“Really inspiring”: the 2012 ALDinHE annual conference

So… the dust has now settled on this year’s ALDinHE conference, held at the University of Leeds from 2-4 April 2012. We think this has been our most successful conference yet, with 172 delegates attending from universities across the UK, and a myriad of lively discussions, both in and out of presentations. It was especially interesting to have representatives of such a wide mixture of roles, including librarians, learning technologists, subject academics and careers advisers, as well as our core community of learning developers.

If you were one of those attendees, we’d like to thank you for making the conference so successful, and to ask a favour – could you add a brief review of any sessions you went to via reply to this post? We will be making slides and handouts available, but there’s no substitute for physical reports. Thanks in advance…

The theme for this year’s conference was Learning Development in a Digital Age, so we thought it would be appropriate to refer to some of the views of the conference expressed by attendees on Twitter. Those Tweeting during the conference were invited to use the #aldcon hashtag to make Tweets easily searchable. We also introduced the #loveLD hashtag for Tweets about learning development generally. ALDinHe’s own Twitter account is @aldinhe_LH.

To start, two examples of the many positive views from @dturner and @zensto respectively:

“Thanks to the organisers of #aldcon really inspiring conference”

“Just back in Leicester after #aldcon what a great conference #LoveLD

And it wasn’t just the attendees who enjoyed it. As @crowcawl pointed out:

“When the keynote says it’s the best conference he’s been to you know we must be doing something right! #aldcon #loveLD”

We had two brilliant keynote speakers: Helen Beetham and Paul Andrews. Helen heroically stepped in at the last minute despite struggling with a throat infection. Paul stayed on for the whole conference and made many valuable contributions to sessions. @lucubrat put it perfectly when she said:

#aldcon First conference in a while where both keynotes have been inspiring, engaging and well-presented.”

All the presentations with be available on the website soon, but in the meantime you can access Paul Andrews’ Prezi for his keynote presentation… and his reflections on the conference. You can also view photos from conference attendees.

Responses to Tweets by other Twitter users (both attendees and non-attendees of the conference) suggested that they were finding the extensive ‘back-channeling’ of conference sessions useful: putting the tools into practice to talk about putting the tools into practice! This comment from @scholastic_rat was typical:

“this year’s #aldcon has been very much enhanced by twitter- I’ve enjoyed the community and discussion that’s been going on!”

The conference dinner at the Royal Armouries was enjoyed by all with The Bodgers, led by Pauline Ridley, the very worthy quiz winners of the coveted ALDinHE wooden spoons, and certain members of the community demonstrating a surprising enthusiasm for disco dancing – you know who you are. (See who you can spot in Andy Mitchell’s video evidence of this…) So let’s give the final word to @RouxCat who signed off with:

“Farewell Leeds. ALDinHE an exemplary community of practice: warm, engaged, welcoming, insightful, enthusiastic & good dancers all #aldcon

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3 Responses to “Really inspiring”: the 2012 ALDinHE annual conference

  1. Michelle Reid says:

    Two for the price of one!

    Jade Kelsall & Michelle Schneider: Webinar on how to use screen capture software to create e-learning resources (pre- conference workshop)

    Michelle and Jade – the dynamic duo or double trouble? This workshop managed to fit in twice the content and twice the value! It covered two different approaches to digitally enhanced learning 1) Creating resources using screen capture software and 2) Using webinars to teach dispersed groups of students at a distance.

    Screen capture software enables you to record exactly what is on your computer screen as well as record your voice as you talk through what you are doing.

    During the session, we looked at:

    Screenr: http://www.screenr.com/
    Adobe Captivate: http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate.html
    Jing: http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

    Webinar software creates a virtual classroom where students can log in at home (or where ever they are) and you can use video, show your computer screen, and have a chat area for typed comments and questions.

    During the session we used:
    Adobe Connect: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html

    The session itself was delivered as a webinar, so whilst we were being taught about how to various different screen capture software, we were experiencing what it is like to participate in a webinar from a students’ perspective – a real demo of learning through doing. We also had the benefit of two presenters – Michelle facilitating actually in the room, and Jade virtually present via her webcam teaching us through the online classroom created by the webinar software.

    Apologies if this is all hard to visualise, but my dodgy descriptions demonstrate exactly why it is better to experience these forms of learning for yourself rather than have someone write about them!

    Once I got over the sneaky feeling that Jade was only just next door and could probably hear us through the wall, it was a very interactive and absorbing experience – you could watch Jade demonstrate the screen capture software via sharing her own PC screen, see her talking via the her webcam, and ask questions and add your own comments using the chat function.

    As I was already familiar with screen capture software, I was mainly interested in how to use webinars. The webinar format worked really well for demonstrating how to use software – indeed, Jade and Michelle had used the webinar format with their students to deliver Endnote training sessions. I could see it working well for teaching groups of PhD students here at Reading as they often can’t make it onto campus, and they sometimes say that centralised graduate training sessions are too generic. However, in a webinar, they are free to listen and participate in the sections that are specifically relevant to them but then zone out and check email etc during the questions or parts that don’t apply to them. It may also be possible to bring together a virtual ‘panel’ of academics to answer subject specific questions via the webinar format.

    The top tip I learned was webinars work best if you have two people to co-teach (at least for the first few times) – someone to deliver the session (like Jade) and someone to look after the technology and spot questions coming up via the chat function (like Michelle).

    There was a lot of discussion about the price of webinar software like Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate which can be pricey, but the joy of being at an ALDinHE conference is there are always people to share alternative suggestions or solutions:

    Someone recommended Big Blue Button as a free alternative to web-conferencing software: http://www.bigbluebutton.org/

    And Paul Andrews in his keynote suggested a simple way of achieving a webinar without any fancy software simply by using Join Me to share your computer screen: https://join.me/ together with Skype to talk people through what you are doing: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/home

    The final top tip to end with brings together both aspects of this engaging workshop which is the idea of using screen capture software to create training videos that students can watch themselves at their own pace, and then using a webinar or instant messenger chat to run a Q&A session to discuss any issues raised by the video – kind of like the flip learning model http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/flip-your-instruction-for-real-learning.html
    but at a distance!

  2. Kim Shahabudin says:

    ‘Flipped learning’ is very much in my thinking at the moment, as it is for many people. Caroline Cash and John Sumpter’s session on intuitive resources gave another example of this, where the ‘how to’ teaching of the lecture room is provided in a format that students can access in their own time and at their own speed, leaving contact time free to finesse more detailed learning. In this case, visual ‘how to’ guides were produced for applied craft students at University College Falmouth, collating short videos which took them through the key processes of production techniques. The visual interface was more engaging for these students than a written one, and tutor time in class was freed up to give more personal guidance.

    However my favourite session (though it involved a certain amount of anguish) was Carina Buckley’s session on Lego and referencing, with its brilliant demonstration of the emotional element involved in the ownership of ideas. We were invited to build animals using Lego bricks from pots placed on the desks. The animals could be real or imaginary, but we had to use at least ten pieces and at least three had to be from someone else’s pot. My co-creator, Andy Mitchell, and I were extremely proud of our Lego bird (there’s a photo on this blog, linked in the post), as were other builders around the room if the number of flashes from smartphone cameras were anything to go by. Carina then pointed out that each pot was identified by a colour, and declared that if we couldn’t be certain about which of our additional pieces came from which pot, we couldn’t use it and our animals would have to be broken up. Cue widespread Lego and emotional devastation. We will not forget her point – which was that students (like any other author) have a strong emotional attachment to ‘their’ ideas which makes acknowledging the input of others a difficult task. Enabling our students to avoid plagiarism means more than giving them access to Turnitin – they need to develop a conceptual understanding of idea ownership, and this is an excellent (low tech!) way to make that happen.

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