Learning Technologist of the Year 2019 – Finalists and Community Choice Award Voting

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ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2019 were proudly sponsored by Edina.

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 expert panel of judges was chaired by Martin Weller, President of ALT. The panel represented expertise from different sectors and countries, bringing together a wealth of experience in Learning Technology.

The 2019 judging panel included:


Learning Technologist of the Year (Team & Individual)

  • Dr Peter Bryant – Associate Dean (Education) and Associate Professor of Business at the University of Sydney Business School (Australia)
  • Elizabeth Charles – Assistant Director of Library Services at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Paul Driver –  Senior Learning Technologist – Anglia Ruskin University
  • Dr Mark Glynn – Head of the Teaching Enhancement Unit – Dublin City University
  • Dr Peter Shukie, Academic Lead in Digital Innovation in Teaching and Learning, University Centre Blackburn College
  • Ros Walker, Learning Technologist, University of Stirling

Learning Technology Research Project of the Year

  • Dr Matthew Barr – Lecturer (Computer Science), University of Glasgow
  • Dr Liz Bennett – University Teach Fellow, University of Huddersfield
  • Dr Jill Buban – Chief Academic Officer at Unizin
  • Dr Michael Flavin – Head of Curriculum Innovation at King’s College London


Vote for Community Choice award (now closed)

The judges’ choices for Individual, Team and Research Project awards were announced at the awards ceremony at the Annual Conference on 04 September. We also gave everyone the opportunity to vote from the judges shortlisted finalists to select this year’s Community Choice award. For more information on all of the entries, please see below. To see the winners, see our Winners news item.

How to vote (Voting now closed)

There are two ways to vote: via email and via Twitter. Voting is 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 closed at noon (BST) on the 4th of September 2019.

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 “SHEILA – Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics (Research Project Award)” 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 “Student Opinion Miner: statistical opinion mining to understand student evaluation of teaching (Research Project Award)” 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] – SHEILA – Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics (Research Project Award)
  • Vote #LTA2 [email | tweet] – Student Opinion Miner: statistical opinion mining to understand student evaluation of teaching (Research Project Award)
  • Vote #LTA3 [email | tweet] – UCISA Technology Enhanced Learning Survey and Case Studies (Research Project Award)
  • Vote #LTA4 [email | tweet] – Online CPD, STEM Learning (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA5 [email | tweet] – The AIE-AR Team (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA6 [email | tweet] – University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Team (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA7 [email | tweet] – Online learning team, Edinburgh Business School (Heriot-Watt University) (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA8 [email | tweet] – SERC TEL Pedagogy Mentoring Team (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA9 [email | tweet] – OU Learning Design Team (Team Award)
  • Vote #LTA10 [email | tweet] – Lizzie Seymour (Individual Award)


Shortlisted Finalists


SHEILA – Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics (Research Project Award)

(Vote #LTA1 [email | tweet])

SHEILA participants photo

The SHEILA project assists European higher education institutions to become more mature users and custodians of digital data collected from students during their online learning activities. The use of learning analytics has gained increasing attention in recent years. At the same time, few higher education institutions in Europe and the world are ‘student data informed’. The SHEILA programme addresses this gap through the development of a long-term learning analytics policy agenda and a community among higher education institutions across Europe.

A series of research activities took place between January 2016 and September 2018 to investigate the state of the art in terms of learning analytics (LA) adoption in Europe, drivers for adoption, challenges, and successes to date. The project then built a policy development framework (SHEILA framework) to support systematic, sustainable and responsible adoption of LA at an institutional level. The study concluded with a recommendation of a dialogical approach to dealing with the social and cultural challenges associated with LA, so as to move towards systematic adoption under a shared vision across the institution.

The SHEILA framework offers good reference points for institutions to develop or review their strategy and policy for LA and assess their institutional readiness. The web tool of the framework together with other materials produced by the SHEILA project have been made openly accessible at: https://sheilaproject.eu/

SHEILA was funded by the European Commission via the Erasmus+ program. The SHEILA team includes partners from the University of Edinburgh, Open University of the Netherlands, Tallinn University, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Brussels Educational Services, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and the Erasmus Student Network.


Student Opinion Miner: statistical opinion mining to understand student evaluation of teaching (Research Project Award)

(Vote #LTA2 [email | tweet])

Yunhyong KIm

There have been studies (Marsh 2007) that suggest teachers may not be effectively using student evaluation of teaching (SET) for the improvement of their learning and teaching strategy. Effective changes based on SET are difficult, because humans tend to suffer from anchoring bias which affects their relevance judgements (Shokuohi, White & Yilmaz 2015), causing them to focus on negative comments rather than approaching SET with a comprehensive analysis of the whole data.

The project described here employs Learning Analytics (e.g. Alexander 2018) through the creative use of statistical opinion mining (OM) – e.g. Pang & Lee 2008 – as a means of moderating the effects of such biases by picking up holistic characteristics of the data to complement human interpretation. An OM platform was developed that can summarise positive and negative textual answers expressed by cohorts of students defined by ratings associated with core categorical questions. This allowed the data to be conceptually traversed through decision-tree-like paths to positives and negatives perceived, for example, by student groups who gave low/high scores for one of the numerically rated questions. The holistic view of SET helped to moderate human bias, especially where student cohorts were large, allowing us to:

Make holistic sense of data, through connections between numerical and textual feedback.Highlight positive messages missed (because of anchoring bias) in a manual review, thereby isolating positive elements to maintain in the course, in particular, helping us to realise that aspects we thought were ‘negative’ were not so much the case through holistic weight analysis.Engage lecturers to explore how the course was received by the students in a motivating and engaging way, for example, overcoming cognitive barriers to:

Easily screen out problem hot spots to prioritise ways to support learning.Quickly grasp an overview of different areas through colour coding.

Provide diverse ways to summarise the feedback beyond averages, ratings, and cherry picked textual comments.

The project clearly demonstrates the potential “opportunity to accelerate our thinking and planning with respect to the range and extent of learning analytics at our institutions”, a trend that has been observed to be on the rise in the last couple of years (Brown 2017).


UCISA Technology Enhanced Learning Survey and Case Studies (Research Project Award)

(Vote #LTA3 [email | tweet])

ucisa project

The ucisa Surveys of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and associated Case Studies track developments and trends in the use of learning technologies across the UK higher education sector. The 2018 survey was the ninth in the series, enabling a longitudinal analysis spanning 17 years. The question set for the Survey has purposely evolved over the years, seeking to reflect current technology themes and challenges whilst retaining an eye on longitudinal developments. Survey design choices are strongly influenced by sector developments in the policy and management of TEL and we have closely monitored TEL practices both nationally and internationally to inform our thinking. The ALT community have been key to enabling us to do this through the ALT conference, member groups, special interest groups and the ALT members mailing list.

Completing the survey itself, which although a big undertaking, is a really valuable exercise within an institution as it brings together different stakeholders to view how TEL is transforming their institutions. It offers an opportunity for institutions to reflectively examine what they’re doing independently and helps them to consider their areas for improvement. The survey report and case studies present a sector-wide view of TEL developments both for the current year and longitudinally. This provides the opportunity for institutions to benchmark with the sector and supports decision making within institutions.

This is a highly collaborative project with members from 14 UK higher education institutions and project managed by The Research Partnership in conjunction with ucisa. For the 2018 survey, we expanded the project team to include new associate members from outside of the ucisa Digital Education Group to enable them to develop skills in data analysis and report writing. Whilst the group has some longstanding members of the project team, this approach has the benefit of succession planning to ensure that the team’s expertise is shared and can be taken forward for future surveys. We will be looking for new associate members for the 2020 survey.

The project has a key focus on community engagement, bringing together members of the ALT and ucisa communities to produce an output that is highly regarded within the UK HE sector and internationally. Outputs from the project have been disseminated via reports, conference papers, and through presentations at user groups and national and international conferences.

With thanks to the Centre for Excellence in Learning at Teaching at the University of Derby for producing our video.



Online CPD, STEM Learning (Team Award)

(Vote #LTA4 [email | tweet])

Matt Cornock and Karen Hornby (Online CPD Team), with Angela Rust (Course Educator)

We believe that online professional development should enable participants from diverse backgrounds to learn together, whilst addressing their own development goals. We have created online CPD informed by social learning pedagogy that provokes our participants’ thinking and, crucially, affects real and sustained change to their practice.

“It’s helped to reignite my passion for teaching science. It’s given me new ideas and ways to approach the subject… I’m genuinely looking forward to implementing the different approaches.” – Teacher participant feedback

Supporting STEM educators

Our online CPD programme is designed for primary, secondary and FE teachers of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) in the UK, and STEM Ambassadors, approximately 30,000 volunteers who work with schools and groups to inspire young people in STEM. During 2018-19 we welcomed over 57,000 enrolments from across the world, with 109,000 hours of online CPD undertaken by our learners in total.

For many of our participants, online learning is the only way they can meet their own development needs due to time, budget or geographical location. All our courses are evidence-based, with academic or action research, and we are proud to celebrate the excellent teaching taking place in UK schools by filming authentic classroom footage and interviews with educators to support our participants’ learning. Our mentor-facilitated, open access courses are supportive spaces to address professional competencies (for example behaviour management) and enable newly qualified and experienced educators to share experiences and build their confidence.

“It has really empowered me with the confidence to go out and deliver STEM activities… thank you for providing such well thought out learning!” – STEM Ambassador feedback

Collaborative approach

In the last 18 months we have launched 13 new online courses, creating professional learning pathways on the FutureLearn platform. We’ve only been able to meet the needs of so many participants by learning from the expertise across our organisation and partner institutions. Complementing this, we’ve enabled our colleagues to develop their experience of online education, through design workshops, involvement in mentoring and re-purposing content in blended models. Online CPD is now an established part of the STEM Learning offer and we look forward to supporting many more educators in having a positive impact on the young people they work with.

Our courses on FutureLearn
Course Promos on YouTube
Bitesize CPD: @onlinecpd_matt
Accessible equivalent for nomination video



The AIE-AR Team (Team Award)

(Vote #LTA5 [email | tweet])

AIE-AR Team photo

Academic integrity and ethics (AIE) have always been important issues in educating students and crucial to the reputation of educational institutions. With advances in technology which have enabled fast and easy retrieval of information, misconducts such as plagiarism have worsened. Enforcement of student declarations on AIE or even disciplinary actions for breeches does not seem to be effective enough to tackle the problem.

The AIE-AR Project is dedicated to the innovative and effective learning and teaching of AIE at higher education, by leveraging augmented reality (AR) and mobile technologies, so that students are motivated to internalise their learning and adopt an intrinsic mind-set to behave ethically and act with integrity. The AIE-AR Project Team is led by the Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU); The Centre works in collaboration with teachers and professionals at HKBU and 3 other universities in Hong Kong.

We have developed AR learning trails called “Trails of Integrity and Ethics”, or TIEs. On a trail, students, usually in groups, go to specific points on campus at which possible AIE dilemmas can arise, and read the associated scenarios by activating the corresponding AR triggers with their mobile devices. Then, they decide the best response to those dilemmas. After making responses, possible consequences will be shown. By grouping students during the trail, they can interact with each other, promoting idea exchange and collaborative learning. By associating AIE dilemmas with campus features, students are more likely to recall the relevant concepts when they revisit those features, achieving situated learning and better internalisation of the concepts. The TIEs are blended with face-to-face activities like debriefing discussions for students to reflect on their learning. In addition to experiencing the trails, some students are involved in scenario design for, or facilitation during, the trails, promoting student-led learning.

The Project has attracted local and global interest through publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, international awards, and media reports; these affirm the Team’s endeavour to impact upon propagating ethical education for the benefit of students at all levels. Building on the expertise and experience gained, the Team has been extending the approach to local secondary school students and other universities in Asia. The subject areas of the trails have also been expanded from aspects of AIE to corporate social responsibility and healthy lifestyle.



University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Team (Team Award)

(Vote #LTA6 [email | tweet])

University of Edinburgh Team

The lecture recording team at the University of Edinburgh is a virtual team drawn from across the professional services areas who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to delivering a new, high quality, centrally supported lecture recording service for the institution.

Involving commercial partners, external advisors, learning technologists, academic developers, AV specialists, trainers, researchers and staff and students from across all disciplines, we have delivered one of the most successful large scale roll-outs of learning technology across a large institution with a challenging physical estate.

The implementation of lecture recording at Edinburgh is a multi-year programme to equip up to 400 teaching spaces and automate the recording of lectures at scale. It is directly responding to student feedback, is strongly informed by the student voice, and was approved as high priority by University Court.

In delivering the ‘at scale’ elements of the service over the last 24 months, the team have successfully handled complex academic development, communications and academic engagement, policy implementation and technical challenges with considerable skill and sensitivity. They have delivered major learning technology and policy changes in a year which included a period of controversial national industrial action during which lectures and lecturing became a contested area of collective action. All throughout this time the team have retained a core focus on supporting an excellent student experience, championing accessibility and inclusive practices, and supporting academic colleagues to feel safe and in control in the face of disruption.

As well as being informed by research, implementation at Edinburgh included a strong evaluation strand. The team have conducted research into the impact at institutional level, as well as providing grant funding and support to academic colleagues to conduct discipline-specific research into the impact of lecture recording in local contexts. This work has opened up critical conversations that go beyond learning technology to question why we teach the way we teach and the work at Edinburgh has already had a wider impact across the sector.

The team has been particularly effective at drawing from user insights and research findings to continually tailor the service and respond to the needs of users throughout the process. They have successfully navigated the programme governance structure to access the widest level of expertise and skillfully used this to drive forward programme objectives and have balanced academic and student expectations to deliver a successful implementation.


Online learning team, Edinburgh Business School (Heriot-Watt University) (Team Award)

(Vote #LTA7 [email | tweet])

Edinburgh Business School Team Photo

Edinburgh Business School’s mission is to broaden access and support equality of opportunity regardless of location, age or prior education. We have around 9,000 students across 166 countries, the majority of whom learn entirely online. On 1 January 2018, we were 1 year into a 3-year project to transform our curriculum, pedagogy, learning technologies and course content. The broad scope of the project, while challenging, provided a rare opportunity to take a holistic approach towards all aspects of the online student experience.

Several milestones had been achieved, but the challenges still facing us were huge: new core 20-credit modules had to be created from scratch; a new bespoke online platform was yet to be built; our open-access model meant that students had no access to library resources; and crucially there was no in-house team to guide and support the establishment of a new online pedagogy. So during the first half of 2018 a new team of eight digital education specialists was built through a mixture of external recruitment and developing existing staff.

The team have now achieved many of the project’s key objectives: they have designed, built and launched new online modules that have been received positively by students; they have established a social, immersive pedagogy that provides increased opportunities for interaction and collaboration at scale; and they have created rich, multimodal content that makes extensive and innovative use of digital media. Moreover, the team’s contribution transcends this particular project. As well as making a significant contribution to the financial sustainability of the MBA programme, they have instilled strategic capability in digital media production, content development, learning design and e-assessment. The relationships of mutual trust and respect that the team have nurtured with subject-matter experts are translating into authentic and distinctive academic voices throughout the new online modules. Lastly the team have reflected extensively on good practice and lessons learned; they have shared these insights within the institution and discussed them with the wider education community (e.g. via conference presentations). In summary, the online learning team have demonstrated creativity, criticality and collaboration to bring about a step change in EBS’s online student experience. Guided by a deep understanding of the needs of a geographically diverse student body and an ethos of accessibility, they have delivered high-quality online modules and established a distinctive and sustainable capability for the university.



SERC TEL Pedagogy Mentoring Team (Team Award)

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SERC Mentors Group Photo

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) has had an established Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) pedagogy mentoring team since 2011. The mentors are teachers from a range of subject areas who, for a proportion of their teaching week, support their colleagues to implement innovative practice in the classroom. Focusing on classroom practice, mentors teach, team teach, and peer observe mentees’ classes. Mentors harness the student voice to influence and inform the design and content of the six hours of tailored training for each member of staff completing the mentoring programme, integrating with the three classroom sessions. 360-degree feedback, from the mentor, mentee and students, feeds forward into the areas of focus for training, ensuring that the learner experience remains central to any training provided. To date, approximately 500 staff have completed the mentoring programme. Research has shown a shift in mindset and digital skillset amongst staff, creating greater collegiality as mentor and mentee work in collaboration. The mentoring team is responsive, innovative and supportive, facilitating teaching and corporate staff to enhance their skills and confidence in an Education 4.0 context.

Focusing on TEL, the mentoring programme creates opportunities for collaboration and innovation. For example, the mentoring team has integrated a common strategy for Project Based Learning (PBL) using real-world scenarios to support learners in developing their wider digital skills. SERC has presented their approach and provided training at conferences in Europe, Asia and Africa, further strengthening the programme through internationalisation.

The team also deliver continuous professional development (CPD) through a selection of weekly webinar series: ‘Moodle Monday’ focuses on blended learning approaches in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); ‘Webinar Wednesday’ focuses on sharing best practice and teaching and learning strategies, and ‘1-minute CPD’ offers all staff short bite-sized CPD designed to increase digital skills.

SERC’s digital strategy integrates systems, technology, data, and people, transforming its digital landscape through a whole-college approach to enhance student engagement. Collaboration is embedded in the College’s ethos, creating collegiality and opportunities for partnership working. Translating how technology can be used in a virtual context has created a dynamic learning environment which saw MOODLE accessed 6.2 million times last year with 30% of these from outside the College, indicating the wider impact of the mentoring team in engaging students with blended learning approaches, and enabling teachers to create purposeful and engaging content.


OU Learning Design Team (Team Award)

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LD CDSP Team Photo

The Curriculum Design Student Panel (CDSP) was set up in 2016 as a means of enabling students to directly contribute to the planning and improvement of the University’s curriculum. This was in response to QAA Review recommendations, and feedback from students themselves.

Bringing the student voice into the creation of distance learning courses is particularly challenging in a distance learning context. The Panel enables staff involved in module development to work with students more directly and easily at an early stage when they can influence decisions about online activities, materials and tools. This can include course structure, website navigation and layout, formats of materials, terminology used, and tools for skills development. Panel members also provide feedback on more general areas such as digital capability, online forum use, and informal learning.

Since the pilot phase, the panel has expanded from 450 members to almost 2000, and is now part of business as usual, run by the Learning Design (LD) team. Activities mainly take place online, via the panel’s ‘We Learn’ VLE workspace, with occasional face-to-face meetings.

By routinely involving students as partners in curriculum design, the OU Learning Design (LD) team is taking an innovative approach, bridging the gap between designers working on module production and learners studying at a distance. The CDSP is embedded into the LD team’s Evaluation work and used, together with learning analytics, to understand the student perspective and to ensure it is fully considered throughout the whole design cycle.

The panel is important for three key reasons: 1) Providing data for quality enhancement of student learning at national, institutional and module level2) Providing a voice for students and encouraging them to feel part of the university community 3) Giving students an insight into the nature of the work the university does and the course development process.

Students have reported that being part of the panel helps them to feel a greater connection with the OU, overcoming the barriers of learning at a distance. They also enjoy contributing to the improvement of curriculum design. All panel members are offered a personalised statement of participation as evidence of their participation, which can be used in job interviews or appraisals.

The panel’s activities are regularly disseminated via internal and external events, including a joint staff-student workshop at the Change Agents Network conference in May 2019.



Lizzie Seymour (Individual Award)

(Vote #LTA10 [email | tweet])

Lizzie Seymour Headshot

Hi, I’m Lizzie and I’m the Learning Technology Officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park.

I’m the only dedicated Learning Technologist for a zoological institution in the UK, and as such I’m constantly experimenting to discover which learning technology elements from traditional education institutions such as schools, colleges and universities can work in visitor attractions where we receive very different audiences. I have been working hard to integrate many different technologies into the pre-existing lessons offered by our Discovery and Learning team, and to widen our offering online.

The technology we have been exploring ranges from using Virtual Reality (VR) in a lesson about rainforests to show children first-hand the effects of deforestation, to running a Moodle-based online learning platform for custom interactive materials for schools, outreach and adult learning, and recently in the successful installation of an immersive classroom for both teaching and public engagement at Edinburgh Zoo.

This work ties into a general overhaul within our Education Department of all our lessons to align them with all areas of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. Our use of technology helps us to offer sessions in many subject areas not typically associated with visiting the Zoo, such as music, creative writing and the Tech Monkeys afterschool club I started which offers topics such as programming and multimedia editing.

My goal is to be able to demonstrate the massive benefits technology can have in non-traditional education environments such as zoos, aquariums and other visitor attractions. I believe these benefits range from increased ease of delivery of sessions, higher engagement with the possibility of tracking this engagement, and the ability to reach different and much wider audiences.

I frequently share my experiences in my unique field with others in the learning technology industry, as well as with other visitor attractions through meetups, social groups and conferences. I have recently been working to form partnerships with other zoos and aquariums, as well as local universities, to create digital content together.

I hope that my work with innovative technologies and exciting programs such as Tech Monkeys will be able to show many others that we can attract new audiences to zoos, to boost digital literacy and to build empathy with the animals that we care for, which in turn we can guide into action to help endangered animals and the environment.