Trying out new online courses: GDPR and online engagement

I have been trying out new online courses, starting with a Futurelearn course ‘Understanding the General Data Protection Regulation‘ which many colleagues are also taking part in. I am a Data Controller and responsible for my organisation’s compliance with the GDPR framework when it comes into force, and this course forms part of our way to becoming compliant.

I have been taking part in the course mostly by reading and absorbing the material rather than discussing/exchanging ideas with other participants – I have plenty of debate around these issues in other contexts.

The course is clearly structured, easy to follow and has plenty of references and articles to follow up on specific issues further. I found the video component of the course, which is usually more engaging for me, less interesting in this case. I found I prefer to read the more detailed articles and lists.

After one more week of GDPR, I am really looking forward to starting a completely different kind of course, the upcoming ‘Engagement in a Time of Polarization‘ run on edX led by Delia Deckard and Bonnie Stewart. The course is described as follows:

How can we work together in a society where our communications channels have become so polarized? Can we engage in active, effective collaboration in a media ecosystem designed to make money from driving us apart?

This two-week course convenes a conversation on participatory engagement models, and on building understanding and relationships even within the very real limits of contemporary social media. The course will enact the same participatory ideas it explores, and will feature input from leading voices in media literacies, disinformation, and polarization. Participants can engage on their own time and in real time, and if they wish, can build towards action in their local communities.

The focus of this course closely relates to some of the work I do day to day, in particular around enabling engagement in online communities at scale, supporting effective open, online governance and reflecting on the skills required to participate.

It’s also a topic I am interested in for my own practice, and I am looking forward to learning more about how debate gets polarized and how we interact online.

Re-post #altc: What we have been up to… an update from the Chair and Chief Executive of ALT

2017: What we have been up to [Image credit: Bryan Mathers]

Together with the Chair of ALT, Sheila MacNeill, I wrote this update on the work we have been doing and we published this on the #altc blog recently:

Dear Members

A year ago we launched ALT’s Strategy 2017-2020 and since then we have made great progress putting our shared values into practice and working together to meet our aims.

We reported to Members and stakeholders from across sectors in ALT’s Annual Report [PDF] and at the AGM in September. Since then much has happened and so we are are now sharing more of what we have been up to:

Sharing research & practice

2017 had a strong programme of events sharing research & practice in Learning Technology and making our independent voice heard in the UK and internationally. The OER17 Conference in London in April, our first Annual Conference to be held in Liverpool in September, the 4th Online Winter Conference in December; and throughout the year local Members Groups meetings brought professionals together to critically discuss topics such as next generation learning environments, micro accreditation and learning analytics.

Reaching new Member milestones

As our new strategy clearly states, we are greater than the sum of our parts. In 2017 we celebrated two membership milestones; the 400th CMALT Award and the growth of overall Membership to over 3000. This increase in numbers is making our voice in policy development stronger than ever before. The decision to keep our membership fees frozen for a third year has also paid off as increasing membership allows us to maintain and expand all of our activities. The more members we have, the more we can do for and with our community

Increasing impact

We continued to worked hard to increase the impact of Learning Technology for public benefit, establishing a new publishing partnership between ALT and Open Academia for our journal, Research in Learning Technology. Alongside the journal, the #altc blog flourishes and ALT’s Open Access Repository has had a mini renaissance, enabling Members to publish and deposit research and reports, such as the guide to working with startups in Learning Technology. All ALT’s publications continue to be edited by Members and reviewed by Members just like our peer-review for events and awards.

New pathways to accreditation

Over the past five months we have led a major consultation, Pathways to CMALT, with Members and the wider community. We want to expand the CMALT accreditation framework to provide new pathways to professional recognition for: Learning Technology professionals in the early stages of their career, for those for whom Learning Technology is only part of their role and also for senior professionals in management, leadership or research positions. Pathways to CMALT is the largest innovation project ALT has undertaken independently since the ground breaking ocTEL online programme. This year will see this exciting new project scaling up to include further mappings beyond the Jisc Digital Capabilities framework, the UKPSF and the Blended Learning curriculum.

Looking ahead to 2018

That brings us to what’s coming up in 2018, when we celebrate ALT’s 25th birthday! This is a special year for us as an Association and as well as new accreditation pathways and the first ALT Research Awards we’ll be working together across sectors and countries to achieve greater recognition for and representation of our Members.

Join us in making this year even more impactful for our community, help spread the word to more Learning Technology professionals and share what we have achieved as a community.

The rise of the robots and the power of shared values (2017: part 2)

This is part 2 of my look back at my year in Learning Technology in 2017 (read part 1).

The rise of the robots and the power of shared values

Another story that has shaped my work this year is the ‘rise of the robots’ with headlines once again prophesying a future where every job is under threat and where, in education in particular, robots will soon replace teachers and lecturers all together. From gleefully pronouncing the ‘uberfication’ of education to examining the potential efficiencies that can be gained by an automated system for delivering learning and accreditation, this past year has had it all. And many eloquent writers and researchers have dedicated their efforts to examining what is actually happening and what impact it may have.

In my previous post I wrote about how we can make use of the ubiquity of ‘digital’ to raise awareness of Learning Technology and the work we do. I argued for the need to define clearly what we mean when we talk about all things ‘digital’. When it comes to talking about intelligent or learning machines (or indeed teaching machines), language is even more important.

When we talk about robots coming to take our jobs what we are really talking about is human agency, human decision making to replace human workers with machines. Just because we may be able to make machines that are ever more sophisticated doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘rise of the robots’ is inevitable. Those in power have choice. We have choice.

By talking about machines like human beings we transfer to them a sense of being similar to our own. We talk about how they learn, how they feel or what they need. As an Anthropologist I specialised in the study of Material and Visual Culture, more specifically the relationship we have as human beings to objects, and so I have a particular interest in this area. I know that our sense of who and what we are is shaped by how we perceive the world, our senses, and that even understanding another person’s view of the world can be a challenge, particularly if they have a different cultural background.

Thus, when I listen to conference presentations or vendor pitches evangelising about the next generation of caring machines, of robots who have empathy, who will provide care for our elderly or teach our children, it makes me pause.

It makes me pause because I think it’s important that we acknowledge our agency in the evolution of machines. It makes me pause because being human is more different from being a machine than the way we talk about it seems to imply.

Our relation with technology

Much of what I work on builds on decades years of research exploring how technology can be used effectively for learning, teaching and assessment. Learning Technology, by definition, advocates the use of technology in education even if it does so critically. Every part of our lives, and increasingly the lives of the majority of the human population, is permeated by digital technologies and our education and training systems reflect this.

In my last post I argued what we need to focus on is how we can best use technology to achieve our aims for learning, teaching and assessment. The next step is to consider what values we share that define our aims and what part, if any, machines play in that.

Over a year ago, when ALT set out to create a new strategy, we started on a journey that has given me a new insight into the power of values. My previous experience of setting out strategic aims was that usually one or two individuals end up writing such documents and few people ever read them. Instead we ended up on a journey through a collaborative, consultative process that resulted in articulating strong strategic aims and shared values that better communicate what we do, why and how. It was an empowering experience for everyone involved that has had significant impact not only for our organisation, but far beyond as I have openly shared not just the end result but also the process that got us there with other organisations including UCISA and the YMCA and at events like OER17, ILTA’s annual conference and Mozfest.

From supporting the campaign for right copyright to finding a new Open Access publishing arrangements for ALT’s journal, Research in Learning Technology, joining the Creative Commons Open Education platform, much of what I do day to day is all about putting our values into practice and advocating for what we care about as a community. I make sure that the values we have inform our aims and use that as a basis for operational decisions.

From values to action

One of the highlights of my year, ALT’s Annual Conference, provides an international stage on which you can see the power of the values we share in practice. Not only in the academic programme, but in the way the event is organised and how participants engage with it. For example, open elections in which every Member of ALT can vote each year result in three new Trustees joining ALT’s Central Executive and we welcome them at the AGM that is open to all to attend and live streamed. Like the strategy, ALT’s Annual Report is written by Members for Members and gives a clear account of finances, governance and achievements. Making the effort to issue open calls for getting involved in various activities, from conferences to publications, and ensuring there is regular turnover and transparency helps engage hundreds of professionals each year. It also ensures power and decision making is distributed throughout the community and that is really important to me.

Elizabeth Charles as a newly election Trustees of ALT

As well as good governance, I help recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding peers within our community, through for example supporting the Honorary Life Membership and the international Learning Technologist of the Year Awards. Members from across sectors and with different areas of expertise make up the selection panels I support and we actively promote diversity throughout the process. Each year winners reflect the the range of achievements in Learning Technology and showcase the impact of the work of individuals and teams from our community around the globe. It’s inspiring to see what can be achieved often against all the odds.

Josie Fraser receives her Honorary Life Membership of ALT (with Martin Weller and myself)
Celebrating the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2017

Whilst the Annual Conference may be the biggest stage on which we recognise professional achievements, there’s much happening throughout the year that recognises and rewards Learning Technologists, like the recent CMALT celebration I took part in (cake and all).

Newly minted CMALT Holders at the University of Edinburgh (image with kind permission from Susan Greig)

Whether in person or online, what’s important about these kinds of celebrations is that they give expression to the value placed in professional practice, in valuing people. And what individuals do to play a part in this does matter. It makes a difference to colleagues, staff, managers. How we work together, how we support each other, how we talk about, relate to and use technology matters. As a Learning Technologist in a leadership position I leverage my position to purposefully set an example that reflect my values.

Taking personal responsibility to put values into action makes change happen. And that applies to the decisions we take about our relationship to robots, to machines, just the same. Coming back to the the rise of the robots, it’s not inevitable that much of what we currently do will be done by machines in the future. I argued for the difference individuals can make to achieving equality through openness in Learning Technology when I spoke at ILTA’s Annual Conference in June. Now, I hope that just as the fight for equality continues, our efforts to form an equitable relationship with machines and technology (in education) will provide a balancing weight to technological determinism.

Recent posts by me on values

Thanks, again

I take a collegiate, collaborative approach to leadership and my work in general. This is particularly true of some of the examples I mention in this post. I am fortunate to have so many people to work, think and make things with. As you’re reading this you are likely to be one of those people, and I’d like to say thank you. You made all the difference to this year for me.

The ‘digital’ Trojan Horse and the rise of Learning Technologists (2017: part 1)

Snapshots from 2017

With the end of the year around the corner, I’m adding my contribution to the many excellent reviews and reports reflecting on Learning Technology in 2017. I work at the intersection of policy, research and practice, focusing not on technology as such, but on the professionals, the human dimension of technology in education. As such, it’s been an interesting year as the relationship between people and machines evolves. I hope that there will be three posts in this series, starting with this on on…

The ‘digital’ Trojan Horse and the rise of Learning Technologists

This year ‘digital’ was everywhere, specially in education. In the UK Matthew Hancock MP became the Digital Minister (incidentally, it looks like equality still has a way to go when it comes to ‘new paradigm’ Ministers in the G7), I was involved in a UK-wide open course to Develop Digital Skills led by Diana Laurillard and Neil Morris, we read much about the digital skills gap, there were a number of digital policy developments (UK Digital Strategy, Digital Skills and Inclusion Policy, Digital Skills Partnership to name but a few) and everyone from High Street banks to executive training providers is offering to train and educate… everyone in ‘digital’ including teachers.

In education the term has become shorthand for anything to do with using or being influenced by technology, added to existing terms to make new meanings, for example digital education, digital leadership, digital teachers and digital degrees. Beyond education we operate in a digital economy and try to engage with digital democracy. We leave digital footprints, manage digital identities and sign up for digital detox. Digital is a term that has left its clearly defined roots so far behind that it is challenging to unpack its meaning even when there is a clear context – and most of the time it is a convenient way for the ill informed to describe something perceived as new or disrupted or innovative without being specific about what’s actually involved.

Many times this year (for example taking part in the Department for Education’s edtech stakeholder group alongside colleagues from the Learning and Work Institute, the Ufi Trust, Nesta or Naace, in conversation with industry leaders like Panopto’s CEO Eric Burns or working with Aula’s CEO Anders Krohn on a guide to working with edtech start ups, writing about skills development and accreditation on the Efficiency Exchange or talking about FELTAG and workforce development or discussing professionalisation at Online Educa) I have found that the term doesn’t help when discussing learning, teaching or assessment with technology. That’s because it encompasses infrastructure and hardware just as much as having basic digital literacy and goes on to include learning design, purchasing decisions and strategic planning or governance of technology. Digital can mean many things to many people. Deciding how to ‘fix’ problems or address challenges requires more definition to begin with.

From Mozfest 2017: http://marendeepwell.com/cpd/talking-peer-based-accreditation-mozfest/

Understanding professional practice

I try to unpack what we mean when we talk about digital in education, for example in the context of skills needed in a professional context: whether we mean basic digital literacy that everyone needs to use technology effectively, or the specific skills required to support the use of technology in the classroom informed by pedagogic principles and subject-specific requirements. Or whether we are talking about a professional who takes decisions about which technology to use or buy, how to implement it, how to support the use of it for staff and learners alike. Or indeed whether we are talking about senior professionals who need to take effective strategic decisions about technology, associated risks and how to make intelligent use of it for their organisation.

The vagueness of the term and how it is used can be problematic because it leaves much open to interpretation and doesn’t push us to define and agree on what we actually mean. The language we use when we formulate national policies, when we set institutional strategies, when we define personal responsibilities matters. It shapes our understanding of the world and our part in it. In Learning Technology the language we use helps us understand how professional practice is changing and critically reflect on it.

And yet I find that the ubiquity of the term digital is extremely helpful in many ways. It builds a bridge between Learning Technology and wider social, political and economic developments. It is easy to use and less of a mouthful than other terms like technology enhanced learning. It is used widely across sectors and nations. It feels contemporary, modern, new. And that is attractive to many people.

Like MOOC before it, the term digital helps raise awareness of technology being used for learning, teaching and assessment. We can use it to foster a broader, critical discourse. It can be our Trojan Horse, to open gates in the minds of individuals and institutions who have their heads buried in the sand. We can use its ubiquity to help illustrate the scale of the challenges we are facing and how we might meet them not only in education, but the workplace and beyond. Often having a digital strategy or a post with digital in the job title can be a useful first step to starting a conversation about more complex issues.

The rise of Learning Technologists

What gives me hope in this ‘digital age’, is that there are now more professionals working in all different contexts and sectors who play a part in shaping how technology is used for learning, teaching and assessment.

With over 3000 Members for the first time in its 25 year history and Members Groups all across the UK, ALT is a good example of how this professional community is growing. More and more roles in education now have a Learning Technology component and we see ever more senior roles demand such expertise also. On the one hand I still meet too many people who are looking for a magic box they can buy, plug in and which has a little green LED light that blinks and assures them that their organisation is now ready for ‘digital’. One the other hand more and more institutions invest in their people and create specialist roles to make effective use of Learning Technology.

Image from the ALT Annual Strategy 2017-2020. Images created by @BryanMMathers CC-BY-SA ALT

In many cases these professionals aren’t called Learning Technologists and instead have a whole variety of job titles. They may be based anywhere from the library to the IT department or their own department. In some cases they might be on their own, or work across all areas of their organisation. Or they might work independently as a consultant, trainer or manager. From schools, to colleges, private providers and universities, everyone needs more and more know-how in Learning Technology. We have seen a rise in the demand not only for training, but accreditation and professional development from all sectors. Projects like expanding ALT’s accreditation scheme and mapping the CMALT framework to other UK and international standards are a response to the rise of Learning Technologists. The breadth of professional practice that is showcased in the growing register of accredited CMALT portfolios meanwhile highlights that we now have an understanding of the skills and competencies required for this kind of work that is independent of platforms and tools and that remains relevant as we retrain and adapt to new technologies. My personal experience of gaining professional recognition as a Learning Technologist in a leadership role adds to my understanding of how the profession is evolving.

Yet as we move further into a world, and an education system where everything is ‘digital’, one question I get asked frequently is “How we know if or when we’ve arrived in the future that Learning Technology promised?”.

I discuss this questions again and again with policy makers or leaders, in consultation responses or with other experts for example on Wonkhe (here and here). Over the past 10 years I have worked with people who have thought about this question from many different angles. And we return to it frequently as we compare ourselves to what’s happening in other countries, other industries and at other times throughout history.

“How”, they ask, “can we have made progress when there are primary schools without WiFi, bans on mobile phones or laptops in the classroom, inspection/funding/accreditation bodies whose policies often don’t even mention the words technology or digital?”.  

“How, and when, will we arrive in the vision of learning that the potential that technology has offered for so long?”.

From my perspective the answer is that we have long since arrived. The promised land of Learning Technology has simply turned out to be no less messy, inconsistent or challenging than what we had before. The forces of global capitalism still shape our education systems. “Are things better with technology in education?” is the wrong question to ask in my opinion.

Instead “How can we best use technology to achieve our aims for learning, teaching and assessment?” is a more useful way of thinking about the future.

And we need a diverse, critical and empowered Learning Technology community to help find the answers. I am glad that the work I do for ALT plays a part in making that happen in the UK and beyond.

Recent posts by me on professional practice

Thanks

I take a collegiate, collaborative approach to leadership and my work in general. I am lucky to have so many people to work, think and make things with. As you’re reading this you are likely to be one of those people, and I’d like to say thank you. You made all the difference to this year for me.

Coming up #oeb17: Re-articulating what we value – a new vision for Learning Technology professionals

I am looking forward to a panel discussion at Online Educa Berlin 2017 this week, as part of the Business EDUCA: Learning L&D Needs session. The session is about:

Creating learning solutions which enable workforce development is no easy feat. And becoming an effective instructional designer will often require a degree, courses and field experience. This session will discuss the skills practitioners need for the L&D department of the future, as well as how we can learn the profession and remain relevant to our organisations.

You can view the full programme of the conference and more information about the session here.

My contribution is focused on professionalisation of Learning Technology in the UK informed by results from ALT’s Annual Survey and the development of the CMALT accreditation framework (slides).

Forging new pathways to professional recognition

This past month I’ve been doing a lot of travelling and contributing to a number of face to face and virtual consultation sessions about ALT’s accreditation scheme for Learning Technology professionals, CMALT.

From Mozfest to Committee Meetings and from webinars to individual focus groups I’ve been hearing why fellow professionals value CMALT accreditation, what could be improved and how we may expand the scheme to offer valuable and robust peer-assessed recognition for a broader range of professional achievement. You can read more about the project on ALT’s website and also sign up for more information and to take part in the pilots.

It’s been really interesting to hear about how the scheme could be developed and people’s experiences of their own journey to accreditation and then onward as a peer assessor.

Last week the consultation coincided with a celebration of recent accredited staff at the University of Edinburgh and I was honoured to take part in giving out the awards.

It reminded me once again how varied a professional landscape we have in Learning Technology and to how many different roles all across an institution the work of making intelligent use of technology for learning, teaching and assessment extends.

Don’t think you are brilliant? Think again…

Certified Member of ALT

… and yes, I am thinking about you 😉

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to the beginning and how I came to (nearly) write those words on an assessment form.

As a Certified Member of ALT I act as a peer assessor for portfolios submitted by candidates hoping to gain the accreditation. It’s part of my continuous professional development in Learning Technology and in the most part it is a rewarding, equitable and collegiate activity that I really enjoy.

In recent months I’ve graduated from learning about the assessment process and gaining experience in collaboration with Lead Assessors to becoming a Lead Assessor myself and now that I am doing more assessments I have started to reflect on the professional practice I am seeing through various submissions. It’s interesting to see what others do, what they specialise in and how they reflect on their practice or research. Personally, however, I am often taken aback by how little confidence or sense of achievement is conveyed in the work being presented. So much that should be celebrated can be overlooked or left unacknowledged. So few seem to have the confidence or awareness to recognise their own achievements or even present them as such. In short, I often find myself wishing to convey congratulations or compliments alongside more practical feedback.

And then, there are the blog posts or thoughts of others in my field who seem to find it hard to feel their voice is important, that their perspective is worth listening to and that their work goes beyond the ordinary. Like so many before me I find again and again that those who shout the loudest about their own accomplishments are usually least deserving of our time and attention. Which makes it even more critical that those who need encouragement and support receive it.

I think a peer-based accreditation process like CMALT that has a strong element of self-reflection can help you realise that you’re brilliant (and yes, again, I do mean you…).

Why is that you ask?

Here are three examples:

Firstly, making a long list of all you have done can help you gain a sense of perspective. In Learning Technology we often move on from one project to the next so quickly that we forget to pause and recognise what we’ve achieved and what difference it has made.

Secondly, building a portfolio in a format and manner that you choose, that you can tailor to your preferences and style, can help you build a narrative of your professional development that you take ownership of. It’s not someone else imposing a structure or crediting specific actions – you choose and shape what you present.

Thirdly, reflecting on what you are good at might surprise you, might point you in a different direction than the one you thought you were heading towards. You might realise that you are great at something that you never even realised before. You might be able to see your professional practice in a new light.

You might not have time or the inclination to engage with a scheme like CMALT. But you should make time to reflect and recognise your own strengths and achievements.

Celebrating #AdaLovelaceDay 2017 and promoting equality

Ada laptop sticker

Today we are celebrating #AdaLovelaceDay and for me this is a good reminder to acknowledge all the brilliant women I work with in Learning Technology and beyond. We may have a lot still to achieve when it comes to equality, but there is something we can all do to help achieve it. Earlier this year I talked about how openness can be a tool for Learning Technology professionals to promote equality at the ILTA Annual Conference (slides and transcript).

The closing thought of my talk feels very relevant today:

Days like today give us that opportunity, to reflect on how we, as individuals, as a professional community, can take action to achieve greater equality through openness, to harness technology to do so – and then to go and make a difference.

Re-post #altc: my autumn report to Members as CEO of ALT

Maren Deepwell, Josie Fraser and Martin Weller

You can read all my reports to Members of ALT on the #altc blog by following this link. The blog is always open to new contributors, for full details about how to write for the blog, see the information posted here.

Dear Members

I’m starting this report by looking back briefly at the 2017 Annual Conference which took place in Liverpool in early September. If you haven’t already, I’d like to encourage you to explore the inspiring list of posts and resources shared by participants to get a flavour of this year’s highlights and read posts about the conference by keynote speakers and award winners. Equally recommended reading is ALT’s Annual Report which was approved by Members at the Annual General Meeting and this year contains a new report written jointly by Trustees reporting on progress made delivering ALT’s 2017-2020 strategy. I am proud to see how much progress we have made in the last twelve months.

A personal highlight for me was the Honorary Life Membership awarded to Josie Fraser, a richly deserved honour for an outstanding member of our community. As always, I am grateful that alongside the hard work and time contributed by everyone involved, my colleagues, Martin, Jane, Kristina, Tom and Jane, were recognised for their efforts making it all happen. You can read my personal take on organising the conference on my blog.

The Annual Conference sets the tone for the next few months at ALT and one of the outcomes of this year’s event is a renewed focus on policy, which was reflected in David Kernohan’s Wonkhe article ‘Edtech? It’s all about policy’ and my keynote contribution to the FELTAG 2017 Forum, on workforce development to maximise Learning Technology impact . Also this month, ALT Trustee Lorna Campbell and Ambassador Joe Wilson alongside others took part in the 2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia, sharing their insights via social media and reporting back to the wider community. This focus on policy across sectors will continue in the run-up to this year’s ALT Annual Survey and the now established Winter Online Conference in December.

The work of ALT is largely led by Members who give up their time to get actively involved and lead ALT’s governance and activities across sectors. It is always important to acknowledge how much Members contribute, but sometimes a special thank you is in order. That is why I’d like to join the Trustees of the Association led by Prof Neil Morris, Chair of the Editorial Board, would now take this opportunity to say a thank you to the Editors of the journal, Lesley Diack, Amanda Jefferies, Peter Reed, Fiona Smart and Gail Wilson. Throughout the unprecedented difficulties with the journal the Editors as a group have played a key part in supporting the journal during this year of transition and their tireless efforts have ensured that we have weathered the transition as well as possible and supporting authors and readers throughout. Having published eight articles since July and processed dozens of new submissions I am glad to say that the journal is now operating fully.

In October we convene ALT’s Operational Committees and the Editorial Board of the journal as we begin the work of the new academic year. More Members are now actively engaged in the work of the Association, taking part not only in our governance, but leading activities and establishing new Members Groups across the UK, most recently in the North East of England.

This year’s Annual Report reflects that alongside our efforts to meet our strategic aims, we must continue to put our values into practice. In addition to what we set out in our strategy, that we value participation, collaboration, openness and independence, we also work to achieve greater equality and diversity in our community of Members and helping us champion this are this year’s winners of the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards.

Leading professionalisation in Learning Technology is about setting standards and recognising achievement on a national scale. It is also an opportunity to shape our professional identity and this year’s conference really brought home to me how powerful an example our Members are setting.

Talking about #FELTAG: keynote on workforce development in Learning Technology

This week I am contributing to a conference called FELTAG 2017: Embracing Digital Technology in Further Education and I am pleased to have been invited to give a short keynote as part of the programme. My talk (slides) will focus on workforce development to maximise Learning Technology impact in three ways: first, I set out what questions we need to ask about skills and capabilities, second, I explore how and open online course can support workforce development and third I showcase how ALT’s accreditation scheme, CMALT, can help increase intelligent use of Learning Technology.

This sets out the context for the talk and draws on other things I have recently written, first for FE News in an article about Digital Skills development in the workforce , and then also on the Efficiency Exchange in a post called Accreditation fit for a (digital) purpose?

ALT Strategy Aim 3 (visual thinkery)

The ALT strategy places a form emphasis on professional development and recognition for different roles in Learning Technology and the broad range of professionals who need different levels of skills and capabilities is something I am particularly interested in. CMALT, ALT’s accreditation framework is one of the topics I will be exploring in my talk.

One of the projects I am involved in via ALT is the development of the Blended Learning Essentials courses, led by Prof Diana Laurillard and Prof Neil Morris. These open online courses run on the FutureLearn platform and the next one to launch has a focus on developing digital skills.  It’s a useful example of how such initiatives can support individual and institutional CPD across the sector.

 

As I was part of the original Ministerial FELTAG Group and a contributor to the recommendations made in 2014 the opportunity to speak about what’s happened since and how much progress we have made is welcome. However, while I can see much positive change, there are also mounting challenges not just in relation to Learning Technology, but the FE system more generally.

Using technology for learning, teaching and assessment continues to be of increasing importance and its potential grows  each year. Yet technology by itself is no answer to some of the larger, structural challenges facing learners, teachers and providers and those continue to mount. So whilst I am looking forward to being part of a conference that encourage participants to embrace Digital Technology in FE and look forward to contributing, I think it is the people, the teachers and trainers, that we really need to focus on.