Digital Event

#ALTC2011 Comes to a Close

Final Keynote: John Naughton

Many of the most important technological developments in computing and networking have come as surprises – pleasant and/or unpleasant – to professional communities and commercial organisations, including those which are supposed to know what the future holds. How does this happen? Why are we so bad at anticipating the technological future? And what would we need to do to improve?


John Naughton #altc2011 (mp3)

Naughton read from a script, with no slides… which divided the Twitterstream (I hope someone’s going to blog on this) into those who thought that this demonstrated that the lecture was not dead, and those that felt that this demonstrated much that was wrong with conventional lectures… Can someone remind me what his three main points were (There was something about CDs, and I remember the final one was Wikipedia, and that in schools “the only technology guaranteed not to break down is the school bus”… which brought out many analogies about late/broken down buses!)

John Naughton: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet: From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Naughton: What you really need to know about the internet

Our society has gone through a weird, unremarked transition: we’ve gone from regarding the Net as something exotic to something that we take for granted as a utilitarian necessity, like mains electricity or running water. In the process we’ve been remarkably incurious about its meaning, significance or cultural implications. Most people have no idea how the network works, nor any conception of its architecture; and few can explain why it has been – and continues to be – so uniquely disruptive in social, economic and cultural contexts. In other words, our society has become dependent on a utility that it doesn’t really understand. John Naughton has distilled the noisy chatter surrounding the internet’s relentless evolution into nine clear-sighted and accessible areas of understanding. In doing so he affords everyone the requisite knowledge to make better use of the technologies and networks around us, and see lucidly into their future implications. Along the way, From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet covers areas as diverse as the science of complexity, the economics of abundance, the appeal of disruption and the problematic nature of intellectual property. From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet gives you all the basic, conceptual equipment you need to understand the Internet phenomenon.

About the Author

John Naughton is Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is also the Observer’s ‘Networker’ columnist and a prominent blogger at His last book was A Brief History of the Future: The Origins of the Internet (1999).
Buy the book!


ALT-C 2012 will take place between 11 and 13 September 2012 at the University of Manchester, and will focus on ‘a confrontation with reality’, seeking to take a pragmatic approach to using technology in education, rather than innovation for innovation’s sake.. it’s being introduced here by the Co-Chairs for next year:

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All Digital Fingerprint blog entries related to #ALTC2011 are now updated and viewable to read, and see the archive of Tweets on Twapperkeeper.

Digital Event

Joining online? #altc2011

Not the most successful remote joining of a session ever.. I appear to have lost sound to all my internet files … a reboot (as always) seemed to fix that (for now)!

Whilst we seek out the recording for this actual session (PPT slides are here), see an 11 minute video from 2010:

Digital Event

Keynote @mbrechner #altc2011

Miguel Brechner, Uruguay. Plan Ceibal

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Talk will be available online afterwards, abstract is on Crowdvine.

Not one laptop per child – much bigger than that… Not about ICT/technology, but about social/political gains.

Fear of the teachers – that students would know much more than they would.

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450 000 impacts…. Including far more equality. Diagram shows users of the Internet in all countries – 2007 where programme started, can see the access increasing to similar levels as eg UK. Huge investment in infrastructure, offering a free national wifi network.

More motivated in school, watch less TV, increased self-esteem because access to materials. Parents use their children’s laptops so increasing confidence its use. Suggests that personal identity is a human right.

Security software – if computers are stolen, or children don’t attend school the computers stop working … Great idea except when glitch meant 50k stopped working at once.

Teachers have gained confidence in how to use, many computers can be like etoys. The school has become the centre of activities in town or neighbourhood.

Because know all kids have computers – can undertake different practices, e.g. Science, maths, comprehension online tests. Teaching the children how to programme – getting involved in robotics. Online ”’maths olympics’.

Main obstacles to success – vendor orientated (hardware/software manufacturers). Spend a lot of money on the technology & then no one uses it because it’s complicated – need more focus on usability (rather than ICT) and find software which works for teacher participation.

@dkernohan “talking about numbers of opportunities, not measurements of attainment. Serious change is beyond measurement.”

Not teaching students to use the tools (can work out on own) – teach them something that they can’t learn on their own.

Make educational objects as easy to use as we use iTunes.
Allows more personalisation of education (done the easy part – connected people.. Now starting this) – address each student individually, intelligent book, adaptive platforms (according to knowledge), personalised homework.

Project seeking to transform privileges into rights, it’s not magic. Changed from political party to state policy. Contributing to People becoming proud of their national identity.


  • Problems which cropped up were practical/unpredictable. Need to take risks to achieve change.
  • Note that cascade training (champion/infection models) for teachers didn’t work, got much better results from online training. Worked because of the social support.
  • Was it something about the culture in Uruguay that made this work… Would this work in Europe? For many kids in Uraguay – that laptop is the first thing that many kids have owned. Different starting set of assumptions?
  • Are the universities prepared to teach this generation? (3 years time, first will be ready for uni … Wonder if the numbers will be any different).
  • Laptops have a 4 year life cycle & are recycled where possible …

This blog entry was written live in session, with photos/headings added afterwards.

Academic Digital Event

Mark Nichols, live from Queensland #iblc10


Mark Nichols, Laidlaw College Auckland


Blended Learning – a term still ill defined.


With OU – defining ‘interactive’ – covered everything from “next” to complex.


Essential Elements of Blended Learning: No absolutes…


Combines the best of online and face-to-face experiences

Garrison & Vaughan – thoughtful fusion of f2f and online learning experiences.



E-Learning & Social Networking Handbook

Making the Transition to E-Learning


Both crucially see the importance of distance education in the model. Online discussions & media rich content available via technology. Students aren’t disadvantaged by missing a class. See distinctive on campus & distance learning… Blended Learning – we’re saying the distinction has disappeared. Garrison & Vaughan – there’s no longer any need to choose… online learning doesn’t necessarily have to be distance…


Laidlaw College – course available over New Zealand… wanted consistency across regional campuses. Wanted to get:


  • Maximum results from limited development funds

  • Consistency across centres

  • Ongoing revision for distance courses

  • Faculty involvement in distance tutoring

  • Synergy from expertise.


Faculty were not appointed for their technological skills, but with an intentional approach to instructional design (including video).. the outcomes and resources are similar, but the processes and experiences are different.


Online discussions take a lot of time to do well, and adding it to the campus load is heavy and not helpful. Integrated on campus & online approaches = not working… staff underestimated the time required for themselves/others. No need to remove lecturers from their lecturer role…


Challenges to teaching other people’s courses, systematic changes, and the costs of implementing blended roles (500 students, expensive to maintain an e-learning approach). Get better institutional productivity, educational consistency, more effective course revision.


Blended Learning can’t bridge the gap, but it can link them…


LEARNT (common themes from blended learning literature, not unique)

  • Respect modal differences
  • Manage costs & capacity

  • Implement at programme level

  • Assemble a blending team

  • Introduce supportive institutional policy

  • Integrate, don’t add

Reaped benefits, but revolution is unfinished & maybe misled? Common Moodle areas – share resources, have compulsory/well-designed forum areas, grades online, electronic submission through TurnItIn, interviews with internationally recognised subject experts, etc.



Have achieved Blended Learning, but this was the wrong objective…

Have achieved Blended, e-Learning, not significant L.Dee Fink (it’s peripheral), Transformative (no).


Return to Garrison & Vaughan – not the focus on mixing f2f and online, but on the thoughtful fusion. Focus on Blended Learning means box selves in with a focus on technology, rather than the thoughtfulness of teaching?!


L Dee Fink – Creating Significant Learning Experiences – courses should be built around change in the learner. (Learning how to learn, caring, human dimension, integration, application, foundational knowledge = significant learning) Wrote book was that staff were falling back on lecture, seminars. Blended Learning – tend to fall back on online discussions/lectures and ?? – without thinking what else we could do with this potential. Not emphasising the ‘so what’ of what we were teaching, or offering the opportunities to access ‘real-life experiences’.


Rather than innovation, focused on mix of modes rather than content – challenge wasn’t to revolutionise learning… Doing students a disservice… Why are there no Problem Based Learning co-ordinators, not conferences on ‘significant learning’ – what does that say about us as change agents?


Transformative Learning (King 2009) – inform only in the interests of transforming them..

  • Fear & Uncertainty
  • Testing & exploring
  • Affirming and connecting
  • New perspectives


Best examples of problem based learning, case based learning, effective practice – seen, rather than great examples of ‘blended learning’.

Blended Learning emphasises the MEANS and the MECHANISMS of learning….

Are we asking the wrong question by focusing on ‘what is blended learning?’, we should instead be focusing on what is great learning (what is ‘a refreshing beverage’, rather than how do we make ‘the right smoothy’.

Thoughtful blended learning is significant in implementation and transformative by intent. Anything less than this is far from the best that we can do.