Writing a proposal for #ALTC24

by Kerry Pinny, Interim CEO and Chief Operations Office of ALT

Writing a proposal for a conference can feel daunting, so, we have written this blog to help you submit a strong proposal for our 2024 Annual Conference (ALTC24). If you don’t think you have anything interesting to share, think again! If you’ve never spoken at a conference before, now’s the time!

We know it is challenging to gain funding and time to attend conferences. To help, we have shared advice and an example business case to help you submit the strongest case to attend ALTC24. Speaking at a conference benefits you and your organisation and can help to further substantiate your case. As a thank you, our speakers receive a discount on the registration fee for the conference! Read ‘Writing a business case to attend ALTC24’.

All proposals will be peer reviewed by two members of the Conference Committee

This year, the Annual Conference will be in Manchester, UK on 3-5 September. Co-Chaired by Diane Bennett, Teaching and Learning Manager (Distance Learning) at The University of Manchester, and Scott Farrow, Head of Digital Learning at Edge Hill University we will be “doing, reflecting, improving, collaborating”.

Where to start

Start by thinking about what you want to achieve by speaking at the conference. Are you working on something interesting and think others will benefit from hearing about it? Do you have research you want to disseminate? Are you seeking collaborators or feedback? Do you have an idea or perspective you want to share or debate?

Then, read the conference themes. Our themes were authored by our Co-Chairs and give you direction on the topics we want to focus on this year. Do you have work, research or ideas that fit the themes? If so, make a note of your initial ideas. If not, don’t worry! Participation is important to ALT, so, we include a wildcard submission type for proposals that are not directly relevant to the themes.

Hone your topic

Think about your work and research. Do you have something to talk about that will help your peers? If so, that’s what we’re looking for! What have you worked on? What are you working on? Do you have reflections or lessons learned to share? What research have you completed? Are there initial results/conclusions you can share from your research? Have you been thinking about a particular topic and have perspectives, a framework or advice to share? Do you have something you’ve always wanted to get off your chest?

Pick a session type

Once you know what you are going to talk about, you need to think about how long you will need and what style best suits what you have to say. Your abstract will need to reflect the length and style of session. This year you can choose from:

  • 60 minute workshop (an interactive and practical learning session)
  • 30 minute research paper or case study
  • 15 minute presentation
  • 60 minute ALTC radio show

A workshop is an interactive and practical session. You might include discussions, practical demos or activities individually or in groups that will help delegates to explore the topic of your session. It is important that delegates learn or take away something from a workshop. The abstract should clearly detail what the delegate will learn or take away from the session and what they will be doing during the session. A session where you talk for 60 minutes is not a workshop!

A research paper or case study is a 30 minute session for you to showcase something you’re researching or studying. Ideally, a research paper or case study will be on a published or in-progress piece of research or study. If it’s not yet published or complete, it should be at a point where initial results or conclusions can be drawn from it and shared with delegates.

A 15 minute presentation can be on any topic in any style but remember, you only have 15 minutes! These short sessions are ideal for first-time speakers.

This year we have a new session type, the 40 minute ALTC radio show. ALTC radio was a great success last year and it offers delegates an alternative format to engage with as well as offering a creative and informal session type for speakers. Share the waves with colleagues, play your favourite tunes or chat about all things learning tech!

Pick a title

The title of your proposal will be the title advertised on the conference programme, so, it’s important to choose an effective title. Delegates may decide whether to attend your session without reading your abstract!

Keep it concise, to the point and make sure to mention keywords. Funny or catchy titles are welcome too so use your imagination. Ask yourself, does your title tell delegates enough about what they are going to hear?

Writing an abstract

The abstract is your 500 word advert for your session. It is a summary of the main points that will be explored in the session. Peer reviewers will read it and base their decision to accept or decline the proposal solely on the abstract. Delegates will read it to understand what they will learn from the session and decide whether to attend.

Your abstract should demonstrate to the reviewers that you have something relevant and valuable to add to the conference. Therefore, it needs to be focused, clearly describing the value of the session to delegates and the value of your ideas to the conference itself.

Depending on the session type you choose, your abstract should address the following questions as concisely as possible:

  1. What will your session focus on?
  2. Why is that focus important/relevant to delegates?
  3. How is it relevant to the conference theme(s)?
  4. Who is your intended audience?
  5. Why should delegates attend?
  6. What will delegates learn?
  7. What evidence or data are you going to use?
  8. What are the key findings, conclusions or implications?
  9. What will delegates be doing during the session?

Remember, reviewers and delegates may not be familiar with what you’re talking about or with your area of work. Avoid jargon, colloquialisms and acronyms.

If you are using data or referring to literature in your session, remember to include it in a reference list.

Avoid identifying information in your abstract where possible. To aid the double blind process and the fairness of the review, avoid mentioning names or other information that would enable a reviewer to identify you. You will be able to add that information back into the proposal later.


Before submitting, remember to proofread your submission. Step away from your submission and review it with fresh eyes.

What happens next?

When the call closes, our Conference Committee will begin the double blind peer review process. Each reviewer will indicate whether the proposal should be accepted or declined and provide feedback. Proposers will be notified of the outcome along with the reviewers’ feedback in June. If your proposal requires revisions, you will be given time and instruction on how to make those changes. Once accepted, you will have until July to register as a speaker and your session will be published in the conference programme.

Need inspiration?

Still not sure you have anything to submit? Why not get some inspiration?

Look back at the programmes, abstracts and recordings from previous years. You can watch all of the recordings from our 2023 Annual Conference on YouTube. Read all the posts from previous conferences on our blog.

This year, #ALTC24 is heading back to Manchester on 3-5 September 2024 and we are looking forward to once again convening the Learning Technology community at this unmissable event. Learn more and register here – altc.alt.ac.uk/2024.

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