Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

With less than 2 weeks to go until this year's annual conference, held at the University of Warwick, I thought you might like a preview of what is in the programme and what you can expect whether you are participating in person or online.

Opening with a keynote speech from Jeff Haywood (Vice-Principal Knowledge Management, CIO and Librarian at the University of Edinburgh), the 21st annual conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) takes place from 1-3 September 2014 at the University of Warwick. This year the conference theme is 'Riding Giants: How to innovate and educate ahead of the wave'.

The opening conference day (1 September 2014) is supported by Desire2Learn and has a focus on international collaboration and leadership. Welcoming addresses will be given by Conference Co-Chairs (Sarah Cornelius, Linda Creanor and Joe Wilson) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning, at the University of Warwick (Christina Hughes). The opening keynote from Jeff Haywood is going to ask participants to consider what sort of future for education we are seeking.

The second conference day (2 September 2014) is supported by City & Guilds and focuses on further education and cross-sector engagement. The day's programme features sessions and activities related to ALT's work in FE and across sectors including a keynote speech from Catherine Cronin (Lecturer & Academic Coordinator of online IT programmes, National University of Ireland, Galway) with the title 'Navigating the Marvellous: Openness in Education' in which Catherine will explore the challenges of being open in Education and will pose the question whether openness is a "survival trait" for the future.

Later that day, participants have the opportunity to join in an open policy debate chaired by the Chair of ALT, Professor Diana Laurillard. Together with research and practice, policy is a key element of the intelligent use of learning technology and this debate will explore the recent developments across sectors including the Government's response to the recommendations from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) and also the work of the Education Technology Action Group (ETAG).

Opening the third day is Audrey Watters, writer at Hack Education, with her keynote 'Ed-Tech, Frankenstein's Monster, and Teacher Machines'. On a romp through literature and the cultural history of ed-tech to talk about teaching machines and monsters, participants will be questioning what it means to create intelligent machines? What does it mean to create intelligent teaching machines? What does this mean in turn when we talk about using these technologies to create intelligent humans?

Featured also in the day's programme together with researchers presenting findings from current research are talks from invited speakers Andrew Law, Director of Open Media at the Open University, UK, and James Fanning, Director of Emerging Technologies at Education Scotland. Andrew will explore lessons learnt from the open education provision at the Open University and James will engage participants to think about the phenomenal growth in the ownership and use of personal mobile technologies and what it means to get it right for every learner.

Other highlights of the third day include a session about ocTEL, the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning, led by Martin Hawksey, Chief Innovation, Technology and Community Officer at ALT; a researcher-focused workshop on how to get published as well as a number of practical showcases by exhibitors.

ALT's annual conference is the UK's leading event focusing on learning technology and typically attracts over 450 participants from across the UK and all over the world, including experienced practitioners, suppliers, funders, policy makers, researchers, writers, presenters from other fields with many more engaging with the conference online.

Together with my colleagues and members of ALT I look forward to this year's event and hope that you will find it useful and stimulating.

More information is available at https://www.alt.ac.uk/alt-conference/altc2014 and on Twitter #altc

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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