ALT Conference 2011

Last week the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) held their annual conference at the University of Leeds. This was my first time at the conference and I presented a paper relating to the Collections  project (the presentation is available on SlideShare).

I was surprised at what a broad church the ALT is; I met a number of people interested in OERs who held very different posts within their institutions. There were several sessions on OERs and I came away with the impression that the message of open educational resources is beginning to filter through higher and further education at all levels.

The issues that people identified as barriers to the further take-up of OERs in one workshop I attended reflected those that have emerged within our own project. These include:

  • Lack of awareness of copyright
  • Not enough time to invest in making resources open
  • Intellectual property concerns

Hopefully the training and education of staff that is a focus of OER Phase 3 will address these issues and make OERs more taken for granted for future generations of academics.

The conference covered a wide range of topics; of particular interest to me were the sessions focused on self-directed student learning. For example. A presentation on student centred learning by Dr Panos Vlachopoulos of Aston University described projects where distance learning students are responsible for identifying their own learning objectives. Technology has made self-directed learning much more than an educational ideal and provides a critique of the current educational system at all levels. Open educational resources could be of tremendous value to these types of projects and provide a means of educating students on openness and copyright as a natural part of their educational careers.

Though the emphasis of our project has been mostly teacher-centred, ultimately the only type of education that is effective is where students take responsibility for their own learning. Hopefully new OER projects will seek to include this perspective and enable students to have a greater say in both what and how they learn.

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