Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 4 April 2006   Thursday, April 27, 2006

ISSN 1748-3603

Cover Page »
Feature article
The changing role of Becta
Case studies
Design for multimedia mLearning
Virtual Clinics: online places for problem-based learning
Coaching students for success
Assistive technology: developing a loans scheme for all
Using a Virtual Learning Environment to motivate learners
Project updates
Designing Spaces for Effective Learning
Conference reviews
International workshop on wireless and mobile technologies in education
ALT news
Director's report
Executive Secretary's report
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Privacy policy

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Past Issues
Issue 3, January 2006
January 30, 2006
Issue 2
October 24, 2005
Issue 1
August 5, 2005
Executive Secretary's report
News from Seb Schmoller
by Seb Schmoller

Staff changes. Marion O’Dea, who began working for ALT as Operations Manager in January 2004 went on maternity leave on 6 March 2006, after a suitable send-off. Marion gave birth to a beautiful girl, Erin Siobhain, on Wednesday 5 April (which also happens to be ALT’s birthday!). Marion will return on 2 October 2006. Bob Green, a management accountant with previous senior experience in the e-learning industry, is covering Marion’s post during her absence.
We have also just appointed Melanie Fox as a half-time Administrative Assistant. Melanie will start on 4 May 2006. Melanie previously worked in publishing for CABI as a Marketing Administrator.
Note that brief biographies of all ALT staff can be found at

Research Committee. Following on from my report in the January 2006 Newsletter we issued a call for expressions of interest to join a new ALT Research Committee, chaired by Professor Robin Mason, from the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology; and we received a strong response. The full membership of the Committee is as follows.
Robin Mason – Chair, and Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology
John Cook – Vice Chair, President of ALT, and Manager of the Reusable Learning Objects Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Allison Littlejohn – Professor of Learning Technology at the University of Dundee
Bob Banks – Analyst/developer/consultant with Tribal Techology Ltd
Brian Whalley – Professor of Geomorphology at Queen's University Belfast
David Nicol – Head of Research and Development in e-Learning at Strathclyde University
Frances Bell – Senior Lecturer in the Information Systems Institute at the University of Salford University
Frank Rennie – Head of Research and Postgraduate Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands
Gilly Salmon – Professor of e-Learning and Learning Technologies at the University of Leicester
Josie Taylor – Professor of Learning Technology at the Open University, and Director of the IET User Lab
Mike Keppell – Head, Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE)
Mike Prosser – Director of Research and Evaluation, Higher Education Academy
Mike Sharples – Professor of Learning Sciences, and Director of the Nottingham University's Learning Sciences Research Institute
Phil Barker – Professor of Applied Computing at the University of Teesside
Vanessa Pittard – Director of Evidence and Evaluation, British Educational and Communications Technology Agency (Becta)
Bill Olivier - JISC Observer.

RAE 2008 – ALT makes a difference. Last summer we were grateful for the opportunity afforded us by Diana Laurillard to collaborate with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to ensure that a response was made to the July 2005 “Consultation on RAE Panel Draft Criteria and Working Methods” – – which took account of the needs of the learning technology research discipline. A compilation of the 4 responses which ALT submitted can be accessed from John Cook, who is Vice-Chair of the ALT Research Committee, has reviewed the final panel criteria and working methods for Unit of Assessment 45 (Education) – – and he reports:

I think we can claim 4 small successes from our submission to the consultation (for UoA 45).
We suggested: “1.2. The UOA 45 descriptor lacked some structural rigour when compared, for example, with that for Unit of Assessment 23 (Computer Science and Informatics).” Result 1: this paragraph has been reshaped.
We suggested: “1.3. We welcome the inclusion of ‘ICT in education’, but this would be expressed more accurately as ‘use of ICT in all aspects of education’.” Result 2: ICT is now seen as a substantive area whereas before it was grouped in with other ‘cross-sectoral issues’.
We suggested: “1.4. The descriptor should also include; … under ‘Sectors’, ‘informal learning’.” Result 3: Informal learning is now included and regarded as an ‘educational system’.
We suggested (in relation to the submission of learning materials as research outputs): “3.1. Paragraph 20 [now 21] … The phrase ‘Such materials must embody original research and make a contribution to knowledge in its field.’ would make the position much clearer.” Result 4: the phrase ‘must embody original research’ has been included.

Membership Services Committee. I reported in the January 2006 Newsletter on our plans to merge ALT’s Membership and Events Committees to form a new Membership Services Committee. The new committee, which will be co-chaired by John Phelps and Barbara Newland, will hold its first meeting on 3 May. New members will be needed for the committee and we will shortly issue an open call for this.

CMALT. I wrote last month to all members and member organisations concerning an introductory offer we have made to encourage uptake of CMALT our certified membership scheme. Stemming from this ALT is in discussions with a number of organisations that are interested in assessing the value of CMALT by putting staff through it on an employer-funded basis. If your organisation falls into this category, please email so that we can take things further. Full scheme details can be found at

JISC Partnership. We signed a formal Partnership Agreement with JISC at the JISC Conference on 14 March. Over the next few weeks we will be agreeing with JISC a plan of activities. We intend to summarise this in the next issue of the Newsletter.

Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary of the JISC, and Seb Schmoller, Executive Secretary of ALT, sign the MoU at the JISC conference.

Seb Schmoller
Executive Secretary

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