A post from Chrissi Nerantzi, Academic Developer, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University.
The Association for Learning Technology has just launched the call for entries for the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2018 (https://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/awards). Very exciting! Especially, as this year we will see the addition of a new award, that for Learning Technology Research Project of the Year in addition to the Learning Technologist of the Year for individuals and teams and the community awards. Through these awards, ALT and its community recognise and celebrate together excellent practice and research in learning technology.
I am wondering how many innovating and highly effective practitioners in higher and further education in the UK and further afield who use digital technologies will read the details about the awards but then quickly decide not to apply. There are, of course, many reasons why we don’t go ahead with something. In this case, we might look at the criteria and the evidence we need to submit and ask ourselves… do I really have time for this? We might think that we are not good in writing these things… We may even think that we are not worth it. Am I really a learning technologist, really? Why would they pick me? There are also many practitioners who do ground breaking work out there but who find it hard or impossible even to think of nominating themselves. It is just not in their nature.
If you have asked yourself any of the above questions and other similar ones, and your answers leave you in doubt but you really feel that your work stands out and makes a positive impact on colleagues, your institution and the community more widely, please think again and consider applying for one of the ALT awards relevant to your work. Check the criteria! Speak with colleagues! Ask for advice. Get support! Submit an application!
And also, if you know colleagues who really deserve to be recognised for their work through one of the ALT awards, help them to step forward and apply. Support them on the journey! We all know at least one individual who excels in the use of digital technologies in whatever role that person operates formally. Suggest the awards to them! Boost their confidence and self-belief! Encourage them to apply.
- I am one of those who needed encouragement… I struggle with self-nomination and self-promotion, which I find problematic myself. But if there are people out there who believe in you, it is very different. If somebody else sees value in our work, it is often easier to become a little bit more confident. Dr Cristina Costa (@cristinacost) helped me to see that I deserved this recognition. We had worked closely together at the University of Salford and she knew my work. Cristina believed in me and I am grateful that I listened and didn’t, in the end, dismiss her suggestion. Thank you Cristina.
- … but these awards are for learning technologists… I kept telling Cristina… I was and am an academic developer (this is what my job specs said) but digital practice and technologies is not something that is separate from what we do in academic development. It is part of our job, fully integrated, embedded, actually interwoven. ALT is inclusive and not being a Learning Technologist by job description, does not mean you should not be applying for one of these awards. In the contrary! You might be doing some really ground breaking work in FE or HE around the use of learning technologies in your discipline or professional area. You might even be another academic developer or learning technologist! Step forward so that we can celebrate your achievements together.
And there are some further good news…
ALT has reviewed the criteria for the awards this year and aligned them much much closer to the CMALT framework and related requirements so you could upcycle some of the work you may have already recently submitted or would like to use for a future CMALT submission. The opportunity is now there to make this happen more easily also through an award application. What are you waiting for?
Writing the award application was an insightful activity. It did help me reflect on my work over the last few years, the collaborations I had initiated and supported with many others, little and bigger achievements and I felt grateful and fortunate to have worked with so many colleagues and students from my own institution, elsewhere as well as individuals outside HE. When writing the application, I found it useful to share a draft. Cristina became my mentor. In the past she was my student and colleague. If you are preparing your application, find somebody you trust and recognises what you bring. Getting honest, critical and constructive feedback will be invaluable in the process of putting a strong application together that provides rich evidence to how you meet the specific award criteria.
Apply for one of the ALT awards as an individual or a team and seize the opportunity to reflect on your practice and your achievements in the area of learning technology and digital practice and celebrate these with the wider community.
Could it be you this year?
Before sharing this post with the wider ALT community, I contacted a colleague I feel deserves to be recognised for their contribution through one of the ALT awards. I just hope they say yes, like I did to Cristina, in the end.
Chrissi Nerantzi, Academic Developer, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University. @chrissinerantzi
For ALT’s 25th Annual Conference we will bring together different critical perspectives in Learning Technology from across our community that will examine the challenges ahead and question the shape of things to come. For more details, visit the conference website https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2018/
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