Research in Learning Technology
Supplement: ALT-C 2012 Conference Proceedings


Editorial for proceedings papers

Published: 30 August 2012

ISBN 978-91-977071-4-5 (print), 978-91-977071-5-2 (online)
2012 Association for Learning Technology. © D. Hawkridge et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license ( permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Here are the Proceedings Papers of the 2012 ALT Conference “A confrontation with reality”, held in Manchester, England. Each paper reports on a piece of research, possibly in its early stages, states a point of view or summarises an area of work, perhaps giving new insights. This supplement contains 18 papers, an increase over previous years.

The conference has five themes which are:

Problem solving is the bread and butter of learning technology practitioners. Two papers look at new solutions to familiar pedagogic problems. Essa and Ayad (2012) discuss how to use predictive and statistical techniques to identify those students most at risk of not completing a learning programme – in a way that also helps to identify an appropriate intervention to address the learners’ difficulties. Taylor (2012) looks at the problem of using video effectively in a physiotherapy context to support learners on placements, rather than relying on occasional face to face visits.

The other three papers on problem solving are more focussed on the actual techniques being used. Mor and Craft (2012) report on a workshop looking at all aspects of the evolving use of learning design – from tools through methods and frameworks. Alsubait, Parsia and Sattler (2012) propose an ontological approach to automatic generation of analogy questions in multiple choice format. Flavin (2012) discusses, in part through survey results, the increasing role of disruptive technologies – those that were not designed for education but have become widely adopted by learners.

The largest number of proceedings papers is in the area of openness and sharing. This area often coincides with the need to confront reality in terms of the limited resources available. McGuigan and Golden (2012) report on the introduction of a standardised online tutoring system for learners gaining a Teaching Qualification in Further Education: the system provides generic email, blog and micro-blog facilities and allows support to be roster-based. Cochrane (2012) reflects on three failed m-learning projects, identifying critical failure factors by comparing them with a larger number of successful ones. A significant cause of failure is not updating pedagogy to match the introduced technology.

Two further papers on openness and sharing have a discipline base. Reinhardt and Rosen (2012) report on forming a national and international peer support group through a website for medical exchange students. Naamani and Taylor (2012) reflect on the use of podcasting in a vocational area, specifically Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy.

When the openness and sharing is of ideas and policies the results can be of wide applicability. In the policy area, McNeill (2012) analyses published social media policies from 14 universities with special reference to the need to respond to demand, whilst guarding against possible threats. Mor, Warburton and Winters (2012) look at the use of workshops that share experiences in order to produce design narratives and resulting design patterns, with a view to wider adoption. Finally, Heap and Minocha (2012) analyse the results of a survey of scholarly bloggers which looks at their motives for blogging and especially at the use of blogs as an effective way of sharing scholarly knowledge.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, because in UK education the word is still widely viewed with suspicion, entrepreneurialism attracted very few proposals for the conference as a whole and only one proceedings paper. Narayan, Davis and Gee (2012) discuss the entrepreneurial use of mobile Web 2.0 tools to reinvigorate two courses in New Zealand.

For the conference as a whole, mainstreaming was the most popular area but for proceedings papers this was not the case. Perhaps proceedings papers are more ahead of the curve and hence potentially not on it at all. Two institutional experiences in London are reported. Jordan (2012) discusses the introduction of video for peer feedback and reflection at the University of the Arts, including the important areas of training and dealing with student anxieties. Glover et al. (2012) cover the simultaneous introduction of a new open VLE at City University with its integration with other key institutional systems, such as those for external information and for video streaming.

The other two mainstreaming papers look more to the future. Munnerley et al. (2012) debate the social, cultural and technical issues surrounding the wider use of augmented reality systems by both learner and teacher. Griffiths, Ogden and Aspin (2012) discuss the near-future impact of HTML 5 and especially its support for semantic content, giving scenarios for its use in transforming the learner experience.

Also unsurprising in a UK context when reporting on a period when impact is yet to become too intrusive a concept, sustainability was overall not popular and attracted only one proceedings paper. Clayton (2012) reports on developments in New Zealand towards mass customisation and self-reflective frameworks following a government-enforced greatly increased participation rate in tertiary education.

In covering such a wide variety of topics, the authors have identified tensions between technology, practice, learner, financial, institutional and policy realities. Their approaches have been innovative, but have been grounded in the need to achieve results for learners. Together, these papers form a significant contribution to confronting reality. Enjoy reading them.


Alsubait, T., Parsia, B. & Sattler, U. (2012) ‘Automatic generation of analogy questions for student assessment: an Ontology-based approach’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19198 [Crossref]

Clayton, J. (2012) ‘Mass-customisation and self-reflective frameworks: early developments in New Zealand’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19187 [Crossref]

Cochrane, T. (2012) ‘Secrets of mlearning failures: confronting reality’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19186 [Crossref]

Essa, A. & Ayad, H. (2012) ‘Improving student success using predictive models and data visualisations’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19191 [Crossref]

Flavin, M. (2012) ‘Disruptive technologies in higher education’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19184 [Crossref]

Glover, I., et al. (2012) ‘A tale of one city: intra-institutional variations in migrating VLE platform’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19190 [Crossref]

Griffiths, L., Ogden, R. & Aspin, R. (2012) ‘A profile of the future: what could HTML 5 do for HE by 2015?’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19199 [Crossref]

Heap, T. & Minocha, S. (2012) ‘An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging for digital scholarship’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19195 [Crossref]

Jordan, L. (2012) ‘Video for peer feedback and reflection: embedding mainstream engagement into learning and teaching practice’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19192 [Crossref]

McGuigan, A. & Golden, L. (2012) ‘Rules of engagement: developing the online tutor’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19183 [Crossref]

McNeill, T. (2012) ‘“Don't affect the share price”: social media policy in higher education as reputation management’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19194 [Crossref]

Mor, Y. & Craft, B. (2012) ‘Learning design: reflections upon the current landscape’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19196 [Crossref]

Mor, Y., Warburton, S. & Winters, N. (2012) ‘Participatory pattern workshops: a methodology for open learning design inquiry’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19197 [Crossref]

Munnerley, D., et al. (2012) ‘Confronting an augmented reality’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19189 [Crossref]

Naamani, C. & Taylor, L. (2012) ‘Beauty and the iPod – a story of contrasts and the use of podcasting in vocational education – Nail Technology’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19188 [Crossref]

Narayan, V., Davis, C. & Gee, R. (2012) ‘Augmented learning – spreading your wings beyond the classroom’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19200 [Crossref]

Reinhardt, C. H. & Rosen, E. N. (2012) ‘Journal of astonishment – a tool to increase satisfaction with exchange programmes’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19185 [Crossref]

Taylor, T. (2012) ‘Preparing the foundations for video-based practice-placement support: establishing the role from a students’ perspective’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 20, DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19193 [Crossref]

David Hawkridge
Open University, UK

Steven Verjans
Open University, The Netherlands

Gail Wilson
Southern Cross University, Australia