Chief Executive’s Report, March 2016

Dear Members of ALT,

This is my first report to you in 2016 and I hope that you will find it helpful to catch up with some of the key developments across our community in recent months:

2015 Online Winter Conference

Many members participated in our first wholly online Winter Conference in December, which saw over 300 participants from 34 countries interact in webinars, hangouts, Twitter chats and online conversations. The programme showcased practice and research from ALT Members and Special Interest Groups across different sectors, sharing lessons learnt and innovation in Learning Technology.

Annual Survey

The conference also helped engage members in this year’s ALT Annual Survey to which we received a strong response. The findings from the survey were published earlier this month with a summary of trends which will inform how we deliver our Strategy over this coming year.  

Weekly News Digest

While the survey provides a very useful annual baseline which helps us understand better what’s going on in Learning Technology across sectors, other forums, such as the ALT Members discussion list and the news digest, continue to be important to our community. In response to member requests and after 339 fortnightly editions we have thus started publishing the news digest on a weekly basis.

Open Education Week

Also in March we celebrated Open Education Week with a number of events, activities and opportunities across Special Interest Groups and the wider membership. Webinars included a joint session with Jisc on post-Jorum developments and a preview of the OER16 Open Culture conference in Edinburgh next month.

Teaching excellence consultation

Alongside our advocacy for open policy the Association also submitted evidence to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in response to a consultation on ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’. You can read the executive summary and access the full response here. You can see other recent responses to consultation, such as the ALT response to the Scottish Government consultation on the development of a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland on our policy page.

We remember Doug Gowan, President of ALT

As a community we were sad to announce the passing of Doug Gowan, serving President of ALT, who died on 8 February (see the full announcement). As former founder and chief executive of the Open Learning Partnership Doug was elected as Vice-Chair in 2013, serving as Chair the following year and in 2015 as President of ALT. As a Trustee Doug was instrumental in leading ALT through the transition from unincorporated charity to becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in 2015. Doug’s work for the Association and as a Trustee will be marked at the Annual General Meeting 2016, which takes place on 7 September at the University of Warwick.

Trustee and staffing changes

While we are sad to lose Doug, we were pleased to welcome Bella Abrams, Director of Innovation and Technology at Hull College Group, as a new co-opted Trustee of the Association. Bella joined the Central Executive Committee in February and will contribute her expertise in the FE sector in particular. I am also pleased that Dr Tom Palmer, who joined the staff team in 2015 was recruited as ALT’s new Membership Manager earlier this month. Tom brings with him a wealth of experience as well as a keen interest in Learning Technology and education. Members will soon start to hear from Tom in his new role as a first point of contact for all membership enquiries including CMALT assessments.

New CMALT initiative launched

As you can see from this brief report we have had a busy start to the year and likewise our CMALT scheme continues to grow both in Further and Higher Education. This is why the last item I want to mention is a newly launched initiative for Certified Members to openly share their accredited portfolios (read full details here). Having recently gained CMALT myself I experienced first hand how useful a process of critical reflection can be for those who have management or leadership in Learning Technology at the core of their role and I hope that this initiative will help showcase the diversity and breadth of our Certified Members. Their work as peer assessors in the CMALT scheme is crucial to our mission as the leading professional body for Learning Technology and I want to end this report by saying a big ‘thank you’ to all our CMALT assessors!

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

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