Freud statue
Image provided by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

ALT Learning Technologist of the Year: a note of thanks.

Freud statue


A note of thanks to ALT Members from the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

“Being shortlisted for the Learning Technologist of the Year award has been great for us here at the Tavistock & Portman. To be perfectly honest, I was surprised we were called for interview by the panel. I wrote the submission at the eleventh hour thinking it would be nice if the rest of the team were acknowledged for the work they had done but not really expecting a result. The interview panel were great and very informal, which put Horatio, Louie and Jas at ease. They had been quite nervous. For those that know me, talking endlessly about TEL has never been a problem! But it was a new experience for these three young learning technologists – absolutely invaluable.

I was very proud of how they engaged with the panel in the interview. We didn’t get a gold, silver (like you, Rob) or bronze but we were finalists alongside some incredible teams. For me, it’s a bit like the Olympics. You might not get a medal but saying you were an Olympic Finalist is still pretty cool. It was a shame that Jas couldn’t stay for the award on 6th but I’m afraid a pre-booked train back to London prevented that.

For us, ALT is a very important part of what we do here. Louie was awarded his CMALT in June this year (he’s now left us to do a Masters in Amsterdam) while Jas and Horatio will be starting theirs in October. Within the NHS Trust where we work, colleagues have been very complimentary about the award. I feel it has raised our credibility here even more, which is always helpful when we’re asking them to make quite significant changes – for example, around online marking and Turnitin. More generally, I believe there is more the NHS can learn from ALT and vice versa.

The NHS and further and higher education have been intertwined since the beginning of the health service: clinicians often have a foot in both sectors; collaboration is strong (the forthcoming NHS Digital Academy involving Harvard, Edinburgh, Imperial and others being a good example); and the NHS is quick to exploit new technologies. There is a high expectation of TEL transforming training in the NHS. The world-class eLearning for Healthcare platform has trained hundreds of thousands of NHS staff. Health Education England’s TEL Hub, launched in 2013, is making progress in areas such as digital literacies. HEE is a member of FutureLearn where there is an increasing number of healthcare MOOCs; and the development and use of apps for health care on the ward is well embedded.

But possibly there are two areas of TEL where we could bring across the experience and knowledge of ALT members as I haven’t come across much evidence of either. (More knowledgeable members, please correct me if I am wrong.)

Firstly, the application of learning design and the benefits of social learning to augment the predominantly slide based (instructional design) approaches used in most NHS elearning courses. Secondly, a greater realisation of the benefits of OER repositories, Creative Commons and the sharing of learning materials.

There are understandable reasons why both these areas might encounter blocks – even in a training organisation such as ours that replicates the professional services of a university (we had a QAA full review in 2016), some of the challenges we face are quite different to FE and HE. Perhaps discussion of these blocks is for a future blog post.

So thank you ALT for our award and needless to say, I hope we’ll be punting for the gold medal in a couple of years!”


Simon KearSimon Kear, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning Department of Education and Training (DET), Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.





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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