It’s the darkest day of the year, Winter Solstice, and for me the last working day of 2021. Yay! For the last blog post of the year here is a look back at what has been a busy year. Whilst it may not feel that way just now as we prepare for another uncertain festive season, this year has had a lot of highlights and much, MUCH, has been accomplished.
My year as CEO of ALT
Twelve months ago, I had a mountain to climb as a CEO. ALT had never been busier than in the year of the great online pivot, but the pandemic had a huge impact on our operations and ability to generate income from our charitable activities. Being an independent charity has strategic upsides, but it also carries risks that a year long crisis like 2020 only heightens. Even as an experienced leader I felt worried about what had to be accomplished in 2021.
Since then, things may not have become easier, but we have achieved what we set out to do this year: we are in a more financially stable position, our staff team is growing and we have delivered more for our growing Membership this year than ever before. If you haven’t already had a look, the 2021 Impact report celebrates some of our recent achievements accomplished as a community in the past year, and our Awards showcase highlights just some of the excellent practice going on.
We have welcomed hundreds of new members in 2021, and as ALT grows it becomes ever more important for us to strengthen our voice and increase our impact. If you haven’t already, please do take a moment to complete our Annual Survey.
I really enjoyed seeing Members show some of what’s really possible in Learning Technology when we move beyond crisis provision, and our collaboration with ITN Productions helped us share our expertise with a much wider audience than before. Watch the programme and find out more.
My team, our Board and all the colleagues I have worked with this year have been generous and imaginative under the continued pressure of a lot to get done and pandemic living. I am grateful that we continue to find ways to celebrate important milestones together and to reflect a little on all that is happening whilst we continue to lack opportunities to meet in person.
From pre-conference pizza nights to KaraOERke and from care parcels sent by post to snowball fights online, we have done what we can to keep our spirits up and support each other as a team.
I am so grateful to work in an organisation that continues to support us in a considerate way through these turbulent times and I want to express my deep thanks to Helen, our Chair, for all she has done this year to steer us through 2021. To you all, thank you!
Talks, keynotes and writing a book
Looking at my archive for this year, it appears that I have done more than I had realised. I have been able to contribute to some amazing ventures, attend many virtual conferences and work with inspiring leaders here in the UK and across the world.
Here are my highlights from 2021:
- Data & Ethics in vocational edTech. Week of VocTech Showcase, 17 November 2021;
- Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning, Digital Transformation and Sustainable Development Goals, 26 October 2021;
- Developing ethical approaches to learning technology, article in Future of EdTech Q3, Education Technology in Business and Industry, 23 September 2021;
- Learning And Teaching Reimagined: Understanding The Response To COVID-19 And Exploring The Future Of Digital Learning And Teaching @ The Future of Blended Learning in Higher Education 2021, keynote, 17 June 2021;
- Pedagogy and Practice when Teaching Online, webinar, 10 June 2021;
- Open Apereo 21 #ALT & #Apereo Screen side Chat: ‘Ethics & Learning Technology. Perspectives from the Pandemic’. With @bellaabramsIT, @drchuck, @14prinsp, @MarenDeepwell & @iandolphin24 – 8 June 2021;
- Is now the time for open educational resources? with Nick Lambert, Wonkhe, 27 April 2021;
- HOPE ON THE AIRWAVES: THE DS106RADIO SUNDAY SPECIAL CREW at OERxDomains21, with Anne-Marie Scott, Tannis Morgan and Brian Lamb hosted by Jim Groom, 22 April 2021;
- Foreword – Cases on Active Blended Learning in Higher Education, DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7856-8, 7 April 2021;
- Copyright Waffle podcast with Dr Maren Deepwell, CEO of ALT – podcast and blogpost, 26 March 2021;
- Setting standards for ethical professional practice in edtech, in The Future of Educational Technology, 23 March 2021;
- What were learning technologists’ experiences of 2020? with Helen O’Sullivan, Wonkhe, 16 March 2021;
- FEresearch podcast episode episode 24 talking about the FE Community of Practice sector audit and AmplifyFE, hosted by Jo Fletcher-Saxon, 8 March 2021;
- 25 Years of Ed Tech: Between the Chapters #11 podcast sharing about OER & our open practices with Dr Judith Pate, Dr Catherine Cronin and Virginia Rhodes.
Alongside my work I have started writing a book on leading virtual teams, which is due to be published in 2022. The first draft is now complete, and you can read along with excerpts from draft chapters, come along to remote working radio sessions and sign up for regular updates.
I have really enjoyed working on the book as it gives me the opportunity to switch gears and focus my thoughts for a while.
My year with a puppy!
You will probably already have met Posey as I have posted plenty of photos of her over the past nine months. She has grown from a tiny puppy into a seasoned conference dog, who has her own conference badge and all. Posey is not a huge fan of work as it means there’s less time for play and walks, but she has been a huge joy and an excellent antidote to being at work for too long. She’ll be one year old soon and no doubt the next year will bring a whole new set of adventures as we start running together.
We’re heading to the beach
Today may be the darkest day of the year, but it also marks a turning point. Light is making its return, if gradually.
Everyone I know is tired and exhausted. Working in Learning Technology can feel… really hard in these times and the work never ends. We often don’t know what’s ahead. We try to support all the different stakeholders but thanks to most people’s experience of Learning Technology at scale being largely shaped by lockdown learning, there is a tension between what we hope to achieve as a profession and everyone’s desire to return to a world in which hugging and having coffee isn’t dangerous.
I am grateful that today is my last day at work for the year. I am looking forward to logging off and not looking at another email until it’s 2022.
Rest and replenishment is going to be my only focus and so we are heading to the beach to see the sunset.
To you I wish a peaceful end to the year. I look forward to seeing you on the other side. Or as we say in Wales…
Cyfarchion y Tymor