As an additional #hashtag activities at this year’s #alt conference, participants were asked to use the hashtags #my #altc to highlight their “best bits” of the conference.
I had high hopes for the “are learning technologies fit for purpose?” session, however despite Lawrie saying he didn’t want this to be a re-hash of “is the VLE debate” of a few years ago, it did seem to turn into a bit of VLE bashing, with the underlying inferences that learning technologies = VLEs and they weren’t fit for purpose. I did have to have a bit of a rant at the direction of the discussion leading to #my #altc moment
(which did seem to go down quite well with the rest of the people at the session
— Sheila MacNeill (@sheilmcn) September 8, 2015
To VLE or not to VLE, that seems to always be THE question. It is, imho, actually the elephant in the room. We have them, so can we just move on please. It’s how we use them that’s important. Martin Weller has a good post on the session too, and blame him for the VLE sediment phrase!
As all the keynote speakers either explicitly stated, our digital footprints, data and access are all changing. Even our so called “learners 2.0” spoke about the ubiquity of technology in their lives but the scary moment when you have to use in “in the real world” in your job, in their case as they were trainee teachers, in the classroom. Confidence levels can swing dramatically from using digital “stuff” for your own purposes to when you have to use it in learning and teaching. I know in my institution we have many new teaching staff who come directly from professional practice and their knowledge of “learning technology” is very limited, and based on their own experiences. What’s new there, I hear you ask dear reader. We know that all teachers just do what their favourite teachers did. Well yes, but just now not everyone has had experience of blended, and or fully online learning. They are often still trying to figure it all out as well as cope with a very different working environment.
In the discussion the issue of time came up. Some people think this is a non starter as if someone wants to to do something,then they will make the time. Which is true to an extent. But, if staff member isn’t confident in using whatever their institutional VLE is, then the chances of them being able to find the time with increasing teaching loads gets smaller. New technologies (learning or otherwise) alone won’t solve this. If we want to create digitally confident learners and teachers we need to give time for digital experimentation and failure. A closed, (relatively) safe space such as a VLE is good place to start that.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post called “Living with the VLE dictator”, a year on my thoughts are much the same. However, I do see an opportunity to reframe the debate around people digital capabilities and use of (learning) technologies not just the technologies themselves.