’t posted in a while, the rest of the group would try to encourage them back! Plus individuals could see if they were ‘falling behind’.
  • Teacher would generally stand back and not intervene/interfere unless necessary
  • Steve’s slides:

Nice - choccie pebbles! Had a nice chat with the team from PebblePad to see what's in store for 2012

Help! I have a blind student in my Maths class! Should I panic?

Dónal is a lecturer at Dublin City University see his website here

  • ‘Blind students can’t: live on their own, can’t ski, can’t do science, music or anything inherently visual!
    UTTER RUBBISH! Dónal, although blind, can do all of the above!
  • Gave a demo of what a maths equation ‘looked’ like to him using a screen reader. It sounded very complicated and you’d have to rely on memory to work out the solution. There needs to be an interface for screen readers to allow blind students to go over equations (otherwise there’s too greater cognitive load!)
  • If it’s possible to find a 3D model! No good trying to describe a 3d shape with a flat image:

Sighted people can see that this is a 2D representation of a 3D shape - a blind person wouldn't know what it is.

  • Sighted peeps respond to visual stimuli.
  • Video challenge – is it accessible? Remember multi-modal deliveries can be challenging to the blind.
  • Incredible how fast a screen reader reads out text – speed reading would be at 75% – comfortable reading would be 55%
  • Our talks can be accessible too! Need to prep our sessions for potential blind participants.


Reflections & thanks

Well- I’ve come away with a lot! I’m going to look more into:

  • the Heutagogical model of learning
  • ideas for small projects with definite outcomes that can be used as ‘quick wins’ to engage staff
  • google sites to create resources
  • screen capturing for assessment and OERs
  • HEAT Scheme from JISC Techdis

Many thanks to those who I met, ate and drank with during my time there – especially Barbara, Gavin, Phil and Gordon 🙂


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