From education to employment

What did the ALT conference have to say for FE and Skills?

Seb Schmoller, Vice-Chair of the Governing Body of The Sheffield College

This year’s annual technology conference for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers saw a step-change in the level of activity from FE delegates – and next year we plan to involve them even more.

The three-day ALT conference (ALT-C) earlier this month was big, busy, and interesting, with over 500 delegates from all over the world. You can access the programme, all the session summaries, and a substantial proportion of the presentations from the conference website. A range of conference-related publications are freely available on the ALT website, in a range of formats.

The conference buffet dinner – attended by 450 people – was prepared and served by students from Leeds City College, who rose brilliantly to this difficult challenge.

There were strong contributions to the conference programme from an active group of people from or with an interest in FE and Skills. For example:



  • James Clay from Gloucestershire College worked tirelessly to record and broadcast live the ideas and views of conference delegates;



When your team is running an event of ALT-C’s size and complexity, you are never able to experience it in the same way as ordinary delegates; but the feedback from FE participants in the conference – experienced people, whose judgement I trust – makes me certain that our conference should be exploited more by the FE and Skills sector than is currently the case. The timing of the event, is not ideal for FE; but ALT is constrained by needing to hold the conference when universities – which are economical to hire, and big enough – have space available i.e. are largely free from students. We are confident that with some forward planning FE and Skills providers that are intent on upping their game in technology enhanced learning could take full advantage of the ALT conference without there being adverse impact on the start of the FE term.

So how can FE’s engagement with ALT-C be made stronger?


  • We intend to provide some “three-day tickets” for the conference, which can be shared between staff from the same institution. Alongside this, delegates are able to book to attend the conference for any or all of its three days.


  • A proportion of the sessions will be streamed (as has been the case for the last few years) so that people can take part in parts of the conference remotely in real time.

How can you get involved? We will shortly be inviting expressions of interest in membership of the ALT-C 2012 programme committee, and we’ll be actively encouraging people from FE and Skills to put themselves forward for the committee. If you would like to be notified of when the invitation is live, send me an email. My contact details are below. 

Seb Schmoller – [email protected] – 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. Seb is also Vice-Chair of the Governing Body of The Sheffield College

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