— Sheila MacNeill (@sheilmcn) 7 September 2017
This was my final thought at this year’s annual #altc conference. What a week it was in Liverpool. The conference co-chairs Helen O’Sullivan and Pete Alston and their committee pulled together a fantastic three days where we it felt we truly did move “beyond islands of innovation” and really did explore the “new norm(al)”. I need a bit more time to fully collate my thoughts from the three amazing keynotes so there will be another post.
One of the overarching themes from the keynotes was space – formal and informal learning spaces, physical and digital formal and informal learning spaces and the myriad of social, open and closed spaces above, below, around them. I had a quite different conference experience this year as I interacted in a number of different spaces across the three days.
Of course I was there in the physical campus in Liverpool and in my “normal” conference mode twitter space. In addition, I was one of the onsite buddies for three Virtually Connecting Sessions where I had the pleasure of being part of an extended conversation with each of the keynote speakers. They joined me and some other onsite delegates in a dedicated space beside the main lecture theatre where we connected with some virtual friends from all over the world. What an absolute pleasure that was. ( I also had a bit of a fangirl moment of finally getting to meet Bon Stewart in person).
Being able to have a more intimate but simultaneously extended, international, diverse conversation really did bring another level to my conference experience. It was such a pleasure to be able to be part of an extended conversation around the questions, issues, and challenges that all our keynotes raised. It also meant that on the final day, we were able to reclaim a bit of the q&a space that a fire alarm stole from the end of Peter Goodyear’s keynote. The other great thing is that I (and the rest of the world) can go back and revisit those conversations to help reflect on the conference overall. You can view all of the sessions from the Virtually Connecting Website.
I was also involved in a combined #altc #LTHE tweet chat, again with Bon and Sue, who joined James Clay, Debbie Baff and myself in the VC space. That was another great extension of the conference to those who couldn’t be there in person. Though I did find it a bit meta to be in a room with 4 other people where we were all tweeting and not really speaking. I don’t know about you, but usually my tweet chat experiences are me on my sofa with my ipad being taken out of that space into the tweetchat space. But it was great too and you can see the collated tweets in this storify.
The final space I want to mention is that as of the AGM on Tuesday afternoon, I have moved into a new space with ALT as I am now Chair of the association. Having been Vice Chair for the past year, I have had a small taste of what this involves and I am really looking forward to this new role as we move towards realising the first full year of our new strategy. Another new norm(al) space for me.
It is often easy to forget, particularly after a major conference, that ALT is actually run by a relatively tiny number of staff. The commitment, vision, collaboration, dedication, humour and patience of Maren, Jane, Martin, Jane, Kristina and Tom ensure that ALT punches well above their combined physcial weight! Their work has made being an Trustee, Vice Chair and now Chair an absolute pleasure. They truly do serve our membership and our extended community well across many spaces.