ALT convened a Policy Board meeting on 7 October 2013 at the Institute of Education in London. These meetings are fora for member institutions to discuss the effect of strategic changes in learning technology options on institutional strategies and on education as a whole.
About 34 learning technology leaders and experts from across the UK engaged in strategic discussions about “developing a strategy for continuing UK leadership in global education”.
Chair of ALT, Professor Diana Laurillard, welcomed the members and introduced the meeting.
Group discussion of policy challenges and ALT’s role in responding to policy challenges brought to light many strategic insights.
Nigel Ecclesfield, Programme Manager at Jisc, said perhaps the key policy issue was “how we can do better by our learners through the process of developing policy that is more responsive to the learner needs and more appreciative of practitioner activity”.
For Nick Jeans, Senior Consultant at Sero Sonsulting Ltd, a key policy issue that stood out was “the whole development and use of learning technology should not be sidetracked by the development of MOOCs which I think are a distraction rather than really crucial to progress in learning technology future”.
Many other discussion points were raised, including the need for more leadership in online learning and the need for more constructive data analysis, staff reward and retention, funding issues, etc.
On ALT’s role, Ecclesfield noted that we work in a very complicated area and reminded us of how Diana Laurillard once described teaching as ‘not being rocket science, it’s much more complicated than that’. “ALT can help respect that complexity, but also bring some coherence to what is going on around the technology agenda”.
Matthew Newcombe, Head of e-Learning at the University of Exeter reported back on group discussions that raised the possibility of using ALT’s CMALT programme to help learning technology practitioners progress into managerial roles.
After the open session, Maren Deepwell, ALT Chief Executive introduced the new draft Green paper by asking members, what can we do to continue being the educational leader, but face the economic realities?
The Green Paper is based on policy roundtable discussions convened earlier this year and is available for comments on: goo.gl/L0ZTph.
It is also a timely drafting of a new policy paper, given that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Department for Education published the “International education strategy: global growth and prosperity” in July 2013. The paper “sets out how government and the education sector will build on UK strengths to take advantage of global opportunities”.
Maren went on to highlight current ALT policy activities. She discussed how ALT engages with policy at various levels, including with teachers, further education, higher education, international as well as industry and sector level. ALT is supporting teachers in developing a new curriculum and providing professional development for teachers. ALT also had good FELTAG open discussions at the recent altc2013 and is partnering with Jisc to increase focus on learners in higher education.
Following this, Professor Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal, CIO and Librarian at the University of Edinburgh gave a presentation titled “Breaking the Mould: MOOCs as Catalysts of Major Educational Change”.
He said that the university had 308,000 learners enrolled for 6 MOOCs and that “Exploration of a new pedagogical ‘space’ to inform practice” was the main reason why Edinburgh offered MOOCs.
The meeting ended with an ALT strategy session guided by Doug Gowan, Vice Chair. This was the first consultation process with members that sought input about what the 2014 strategy should cover. ALT will continue consulting staff and members to get the ALT strategy drafted by November 2013.
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