CMALT: professional status for people who support learning using technology

December 1, 2015 at 11:51 am | Posted in communication, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I was delighted to read that Elizabeth Charles, Head of E-Services & Systems at Birkbeck, University of London, has become the 300th person to achieve CMALT and become a Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). I gained CMALT in 2009, soon after the scheme started, and have assessed one or two applicants a year since then. I am pleased to say that I was lead assessor for Elizabeth and thought that she submitted an exemplary portfolio that clearly evidenced her deep understanding of the Birkbeck learners and the ways in which she could use technology to support their learning. Well done!

A small group of ILIaD staff are also now in the process of developing their CMALT portfolio applications, so if you are interesting in joining us or finding our more, please get in touch. You can read more about CMALT and the application process on the ALT website.

Audio Feedback on Assignments

June 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Posted in communication | Leave a comment
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The idea that students might prefer spoken rather than written feedback is not a new one; indeed the ideal would be a leisurely one-to-one chat about your essay with your tutor. Harsh economic realities have made this a distant dream, except perhaps in the more rarified cloisters of Oxbridge. A modern twist is that tutors can record their comments and email them to students – and the ExAEF project at Liverpool John Moores University is ‘exploring the efficacy of audio email feedback’. They are using the Wimba add-on for Blackboard to simplify the technical procedure and have gained some feedback from the students which is summarised in this presentation.

For tutors, a key message might be that the average time spent creating feedback comments per student was around half that for written feedback – 4:30 as opposed to 8:50 – for a cohort of 24 students. That’s over 100 minutes saved!

For students, the audio feedback was clear and understandable, perceived as more detailed and felt more personal and informal. They found the voice intonation motivating and thought it inspired interest in their topic of study. It seems that students made better use of the audio feedback and had better retention of salient points for future learning.

Now we don’t use Wimba at Southampton (unfortunately they gave a disastrous demo here a couple of years back) but I can offer advice and support to any tutors here who would be interested in trying out audio feedback.

This topic was the subject of  a one-day conference I attended last year ‘A Word in Your Ear: Audio Feedback‘ and I particularly remember one of the pitfalls mentioned – the impact of ‘tone of voice’ and the negative effect that marking late into the night can have on this!

Google Wave

June 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Posted in communication, software | Leave a comment

I spent around an hour yesterday watching the Google Wave preview at the Google  I/O developer conference last week. It really made email look like the ancient outdated dinosaur that it is and gave a glimpse into the near future of communications.

I loved the natural way in which Wave allowed conversations and discussions to take place within the original message (wave) and the way it combined the functions of  email, discussion lists, instant messaging and collaborative document editing. All in real-time too… really impressive! The ability to ‘play’ forward and back through a wave to see how it developed and who contributed what is a huge improvement on those endlessly forwarded emails, where you have to start at the bottom and read upwards to find out what’s going on. And as for the option for real-time translation into 20 languages – wow.

Given the enormous problems we have with email spam, phishing, trojans etc it seems like the time is right to invent Email 2.0 and migrate to a system that has been designed to avoid those problems, as well as offering all kinds of improvements. Even better, Google are making much of the code open-source, so organisations will be able to run their own customised Wave server which will still inter-operate in the same way as SMPT mail servers.

Personally, I can’t wait.

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