So, I’ve been part of the organising committee for the 2018 edition of the Social Media in Higher Education conference [ yes I know it’s now 2019 and we missed the usual pre Christmas and festive jumper wearing antics but we are going with it for now … there will follow a 2019 edition back in its usual slot towards the end of year…. )
I’m currently on my way to Nottingham via train …. I’m really looking forward to catching up with everyone tonight in advance of what promises to be a fabulous event tomorrow !
It has been such a joy to be part of this committee, a group of volunteer educators from eleven different HE institutions across the UK that have given up their time, energy and enthusiasm to create an event / conference / gathering / festival ( we came up with many definitions of what we were trying to do ! ) for people to come together to discuss the use of social media in learning and teaching. I can’t describe how brilliant it is to work with these people and to feel so proud to be part of this event. I have attended previous years in person and online and presented at the 2016 version so it is an absolute pleasure to be part of the behind the scenes stuff.
Our theme for this years event (9th January 2019 at Nottingham Trent University) embraces #openness, #creativity,and #digital_identity. Social Media itself can be considered as part of the mainstream, but just how ‘mainstream’ is it in terms of being an integral part of learning and teaching through developing digital confidence, digital capabilities and critique ? Or is it something that is more mainstream in terms of marketing and recruitment ? These are questions we hope to pursue at the event. We hope to share, and discuss what we do and why we do this sort of stuff.
I think we have what promises to be a pretty fantastic line up on the programme with so many great sessions to choose from. See the more detailed session outline programme here
So this might actually be a record of me attempting to do a blog post within a couple of days of returning from the ALTC conference … I always have the intention of doing it but somehow I always get sidetracked .. anyhow, in the hope that this post actually gets finished I shall crack on as they say..
This years conference was a special one, the 25th anniversary to be precise. There were even cakes, both edible varieties and even really cool virtual ones courtesy of the fabulous Bryan Matthers, who despite not being in actual physical attendance at the conference was ever present where ever I went.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend for the full three days. It was a real packed programme and it was so difficult to try and select which of the sessions that I would go to. I’m sure I missed some absolute gems in terms of sessions but here are some of the highlights of the sessions that I did go to and some other fabulous experiences that were had along the way.
I went up to Manchester by train and was accompanied by my new colleague Luke, who I have to say spent most of the journey looking after me and trying to avoid my usual travelling mishaps like spilling my coffee everywhere. My other colleague Chris Jobling very sensibly opted for a different train !
So far this morning I have ran for a train 🚂 got stuck in the ticket barrier with my suitcase … causing chaos already … I have however now found my travelling companion @LO_Salt (am sure he was hiding !) #altcpic.twitter.com/Zyvd2Jl94a
Throughout the journey the usual pre conference twitter exchanges were in full swing. This even included an impromptu Snapchat tutorial (through the medium of Snapchat) with my buddy Suzanne Faulkner.
Chaos ensued as we attempted to snap our way through the various functions of adding bunny ears and sparkly unicorn horns. It was a giggle … there may even be a repeat attempt at some point .. watch this space. (I can feel my two children cringing from here ..)
And that was all before the conference actually started !
The event itself kicked off with a brilliant keynote from Tressie MacMillan Cottom, you can watch it here.
I was blown away by Tressie, both in terms of the content but also in the delivery of her talk. It was so warm and heartfelt and she talked a lot about collaboration and connecting with each other which ticked so many boxes for me. She outlined that ‘Context’ matters in terms of that fact that we are shaped by who and where you are and that Learning Technologies ‘do not exist in a vacuum’ and that we should consider how best to open up the various spaces to make those connections in order to ‘make stuff happen’. Here are my little scribbles of her talk, I’m sure I only touched the surface with my notes so I would encourage you to watch her talk. It’s fab.
I took part in the Virtually Connecting session as an onsite guest on Day One where we shared what we were hoping to get out of this year’s #ALTC and got to meet some great virtual attendees from around the world. You can watch the replay here if you are interested.
There were so many brilliant sessions to choose from and inevitably there were some that I wanted attend but couldn’t go to but from those that I did go to, here are some of my key highlights along with some of my attempts at the ‘doodly sketchee’ things…
Sheila MacNeill and Jim Emery explained all about their project as part of the JISC effective Learning Analytics Programme and their quest to find insights into the patterns of use of technology for learning and teaching in relation to student engagement. They gave a fab outline of their endeavours and struggle with the complicated interweave of culture, processes, people and technology and the importance of having both sufficient time, resources and institutional investment in the project in order to make progress. The session was well attended and even had us joining the dots to find a paper unicorn !
One of the other sessions that I was so glad that I went to was David Hopkins session on Certified Membership of ALT.
CMALT is a portfolio-based professional accreditation scheme developed by ALT to enable people whose work involves learning technology to: ◊ have their experience and capabilities certified by peers ◊ demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development – Taken From CMALT Prospectus 2014
I have been thinking about starting compiling CMALT evidence for a while but I wasn’t quite sure where to start really so I found David’s session so helpful. David explained all about the CMALT guidelines and highlighted some useful pointers about looking at the CMALT Portfolio Open Register ( you need to be logged on to the ALT site to view) where some very kind people have shared their portfolios so you can have a look and see the sort of standard that you need to achieve … He also mentioned the key things to keep in mind were to ‘Describe’, ‘Evidence’ and ‘Reflect’ and that it would be a good idea to start thinking about possible forms of evidence sooner rather than later… I’m hoping to start compiling my evidence shortly but am still wondering what to use for my portfolio.
I’m Secretary of the Open Education Special Interest Group so it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to hold one of our face to face sessions at ALT this year. One of our lovely Chairs Teresa Mackinnon provided us all with cookies and cakes to keep us going. It was great to welcome some new members too this year and show case our new Community Space, Forum and Webinar series. Our next forthcoming webinar is on Open Principles in Education – Building Bridges, Empowering Communities – presented by Suchith Anand University of Nottingham
If you would like to find out more about what we do at #openedsig please check out the links above !
Some other Doodly Stuff that I did at the conference ….
It was a fabulous three days with lovely weather on a beautiful campus and it was great to catch up with loads of lovely people and make some new friends ! The fun and games started on the way there with the valiant efforts of the ALT Games and Learning SIG to get us all spotting green stuff. It proved quite a hit with people joining in and spotting loads of things on their travels. There were plenty of opportunities to take part and connect with each other but the fact that we started doing this on the way there was a really nice touch.
The conference themes this year really ticked all the boxes for me in terms of my love of collaboration and the way that the ALT Games Special Interest Group encouraged everyone to get involved with all the fun and games added that extra sense of excitement
Connecting data and analytics to enhance learning and teaching: exploring possibilities and making links.
Collaboration and innovation in the open: taking risks, sharing lessons and the importance of open practice.
Creating new learning, teaching and assessment opportunities: play, experiment, discover, embed to enhance learner experience
Wildcard: Learning Technology is everywhere… any aspect of research, practice or policy work.
There was a real treat in store in terms of the keynotes and something for everyone.
I really enjoyed all the key notes. It is such a privilege to be able to be present at ALT-c although of course you can also take part online. There were quite a few things that made an impression on me and I have to say all of the presenters were equally engaging, entertaining and thought provoking. If you didn’t get the chance to go to ALT-c they were all recorded and are available on You Tube.
There have also been some brilliant summaries of the key notes already …. ( As usually happens loads of people have already been far quicker of the mark than me and written really fab posts of their take on the conference including a really interesting one by Susan Greig outlining her virtual attendance experience, and an excellent post by Sheila MacNeills who wins the prize for the most entertaining blog post title 🙂
You can read more brilliant posts in a very helpful compliation from the lovely folks at ALT …)
I have to say however it was a first for me being reduced to an emotional blubbering wreck in a keynote by the fabulous Ian Livingstone CBE ! Please note that this was in a good way ! I had many an enjoyable hour or two reading Ian’s books when I was in school so this was a real trip down memory lane for me ….Ian’s talk made me laugh , was incredibly interesting and also managed to reduce me to tears at one point – it was simply brilliant …honestly … if you want to find out just how brilliant check out the You Tube recorded version below.
The rest of the conference proved as great as the keynotes, great sessions, games, lovely people, good food, pretty campus ( with bunnies !) beautiful weather and a fab atmosphere all wrapped in the general warmth and loveliness of the folks at ALT ….what’s not to love ?
I’m loving this blog post about the recent OER16 Conference at Edinburgh on the ALT Site by the fabulous Frances Bell. I think it really captures the spirit of the Open Community and the friendly and warm welcome that I have been fortunate to receive since I have been involved.
OER Friends …. love it …
Image by Michael Carian Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)