The University of Nottingham was the location for the 17th international conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) (7-9 September). Things kicked off with a keynote speech from Donald Clark (former CEO of Epic Group plc) who criticised the usefulness of face-to-face lectures using this very method to make his point! The lecture seemed to reflect personal grievances as opposed to being grounded in evidence, which was a view shared by most conference delegates. Nonetheless, this keynote speech was successful in sparking a lively debate.
During the conference there was a diverse range of papers presented. The sessions on the uses and effectiveness of lecture capture were particularly interesting and suggested the need for more evaluative research in this area.
Throughout the three days of the conference, there was an array of technical demonstrations and a lively tweatstorm took place. Most delegates were equipped with ipads, which made a ‘chirping’ sound for every tweet received. This ‘chirp’ sound was not a problem until you were in a presentation with a group of 50 or more ipad users, in which case it felt as if the fears raised in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ had been realised.
A central question many papers posed was – how can we best design and use technology to generate a sense of community between learners? This was at the heart of the presentation from guest speaker David White from the University of Oxford. Whilst no definitive conclusion was reached, I am sure this is a question that will continue to spark further debate between learning technologists and teaching staff in higher education. In all ALT-C 2010 was a success in stimulating debate on the role of technology in improving the student experience and how best we can research this.