ALT-C 2009 Day #1

September 8, 2009

It’s Tuesday and day one of the Association of Learning Technologies Conference (ALT-C) 2009.

It’s a busy day with loads on and as a result there is going to be some good stuff which I will miss as either I am presenting or somewhere else in the conference.

I am not going to miss the first keynote from Michael Wesch, creator of some excellent Web 2.0 videos which you may have seen (and I have used in various presentations and workshops across the country).

His keynote at ALT-C will cover the following:

It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our conversations, classrooms, and institutions. We will then apply these insights to an exploration of the implications for how we may need to rethink how we teach, what we teach, and who we think we are teaching.

My expectations are high.

I am then (after coffee) going to attend sessions on staff skills. Short paper 20 Where does the university end and learning begin? Facilitating personal learning environments to enhance ownership of knowledge is one what particularly interests me, as does the proceedings paper 291 Next Generation User Skills – possibilities for the digital literacies required in everyday living, learning and working in the United Kingdom in 2013 (Proceedings Paper).

After lunch at 1.40pm the VLE will die! This should be a really interesting debate and I will be streaming it live over Ustream. Check my Twitter stream for more information later today.

I am after the symposium hoping to attend another short paper, 292 The technology dream versus teacher reality: Understanding technology practices in relation to beliefs, pedagogical context and affordance theories however I expect that packing up and post symposium questions will delay me!

At 4.0opm I am torn between attending Steve Wheeler’s Twitter workshop or the OER Matters Symposium. Steve’s workshop will be fun, but the OER debate could be really good. Pity I can’t be at both… I guess the key will be which will be the most useful and which one will support my role…

Going to wait and see on that one.

At the end of the day is the new ALT Members Reception, and as Gloucestershire College joined ALT this year I will be attending.

It’s going to be a long and busy day.


ALT-C 2009 Day #0

September 7, 2009

It’s day zero of the ALT Conference. Well the conference starts proper tomorrow on Tuesday and I am using today to travel up north like.

It’s a four hour train journey (changing at Bristol Temple Meads) and though Virgin Cross Country trains do have power they have a major flaw in that their construction blocks 3G signals quite effectively. Initially on the Bristol – Manchester route I thought it was down to the geography, but a recent trip on the line using a “normal” train demonstrated to me, yes there are areas with no 3G, but the trains used by Cross Country block the signal, especially when it is a weak signal.

Now I know that this is not a major design flaw (some would say it was a feature) but without on-board wifi, I would prefer to have a decent 3G signal now and again (as I can find when travelling to London).

Anyway back to the conference…

There is some stuff happening tonight, but I am hoping to touch base with a few people and go out for dinner, probably use Twitter to organise this.

I am pretty much prepared for the conference, I have a poster, organising and taking part in a symposium, supporting a workshop and running another workshop. I also have a fair few scheduled meetings during the conference too.

Hoping to enjoy the Gala Conference Dinner which is on Wednesday night.

I expect to be twittering over the conference, and I am also hoping to get a fair few blog entries in over the next few days too. Photographs should appear on Flickr and/or Twitpic. There may also be video too!

I have been preparing for the conference using the Crowdvine site that has been set up for the conference. You may recall that Crowdvine was in my top ten web tools for 2008. This has allowed me to sort my schedule, promote the sessions I am involved in and see who else is coming and what else they are doing. Hopefully this year the delegates will continue to engage with the Crowdvine site once the conference starts proper like tomorrow.

I have also been adding links to the ALT-C Cloudscape “clouds” for my sessions. Not sure at this time of this adds or detracts from the Crowdvine site.

Overall I am looking forward to the conference, it will be a time to share effective practice, learn from others, find out new stuff, network, meet old friends, discover new friends and leave with ideas, inspiration and stuff.

Using Twitter

September 6, 2009

José Picardo in a recent blog post is not too happy with the way in which some people use Twitter.

Twitter is being abused. I’m not talking about spammers or celebrities, who we know use Twitter as a means to achieve self promotion. I am talking about people like you and me, with similar interests and expertise (education in this case), who are followed by many but only choose to follow a tiny proportion back.

My complaint, whine – whatever you want to call it – is that by not following back most of their followers, these people are, wittingly or unwittingly, taking advantage of their followers’ willingness to share, participate and converse, whilst putting in evidence their lack thereof.

No one is forced to follow anyone on Twitter, nor should it be the case that people follow each other.

If you want to be followed and the @famousteacher does not follow you, then don’t follow them.

If you’re not happy about helping them and them not helping you then don’t help them, or don’t follow them.

The problem arises that everyone wants Twitter to be their ideal tool and the reality is that it is everyone’s ideal tool, just that not everyone has the same ideals.

I believe that Twitter is not about information and links but is all about the coffee. However many don’t want the coffee chat and therefore my model is not what they want.

To be honest that is the beauty of Twitter.

The reality is that we can’t tell people how to use Twitter as they have their way of using it and you have yours. They are not the same way and nor can they be. Unless we each follow exactly the same people, use the same tools, and follow the same etiquette it is impossible for each of us to have and use Twitter in the same way.

We need to work out how Twitter works for us and use it accordingly. follow people for a range of reasons, I never expect any of them to follow me back.

What are you going to pack?

September 6, 2009

There are always some things I now take with me when I attend ALT-C which I find useful.

6 way gang – instead of fighting people for the power sockets, you can immediately make five friends! Also useful when you are back in your hotel room (halls) and need to charge the laptop, the phone, the iPod, use the hairdryer, etc… Make sure it has been PAT tested!

Coffee – I can’t stand instant coffee, so I take some of those Coffee Bags you can buy or Rombout Coffee filters. Of course if you drink that tea stuff then you can bring your own bags of what you like and are use to. I always pop out and buy fresh milk too!


Chargers – don’t forget your chargers, easy to forget and a nightmare when your phone or laptop runs out of juice. Or you can’t use it for the week.

Velcro fixings – For your poster and bring enough because someone you know will have forgotten to bring theirs.

Camera – to take the odd photo or two, I use mine to take photographs of really good posters so I can review them later at my leisure. Amazing how much detail a 7.2MP image can capture of a poster. I also use it to capture slides in presentations (ie URLS and e-mail addresses), I even use it to photograph flyers so I can carry less.

MiFi or 3G Stick – I am sure that the WiFi at the conference venue will be fine, however whatabout at the hotel, the dinner, the train… I will be bringing my new MiFi which allows me to connect to the internet over 3G, wirelessly through a wifi connection. The MiFi acts as a wireless access point for up to five clients – will probably make four new friends as a result of bringing it to the conference.

Business Cards – always useful to swap, play cards with, pass ones you have received to others who you don’t want to contact you…

Ethernet Cable – I find in Halls that though they may not have wireless they do have ethernet, having an ethernet cable in your bag is useful in this instance.

USB Cables – you never know when you are going to need one.

Spare batteries – for your MP3 recorder, etc…

Spare SD card – in case you lose yours.

Spare USB Stick – for moving files around.

What are you going to pack?

It’s only rock and roll, but we (still) like it

September 4, 2009

As I have mentioned before, on September 9th, Apple are running a music style event called It’s only rock and roll, but we like it.


It’s quite normal for Apple to make an announcement at this time of year. In 2007 Apple for example announced the iPod touch. I said before that:

According to the rumour sites, there are good indications that we will see new iPods with cameras.

Will we see the rumoured Apple Tablet?

I think it is a strong possibility, but there are other rumours which state we won’t see it until the first quarter of 2010. I wonder if Apple will announce it, so that developers can develop Apps for it in the same way that they did for the iPhone.

Reading Ollie Bray’s blog he brings to the rumour table, the social side of iTunes.

Again the rumor mills suggest a number of new features of iTunes 9 of which I think the most likely are the introduction of social networking tools or someone else’s social networking tools (eg: Facebook). This will allow you to share your playlists with your friends. If you think about it this makes a lot of sense – Apple knows that the future of the web is social.

I would agree that this is a strong possibility, think about how iPhoto ’09 now has Flickr and Facebook intergration, how easy it is to upload videos from the iPhone 3GS or iMovie to YouTube. It makes sense to add a social element to iTunes.

Some say that we may see the Beatles, possibly.

Whatever happens it will be interesting and fun to see what happens at the event. The Apple event takes place at 6pm BST on the 9th September, which is the same night as the ALT-C Gala Dinner, I suspect that many with iPhones at that dinner will be closely looking at their iPhones to see what new things are announced.

T-Mobile Pulse – a new Android device

September 3, 2009

T-Mobile have announced their third Android device, the T-Mobile Pulse.


It’s the first device from Huawei, with a 3.5″ touch-screen, polished black finish & 6 home screens for personalisation.

Available in October, it will be the first Android device available on pay-as-you-go – costing £179.99.

Weird Flickr Stats

September 3, 2009

I use Flickr a fair bit now for uploading photographs. Sometimes to share what I have been doing, other times so I have access to images I can use on this blog or other sites.

I check the stats now and again (as I have a Pro account) and generally get between 150-300 views a day.

Yesterday however the stats went through the roof with 1300 odd views!


No idea why.

Unless someone (or some people) were really keen on flicking through my photographs, I am suspecting that some kind of bot was going through (and downloading) my images.

My images are copyright me, however I do licence them under a Creative Commons licence so that people in education can use them without having to pay a fee or royalty. However I don’t licence them for commercial use.

It will be interesting to see what happens today.