Reflections of ALTc


This September Debbie Baff, Simon Gibbon and I (Mandy Jack) attended this year’s annual ALT (Association for Learning Technology) conference which is the UK’s main learning technology conference. See our reflections on the SALT Blog.  This year the conference was held at the University of Warwick Campus and the theme was called: Connect, Collaborate, Create – the full programme can be found on ALTc website.

The opening keynote was from Josie Fraser, UK-based Social and Educational Technologist, with a talk called “In the Valley of the Trolls”. Josie looked at specific contexts of open practice – social and political, and “digital environmental factors that shape, restrict and enable collaboration and collection”.

In her talk, she highlights key issues relating to online anonymity, trolling, and self-regulation that educational organisations, providers, and individuals need to be aware of and engaged with, in the context of supporting all educators and learners to work, share and learn openly online. She also referred to open educational practice, and how uncomfortable it is to share with people who don’t agree with you.

Here are Jodie’s notes from the keynote

Here are Mandy Jack’s favourite sessions

 ‘Welcome to the M-Assessment Quiz show’ with Lisa Donaldson from Dublin City University. Assessment is THE most impactful thing we can do for student learning (Black & Wiliam 98). It felt like a good call. This innovative workshop demonstrated how to easily make formative assessment an integral part of the learning process by creating technology rich experiences to engage learners. The session was hands on, the audience participated in a selection of online quiz and polling activities, which were interesting and versatile.  After a quick play, we evaluated eight assessment tools for the classroom. Of which my favourite was

We used Zeetings to vote on our preferred tool, participated in 3 quizzes with Kahoot, Mentimeter, and Quizizz and also reviewed a Zaption video quiz and vote via Plickers on a question set. Final three tools were posted to a Padlet Wall with supporting documentation. We then voted via Answergarden to crown a winner! Wow, a fabulous range of tools used in a fun way to allow us to try them out. Obviously, you wouldn’t use them all at once with students, but they are all worth a look. We used a selection TEd some in the IT month so check out the blog between September 8th to October 7th.

The next session that I particularly liked was ‘A Collaborative approach to assessment’ presented by  Sarah Sherman, and Leo Havemann from University of London

Sherman and Havemann began with a quote from Ferrell 2012 “Assessment and feedback lie at the heart of the learning experience, and forms a significant part of both academic and administrative workload. It remains, however, the single biggest source of student dissatisfaction with the higher education experience”.

Sherman and Havemann presented the argument that online assessment and feedback methods and processes are increasingly essential to the student experience and must be regarded as a priority for education institutions. In their session they considered the experiences of the members of the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) consortium (a group of geographically-close HE institutions based in London) in which there has been an increasing interest – and concern – in this area. The presentation describes how they assessed and evaluated appropriate technologies to support e-assessment across the consortium, producing documentation and case studies.

The pair shared their lessons learned and highlighted areas of good, innovative and interesting practice. They used the Jisc Transforming Assessment and feedback with technology guidance, which provides ideas and resources to help colleges and universities enhance the entire assessment and feedback lifecycle.

The next remarkable speaker came from the final Keynote of the first day, a lady called  Lia Commissar – Education and Neuroscience: Issues and Opportunities.  A match for our very own Phil Newton she talked about Neuromyths, where do they come from, are they a problem and what can we do about them. Listen for yourself.

Emma Purnell, Rebecca Vickerstaff, and Liz Mcgregor from Plymouth Uni presented an interesting paper called Evaluating Evaluation! This was described as a four tiered approach encapsulating evaluation techniques and methods in staff training and delivery, peer review, participant experience and formal feedback in Higher Education. They developed their research based on training and development needs of academic and non-academic staff in Higher Education, which are critical in ensuring continued digital literacy standards. Enhancing staff skills and awareness’s of digital technology is vital in creating engaging and innovative teaching materials for students (Courtney, 2013).
I was particularly interested as they asked how do we continue to ensure that the method in which we evaluate is appropriate and meeting learning outcomes in an increasing evolving educational field? Evaluation of training is a critical process in measuring the impact of learning and training provision in Higher Education and many institutions demonstrate and disseminate various ways of evaluation. So to help answer their question the team developed a 4 tiered approach to help bring consistency to their training programmes.


Courtney, K. (2013) ‘Adapting Higher Education through Changes in Academic Work’. Higher Education Quarterly, 67 (1). pp 40-55.

I went to the Jisc workshop entitled ‘What is Digital Capability’ I didn’t think that they particularly answered the question, and they didn’t particularly ask for our ideas either. Here is the diagram from their website which is rather helpful, and there are a range of tools and projects that can help with the understanding of this complex concept.


The activity they asjiscactivityked us to engage in however, was interesting. They asked us to plot the technology we used personally in each area of our lives. Here is my diagram, make of it what you will.

In another talk, later on in the day Kerry Pinny and Marcus Elliot suggested that, Creativity takes courage (and digital capabilities) . They used the Jisc framework to design their CPD workshop. They research began by asking ‘How do you convince the important people of the way forward, of what you want to do and how you intend doing it?’ They explained that it is crucial to get the stakeholders together; take of wellbeing was a keyword. So they began by sending an email asking How Digital Are You? along with a questionnaire. The other key development was departmental opportunities, where their Law department gave their staff a Digital week to explore their digital capabilities.

Another interehuddersfieldcoursetitlessting presentation from Huddersfield Uni Flipping heck! Be careful what you wish for [1296]: Andrew Raistrick, and Steven Bentley. Their Academic developers ran a range of workshops like our September It month called Pick and Mix workshops. However, they used the flipped classroom approach. They used eStream to create a range of video resources that they expected staff to watch prior to attending the course. They reported that trainer fatigue was avoided by using the videos. The answer was not to replace the hands on with the video, but to have them as a supplementary resource.  Here are some of the courses Huddersfield have on offer; if there is anything here that you find interesting please contact SALT.


See Deb’s personal reflections below:

#altc September 2016 – My Highlights


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