Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 17 July 2009   Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ISSN 1748-3603

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A systems approach to e-learning
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Learning on the go with an iPod Touch
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Second ILT Champions informal conference
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EduApps: it's the environment, stupid
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Open opportunities, open threats?
Digital Britain sees digital inclusion emerging from the chrysalis
Digital Britain: Carter's charter for luvvies & lawyers
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Professor Robin Mason: 1945 - 2009
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Second ILT Champions informal conference
by James Clay

I am never sure what to call a group of ILT Champions; is it a flock, a pride or a herd? Well, on the 21st April, a large pride of ILT Champions descended on Gloucestershire College for a day of sharing, reflection, discussion and collaboration. It was the second informal ILT Champions Conference, which provided an opportunity for ILT Champions from across the UK to meet.

Figure 1: Lynne Craig gave the opening keynote

When Becta created Ferl and funded ILT Champions back in 1998, I am sure that they did not consider that when the funding stopped the Champions themselves would continue to discuss and debate on the ILT Champions mailing list and would also organise conferences.
In 2008, Peter Tretheway put forward the concept of the ILT Champions running their own conference, which they did, with the first conference taking place at Oaklands College. At that event I volunteered (or strictly speaking I was volunteered) to run the second conference at Gloucestershire College. Unlike formal conferences which tend tohave a strict agenda with keynotes, presentations and the odd workshop, we decided  to do something different, to run an ‘unconference’. At this type of event it is the delegates who on the day put forward ideas, decide the agenda and what will be presented.

Delgates at the ILT conference

Figure 2: Delegates at the conference

Various topics were discussed and practice demonstrated. Colleges using Blackboard spent the morning sharing ideas and practice. Presentations were given on college video systems, use of video, types of cameras and how to use video to support learning. Discussions took place about e-portfolios, learner experiences and the role of technology in supporting learning.

I knew that the delegates signed up to attend the Gloucestershire conference would bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I really wanted everyone who was attending to tap into this. I did consider that such an informal approach this may have a possible downside, since what we want to see and discuss might not always correlate with what we need to see and discuss. This is not so much about dictating what should happen, but ensuring that delegates are informed about issues and subjects which they may have not have previously considered fully or dismissed as irrelevant. Something that I may consider for future events is combining free-flowing sessions with some more formal presentations, although this still brings up the question of how and who decides the content for the formal presentations.
The day started with Lynne Craig giving a short overview of the journey Gloucestershire College has taken to get where it is today. The group then split up into smaller groups to share practice, show exemplars from their institutions and to discuss topics of mutual interest. 
After a very tasty lunch, Geoff Rebbeck from Thanet College started the afternoon off with a wonderful discussion on the role of ILT Champions in FE Colleges. Overall the consensus from the delegates was that this was a great conference, a wonderful opportunity to reflect, share and collaborate. The open format worked extremely effectively, allowing the delegates to choose what they wanted to discuss and listen about.
Looking forward to the third conference next year!
James Clay
Gloucestershire College

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