From education to employment

Putting teachers, trainers and their managers centre stage

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

With the end of the teaching year in sight or already here, many will look back at a year full of challenges, looking forward to a bit of a break over the summer and returning in August and September to a new cohort of learners.

For the past few years this time of year for me has meant spending a day meeting and listening to some of the most innovative teachers, trainers and managers from across the country, talking about what they have done and how this has enhanced the learner experience, learning outcomes or the wider design and delivery of learning in their institution.

The reason for bringing together teams and individuals from different sectors is the selection panel of the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award, the national award recognising excellence in Learning Technology. At the end of this column I have included some links to what the judges thought about this year’s entries and the winners of the award will be announced on 2nd September, at ALT’s annual conference.

One of the key points that has come out of the awards for me this year, is what a shift in practice teachers and trainers together with their senior staff have made. Together with a much stronger focus on the learners and their involvement in learning and teaching, we have seen a real shift in the roles involved in the effective use of technology. Where previously one individual often had to carry the responsibility for procurement, implementation and training – often without much guidance, we now see collaboration. Senior management seem to place a greater emphasis on hands-on understanding of the potential of technology. Similarly, teaching staff take a greater role in designing learning with technology, reaching beyond the already enthusiastic to those previously unengaged. We now see teams of technologists, teachers, administrators and management working together sharing one strategic vision and achieving a scaled-up use of Learning Technology for more learners than before.

Since the award’s inception in 2007, there has been a significant shift in the use of Learning Technology that is reflected in the increasingly ambitious, large-scale and personalised use of technology we can share as examples of innovative, effective practice.

However, with more individuals involved every year, the need to reflect this new way of doing things in roles, in support structures and in the ways we recognise skills and experience is badly needed. If there is one thing we know for sure about the future of Learning Technology is that it won’t look like our current practice. It will continue to develop rapidly and change continuously. That means traditional, rigid models of support and recognition, of roles and management structures have to become more fluid, more flexible.

All the short-listed entries to the award this year show a real commitment to making this kind of change work. So look out for further news and the announcement of the winners in early September.

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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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