The three-day Association for Learning Technology (ALT) conference opens tomorrow at the University of Manchester. Dr Maren Deepwell outlines some of the highlights she’s expecting from the 22nd annual ALT event, entitled Shaping the Future of Learning Together.


The more powerful technology becomes in our society, the more important it becomes to understand its applications and its potential.

For more than two decades ALT’s members from across education sectors, industry and government have worked in community to explore how best technology can enhance learning, teaching and assessment.

This year, we are asking: who has the power to shape the future of learning? Our Annual Conference presents our answer: we do, together.

With close to 500 delegates, 185 sessions over three days and strong support from our sponsors and exhibitors, our community is coming together to explore key questions around open education, learner engagement, the power of the crowd and collaboration.

Included in the conference programme is a track dedicated to vocational education and training, which includes a session on a new Futurelearn course on blended learning essentials commissioned by the Ufi Trust and an open conversation hosted by the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group special interest group.

Prof Steve Wheeler, associate professor of learning technologies at Plymouth University in collaboration with two students from the university, is opening our conference.

On the following days participants will also hear keynotes from Laura Czerniewicz, director of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (Cilt) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, and Jonathan Worth, senior research associate at Newcastle University Open Lab.

The closing keynote will be by Phil Long, associate vice provost for learning sciences and deputy director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, clinical professor in educational psychology and in the school of information, at the University of Texas, Austin.

While the conference programme reflects different learning contexts there is a particular strand focused on vocational education and skills on Wednesday, September 9, with industry-related sessions and others demonstrating working (and presenting) in partnership with learners.

Focusing on current policy, Bobbie McClelland, deputy director at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will talk about priorities in FE and will be followed by a short session led by Bob Harrison, ambassador of ALT and education adviser at Toshiba.

Other speakers include Ellie Russell, student engagement and partnership manager for The Student Engagement Partnership and Liam Sammon, director of education and commercial services, OCR.

Celebrating outstanding achievement and excellence in learning technology are the learning technologist of the year awards. This year we feature an openly voted for community award. The winners of the awards will be announced on Wednesday, September 9.

Working in partnership with industry is a cornerstone of ALT’s work. We are an independent charity and the support of our exhibitors and in particular our sponsors is instrumental in making this conference grow. This year we thank our sponsors, OCR, Portal, Prowise and ULCC.

Follow the ALT conference action on Twitter via the #altc hashtag.

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