Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

August is usually the month where everyone is on holiday. For us, it's the busiest time of year. So if you are keen to browse and think ahead of what this year's Annual Conference of the Association for Learning Technology has in store, here is a personal preview.

This year's programme features an FE and skills track on Wednesday which I am really looking forward to (and if you cannot participate in person, you can follow much of it online):

Starting the day is Jonathan Worth, who designed and delivered the largest Open Photography class in history for over 250,000 at risk youth in seven US cities, In the same year he worked with the Word Press Photo Award to open their academy from an annual intake of 8 to an open global networked class of 11,000,000.
Then we have an invited speaker session with Ellie Russell, the Student Engagement & Partnership Manager for The Student Engagement Partnership, which supports, develops and promotes student engagement knowledge and practice in the higher education sector in England and Liam Sammon, Director of Education and Commercial Services, OCR a leading awarding organisation in the UK and part of Cambridge Assessment, a non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge. Before lunch you can find out about the new course on Blended Learning for Vocational Education and Training. During lunch there is networking in the exhibition area.
The afternoon starts with a session about gamification led by the Games and Learning Special Interest Group, followed by a session about learners as agents of change and an open forum about Learning Technology in FE led by the FELTAG Special Interest Group. In the evening we will announce the winners of this year's Learning Technologist of the Year Awards.

That is one track of the programme on one day and there are seven tracks over three days including sessions on all of this year's themes:

  • Harnessing the power of the crowd – collaboration and connectivist learning;
  • Social media in learning and teaching;
  • Open educational practice;
  • Learners as agents of change;
  • Participatory approaches to the development of learning technologies.

That's a lot to look forward to and doesn't yet include all the sessions that are led by ALT Members and which showcase either regional, national or topic-bound work that is going on across the UK. This year's other keynote and invited speakers include:

  • Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at Plymouth University,
  • Laura Czerniewicz, Director of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CILT) at the University of Cape Town (UCT);
  • Professor Phillip D. Long, Associate Vice Provost for Learning Sciences and Deputy Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Clinical Professor in Educational Psychology and in the School of Information, at the University of Texas, Austin;
  • Dr Rebecca Ferguson, a lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University iand a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy;
  • Di Roberts CBE, Principal, Brockenhurst College, who has been Principal and Chief Executive of Brockenhurst College since September 2006, having been Deputy Principal at the College from January 2004.

You can find out more on the conference platform at https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2015 or #altc on social media. We hope to see you in Manchester or online 8-10 September.

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity

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