Virtual Team outtakes: Smartwatch & homeworking

In our most recent post on leading a virtual team Martin and I talked about the upsides of remote working and many of the comments we received highlighted ways in which people find balance between the demands of home and family life and work. That got me thinking about what makes a real difference to me day to day and took me back to contributing to David Hopkins’ Edtech Rations book, in which we shared what the most important things are, those you don’t leave home without. But when you don’t really leave home to work, what is it that makes the difference when you work from home?

Martin mentioned wearables in the post and that prompted me to think about how I use my smartwatch when I work from home. I do have concerns about the way the watch can track so much of my activity and I have switched off some more advanced/sharing functionality because of it, but there are certain things it can do that I find really helpful:

Alarm clock: When charging and put on its side, the watch is a great alarm clock and I use it both at home and when I travel. It’s motion sensitive so the display only comes on when needed, which I like. It shows you the time your alarm is set for and it starts to get brighter as that time approaches, helping you to wake up. All of that could easily be accomplished with a regular alarm clock of course, but I like that I can make use of the watch when I am not wearing it and travel with it without having to carry along another bulky item of technology. It also means that I can leave my phone out of reach but I can still check the time. 

Move reminder: another aspect of the watch I really like is that you can opt in to it reminding you to move if you have sat still 50 min of the hour. Whilst I have other reminders to move, like wanting a cup of tea, or the phone ringing or a delivery arriving, this function really helps me on days when I have a lot of work to get through. It reminds me to take a break from staring at the screens as well. On a long journey it’s not always possible to take a break, but I find long train journeys much more comfortable when I move about a little regularly. With enough awareness and self discipline there is no reason why one shouldn’t naturally take breaks regularly, but I don’t always have that when I get lost in a complicated piece of work.

Phone system: our phone system puts calls through on my computer as well as my mobile phone during work hours (I have chosen for it to do that, it’s not required). However, I am not always at my desk and I don’t always want to carry around my mobile phone either. So glancing at my watch when the phone rings gives me the chance to check whether it’s a work call or a personal call. I can answer the call on the watch, but I rarely do.

Planning time to go running: there is one other way in which I use the watch during the week, particularly in the colder months when it gets dark early and is cold in the mornings. I set the watch to display the temperature and the time the sun sets, helping me decide when to best find time to go for a run. I don’t run every day, but for my work life balance to work I want to be heading outside once or twice during the week, and I find it frustrating to forget, finish work and realise it’s nearly dark. So having a way to remind myself of what time the sun will set (provided that it is shining to begin with) is a useful way of planning the end of my working day and I have the flexibility to finish an hour early to catch the last bit of daylight.

Walking, talking, thinking. Conversational professional practice.

My office this Thursday

Recently I have experimented with different modes of thinking and developing ideas to see how I can expand my practice and work more productively in different contexts,  particularly whilst I travel.

Everyone I work with is distributed all across the UK and many people I work with on specific projects or initiatives are similarly in different places and so increasingly over the past few years I have made conversations, usually on the move, a big part of my professional practice.

What started as a necessity, i.e. taking urgent calls whilst I was walking from A to B or having confidential calls outside an open plan office became more intentional when I started working with my mentor and we adopted walking and talking as our preferred mode of working together.

Having something else to see and focus on, being able to move, look somewhere else than the person I am talking to often helps make conversation more free-flowing, less confrontational than sitting across each other at a meeting table and more personal than trying to hear each other in a crowded coffee shop. 

I find it much easier to think of new ideas or solve problems when I’m standing up in any case, so even if I am having a call with someone I might walk around my work space, talking and walking and thinking. 

It reminds me a bit of Bryan Mather‘s approach to visual thinkery, drawing and talking and thinking together. 

But whist having a walk is a great part of my professional practice, it isn’t possible or practical for me to physically meet up with everyone and so there are a number of other approaches to having a conversation that I have been finding really useful, including a recent experiment recording a podcast for a joint series on open leadership I am writing with Martin Hawksey.

Another experiment has been to take part in a different kind of conversation for a fortnight as a guest curator of @femedtech

Or the week co-hosting the #LTHEchat, which like the #femedtech week opened up a whole new conversation for me to take part in and deepen my understanding of how I can use different approaches to conversations as part of the work I do and the way I reflect on and explore new ideas.

A conversational approach to thinking about things and developing my understanding is particularly helpful because it makes me aware of my own perspective, what I take for granted, what assumptions I might make. It prompts me to re-consider my starting point as well as my objective. It also gives others the opportunity to understand my perspective better, to ask me questions and to put their point across and that is something that I value in particular as I have a leadership role in which that kind of exchange can easily be sidelined. 

I have also been writing my keynote for ALT’s Annual Conference, which I am really looking forward to, but it is in less than a month and the pressure to get my thoughts in order is palpable. When I am stuck or uncertain or lacking inspiration, that’s when having a conversation becomes even more important. Time to go for a walk this weekend.

Being grounded in itinerant professional practice

Recently, I have started writing a series of blog posts with my colleague Martin Hawksey. It’s an interesting undertaking in which we take an open approach to leadership, to sharing our perspective on leading the organisation we work for through a period of change towards adopting a virtual mode of operating. And it’s got me thinking on parallel lines about my own professional practice and how it’s developed over the last 20 years, from being a practising artist making stuff, to being an anthropologist studying cemeteries, to being an academic and learning technologist and now to working in a leadership role.

My work has been on the move constantly. I have changed countries, cities, institutions, offices, roles and colleagues. I like change, and having new challenges, but I also take things with me. Some things remain constant, part of my routine no matter where or how I work.

That isn’t too say that my environment, technology or company doesn’t have a big impact. They do. But they don’t define my practice. What really matters, what makes me work well, what helps me achieve, that I take with me. A bit like the suitcases I used to create as a sculptor or draw in my sketchbooks, I think I have a carry-on of essentials that I don’t leave behind. They help ground me and my work when things change or I do. In my experience everyone has an equivalent of those types of things, but here are my top 5:

Reflective writing
Whether it’s in a journal, on loose paper, on my private blog or digital doc, at least once a week and often more frequently I sit down, reflect and write. It doesn’t matter where I am or how busy things get, reflective writing forms an essential part of my practice. It helps me gain perspective, empty my head and make time to enjoy what’s gone well or give myself a break for things that have gone awry. I write around 80,000 words a year, so cloud storage is a good thing. 

Long term list
No matter what shape my daily to list may take, I always keep a list of ideas, links and actions to consider in the long term. It’s a dump for anything important, but not urgent, as well as more creative ideas or plans. I review it periodically, maybe once a month or so, to mark things as completed, delete and re-order. Some items take years to complete… .

A visual record of what I am working on, where I go or whom I meet is really important to me. It’s useful to be able to look back, revisit particular conferences or trips or lunch. That also includes images or artwork I (help) create – in particular if I have been working on something for a while.

Making time to listen
Harder to make the suitcase metaphor work with this kind of thing, but still an essential. It sounds very obvious that listening is important, but so few people actually do. Most of the time, it’s all about talking, transmitting, being heard. The busier things get the more difficult it becomes to find time to listen and make space for others to find their voice, share their thoughts. So from train journeys to coffee breaks, I make a point of putting my laptop or phone to one side and really focus on the people I am with.

Complete something fun
As often as I can, I dedicate some time to doing something fun. For example, I enjoy making a web page and publishing it. Or making an image for something. Or reading/writing something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, it’s about completing it and getting a sense of achievement from it. A quick win. A lot of what I work on is a) long term, b) invisible or c) collaborative and so in order to balance these with feeling that I have accomplished something I often do ‘something fun’ and see it completed. It reminds me of how good I am at making things happen and often helps me see bigger, more complex things through to completion with a greater sense of confidence.

#femedtech #OER18 #OER17… because equality matters for all of us

#femedtech #oer18

If you have been following the reporting on the gender pay gap in the UK, then this has been a sobering week indeed. You can search for the reports from different employers here. I have had a look through many of the education providers and sector bodies that I work with and the scale of the ‘gaps’ highlighted in some of the reports is staggering. Not a surprise, given my day to day experience of the sector, but still – staggering.

As a chief executive I have reflected much during this week on how we can change things across the system. There are so many aspects to the problem that there is definitely no shortage of things we should tackle and there is much to do in relation to the professionalisation of Learning Technology.

But on a more personal note this has also reminded me of how important it is that we continue to work towards achieving greater equality – in all its forms. So with a large international conference on openness in education just around the corner I hope that there’ll be much to learn and discuss from different, global perspectives. I also want to help give a voice to this conversation together with colleagues, and make sure that we consider equality in the context of openness.

Powerfully, Catherine Cronin spoke of criticality, equality and social justice at OER17 in London last year. In the closing plenary we were asked to respond to a call to action… #Iwill #OER17 and many participants in the room and on social media joined in, making their voices heard and sharing their aspirations, making a commitment to taking action. I think it’s time to renew our vows to take action #OER18.

Researching alternative ways of measuring impact in Learning Technology

New altmetric donut from

Last year I worked on finding a sustainable new home for the Open Access journal Research in Learning Technology. As part of my work for ALT, this was the third transition I have worked on since 2008 and during this period I have contributed to the thinking around Open Access publishing in Learning Technology, often through ALT’s contribution to initiatives such as the 2012/3 ‘Gold Open Access Project‘. This year I will be working with a new group set up by ALT to steer the future development of the journal:

A new Strategic Journal Working Group to help steer the development of the journal now being published by ALT in partnership with Open Academia has been established and we are grateful that representatives from other scholarly bodies who are publishing in a similar model, have agreed to join the group to share best practice and support each other. The group is chaired by Prof Neil Morris, who also chairs the Editorial Board, and we are delighted to welcome colleagues from ascilite, ILTA and the OLC alongside our Editors.

As well as learning from each other, the group is going to be examining alternative ways of measuring impact (alternative to the established impact factor, which the journal has not been awarded to date). This is an area I am particularly interested in for three reasons:

Knowledge exchange happens elsewhere
Firstly, much of the most cutting edge research and practice in Learning Technology is not published in formal journals. Even the most responsive Open Access peer-review system can’t necessarily keep pace with the quickly changing technology landscape we work in and so less formal ways of knowledge exchange on blogs, on social media or in project reports is often more important and useful.

Different media
Secondly, a lot of the most interesting ideas may be shared as videos, drawings, data visualisations and so on, in short, they may not easily fit into the traditional formats measures like an impact factor were designed for. What we cite and where we link to can be harder to track. As we use new technologies to communicate and share information the way in which we cite/link to sources needs to adapt.

Crossing boundaries
Another aspect of what makes measuring impact interesting in Learning Technology is the way we cross boundaries of disciplines in research, policy and practice. Coming from a discipline like Anthropology, which has a hugely broad frame of reference depending on what you specialise in, it still seems challenging to what extent the work of Learning Technologists crosses boundaries.

So, keeping all this in mind, here is where I am in my work to research alternative ways of measuring impact…

I started with a a blog post DOAJ LAUNCHES THE DOAJ BEST PRACTICE GUIDE which I came across as Research in Learning Technology was recently awarded the DOAJ best practice seal. It’s a useful new guide that provides a lot of helpful information to publishers, authors and policy makers interested in Open Access publishing. One of the resources it referred me to was a tool for authors called ThinkCheckSubmit. Whilst not specifically talking about how the impact of the journal is measured, it does ask authors to check the publisher’s information for example how the journal is indexed or whether the publisher is a member of OASPA or COPE.

Also in a blog post, this time on the altmetric website, I discovered that “the next-generation of Altmetric donut is here!“. If you are new to altmetrics, here is how they explain what it’s all about:

Altmetrics are metrics and qualitative data that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics. They can include (but are not limited to) peer reviews on Faculty of 1000, citations on Wikipedia and in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, bookmarks on reference managers like Mendeley, and mentions on social networks such as Twitter.

Sourced from the Web, altmetrics can tell you a lot about how often journal articles and other scholarly outputs like datasets are discussed and used around the world. For that reason, altmetrics have been incorporated into researchers’ websites, institutional repositories, journal websites, and more.

Whilst I have been familiar with altmetrics for some time, I hadn’t actually come across the history in much detail and I found it really helpful to visit and read up on some of the older posts. It gave a me a better insight into the thinking that informed the development of the tools and policies involved. It also reminded me of the 2014/5 HEFCE publication called “The Metric Tide” which includes an executive summary, literature review and correlation analysis. As part of the recommendations the report featured, it states:

These recommendations are underpinned by the notion of ‘responsible metrics’ as a way of framing appropriate uses of quantitative indicators in the governance, management and assessment of research. Responsible metrics can be understood in terms of the following dimensions:

  • Robustness: basing metrics on the best possible data in terms of accuracy and scope
  • Humility: recognising that quantitative evaluation should support – but not supplant – qualitative, expert assessment
  • Transparency: keeping data collection and analytical processes open and transparent, so that those being evaluated can test and verify the results
  • Diversity: accounting for variation by field, and using a range of indicators to reflect and support a plurality of research and researcher career paths across the system
  • Reflexivity: recognising and anticipating the systemic and potential effects of indicators, and updating them in response.

The recommendations outlined in the report apply mostly to HEIs, funders and government bodies. There are some however that are directly aimed at publishers. These are:

Publishers should reduce emphasis on journal impact factors as a promotional tool, and only use them in the context of a variety of journal-based metrics that provide a richer view of performance. As suggested by DORA, this broader indicator set could include 5-year impact factor, EigenFactor, SCImago, editorial and publication times. Publishers, with the aid of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), should encourage responsible authorship practices and the provision of more detailed information about the specific contributions of each author. Publishers should also make available a range of article-level metrics to encourage a shift toward assessment based on the academic quality of an article rather than JIFs. (Publishers)

Publishers should mandate ORCID iDs and ISNIs and funder grant references for article submission, and retain this metadata throughout the publication lifecycle. This will facilitate exchange of information on research activity, and help deliver data and metrics at minimal burden to researchers and administrators. (Publishers and data providers)

Interestingly there are a number of recommendations for HEFCE and future REF exercises, that as far as I can tell seem to have not necessarily been picked up given the recent closure of HEFCE. Still, it is useful to revisit this report and its recommendations within the wider context of thinking about alternative ways of measuring impact.

I also came across an ebook that is new to me, published by altmetrics and Scholastica, entitled “The Evolution of Impact Indicators”.  The whole publications looks extremely useful and has a lot of references that are relevant to my work, but the chapter that I am particularly interested in is called “Beyond the Impact Factor”. It discusses a number of alternatives to the impact factor including the EigenFactor and the H-Index. The H-index is probably the one I am most familiar with, but it’s also useful to remind myself of how this is tracked:

Google Scholar: Google Scholar provides the h index for authors who have created a profile.

Publish or Perish: Publish or Perish is a software program that retrieves and analyzes academic citations from Google Scholar and provides the h index among other metrics. Publish or Perish is handy for obtaining the h index for authors who do not have a Google Scholar profile.

Scopus: Scopus provides a Citation Tracker feature that allows for generation of a Citation Overview chart to generate a h index for publications and citations from 1970 to current. The feature also allows for removal of self-citations from the overall citation counts.

Web of Science: Web of Science allows for generation of the h index for publications and citations from 1970 to current using the “Create Citation Report” feature.

Now that I have started to refresh my memory of some recent developments, my next step will be to take this back to my desk, do some work on the journal itself and compare notes with my colleagues from the other publishers.

Read more:

Openness: a practical value #OER18


In a few weeks, many colleagues from across the world will convene in Bristol for the OER18 Conference and from an active conference committee, and a inspiring line up of keynote speakers to a full programme of sessions about the politics and practice of openness in education there is so much to look forward to. I have been following the blog posts published on the conference site, thinking along with the debate about how open practice is being embedded in institutions, how advocates are winning over policy makers and funders and how our perspective on OER is changing. Inspiring stuff – and many difficult questions facing us, too.

Yesterday I was talking to a group of UK policy makers and one of the things I spoke about is how openness is a practical value to me. It’s not a lofty concept or a hopeful, idealistic vision, it’s a practical measure to be implemented, a yardstick against which new proposals can be evaluated.

From Open Access publishing to open licences, from shared content to open governance, it’s not a value that is easy to put into practice at any time. In her #OER18 post, Lorna Campbell reflects on this when she writes:

To my mind, the success of the OER Conference has always been founded on its willingness to examine and renegotiate what “OER” means, and this is one of the themes I’ll be exploring in my keynote.  And by that, I don’t mean defining the specific attributes of what constitutes an Open Educational Resource, I mean critically reflecting on what openness means in relation to education at different points in time and from different perspectives, because as Catherine Cronin reminds us in Open Education, Open Questions, “openness is a constantly negotiated space”. Open education looks very different to each and every one of us, and our perspective will depend entirely on where we are standing and the privilege of our vantage point.  And of course it is inevitable that our perspective will change as our roles and careers develop over time.

Outside of the OER community, most audiences that I speak to seem to think that openness means not generating revenue. It means taking a risk to give away something of one’s competitive advantage. It is for those who are privileged, those who can afford to spend time, to dedicate resources to something besides their core business. And so the work of advocates, individuals and organisations, is crucial to making business cases, to convincing governments and providers of the practical advantages, the bottom line, the success that can be achieved if a particular open model or platform is adopted. Open textbooks, for example.

And yet despite the many signs of progress, there are many instances of what was once open, for example a repository, a course or a platform, turning into something else once it becomes valuable. That’s when economic imperatives take over openness as a value and turn it into a marketing strategy.

For me, that is one of the reasons why it’s difficult to demonstrate that doing, being, leading ‘open’ is a practical value you can turn into success without betraying the principles involved. Openness has draw backs, just as every other approach, and sometimes these are difficult to negotiate. Which is why it is so powerful when you see people do just that. And that is what I am looking forward to learning about at OER18. How we can make openness work for all, warts and all.

So if you are there in person, joining in on Twitter, watching the live stream or coming along to Virtually Connecting, blog, lurk or otherwise take part – as one of the organisers I hope you’ll find the welcome and the inspiration you are looking for.

Open Education Week #femedtech


Next week is Open Education Week and in preparation to giving a keynote at the launch of a new ALT Members Group in Northern Ireland on International Women’s Day on 8 March, I have been revisiting my talk on equality and open practice that I gave last year.  The talk specifically discussed the potential of Member Groups in creating greater openness and promote equality.

Talk cover image "Equality"

Over the past year, I have seen, supported and been inspired by a pletora of work being done all across sectors to promote equality, for example the Feminist Internet project, Kelsey Merkley’s @UncommonWomen campaign and the continued growth of the #femedtech community to mention only a few.

With this year’s OER conference just over a month away (if you haven’t yet had a look at the programme, you should…), it feels even more important to champion open practice for the cause of equality – open practice that empowers diversity and inclusion such as we saw discussed during #engageMOOC on Twitter recently. Open practice that fosters criticality and builds confidence, that helps better reflect the work that is being done for which there are no awards, such as the lessons we learn from managing change or failure.

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.

Welcome 2018

Snapshots from 2017

Before the year gets properly underway, I’ve had a bit of a tidy on this site:

As it’s the start of a new year, I’ve also been reading about and following some of the advice provided in Mozilla’s helpful data detox kit.

I’m looking forward to a year of sharing practice and reflections as a Learning Technologist in a leadership role.

A good New Year 2018 to you!

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.