The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) represents individual and organisational Members from all sectors and parts of the UK. Our Membership includes practitioners, researchers and policy makers with an interest in Learning Technology. Our community grows more diverse as Learning Technology has become recognised as a fundamental part of learning, teaching and assessment.
Our charitable objective is "to advance education through increasing, exploring and disseminating knowledge in the field of Learning Technology for the benefit of the general public". We have led professionalisation in Learning Technology since 1993.
How we define Learning Technology
We define Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching and assessment. Our community is made up of people who are actively involved in understanding, managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of Learning Technology. We believe that you don't need to be called 'Learning Technologist' to be one.
What we value and what we do
Our current strategy sets out our aims for 2017-2020:
Increasing the impact of Learning Technology for the wider community, strengthening recognition and representation for the Membership at a national level and leading professionalisation for individual Learning Technology professionals in a broad range of roles.
Employ cognitive theory in the classroom every day
Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that's easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and the classroom environment in a way that can be implemented by any faculty in any discipline, and even integrated into pre-existing teaching techniques. Learn, for example:
- How does one become good at retrieving knowledge from memory?
- How does making predictions now help us learn in the future?
- How do instructors instill fixed or growth mindsets in their students?
Each chapter introduces a basic concept in cognitive theory, explains when and how it should be employed, and provides firm examples of how the intervention has been or could be used in a variety of disciplines. Small teaching techniques include brief classroom or online learning activities, one-time interventions, and small modifications in course design or communication with students.
hat tip: Robert Talbert
I’m reminded here of the broad idea that many bloggers write about sooner or later of their website being a “thought space” or place to contemplate out in the open. More often than not, even if they don’t have an audience to interact with, their writings become a way of thinking out loud, clarifying things for themselves, self-evolving, or putting themselves out there for potential public reactions (good, bad, or indifferent).
While writing things out loud to no audience can be helpful and useful on an individual level, it’s often even more helpful to have some sort of productive and constructive feedback. While a handful of likes or positive seeming responses can be useful, I always prefer the ones that make me think more broadly, deeply, or force me to consider other pieces I hadn’t envisioned before. To me this is the real value of these open and often very public thought spaces.
For those interested in the general idea, I’ve been [bookmarking/tagging things around the idea of thought spaces I’ve read on my own website](https://boffosocko.com/tag/thought-spaces/). Hopefully this collection helps others better understand the spectrum of these ideas for themselves.
With respect to the vulnerability piece, I’m reminded of an episode of The Human Current I listened to a few weeks back. There was an excellent section that touched on building up trust with students or even a class when it comes to providing feedback and criticism. Having a bank of trust makes it easier to give feedback as well as to receive it. Here’s a link to the audio portion and a copy of the relevant text.
Listening to the students talk about feeling unsure and vulnerable when they first encountered open educational practices made me think about my own learning. As a mid-career academic who has changed jobs and even disciplines, I am a confident learner. I have received lots of praise and other kinds of positive reinforcement for my ability to learn new things. If you have read previous posts on my blog, you might know that I am really interested in developments in the IndieWeb movement and am trying to write about some of my experiences with using IndieWeb tools to build my own web site. I’ve been building my own sites for years and so I have a lot of confidence in my ability there as well. Working on the IndieWeb stuff has been challenging because there’s a lot of new language and new concepts as well as some aspects of web development that I have not engaged with before. I often feel vulnerable when I write my posts about the IndieWeb because my understanding of how everything works is emerging. In other words, I don’t get it all yet but I’m still writing publicly about my work.
What a relief to hear this! The hardest part about writingwas in possibly coming off too hard or painfully pedantic and not wanting to turn you off in your explorations.
Many behaviors spread through social contact. However, different behaviors seem to require different degrees of social reinforcement to spread within a network. Some behaviors spread via simple contagion, where a single contact with an "activated node" is sufficient for transmission, while others require complex contagion, with reinforcement from multiple nodes to adopt the behavior. But why do some behaviors require more social reinforcement to spread than others? Here we hypothesize that learning more difficult behaviors requires more social reinforcement. We test this hypothesis by analyzing the programming language adoption of hundreds of thousands of programmers on the social coding platform Github. We show that adopting more difficult programming languages requires more reinforcement from the collaboration network. This research sheds light on the role of collaboration networks in programming language acquisition.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, 2018.; Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.; Includes bibliographical references (pages 26-28).
Advisor: César Hidalgo.
I ran across this paper via the. In general they studied GitHub as a learning community and the social support of people’s friends on the platform as they worked on learning new programming languages.
I think there might be some interesting takeaways for people looking at collective learning and online pedagogies as well as for communities like the IndieWeb which are trying to not only build new technologies, but help to get them into others’ hands by teaching and disseminating some generally tough technical knowledge. (In this respect, the referenced Human Current podcast episode may be a worthwhile overview.)
For some people and some learning styles, technology is a scary and uncomfortable word, let alone medium. Yes, students of today understand technology better than most adults. But, that doesn’t mean that all students understand technology to the same extent as their peers. We have created many opportunities to even the playing field for learning differences in our educational system, but have we done enough to do that with technology? Or do we just assume that all students understand it to the same extent and glide over those that don’t? I believe that we assume… We haven’t done enough to make sure that all students are comfortable with technology and we NEED to do that moving forward. Why? Because technology is here to stay and we need to make sure that we bring enough students along on this journey as possible.
Confusion gets a bad rap.
A textbook that confuses its readers sounds like a bad textbook. Teachers who confuse their students sound like bad teachers.
But research suggests that some of the time, confusion can actually be a good thing — an important step toward learning.
Some interesting research referenced here.
hat tip: mrkean.com
A great new book has me thinking about ed tech.
This is an interesting and useful analogy.
In ed tech, schools are the customers, but students are the users.
This also reminds me of the market disconnect between students and their textbooks. Professors are the ones targeted for the “sale” or adoption when the actual purchasers are the students. This causes all kinds of problems in the way the textbook market works and tends to drive prices up–compared to a market in which the student directly chooses their textbook. (And the set up is not too dissimilar to how the healthcare industry works in which the patient (customer) is making a purchase of health care coverage and not actually the health care itself.
Silicon Valley has lost some of its shine in recent months, what with the “fake news” and the bots and the hacks and the hate speech. All the promises about the democratization of information and power ring a little hollow nowadays. I’d say they rang a little hollow all along. Of course that’s what I’d say. I’ve been saying it for years now. There’s a new tale that’s being told with increasing frequency these days, in which tech industry executives and employees come forward – sometimes quite sheepishly, sometimes quite boldly – and admit that they have regrets, that they’re no longer “believers,” that they now recognize their work has been damaging to individuals and to society at large, that they were wrong. These aren’t apologies as much as they’re confessions.
An essay about technologists saying the equivalent of “Do as I say, not as I do.” and “Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.”
Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms was published by Basic Books in 1980, and outlines his vision of children using computers as instruments for learning. A second edition, with new Forewords by John Sculley and Carol Sperry, was published in 1993. The book remains as relevant now as when first published almost forty years ago.
The Media Lab is grateful to Seymour Papert’s family for allowing us to post the text here. We invite you to add your comments and reflections.
If you are interested in purchasing the print edition of Mindstorms, please visit Basic Books.
from the MIT Media Lab.