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Talking about ethical approaches to Learning Technology during Digital Universities Week

This week I am chairing a discussion about ALT’s development of a framework for Ethical Learning Technology with a wonderful line up of speakers: ALT’s Chair, Professor Helen O’Sullivan, Javiera Atenas whose work helped shape the framework and our President, David White. Each will bring a different perspective to the conversation, helping us explore why taking an ethical approach to digital education is important for leaders, professional and academic staff and, first and foremost, students.

Programme entry

Since it’s initial launch in September last year, ALT’s Framework for Ethical Learning Technology (FELT) has continued to develop with input from Members and the wider community. The first part of the work is that we are collecting case studies and examples of policies from across sectors to help establish a baseline of practice and also of gaps in practice, of questions or problems to which we don’t have robust answers as yet. The second part of the work we have focused on is the development of resources that help individuals and teams translate the framework into practice. The first resources, our FELT Reflective Self-Assessment, launched at the end of 2021:

You can use this assessment tool to reflect on a particular project, a new tool or platform or you can use it to focus on a particular aspect of your work. We encourage all Learning Technology professionals to undertake this self-assessment to reflect on their professional practice in relation to FELT’s four core areas. Based on the outcome, you can then move on to complete individual sections focused on particular aspects of your practice. The self-assessment is mapped to the CMALT accreditation framework and this is indicated throughout the assessment.

These resources form the start of our efforts to put the framework into practice, and the session this week will enable us to share these more widely as well as exploring why it’s important in different contexts.

As many of us are emerging into some sort of post-pandemic way of working, we need to make some space for considering the ethical dimension of digital practices in our strategies and the FELT framework can offer a practical starting point for exactly those conversations for institutions, teams, with students and with industry.

… and returning to in person conferences

Like many, I am just about to make my first steps back to in person conferences. It feels like closing a loop, the “what I last did two years ago” loop. Part of my role as a CEO is to represent my organisation and share the work we do and the voice of our Members on the best possible platforms. For the past two years, that has been a lot harder than it used to be, and there is a whole dimension of networking and influencing that has been absent from much of my day to day work during the time of online only events.

Like many, I have mixed feelings about the return of travelling for work, partly because here in Wales we continue to have more restrictions in place than is the case in England. But mainly I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent my organisation again, to have the option of generating engagement (and income) through running events both in person and online and, most of all, to reconnect with colleagues who inspire me and who contribute to my enjoyment of my work.

Given how much of my professional practice is online, I know what really, really great virtual work looks like. I experience it every week. And I also know how much effort and time and resources it takes to make it happen, and that relatively few people have either the skills or the set up to make it work consistently.

So I am looking forward to returning to the comparatively ‘easier’ way of connecting in person. And, in just over a month, to dancing with penguins…