A brief history of ALT East England (1 year in).

Post by Neil Dixon and Alistair Cooper.

Being new to the profession at the end of 2018, I reached out to other Learning Technologists in the region which eventually evolved into ALT East England. We aim to organise three events per year, covering Bedford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Norwich and everywhere in between. So far we’ve held two events and now have over fifty subscribers on our mailing list. Here I give background to the committee and summarise our story so far.

ALT East England summary
Organising committee members 
Jennie Dettmer is an active member of two ALDinHE working groups: Learnhigher and the Conference Working group) Although Jennie works in Learning Development, she has an interest in Learning Technology and she trains others to embed technology within their teaching. Uwe Richter has supported learning technologies at ARU for over two decades, inputting into policies and developing and delivering staff development institution-wide. He also leads on distance and online learning and team-based learning for ARU. He is a member of the Head of e_Learning Forum (HeLF), ELESIG and ALT. Neil Dixon is a Chartered Librarian, member of the eLearning network and the co-host of the ALT Mentions podcast who’s interested in instructional design and pedagogical approaches for information literacy.Keep up to dateSign up for our Jiscmail@alteastengland

University of Cambridge Medical School was kind enough to host our first informal gathering with eleven attendees. We worked on our terms of reference for the group, talked about what our interests were, the priorities for each of our institutions and what kind of events we could run.


We were pleased to be able to host the first meet-up. It was about deciding what this sort of a group could and should do; everyone felt a need for something in the region and was keen to get something going.
~Alistair Cooper (University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine)

University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine. Image: by Alistair Cooper.
University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine. Image: by Alistair Cooper.

Gamification event.

UEA offered to host our first event, called Gamification: Pedagogy and Practice, seeing it as a great opportunity to highlight their work on using badges in Blackboard. With fifty attendees the event was a huge success. I was grateful to Charlie Williams (Learning Technologist, UEA) for working very hard to promote the event and recruit presenters at UEA.


Holding the first ALT EE event at UEA was a great experience, both for our Digital Technology team and for me personally. We have a growing interest in gamification here at UEA, and having the opportunity to bring all those people together, and learn from others in the region was extremely valuable. Since the event ended, several people have commented on how great the conference was, and have started experimenting with gamification in their own courses.
~ Charlie Williams (Learning Technologist, UEA)

The range of presentations was enlightening – from tech-enabled escape rooms to gamified marketing scenarios to a great data-driven comparison of the value of different gamified approaches on student grades. The lovely location that is the UEA campus was a bonus!

#Twalk.

At ALT-C 19 I helped organise a #learningspaces #twalk at University of Edinburgh (@edteachingspace). Euan Murray and colleagues (Learning Spaces Manager, UoE) were kind enough to lead us on a tour of their informal learning spaces, makerspace, private study space, computer rooms whilst we tweeted our reflections using the hashtags. It was great to see the range of learning spaces at the University, find out what made a ‘sticky campus’ reflecting on what I was seeing in situ making it even more memorable.

An example of a social space at the University of Edinburgh where the slats create an informal boundary between the rest of the building and the seating area.  Image: by Alistair Cooper.
An example of a social space at the University of Edinburgh where the slats create an informal boundary between the rest of the building and the seating area. Image: by Alistair Cooper.

Supporting attainment gaps with learning technology.

University of Bedfordshire were kind enough to host our second event at their Luton campus. The event drew attendance from around the country, including representatives from Sheffield Hallam University, Keele University and Kingston University.

The University of Bedfordshire was delighted to be offered the chance to host only the second ALT EE event. The theme of the event, ‘Using technology to close attainment gaps’ aligned closely with the University’s aim to take on attainment gaps and do more for students of all ages, abilities, cultures and backgrounds. The event itself was active, communicative, collaborative, and encouraged conversations of real depth and richness between colleagues from far and wide.”
~ Nicholas Botfield (Head of Teaching and Learning, University of Bedfordshire)

 Nick presenting at the ‘Supporting attainment gaps..’ event.  Image: by Alistair Cooper.
Nick presenting at the ‘Supporting attainment gaps..’ event. Image: by Alistair Cooper.

What’s next?

Our next event is called Technology-enhanced active, collaborative learning: Challenges & solutions and will be held on the 21 February at ARU, Cambridge.

Neil Dixon, neil.dixon@anglia.ac.uk with thanks to Alistair, Nick and Charlie.

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.

2 Comments

  • Dr. Mohamed Saeudy says:

    This is a fantastic network. It helps me to explore more avenues to develop our teaching and learning activities. We are very proud to host the last meeting at Bedfordshire University

  • Cheryl Greyson says:

    I’m sorry I can’t attend the next event as I’m teaching but I hope it goes well. I very much enjoyed presenting at the Gamification event at UEA and listening to all of the other fascinating talks. It was great to meet other lecturers, librarians and learning technologists who have astonishingly creative ideas to bring teaching and learning alive for students!

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