From education to employment

Building new cultures of learning in FE, skills and adult learning

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

Maren Deepwell, chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology, highlights Further Education topics raised at the recent #altc2013 conference.

Bringing together 450 participants from across sectors, ALT’s 20th annual conference which took place from 10-12 September 2013 in Nottingham started with a day focusing on FE, Skills and Adult Learning this year.

As opening keynote, setting the tone and addressing one of the key themes of the conference, it’s all about the learner, was Rachel Wenstone, Vice-President (Higher Education), from the NUS who examined what working in partnership with students means in practice.

The first day’s programme then continued with:

  • Research in FE: a session where Ellen Lessner and Emma Procter-Legg from Abingdon and WitneyCollege reflected on personal and collective experience of being researchers in the sector;
  • Open consultation with the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group: the first open consultation with the ministerial advisory group, chaired by Manoj Badale, discussing key issues relating to assessment and inspection, capacity building, learner engagement and policy making;
  • A year of activity and innovation in the FE and Skills sector: Nigel Ecclesfield, Jisc Advance, looked at the Development and Resources programme, supporting 33 projects within the FE and Skills sector in the UK around three themes: development of innovative uses of technology, developing existing resources and enhancement of the learner experience and engagement with stakeholders;
  • Building new culture of learning: supporting learners to take control of their learning using social media: Deri Roberts and Adam Richards from Bridgend College presented their work on the use of Social Media to enable students to take control of their own learning, and enable them to prepare effectively for their future employment by interacting as learners with national and international practitioners in their discipline;
  • A behaviourist approach to evaluating the contribution of e-learning to FE: a set of 10 learning behaviours of particular pedagogical value and the challenges that describe the e-learning contribution and how these changes in learning behaviour are supported uniquely by technology was discussed by Geoff Rebbeck;
  • Maths Everywhere for Everyone: an app to boost adult numeracy: the final session of the day’s programme had a focus on the technology strand of the maths4us initiative led by National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and the pre-launch of the Maths Everywhere app ahead of its October launch.

While the first day had a specific focus on FE, Skills and Adult Learning, the Gala Evening on the second day also had participants celebrating recognition from across the sector as part of the Learning Technologist of the Year Award. In the team award, which saw its strongest competition yet, there was again a strong focus on using Learning Technology to enhance the learner experience and improve engagement.

The winners of the team award are the Film Buffs, a team based at HullCollege for their innovative use of video engaging learners and creating learning materials. The Tek5 Team based at New College Nottingham has highly commended, but its group of learners won the Special Award for Learners newly established this year. Presented by Dame Wendy Hall, one of the keynote speakers at the conference, the individual Learning Technologist of the Year Award was won by Sheila McNeill, Assistant Director at Jisc Cetis. The runner up in the individual category was Gloria Visintini, Technology Enhanced Learning Director at the University of Bristol.

Further information about all sessions together with live recordings of keynote and invited speakers sessions are available at and you can also watch interviews and conversations which speakers including the Tek5 team on our YouTube channel.

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity whose mission is to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities, and the situations into which they are placed


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