Association of Learning Technology Conference (ALT) – University of Liverpool

University Liverpool Management Building

Last week I attended the annual conference organised by the Association of Learning Technology  (ALT) which this year was help at the University of Liverpool. It was a conference packed with sessions and three really interesting keynote speakers. For this reason I plan to create a series of blog posts focusing on the sessions I saw and the key ideas I took away. This post will focus on the three keynote speakers.

Bonnie Stewart – The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Bonnie’s keynote focused on challenging the notion of what is normal as normal can simply be the familiar rather than the unknown. It can also be a way of gatekeeping, to exclude those things which are different. We are asked to change but what do those who ask us to change really mean? Is it ‘change’ or just more ‘normal’. For me this can be seen in the approach to lecture capture. It is important and creates a much needed resource for students, but it does not draw us away from the traditional didactic teaching and in fact reinforces this approach as being ‘normal’.

Learning technologies can disrupt the gatekeeping, breaking down the barriers of normal. However, just bringing technology into a room will not change the learning. They will not disrupt the norm alone. We need to reach a trajectory where learning technology, open practice and change meet to be open to learn beyond our silos. Knowledge needs to be seen as a thing and being ‘Open’ as participatory through our networks.

You can watch this keynote speech on YouTube.

Siân Bayne -The death of a network: data and anonymity on campus

 Sian’s keynote was focused on what we can learn from the death of the social media service Yik Yak. The interesting thing about Yik Yak was its anonymous nature and the fact that the popularity of messages were determined by the community. As the network grew students began to create communities based around location and their discipline. For this reason a research project was started to analyse the contributions of students and the patterns of behaviour. Unfortunately, just as the research was going to begin the slow death of Yik Yak had already started.

After a number of issues being raised about the negative behaviour which occurred because users were anonymous, the system was altered and the anonymity feature was changed. In fact, the offensive messages on the system were community moderated and quickly voted down and disappeared off the system, but by removing this feature the popularity of the system rapidly declined. The BBC had successfully run a series of initiatives on Mental Health and gathering options about Brexit. This would not have been as successful if users had not been able to post messages anonymously.

We should consider the carefully created and curated world we all live in online. This is especially so for young people who are becoming a ‘brand’ of themselves, where it is almost compulsory to have this online presence. However, this is the biggest surveillance exercise ever undertaken. Yik Yak provided an alternative to this. The Yik Yak developers failed to understand their user base and the value of this resistance and wanting to retain their personal data.

The lessons from this are for us to provide room for un-nameability when we design our digital learning environment with clever ways to manage and moderate this. We need to actively educate students against the psychic numbing on which surveillance capitalism depends, helping them to understand the data they generate, how this is used by others and how they can go about taking back control of this.

You can watch this keynote speech on YouTube.

Peter Goodyear – Shaping Spaces

Peter’s keynote was all about how learning spaces can be shaped by the use of technology. The first point he makes is that the focus should be on the learners activity in these spaces. What is it they are actually doing? We may have tasked them with an activity but what are they doing whilst they are carrying this out? What actions are they taking, what collaborations are taking place with others? The second focus should be on the interaction between human activity and the physical world. We need to see activity as influenced but not determined by space. You can place funky chairs, tables and technology in these spaces but this will not determine the types of learning activity and what people actually do.

You can watch this keynote speech on YouTube.

My next post will focus on some of the sessions I saw which were focused on student led projects.

Laura Hollinshead

Account enabled by ILM2007fp1 on 15/08/2011 15:45:25

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