Month: May 2016

moocs scandi-style

Picture taken by me of a plate I have in my house. Yes I realise that Danish is not the same as Swedish.
Picture taken by me of a plate I have in my house. Yes I realise that Danish is not the same as Swedish. No rights reserved by me.

Following my various forays to Brussels for LERUMons for e-moocs and Lillehammer for Norwegian LifelongLearning, I am heading off to the bright nights of  MOOCs in Scandinavia 2016 on June 09-10th.

This is the second conference on MOOCs in Scandinavia , it will take place at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference is organized by a collaboration of Chalmers, Karolinska Institutet, Lund University, Uppsala University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

You can read about the conference on their website.  You may not know a lot about Scandinavian MOOCs, but you must know they are going to be beautiful, elegant, design-led classics. You should start collecting now.

The conference in Lillehammer featured a TV nightclub and an innovative cheese slice.  The Gothenburg programme features dinner and mingling in an underwater tunnel. I’ll let you know how I get on.

reflecting forward with hindsight

Cover image of BITS magazine. BITS Issue 14, Spring 2016
Cover image of BITS magazine. BITS Issue 14, Spring 2016

I am impressed that ALT have found my CMALT portfolio in their archives. I will share it as an example with colleagues  engaging with our new CMALT programme.

When I wrote my initial CMALT application in 2008 I was just about to leave University of Leeds to embark on a new adventure in a new role as Head of Learning Technologies at University of Oxford. At that time there were so few CMALT persons in each university that the status of ‘University with the largest number of CMALT’ shifted from Leeds to Oxford when I moved. I stayed in that role at Oxford for 6 years, becoming Director of Academic IT as I expanded the teams, projects, scope and services.

Looking back at my portfolio submission from the time I am reminded of my commitment even then to blogging, learning design, VLEs, OER and my specialist subject: learning technology leadership.

In order to renew my CMALT portflio I am asked to reflect on how my career has developed over the past 3 years and how this relates to my work with learning technology.

I’ve been at Edinburgh for 2 years now. I know this because I’ve just attended my third elearning@ed forum. It’s been a vertiginous learning curve, and  I’ve had to make some serious changes in the leadership of the Division.  Grace Hopper said ‘ the most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’. I think that is *especially* dangerous for anyone in an industry like learning technology which requires, demands innovation.

As a woman who arrives from somewhere else to take over the management of a department, I hear it a lot.

The investment of time and effort is paying off though, Senior Vice Principal Charlie Jeffrey described us as ‘gripped in the throws of innovation’. Which is good, I think.   I’ve also just been appointed Assistant Principal for Online Learning.

Having an Assistant Principal as part of the senior management team in ISG will ensure that we can align even more closely the activities of ISG to the mission of the University. This will contribute to the success of our service excellence and digital transformation programmes as well as planning for learning and teaching technology.  My new role will bring added complexity for me as I manage the challenge of keeping my teams on track with these innovations while also giving a renewed focus myself to online and distance learning. Exciting times.

new support for learning technology professionals

Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic -, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic –, CC BY-SA 4.0,

If you are working in a learning technology role the University of Edinburgh is committed to supporting your professional development. I am delighted to announce a new university wide scheme supporting CPD for staff working with learning technology. Our aim is to support colleagues working in schools, colleges and ISG to become CMALT accredited.

CMALT is Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology – you submit a portfolio describing and reflecting on your work and linking to relevant evidence. The training and support you can access via the CMALT programme will ensure that you stay up to date with best practice and maintain strong links for career progression.

If you join our scheme now you will be supported to complete CMALT by:
*    discounted fees
*    regular meetings of the CMALT applicants group
*    mentoring and support as you put together your portfolio
*    access to organised writing retreats

For more information contact Susan Greig  in LTW now.

I completed my CMALT portfolio a number of years ago. I’m hoping my co-chairing OER16, judging the Learning Technologist of the Year competition and  supporting the roll out this scheme at University of Edinburgh will help me to maintain my good standing.

light reflections on OER16

Interpretation of my #OER16 keynote (c) Beck Pitt CC-BY
Interpretation of my #OER16 keynote (c) Beck Pitt CC-BY

It was lovely to see you all at #OER16 in Edinburgh.  It was a great personal pleasure to host the conference and to listen to the papers and speakers. For me it provided  an excellent excuse to have so many friends and colleagues here.

When Lorna and I passed across to next year’s chairs it was a relief to know that the conference will survive and thrive for another year.

I gave the last keynote, the one usually punctuated by the poorly stifled sound of wheely suitcases escaping from the back of the room. Jim, Catherine, Emma and John are hard acts to follow.

You can watch all the keynotes ( and many of the sessions) on MediaHopper, they are all excellent.

One of the benefits of being the last keynote is that the many flavors of openness had already been rehearsed and debated by other people in the room. And that many of my excellent Edinburgh colleagues had already covered the detail of our services and projects. The keynote offered me a chance to reflect on the themes of the conference and why it made sense to have it in Edinburgh.

I spoke about the Edinburgh vision for OER and the journey that brought us here. I spoke about technical and copyright debt and  the importance of doing your bit when we live in shared space.

If you get a chance to watch all the keynotes, which I hope you will, you will see 5 very different people in very different jobs/contexts taking different approaches to identifying the value proposition for open.  But none of them are doing it alone. That’s the beauty of the thing.

After you watch Emma’s talk know this: as well as her excellent Shakespeare credentials, Emma is also the woman who helped one of Oxford’s oldest colleges to rethink the power of the portraits on its walls -‘Dead white men’ make way for women at Oxford (Guardian, Sept 14)- and as such , one of my inspirations for The Playfair Steps.