Category Archives: conferences

ALT-C Review Part 3: Fragments

The rest of ALT-C 2011, a collection of fragmentary notes.

3 days of conference and 2 nights of insufficient sleep = hazy recollections.

The ALT Games & Learning Special Interest Group had cake, and are going to recommend a game of the month to go with a monthly reading group.The group is open to all alt members, and we welcomed a few new members who are very new to this research area – all aboard!

Flexible service delivery uses words like ‘enterprise’ a lot. This stuff is really really important. Unfortunately I think few people in the audience were likely in any position to have any impact on their institution at the level presented here. Sorry Alex and other JISC folk – this was just too removed from my role.

Day 2 lunch had some really good food. I liked the lamb, but perhaps some more thought could have gone into provision of some kind of eating implement?

Karen Cator presented an optimistic and hopeful view of technology helping to drive change and improvement in American education. But with a fragmented system over 50 largely independant states, with public, charter and home schooling, with anti-union actions dominating the education debate in the US more say than anything that is actually to do with education, etc. the challenges are certainly substantial.

If John Cook wore glasses would he get mistaken for Vic Reeves?

Sponsor sessions are very worthwhile. They are to be greatly thanked for supporting the event, and provide a good opportunity to catch up with email.

In Yorkshire, they smoke salmon somewhere inland, miles from the coast.

If you think you have trouble getting staff and students to use technology effectively, try Bhutan.

Sometimes when giving a demo, you really just have to ‘present’ the demo – hands-on is nice, but not always practical.

John Naughton showed that you *can* deliver an engaging keynote, even if you are just reading your speech from your iPad. I suspect that this relies on having the right speech style and especially on preparing a good speech. A good closing keynote is a good time for reflection on what has been happening – and to let the audience try to identify the patterns of change likely to emerge moving forward.

Final view of alt-c 2011Sugata Mitra makes some closing remarks. Apologies to Chris Wilson (whoever he is).

Quiet carriage on the way back – at least as noisy as the non-quiet coaches. Other than no phones. Don’t really see the point.

ALT-C Review Part 2: Recommendations

Relevant recommendations I picked up or gave out during the conference:

  • Exhibit from MIT. (wrap anything online into a learning object)
  • Moodle. Moodle. Moodle. (Enough said)
  • Peerwise (let students write the questions)
  • PollEverywhere (forget those bespoke audience response systems)

Irrelevant recommendations I picked up or gave out during the gala dinner:

Petra Haden sings The Who Sell Out is the definitive version of the album. (Pete Townsend is a fan, btw)
Also listen to: Randolph’s Leap, Bear Bones, The Banana Sessions, Kitty the Lion and Burns Unit. (To which I’ll now add Zoey Van Goey).
Mystery Men (The best superhero film ever???)
Star Wars Uncut – The awesome/awful and everything in between crowdsourced remake of the original Star Wars film. In 15 second segments.

ALT-C Review Part 1: Open Country

Open and OER were very big topics this year – coming up across multiple sessions. From what I saw primarily stories around how course teams produced OER and/or shared OER – not so much on how OER was brought into individidual courses or brought into institutional practice.
The Open Country session with Amber Thomas, David White, Helen Beetham and David Kernohan brought together many of the themes and ideas being discussed around OER – while stretching the ‘Open Country’ theme almost to breaking point – the first ALT-C cosplay? Perhaps not the last…

ALTC 2011 Hoedown

Discussion generally focussed on OER as content – though Diana Laurillard’s question effectively reminded us that OER also includes instructional designs, teaching plans, and so on – she placed more emphasis on how content is used to provide ‘education’. I guess her motivation in asking this question is essentially that which has driven work in systems like LAMS which aim to make it easier to plan, manage and share sets of learning activities for specific lessons.
But I think to dismiss content-focussed as effectively libraries rather than schools denies how useful libraries can be in helping develop educational programs. The libraries of images on Wikimedia Commons, videos on YouTube, detail on Wikipedia, etc. have helped me develop numerous sets of lectures and notes over the past while.

On passing the JORUM stand, I added another star to the feature request chart to the many already placed on ‘discoverability’. It seemed to be the clear winner by Tuesday lunch time – obviously I’m not the only tutor who has found searching for useful resources on JORUM to be a frustrating (I would say hostile) experience. And when I search JORUM I only get access to the relatively small amount of content on that particular repository – why isn’t this stuff indexed on the OERCommons? Because we want to force people to waste time wandering from repository to repository?

Building on this, my own (unasked – perhaps for next year) question is whether we could/should be thinking more about how learners, rather than educators, might find useful resources. We aren’t always doing a good job helping the latter group, perhaps if we focus on how the learners themselves would find the resources we might do a better job. If I post my content on a blog or other dedicated site, is that better or worse for promoting reuse? Basically, can we just throw stuff online and trust in Google to let people find it?

This might not sound effective, my own experience shows otherwise. During the last academic session I posted some of my own notes on 3D graphics programming to a dedicated blog I created for the purpose on These are fairly fragmentary as much of the course is based on textbooks and materials that are in copyright. One set of notes to help students install the software libraries required was also posted to scribd, with a link included to download some related files. Less than a year later, there have been almost 7000 views of the Scribd document and well over 1000 downloads of the files. I don’t think my 50 students could have been responsible for too many of these downloads.

Are students finding these notes using Google? Are instructors pointing the students to the notes? Does it matter? If I had posted the material on JORUM Would I have achieved the same impact (I doubt it!)? If I had posted this material on JORUM as well as the blog would that have increased the impact?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I have my suspicions. None of this is to argue that we shouldn’t have repositories like JORUM are useless, but I it poses fundamental questions over how they should work.

To post stuff online we need somewhere to post it. Online cloud services are not always suitable – file size limits, registration requirements, subscription fees, etc. can pose problems that OER repositories can and do solve. But experience shows that the meta-data capture on systems like JORUM is either not up to job of supporting discoverability or that people are simply incapable of entering useful meta-data. Maybe we should forget that, and just expose the contents to the search engines, because I have little faith that we can do better than Google.

Game 2 Learn: Take 2 – Free Game Based Learning Conference

Forwarded invite from Kenji Lamb… I’ll be talking on the Friday morning of this event, perhaps see you there?

Date:                     17th-19th March (come for one day – or all three!)

Location:             Dundee College (17th-18th), University of Abertay (19th)


Cost:                      FREE!


I’d like to take just 5 minutes of your time to invite you to Scotland’s largest Games-based Learning Conference: ‘Game to Learn: Take 2!’ This year’s event, which we’re organising in partnership with Learning & Teaching Scotland builds on last year’s success – growing almost 3 times in size, with a staggering 50 keynote, seminar and hands-on workshop sessions over the 3 days!

Continue reading

Call for Papers: MoodleMoot UK 2011

Edit: Links fixed – apologies, Outlook email inserted redirects. Also note that early bird registration has closed already.

From email:

MOOTUK11 ticket prices announced

We finally managed to tie down the costs and work out the ticket prices for this year’s UK Moot. Full details about the updated price list and ticket options can be found in our latest blog post entitled ‘MOOTUK11: Ticket options and prices’.

Early Bird Tickets will be available from our online store from 11am on Monday, 17 January 2010. Please be advised that payment by credit or debit card is required to complete the booking and secure your place. If you have question about the booking process or experience problems on the day please email us at to ensure your query is received and acted upon

Call for papers
Last but by no means least, we wanted to inform you that the call for papers for MOOTUK11 is now open and submissions are accepted. Full details on ‘how to submit your proposal’ can be found on our conference website. We encourage proposals from all backgrounds to showcase Moodle’s strength and diversity.

Best wishes
The MoodleMoot UK Team

Call for Papers: 5th ECGBL (October 2011)

This is a second call for papers for the 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning being held at The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece on the 20-21 October 2011.

Over the last ten years, the way in which education and training is delivered has changed considerably with the advent of new technologies. One such new technology that holds considerable promise for helping to engage learners is Games-Based Learning (GBL). The Conference offers an opportunity for scholars and practitioners interested in the issues related to GBL to share their thinking and research findings. Papers can cover various issues and aspects of GBL in education and training: technology and implementation issues associated with the development of GBL; use of mobile and MMOGs for learning; pedagogical issues associated with GBL; social and ethical issues in GBL; GBL best cases and practices, and other related aspects. We are particularly interested in empirical research that addresses whether GBL enhances learning. This Conference provides a forum for discussion, collaboration and intellectual exchange for all those interested in any of these fields of research or practice.

The conference committee welcomes both academic and practitioner papers on a wide range of topics using a range of scholarly approaches including theoretical and empirical papers employing qualitative, quantitative and critical methods.  Action research, case studies and work in progress/posters are welcomed approaches. PhD Research, proposals for roundtable discussions, non-academic contributions and product demonstrations based on the main themes are also invited.

You can find calls for papers for these tracks at:

Conference proceedings are submitted for accreditation on publication. Please note that depending on the accreditation body this process can take up to several months.

Papers accepted for the conference will be published in the conference proceedings, subject to author registration. Papers presented at the conference will also be considered for publication in a special issue of the Electronic Journal of e-Learning.

Papers presented at the conference will be published in the conference proceedings, subject to author registration and payment.

For the first time there will be a prize for the best PhD paper and the best Poster presented at the conference.

Please feel free to circulate this message to any colleagues or contacts you think may be interested.

CAL 2011 – Learning Futures

The CAL Conference 2011

Learning Futures: Education, Technology & Sustainability

April 13-15 2011, Manchester, UK

CAL (Computer Assisted Learning) is one of the leading international conferences in the field of education and technology. It brings together researchers across all education sectors, from primary years, to informal learning, to higher education, and across a range of disciplines from psychology to computer science, media and cultural studies.

In 2011, the conference will lead a challenging international debate about the future of research and practice in educational technology. CAL 11 aims to:

  • Explore the role of educational technology research in addressing questions of global and social justice, widening participation and digital democracy
  • Assess what role educational technology might play in the context of low carbon, energy constrained futures
  • Explore how emerging technologies from diverse fields (e.g. gaming, AI, biotech, ubiquitous computing) might offer new environments for learning
  • Examine the informal learning practices emerging in children, youth and adults’ digital cultures and their implications for education
  • Reflect on what lessons have been learned over the last thirty years of education technology research, and what these might mean for the future of research in the field.
Our four themes for the conference are:

Theme 1: Sustainability, globalisation and social justice
Theme 2: The future of learning technologies
Theme 3: Informal learning and digital cultures
Theme 4: Looking back to look forward


Conference format

Within the main conference individual paper sessions, workshops and symposia are organised around the four themes. An informal fringe activity is run by the local organising committee to give a chance for participants to showcase and experiment with emerging technologies. If researchers wish to informally ‘demo’ innovative learning resources during the conference, please contact the conference chairs to discuss this possibility.

The CAL Conference 2011 is organised by Elsevier Ltd, publishers of the international journal Computers & Education.

More for Less: The Challenges of Games Education

I’ve finally uploaded the screencast of my keynote from Games:EDU, back in May. Actually, the majority of this relates to any undergraduate teaching in a typical university. Inappropriate strategic goals, growing mountains of paperwork, innovation prevention, the bare pass student and traditional lectures all pop up as challenges – encouraging students to form effective communities of practice and exploiting technology to extend the reach of the university pop up as part of the solution.

See it here, or on

Games:Edu 2010 roundup

I haven’t managed to make it to a Games:Edu event till now (the events previously had a tendency to clash with my vacations, and I sometimes get tired of travelling during the course of the year). I greatly enjoyed today’s (well yesterdays – posting this just after midnight) event however – and was happy to see that there was actually a lot of agreement between industry representatives and academics during the course of the day. In particular, a number of speakers (myself included) emphasised the need for group projects that help develop team work skills, and open-ended projects which give room for the best students to excel. How we do this while also supporting students who are not excelling was one issue that was discussed – without a definitive answer.

I’ll post my own presentation soon – my keynote was on the challenges facing games education in universities in the UK – most of which are actually challenges facing the whole sector in the UK. I even got to include my “University of Somewhere” org chart – featuring the Dept. of Innovation Prevention. This particular slide had a very good response, and discussion during tea breaks confirmed previous reports that such a department seems to exist in most universities.

University Org Chart: Dept of Innovation Prevention
The programme was nicely balanced, with some discussion on teaching game development in schools and FE (courtesy of David Brockbank), alongside a number of university and industry speakers.

A late addition to the programme, Mike Reddy discussed paizogogy – the pedagogy of making games. This builds on Papert’s constructionism, and in an engaging talk (sat next to Mike, I was impressed as he developed his game-art homage graphics immediately prior to his presentation) Mike challenged us to spend more time creating games ourselves – using cards, paper, boards or possibly even computers. Can’t say I’m not tempted.

Saint John-Walker from Skillset encouraged universities to apply for accreditation – and to initiate discussion with Skillset if they are interested. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back was his message. This talk was nicely balanced by a presentation from Michael Powell (De Montfort University) who gave an engaging talk on the challenges of applying for (and obtaining) Skillset accreditation. This brought back some memories and really emphasised one of the challenges I identified – the paper mountain facing lecturers and course leaders.

Carol Clark outlined the RealTimeWorlds approach to mentoring new graduate employees. The emphasis here was on learning by doing and becoming a member of the team. This idea of teaching game developers by placing them into effective communities of practice (to put an academic spin on it) seemed to be one of the main themes of the day – as these ideas recurred in several talks. Including Grant Clarke’s. Grant leads the Abertay Master of Professional Practice course – in which students work as members of their own game development teams in a studio setting.

Finally, Maria Stukoff of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe outlined the current PlayStation Edu schemes and opportunities – most exciting of which is that universities can now apply for the same PS3 DevKits as used in industry – no longer any need to rely on PS3 Linux (with its many limitations) for courses wanting to explore developing for the Cell processor and PS3 hardware. Included in this is the cross-platform Phyre engine and access to the PS Dev network. The costs are such that I wouldn’t expect many places to establish a full lab of 20 PS3 DevKits, but with shared access it should be possible to integrate into console development modules with just a few machines. Fingers crossed we can free up some money from our budgets to get a few of these soon…

SLOODLE Moot 2010


SLOODLE Moot 2010 is approaching!

This weekend SLOODLE Moot – a free, online conference will be taking place in Second Life. A range of presentations, discussions and demonstrations will take place over the weekend including:

  • Devil Island Mystery. Learn how freshman students in S. Korea were stranded on a virtual island – and had to develop their English skills to survive – and solve the Devil Island Mystery!
  • Hacking SLOODLE tools. SLOODLE is open-source – in this sessions learn why you might want to change SLOODLE to suit your own ends – and how you can do so.
  • SLOODLE at the Open University. With around 250,000 online students, and individual courses with student numbers in the thousands, the OU faces some significant challenges in using virtual worlds to support its courses. Learn how the OU has been using SLOODLE to meet this challenge.
  • Cypris Chat demonstration. After a very successful set of demonstrations earlier this year, Mike McKay gives another demo of SLOODLE and the Awards system.
  • Saturday night social. Lights, music, dancing!

Get more details at the SLOODLE home page –

( hashtag: #smoot )