By Lawrie Phipps, Conference Co-Chair, Senior Research Lead at Jisc and Professor of Digital Education and Leadership at Keele University
September is starting to feel like it is just around the corner! Santanu and I are both really excited, and privileged to have been asked to Co-Chair the conference, and we are being supported by an excellent conference committee and, of course, the ALT staff, who work every year to make ALT-C a must for anyone involved in educational technology.
When we sat down together to write the themes for this year’s conference, we wanted to be flexible, but also reflect what we are seeing right now in the sector. Leadership teams across education are dealing with complexity from a multitude of conflicting pressures, and that was before generative AI dropped onto the landscape.
Many of you who engaged with us in putting in proposals will have noticed we avoided using terms such as digital transformation, and digital strategy. This is because even though we know that staff at the conference will undoubtedly influence and shape those things, we wanted to use the conference to take a step back and recognise that we can not build strategies and roadmaps without first understanding the topography of the digital landscape and the people it will affect. That landscape is still being carved, by the unyielding forces of things like generative AI, political pressures and ideologies, and even social justice, and climate change, which are forcing us to rethink our relationship to educational technology.
From the sessions I have reviewed, and reading through another hundred or so proposals it’s clear that those themes resonate with anyone working in educational technology and educational development. It is refreshing that so many sessions are not seeking to provide answers but codesign and consult, to listen and to engage. A third of the submissions want to do 60 minute workshops, and the majority of those are fully focused on listening to you, the delegates. But we also have an excellent mix of short papers, and longer presentations, and I have seen some exciting research being talked about.
In addition, when we started to think about who we would like to invite to keynote, and inspire us, we focused on the stories they could tell, not always of success and how they managed to get things done, but also how they survived the setbacks and overcame the barriers, and they are people who have worked at all levels.
But the most important thing we had in mind when we started preparing for the conference was what the delegates will do after it. We want this conference to be a space for you to think, and codesign the futures you want when you return to your institution, not with a roadmap, but with inspiration and your own ideas.
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