Saturday, September 24, 2011

#altc2011 Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate review Part Two

Here is quick summary of the things I discovered or revisited in last half of the ALT-C Conference 

Karen Cator presented an interesting paper by video-cast to the assembly. Karen's focus in on mending a very fragmented school system - I'd argue a broken system - but others might argue a system with a strong independent and democratic tradition with a deep suspicion of anything led at national level.  They now have a national educational technology plan and they have just set up an organisation ( a bit like BECTA) to drive and support roll out of educational technology in schools across America.  Called the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (Digital Promise  
They are starting off my looking at special software and systems to develop learning through games in first instance.

I spent some time in a couple of workshops re-familiarising my self with Glo-Maker which should be development tool of choice for most teachers in schools , colleges and HE . It is just so easy to use and creates sensible learning objects quickly. I still find lots of folk who don't know about it. 

Then an over view of new LSIS tool for evaluating organisations ICT capacity - a great tool ;  it is free and it is on-line . Particularly due to pretty live debate in Scotland around future of ICT in Schools I think at school level  this and tools like this are a great place for school leaders to start.  Though I am not sure that the Learning and Skills Improvement Service will be able to cope with all the developments that seem to be being pushed their way.

As a life long  Who fan - (just before I became a punk rocker)  - it was great to have dinner in the hall where "Live at Leeds" was recorded. 

As conference closed I enjoyed the style and old fashioned but hard nosed rhetoric in John Naughton's lecture . He sat and told us many things we knew but challenged us too . I think proof that the lecture is not dead.  Nice too to hear from one of those rare creatures a public intellectual.  I'm looking forward to seeing this and more on ALT Youtube Channel. 

The elephant in the room at this session and indeed many of sessions I attended is the impact that the new fee structures will have on higher education in England.  The Vice Chancellors have made the price 9,000 a year but no-one knows how it will really impact on recruitment and on institutional learner relationships.  This is a system in transition and one that is  afraid of the changes and times that lie ahead. 

It is also a system where learning technology now more than ever has the capacity to support learners on  the journeys that they want to make those  individualised learner journeys  . One wonders if the price will lead to greater product differentiation and those richer individualised learning opportunities but  the danger must be a crude race to the bottom with lots of institutional failures. The die is now cast.

And in all of this I hope not too many learner blues - the schools are currently packed with young folks who need a strong innovative and vibrant tertiary education system.

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