As Chief Executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) no one day is the same for Maren. This is an account of a week working with the staff team and members in the run up to ALT’s annual conference in September.
It’s a rather wet and windy start to the day, which I am spending in London for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award, supporting the panel of judges during the interviewing of short-listed entrants. My colleague Liz Wyatt, our Membership Services Manger, is coming to look after the entrants and manage the day. Today we have a large number of interviews – the panel’s task is to determine a winner for both individual and team awards. This year there are excellent entries all round, from a wide variety of educational contexts and so it is clear from the start that this year’s awards will be strongly contested. One after the other each presentation showcases what has been achieved, what the impact of the work has been and how minds and hearts have been won. The panel is impressed with the quality of the entries and as the day goes on more inspiring examples of learning and teaching practice are presented to us. After deliberating and making their decision, we agree that it has been a truly inspiring, if tiring day. On my way back home on the coach, crawling through rush hour traffic, I have time to reflect on what for me has been a humbling experience. Two things are certain: first, that from primary school to further and higher education, work-based learning in partnership with industry to individuals at home, the learners are the winners and that the work we have seen today makes that possible. And second, that in my job, days don’t get much better than this.
The winners of the award will be announced at ALT’s annual conference in September.
Today I am spending most of the day with the team at our office in Oxford. I like to walk to work because it gives me time to think about the day ahead. My first task today is to have one of my regular one-to-one meetings with our Publications Manager, Anna Davidge. The rest of the morning I work through my inbox, post and other things that have come up.
My afternoon is spent writing my reports for the Trustees who are due to meet next week. The Trustees meet four times a year, but hold a regular meeting via conference call, the General Purposes Committee, which deals with business between meetings. Part of the challenge of operating as a membership charity is to ensure that we can act and re-act quickly to developments in technology and our members’ changing priorities as they happen. This time of year we finalise our Annual Report, which our Finance Manager, Emma Carr-Jones, and I have spent many hours on – so it is satisfying to see it coming to a close. Days like this give me the opportunity to catch up on many things and also to see, feel and breathe the day to day of ALT as an organisation.
One of the things that I am working on at the moment is the transition to our own Google Apps domain and transitioning the multitude of sites, groups, docs, calendars let alone emails. It is good to make sure I have hands on experience of technology. Alongside this we are working to finalise the provision of our webcasting and online conferencing services.
Working with our Events Manger, Caroline Greves, the afternoon is focused on the preparations for our annual conference in September. ALT-C is our flagship event and the largest one we organise each year. With less than three months to go, we are about to enter our busiest time of year just as others are winding down for the summer. But with an extensive project plan and regular project meetings we know that everything will eventually come together into a coherent conference.
Another (really) early start and my colleague John Slater, ALT’s Director of Development, and I are flying from London to Glasgow. Although we increasingly operate internationally with members and partners in many different countries outside the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are where many of ALT’s members live and work. Accordingly, in addition to virtual interaction we like to meet face-to-face when possible. Today’s meeting includes many new faces, members who are joining us for the first time, and it’s great to see this kind of engagement. On the agenda is a Scottish response to policy on Open Educational Resources in addition to considering whether the group become a formal ALT Special Interest Group.
Having recently stepped into this role, it is really helpful to listen to what ALT members think, what issues they face and to consider how we can best serve and work with our community. The meeting has a real buzz about it and we take home a lot of positive feedback, things to think about and things to do together in the coming months. ALT is all about the people that make it what it is and days like this really bring out the best of what we do.
Friday is a short day and it’s time to send out the news digest. This is a good way to get a sense of what is going on in our community and beyond in relation to events, funding calls, projects and vacancies. We have recently added a new section for Open Educational Resources (OERs) so that members can share and recommend resources to each other more easily. Anna compiles the digest from items submitted and we add content individually from each area of ALT’s activities until it is ready to be sent to the 2000 subscribers.
Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive
Association for Learning Technology
If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member