Conference Dinner at Manchester Town HallEarlier this month staff from CLT attended ALT-C 2009, the annual conference of the Association for Learning Technology.

Conferences can be hit-and-miss affairs and I find it’s usually wise not to set one’s expectations too high; however, for the second year running, ALT-C was excellent.

For me the keynotes usually provide the conference ‘edutainment’, you can be fairly sure that they will be humour, some memorable nuggets and an underlying message (although that’s not always clear!).  Overall the ALT-C  keynotes delivered and I took something away from all of them.  I think because I’d seen both Terry Anderson (live) & Mike Wesch (lots of videos) speak before, it is Martin Bean’s keynote, A Journey in Innovation, that particularly sticks in my mind.  Martin is the Open University’s Vice Chancellor Designate.  He’s an excellent speaker and his keynote is worth a look even if it’s just for the initial stuff on innovation scepticism & his overview of the current (changing) HE landscape.  His talk finishes with enthusiasm for the OU’s SocialLearn project which aims to provide students with a personal web platform for their learning; one I’ll be following with interest.

You can watch Matin’s keynote in full below and you’ll find the other keynotes & invited speakers on

There appeared to be two hot topics in the parallel sessions.  Firstly a number that touched on the VLE – PLE debateThe VLE is Dead session in particular attracted a lot of interest, thanks to plenty of pre-conference marketing from the main protagonists!  I missed this session as I was attending one on the other hot topic, Audio Feedback, which involves giving students recorded (spoken) feedback on their work.  This is something we have been looking at over the last few months and that staff will be starting to use during 2009/10.  We have Wimba voice tools integrated into Moodle which makes it really easy to record and deliver audio to groups, individuals or the whole cohort.

Finally, I find that conferences often serve as a good reminder of something you already know you should be doing but haven’t yet got round to acting upon.  The message I took away this year came from one of the invited speakers Jonathan Drori who told us to know everything about your audience. So this year that’s my aim… so if anyone out there wants a shadow please let me know!

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