ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2017 – Finalists and Community Choice Voting

The ALT Learning Technologist of the Years Awards 2017 will be presented at the ALT Annual Conference in Liverpool on 6 September 2017.

CoSector Logo
ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2017 sponsored by Bloom CoSector – University of London

Established in 2007, the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards celebrate and reward excellent practice and outstanding achievement in the learning technology field, and aim to promote intelligent use of Learning Technology on a national scale. The Awards are open to individuals and teams based anywhere in the world. The 2017 Awards are sponsored by Bloom – CoSector, University of London.

The Awards were judged by a panel chaired by Fiona Harvey, President of ALT and Education Development Manager for the University of Southampton. The panel consisted of the following:

  • Darren Moon, Senior Learning Technologist, London School of Economics and Political Science, representing the Team Winner 2016
  • Daniel Scott, Digital Learning Specialist and Individual Winner 2016
  • Lorna Campbell, Trustee of ALT and OER Liaison – Open Scotland, LTW, University of Edinburgh
  • Lynne Downey, Dean, Online Education, University College of Estate Management
  • Josie Fraser, OER17 Co-Chair and Trustee of Wikimedia UK.

Vote for Community Choice award

The judges’ choices for individual and team awards will be announced at the awards ceremony at the Annual Conference on 6 September. However, we were also giving everyone the opportunity to vote from the judges shortlisted finalists to select this year’s Community Choice award.

How to vote

There are two ways to vote: via email and via Twitter. Voting will be limited to one vote per account. Your account details (email addresses and Twitter screen names) will not be used for direct marketing or passed by ALT to third parties. All voting closes at noon (BST) 6 September 2017.

Vote via email

Send a message to LTAwards-vote@alt.ac.uk with the tag of the person or team in the subject line. For example, to vote for Richard Beggs email to LTAwards-vote@alt.ac.uk with the subject line ‘#LTA1′. We have prepared links below labelled ‘email’ which should compose the message for you with your default email client.

Vote via Twitter

Tweet a message with the hashtag #altc and the tag of the person or team you wish to vote for. For example, to vote for Ashwin Mehta, your tweet should include ‘#altc #LTA2’. You are allowed to include other text/links with your tweet. We have prepared the links below labelled ‘tweet’ which compose a suggested tweet for you to edit. Retweets will not be counted. Only publicly visible tweets will be counted. If a Twitter account tweets more than one vote, the last vote will only be counted.

This Year’s Finalists

  • Vote #LTA1 [email | tweet] – Richard Beggs, Ulster University
  • Vote #LTA2 [email | tweet] – Ashwin Mehta, Medical Research Council
  • Vote #LTA3 [email | tweet] – Chrissi Nerantzi, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Vote #LTA4 [email | tweet] – Monash College – Central eLearning Team, Australia
  • Vote #LTA5 [email | tweet] – Learning Technology Team, University of Northampton
  • Vote #LTA6 [email | tweet] – Technology Enhanced Learning Team, University of Sheffield
  • Vote #LTA7 [email | tweet] – Tavistock & Portman TEL Unit

More information about each shortlisted finalist is given below.

Shortlisted Finalists

Richard Beggs (Vote #LTA1 [email | tweet])

Ulster University

Richard BeggsDuring academic year 2016/17 I transitioned from the role of creator to that of an enabler. This was challenging, but hugely rewarding and I was able to transfer my creative knowledge and skills to implement new initiatives across Ulster, Apps for Active Learning and Digital Storytelling.

Apps for Active Learning has produced over 12,000 Nearpod student sessions from 50 staff this year, enhancing the learning experience in nursing, built environment, computing, social-sciences, biomedical-sciences, psychology, pharmacy, geography, accountancy, business, and the library, making lectures more interactive and facilitating flipped and distance learning approaches.

Digital storytelling has not only raised digital literacy of staff and students at Ulster, but it has directly inspired others to embrace the practice such as PSNI and NI Fire Brigade and as part of a British Council funded project I have delivered workshops in Aberystwyth and Heriot Watt Universities this year.

I was invited to teach on Ulster’s PG Cert in Digital Learning (DL) and the Nursing Teaching Program (PGCE). Through the PG Cert (DL) I have inspired the School of Academic Studies and Applied Science, Southern Regional College (SRC) to add digital stories to their HE recruitment toolkit, and through consultancy with the School of Creative Design and Computing (SRC) they have embraced apps in their teaching, attaining praise at a recent inspection (May 2017).

I also had the ‘bread and butter’ aspects of my role to deliver, particularly around electronic management of assessment and feedback (EMA policy), flipped learning and curriculum design workshops and Blackboard Collaborate rollout. I set up a number of communities of practice around these, fuelled by caffeine, that encouraged debate and sharing. In the last year I disseminated my practice locally and nationally for CHERP, SRC, Jisc, ALT and ILTA.

During my 11 years at Ulster my practice has created a few firsts for Ulster: the first iPad app (downloaded 50+ countries); first open educational resources; and the first resources on Blackboard Open Education. I have also been fortunate enough to have my learning technology work recognised through awards (Jisc, HSC) and I was acknowledged by Ulster University in Dec 2015 through a Distinguished Learning and Teaching Support Fellowship.

The single most important driver for me is to improve the learning experience by enabling the creation of student focused digital artefacts that can be shared, reflected upon and enhanced. My desire is to inspire and excite through showcasing learning technology solutions.

Learn more about Richard’s work in this short video:


Ashwin Mehta (Vote #LTA2 [email | tweet])

Medical Research Council

Ashwin MehtaAshwin is the Corporate Head of Resilience and the lead for digital learning and digital learning research in Africa at the Medical Research Council (MRC). Ashwin previously worked in chemistry research and consultancy. Since 2012, Ashwin has been leading e-learning and blended learning programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ashwin became interested in digital learning and educational technology in 2010. The WHO had published that Africa suffered 25% of the global disease burden but had access to 3% of global health worker capacity. The MRC works to reduce the global disease burden and improve human health through biomedical research. Ashwin believes that technology will help increase health worker capacity.

Ashwin discovered an opportunity in 2012 when visiting MRC Laboratories in The Gambia. Health research protocols typically begin with gaining community consent and gathering data from the population, which depend on locally recruited workers. These workers are pillars of their communities and provide general health and hygiene advice which can help prevent disease. Teaching these workers standardised skills was an opportunity to teach with technology.

In 2012 and 2013, Ashwin developed and tested a pilot module from existing material at MRC, The Gambia. While successful, the pilot demonstrated that power, networks, device access and ICT skills needed upgrading before proceeding. Following infrastructure upgrades, supported by local teams, Ashwin led the development and implementation of eight modules to form a basic e-learning programme, accompanied by practical teaching by local teams, which proved to deliver better learning outcomes, at a lower cost, with a shorter time required to qualify. Having demonstrated value for money, Ashwin went on to lead the development and implementation of a further two levels of intermediate and advanced e-learning packages for fieldworkers in The Gambia, and to pilot the basic training course in Uganda and Kenya.

Ashwin demonstrated that health research worker capacity can be strengthened using educational technology, paving the way for further work that might address global health disparities. Ashwin hopes that this project, through collaborative next steps, will be launched in other health research centres in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ashwin holds an MChem from the University of Liverpool and an MBA from the University of Northampton. Ashwin is currently completing a PhD at the University of Leeds examining the influence of values on the adoption of educational technology. Ashwin’s research interests are institutional and individual decision-making with technology and in crisis scenarios.

Video to follow.


Chrissi Neranzti (Vote #LTA3 [email | tweet])

Manchester Metropolitan University

Chrissi NerantziHi, I am Chrissi (@chrissinerantzi), an open practitioner and researcher. Playful and curious at heart and a passionate forever-learner and experimenter. I work as an academic developer in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Manchester Metropolitan University and specialise in creative and innovative teaching and open education.

I am a traveller and have had a varied professional journey so far in three European countries, Germany, Greece and the UK, that includes working as a computer programmer in the Hellenic Navy (many will find this hard to believe); teaching modern foreign languages (German and Greek to all ages); translating children’s books for publishers (I loved picture books especially); teaching translation of children’s literature at a German University (for a little while); and then doing teacher education in Community, Adult and Further Education and finally academic development. My first job as an academic developer in e-learning was at the University of Sunderland. I then moved to the University of Salford, where I led the PgCert in Academic Practice, before arriving at my current institution, where I have had the opportunity to spread the bug for playful, creative and open learning and teaching further through a range of initiatives.

Chrissi Nerantzi's laptopAs an experimenter, I have always been using my imagination to explore possibilities that could be seen by some (or many) as radical… But discoveries are made when we go in new directions, when we are brave enough to step into the unknown, when we feel discomfort…

My pedagogical ideas have been shared widely and are in the open. They provide alternative, and I hope stimulating, ways to engage in professional learning, develop digital and open capabilities and build confidence and cross-boundary communities.

My belief that ideas grow and spread when they are shared and my love of working with others has led to many diverse collaborations, which have been instrumental in widening my own perspectives and generating new pedagogical ideas, concepts and practices, as well as frameworks and research to grow the evidence-based around creative, open and digital practice in the context of professional development. It makes me smile and very proud when I see individuals I collaborate with grow, open their wings and become innovators.

Open education has the potential to bring us closer together, to learn and work, beyond institutional and other boundaries or constraints so that we benefit as individuals, the collective and society as a whole. Finding creative ways to make this happen using digital and open practices that empower individuals and unzip our minds to embrace diverse possibilities and opportunities that are in front of us, is a powerful driver for me.

Learn more about Chrissi’s work in this short video:


Monash College – Central eLearning Team, Australia (Vote #LTA4 [email | tweet])

Monash Learning-Technology-Team_photoAt Monash College, a key driver is our vision of student centred, quality-led growth. To support this, Monash College’s Central eLearning Team (CeLT) has implemented an eLearning Strategy to drive the development and creativity of staff, through a rapid and innovative change program that has integrated People, Place and Technology.

Over the past 18 months the most significant transformations achieved by the CeLT are:

  • Our entire College has moved to a Blended and Flipped Delivery model.
  • The previous outdated Moodle system has been completely refaced and configured, changing the look and feel of the platform to include new themes and teacher support documents.
  • New learning technologies have been introduced to enable a rich learning experience. The Kaltura Media Management System has been rolled out across the College, with over 1300 videos hosted on the system over the last 12 months. This has allowed staff to learn about access patterns and to create interactive quizzes with videos.
  • The Echo360 Active Learning Platform was introduced in 2016 to engage students within the classroom, enabling the College’s large Accounting unit to improve its pass rate by 22%.
  • Moodle analytics tools, such as Progress Bar, GISMO, MEAP and Inactive User Alerts were introduced with supporting intervention plans, providing a tangible way for teachers to identify students who were not performing and move them to success.
  • The Mahara ePortfolio system now forms part of the new Education Diploma, providing students with the ability to collect evidence that supports their transition to Monash University.
  • Professional development and support has enabled staff to use Technology Enhanced Learning, increasing staff satisfaction by 43% (ACODE evaluation 2016). This included 200 professional development sessions with over 1700 participations over the past 18 months.
  • In collaboration with Foundation Year Curriculum Developers, the CeLT has redeveloped the Foundation Year program offered in Melbourne and across our offshore partners in Asia.
  • Our recently established Registered Training Organisation provided an opportunity to develop a completely new, innovative course for external organisations.

The Phillips KPA survey of 180 teachers (May 2016) showed:

  • 87% of teachers are interested in using Technology Enhanced Learning in their teaching.
  • 83% indicated that College-run professional development activities had an impact on their professional practice.
  • 60% of teachers have accessed eLearning drop-in sessions.
  • The CeLT has enabled staff to become more effective and in their blended learning delivery and more confident when using learning technologies in our technology enhanced Learning Village.

Learn more about Monash College’s work in this short video:


Learning Technology Team, University of Northampton (Vote #LTA5 [email | tweet])

University of Northampton space centre groupThe Learning Technology Team has grown from being a peripheral group to a major force for positive change within the University, its academic partners and the sector. This has been due to the drive, determination and interpersonal skills which are prevalent within the team which has enabled it to encourage staff and students to recognise the value of research informed Learning Technology.

Many aspects of University activity now including Learning Technology:

  • Highly functional accessible VLE developed in conjunction with staff and students
  • Development of quality mechanisms to better capture feedback and reward engagement
  • Engagement in international collaborative bids
  • Close links with the Student Union
  • Enhancing core University data (e.g. Student Record System)
  • Informing the development of new campus (Waterside)
  • Leading on the design of new programmes for the University based around Active Blended Learning (ABL)
  • Sector contributions

Whilst many Learning Technology Teams will be expected to be successful in the above activities – the group of Northampton should be recognised with the significant progress which has been made in the very wide areas of responsibility covered by their work and the enthusiasm generated within the staff and student body as a whole.

Learn more about Learning Technology Team, University of Northampton’s work in this short video:

Music: ‘theSantaAnasInstrumental‘ by airtone, 2017 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0)


Technology Enhanced Learning Team, University of Sheffield (Vote #LTA6 [emailtweet])

University of Sheffield team photoThe University of Sheffield’s TEL team is a relatively new team. One of our biggest challenges was changing our perception as a technical team, rather than a pedagogical team that empowers staff to enhance their teaching and learning.

Here are some of the initiatives we have undertaken to change this:

TELFest, is our annual week-long Technology Enhanced Learning Festival, launched in 2014. Growing significantly each year TELFest plays a core role in the institution’s learning and teaching calendar, with over 400 attendees in 2017.

Sessions focus on both the ‘why’ and ‘how’ providing attendees with new ideas and the skills to make informed decisions. They are provocative, challenging misconceptions of TEL in ways that are sometimes playful, but always informative. Popular sessions include ‘Faculty Fortunes’, where we surveyed staff and students on their use of learning technologies.

The varied agenda and session formats (workshops, bite-sized sessions, panel discussions and debates), make TELFest valuable for all levels of experience. From those that are highly engaged with learning technology (e.g. possibilities of VR), through to those that are new adopters (e.g. introduction to the VLE).

A powerful community of practice has developed from TELFest. This is enabling us to better understand institutional needs and work with a much wider audience. It has led to our faculty liaison model, which is giving a greater understanding of the teaching that happens in different faculties, providing direct access to the team, enabling us to deliver tailored events, and helping to highlight faculty-specific needs in the development of learning technology tools.

We have also been developing the institution’s Learning Technologist community. Having created both virtual and physical meetings, several sub-groups have now formed from the community, including a journal writing group. These are helping drive forward institutional initiatives in a way that is consistent, but meets individual needs.

We keep students at the heart of what we do. We work with the Students’ Union, and employ student partners. They deliver staff development, outline good practice on topics including use of the VLE, and identify ways to enhance the use of learning technology.

We know that others have been inspired by our initiatives like TELFest. By inviting colleagues from across the community to this event, and publishing our findings, we are able to share the experiences and knowledge of the team, and wider TEL community at the University.

Learn more about Technology Enhanced Learning Team, University of Sheffield’s work in this short video:


Tavistock & Portman TEL Unit (Vote #LTA7 [emailtweet])

TEL_TavistockandPortman team photoHi, we are the Technology Enhanced Learning team from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, based in leafy Hampstead, North London. Hampstead, which has many tiny, narrow streets, is where the ratio of SUVs to au pairs is roughly 2:1.

Our team began in July 2014, when Simon was appointed Head of TEL. Horatio was recruited shortly after, while Louie and Jas, neither of whom came from a learning technology background, joined in 2015. We are based in the Tavistock Clinic, a building that dates from 1965, and are part of a professional services directorate that supports the delivery of Masters and Professional Doctorates in mental health care. We have approximately 1400 postgraduate students and several thousand CPD delegates.

The Tavistock is a practicing NHS mental health clinic servicing the needs of residents in the borough of Camden. In addition to being responsible for Moodle, Turnitin and other learning technologies, we also manage all audio-visual hardware such as the teaching room equipment, the recording facilities in the family therapy rooms and various other clinical requirements.

We are so thrilled to be finalists for the 2017 Team Award as our submission was very modest and simple. It’s based solely on getting the foundations right.

Embedding TEL at the Trust has been a learning technologist’s dream. Why? Because the Trust was a blank slate where learning technology was unknown.

We had the opportunity to take the best of what our colleagues and friends in ALT were doing and apply it here: electronic management of assessment, Turnitin, lecture capture, Moodle redesign and course area consistency, online student resources and so on.

As none of this existed before 2014, we didn’t have to unravel poor processes or diverse technologies. And we’ve been able to measure the impact of these TEL initiatives as we were starting at a base level of zero across the board. We had senior management and Faculty support and didn’t need to reinvent the wheel because the ALT community had already provided everything we needed.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved. But we know it’s not innovative and doesn’t push any boundaries. Hopefully, that innovation will come now as we believe it can only be sustainable if the foundations are in place. The challenge now, as with all TEL teams, is achieving this with significantly reduced budgets.

The screencast outlines our approach over the last three years. We hope you enjoy it.

Learn more about Tavistock & Portman TEL Unit’s work in this short video: