My draft application for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2011

Update: This application wasn’t successful and wasn’t even short-listed. Here is the feedback I got, which on the whole I agree with:

The individual entries clustered into 3 groups by score, and your entry fell into the middle group.
One our scoring system the shortlisted group scored between 8.8 and 9. The middle group between 11.8 and 12.2. The “bottom” group scored between 13.6 and 15.2.
Thus the difference between the “top” and the “middle” groups was not huge; but, that said, there is a substantial gap between 9 and 11.8.
One panel member made the following comment: “I think it is a huge challenge for a role with such a wide remit to demonstrate impact and uptake. Also perhaps not experienced in presenting case strongly supported by evidence – didn’t think the googlewave example the most effective.”
Two panel members commmented “What is his main driver – the technology or the learning?” “Very tech focused.”

Taking a leaf out of Tony Hirst’s book when he took an open philosophy to his unsuccessful (boo) promotion case (see Crowd Sourcing a Promotion Case… and In For a Penny, In For a Pound… My Promotion “Case for Support”) I’ve decided to take a similar approach to my application for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award.
Doing it this way makes me very uncomfortable and most of the scenarios I’ve gone through in my head end up with egg on my face. So why do it this way? Well if nothing else it is an opportunity to promote the award (closing date 26th May, applications are sought for team and individual – more information about the award).
The other reason is, like Tony, the open publication route makes it  harder to measure things like impact and influence. So if you’ve ever found anything useful on this site or if this is a first visit and you’ve found something that has helped you could you be a star and leave your mark in the comments of this post.

Why put my name forward?

I’ve had three great years at JISC RSC Scotland North & East (all of which have been documented on this blog), joyfully skipping through the world of educational technology playing with ideas, sharing things I like and just having a lot of fun. With our RSC closing at the end of July and with the knowledge that my post is redundant and likelihood of successfully job matching being remote I’m definitely in ‘make myself look attractive for re-employment’ mode.
Also I’d argue that I’m deserving of such a high accolade as ALT Learning Technologist of the Year. Supported and inspired by those around me I’ve cobbled together some pretty unique stuff. Portable Wookie widget servers, Google Spreadsheets that can do almost everything for you apart from make a cup of tea and of course not forgetting my research into Twitter subtitling to name just a few.
If you want you can read more of my deluded grandeur in my draft submission below (comments as always are welcome):
5. Your summary as to why you or your team should win the award (200 words maximum). Write this once you have completed sections 6A to 6D.
Employed at the JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland N&E (RSCScotNE) I see examples of outstanding work in the field of learning technology on a daily basis. As well as disseminating this practice I use it to direct and empower my own work aspiring to not only replicate these levels of achievement but trying to exceed them, to explore new territory, to shine a light on how technology can be used to enhance the experience of learners.
My passion for learning technology goes beyond 9-to-5, it is my hobby, my favourite pastime, the thing I most enjoy doing into the early hours of the morning. From this fevered creativity has come a number of pieces to help solve the greater puzzle. This includes solutions for: voting systems ranging from low cost to no cost; tools to support the use of twitter in education including lecture capture enhancement (iTitle); and a host of other openly documented solutions, ideas and examples of best practice.
Why should I win? I believe I have the dedication, the passion, an underlying philosophy to open educational development, a desire not only to be informed by research but a commitment to add to the pool of knowledge.
6A. A clear description of the actions and roles taken to develop and support the achievement. Individual entrants should indicate any substantial involvement of others in the achievement. Team entrants should indicate who actually did what.
As an e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) for the RSCScotNE I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a number of outstanding projects and high quality events. These include the multi award winning EduApps initiative for which I designed and developed the delivery platform, the panoply of RSCScotNE led and partnered events including the JISC Winter Fayres, GameToLearn, eAssessment Scotland. These events are always a team effort, my usual role is helping find presenters and technical aspects including booking systems and live streaming.
Part of my role within the RSC is to monitor the ever evolving learning landscape, disseminating best practice to our region via various means including face-to-face consultancy, presentations at local events and using various social media channels. Whilst this role is common throughout the RSC network there are a number of factors which I believe make what I do outstanding:
Open – I’ve long held the belief that as a public sector employee as much of what I do should be made available for all. My blog MASHe has become an open repository of idea, solutions and examples for anyone to repurpose/reuse.
Cutting edge – My passion for learning technology doesn’t stop at disseminating what are other people are doing. I want to be a part of the learning technology revolution. Why stop at directing staff to the educational benefits of electronic voting systems when you can show staff how to make their own free systems. Why stop at highlighting how audio and video feedback can be used to enhance feedback when you can show them how they can use free services to do this. Why stop at showing how social media tools like Twitter can be used to support the entire teaching and learning continuum when you can develop and share the tools that might support them in using it. Why stop at suggesting ways to enhance lecture capture when you can research, develop and share the tools that can make it possible.
Passion – I’m passionate about continuing my own professional development, continually learning how technology can be efficiently and effectively used to enhance teaching and learning, and my role at RSCScotNE supports this. Creating new tools/services to support learning is however outside this remit. Instead this is something I choose to do in my own time, creating tools like iTitle in the early hours of the morning not because I have to, but because I want to.
6B. Clear, credible, statement of individual or team approach to the technological, and/or methodological, and/or managerial, and/or teaching and learning choices made by the applicant (individual or team), during the period covered by the application.
The remit of the RSC extends to only provide support and guidance to the individuals or institutions requiring them to take ownership to implement this at a local level. Consequently, the most suitable approach is generally reactive, identifying gaps in the research or understanding of specific problems identified by observing or discussing issues with staff and students before producing resources and guidance targeted to provide solutions.
An example of this process is demonstrated by the rise and fall of Google Wave. In May 2009 when Wave was announced there was a lot of interest in the general as well as academic community.
Identification – Identifying the possible opportunities of this technology and potential interest to staff. This included information targeted at senior management designed to highlight potential strategic decisions regarding deployment, as well as information for teaching staff on potential uses to enhance learning. Part of the identification process also included filtering and summarizing the existing available information
Exploration – Having identified the educational opportunities of this technology I then explored and documented how this tool could be integrated into institutional systems. This included, what I believe was a world first, embedding Google Wave in Blackboard, documenting the process for institutions/staff to install their own Wave server and examining and filtering a list of Google Wave educational add-ons
Dissemination/Feedback – Having identified opportunities and researched the technical aspects of this tool I proactively disseminated this information presenting my findings and listening to feedback from staff at a number of face-to-face events including specialist VLE groups and the JISC Winter Fayre
Reflection – Throughout this cycle of identification, exploration and dissemination there is also a process of reflection both internal and explicit
Whilst ultimately Google Wave was dropped by Google this approach to proactive exploration and continual reflection and dissemination meant staff within our region (and further field) could be confident that there was someone monitoring this area allowing them to focus on institutional matters.
6C. Major and beneficial impact on practices within the entrant’s or team’s organisation, or community, or sphere of influence.
Having adopted an open publication philosophy and due to the nature of the RSC remit it’s hard to track impact on practices, but there is an ever growing list of examples of how my work has influenced others within our organization, our supported community and further afield. One example of this is my work recombining an archive of a Twitter stream with video footage (iTitle).
The work began following on from some earlier work by Dr Tony Hirst from the Open University who published a method for a Twitter YouTube subtitle mashup. Initially I developed an online tool (iTitle) which produced subtitle files from tweets for the BBC iPlayer. Following on from some initial positive comments including from staff at the BBC this tool has continued to evolve (developed in my own time), and has been referenced by a number of sources including the Director of Digital Engagement at the Cabinet Office, the Guardian and a number of very influential sites including Tony Hirst’s OUseful, Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus, Jane Hart’s e-Learning Pick of the Day.
iTitle is a cutting edge concept and far away from mass adoption as a learning technology but with the continued interest in lecture capture and the use of Twitter in education it has the potential to supplement these areas, the combination of these assets supporting vicarious learning.
Even so iTitle has already been used unofficially with the JISC Conference, Google I/O and officially with FOTE10, IWMW10 and ALT-C 2010. As well as the tool complimenting pedagogies like vicarious learning, in an era where learning resources are arguably as much as about marketing the institution as they are a learning asset, iTitle supports this. For example at the time of writing the original version of Donald Clark’s “Don’t lecture me” keynote has received over 3,500 views. The iTitled version which was released one month later has over 5,100 views.
iTitle is just one example of the impact of my work and the influence of my varied interests can be seen elsewhere. My recent work with Google Spreadsheets has resulted in a number of solutions for administering Twitter accounts, and my work with event/resource booking systems has not only influenced how our organization administers events, but has changed the way people do things further afield
6D. Outstanding overall contribution in managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of learning technology.
In the previous sections I’ve used some of the examples of my work to illustrate the range of activities I have been involved in or have led. These examples encompass the entire learning technology spectrum from guidance to others involved in supporting learning to the administration of teaching and learning itself. My contribution to the sector often goes beyond my official role at RSCScotNE, which is mainly disseminating the work of others and supporting staff within our region, extending to support those beyond our geographic boundary and also contributing new ideas, new solutions, new possibilities to the field of learning technology.
Part of this contribution is serendipitous as a consequence of my commitment to open publication, but a large part is also directed. This takes several forms including commenting on the work of others (examples include the new ALT website, the RIN ‘Social media: A guide for researchers’, and student posts as part of Alec Couros’s EC&I 831 course e.g., but is also directed contributing to the tools that can be used to support learning technology.
One recent example of this is my work exploring and documenting the creation of a portable version of the Apache Wookie widget server The JISC DVLE programme has illustrated the benefits of disaggregating teaching and learning systems, providing an opportunity for students to create their own personal learning environments. As people start exploring this area further I recognized that one potential barrier is providing an easy way for users to experiment and develop widgets. Using my knowledge of portable solutions deployed on USB stick via the EduApps initiative, I was able to create and document a portable Wookie widget server. As well as releasing this solution to the general community, as part of the process I was able to contribute to the Wookie project by identifying and submitting improvements to the core code e.g.
Whilst this contribution was small within the context of the Wookie project it is representative of my commitment to giving back.


Join the conversation

comment 17 comments
  • nick

    tony’s promotion case wasn’t openly competitive, the ALT award is, do you think that this might be a significant issue?
    you may scare off some competition, or you may give them ideas/ confidence! also by making your application open (where others aren’t) aren’t you making life more difficult for the people who have to judge the app?
    while i definitely support open practice in principle i’m really not sure that this is a good idea for closed competitions, sorry! I’ll follow with interest though…

    • Martin Hawksey

      Hi Nick,
      Hmm it’s interesting. Personally I don’t think it matters if it is a closed or open competition because the application form is just one part of the process. This process of application, shortlist and interview all wrapped in clear competition criteria should enable to let the judges assess applications equally no matter how the application has been constructed.
      Deciding to publish my draft application wasn’t one I took likely and if anything I feel I’ve got more to lose. Now if I’m unsuccessful not only do I know I didn’t meet the grade, but everyone else will too. In part I felt that if I was highlighting belief in open educational development that not ‘eating my own dog food’ would show a weakness in resolve.
      Ultimately I do want others to be motivated to put in their own applications. Hopefully my interpretation of the award criteria gives others a benchmark to assess their own performance, stimulating them to reflect on their own achievements and if not putting an application in this year start putting in place the building blocks to achieve this next year.
      If nothing else I’m glad it’s stimulated the debate and I’m grateful you’ve taken the time to share your thoughts 😉

  • Alicia Robinson

    I think this (open application) is a fantastic idea. I’m afraid I can’t help, but I really want to encourage you – and I’m aware I’m flying in the face of the previous commenter’s advice.
    I would hate going through the stress of applying for this award because I wouldn’t know what counted, what mattered etc. Having your application as a resource, looking and seeing how many areas of your life you can reference, the tone of the language and style of writing (although I don’t think the slight note of self deprecation will do you any favours :)) would all be infinitely helpful.
    I expect this award will be based on your work, and the evidence you can supply to back that up, so I see absolutely no threat in other people seeing your application. They can’t claim they’ve done your work, they have to rewrite for their own application, but they will be able to take confidence from this. And hopefully people who know about this award and more about your work than I do will be able to give you the feedback you need 🙂
    Best of luck.

  • Joss Winn

    Good for you, Martin. I applaud the approach you’ve taken here and your reasons for doing so. I’ll leave a comment for your application separately.

  • nick

    i should probably add that i do wish you well! just wondering what the implications might be if more people took your approach. maybe even if it was encouraged?
    a kind of open review process might be attractive to awards bodies inundated with entries!

    • Martin Hawksey

      @Nick – it’s interesting you mention open review. I know it’s something JISC have dabbled with.
      @Joss – thanks! I saw you were having too much fun with open review so thought I’d give it ago 😉
      @Alicia – thank you also. You are picking up some of the parallels between this and good assessment feedback practices that we should be using with students 😉

  • Brian Kelly

    To whom it may concern:
    Whilst I’ve never met Martin Hawksey I do feel that I know him well through our engagement on Twitter and through reading his blog – and I know his dedication, commitment and enthusiasm for embedding innovative practices across the higher and further education sectors.
    At UKOLN’s IWMW 2010 event we made use of Martin’s iTitle software for providing a crowd-sourced captions of the videos of the plenary speakers – and I know what a valuable resource that has been, with people still viewing the videos and gaining a richer experience through the ability to see the discussions that took place on the Twitter channel at the time (see [1]).
    Martin’s software development experience has been clearly beneficial to a wide community. But Martin’s skills go beyond that and it’s great to see how Martin documents his developments on the MASHe blog. Martin is also willing to share innovations taking place elsewhere which he feels may be of interest to others.
    Martin is aware of the value of engaging with the wider research environment. I was pleased that Martin contributed to a paper on “Twitter Archiving Using Twapper Keeper: Technical And Policy Challenges” which was presented at the iPres 2010 conference in Vienna last year [2].
    But the main reason I support Martin in his application to be the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year is his clear commitment to openness. This can be risky – but Martin is willing to take such risks. And in today’s current environment I think that a willingness to take risks in pursuit of excellence should be rewarded.
    1 See, for example the Twitter captions for Chris Sexton’s keynote talk at IWMW 2010 – and search for “deflated” to see how this service enables a speaker to see the audience’s reactions in ways which would not otherwise be possible:
    2 Twitter Archiving Using Twapper Keeper: Technical And Policy Challenges
    Kelly, B., Hawksey, M., O’Brien, J. Guy, M. and Rowe, M. iPRES 2010, 7th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects. Vienna, Austria. 19-24 Sept, 2010.

  • Colin Milligan

    What a great idea to publish this draft of your application: at the very least it should generate some useful feedback on your work – harking back to your REAP days.
    Fulfilling a role at the intersection of technology and pedagogy – and the academic community is a great challenge, and when I read your blog posts and tweets I am always taken by your enthusiasm and willingness to try things out – whether it is some blue sky thinking or some blue sky doing.
    Hope you are rewarded for your commitment.

  • Tony Hirst

    @Martin Kudos for making this an open application:-) Another step on the road to peer appraisal and Open Continuing professional Development (OCD.. hmmm…?!;-)
    What sort of support are you looking for with this highly appropriate application? Testimonials, suggested tweaks to your submission? I’ve written the below in a “personal feedback” voice – I am happy to tweak it to a third person (“Martin’s…” rather than “Your…”) voice if that’s of any use? Please also feel free to reuse/rewrite the content as you will…
    I’ve greatly valued the openly published work you’ve been blogging about over the last couple of years and frequently refer people to it. The scanning and rapid application development/proof of concept worked examples in an educational context work you do is second-to-none, and the amplified reach you give it through sharing it so freely means that its value extends far beyond the local remit it supports.
    I suspect that your work with creating example Google Applications with a relevance to HE and FE contexts is likely to increasingly be seen as prescient as UK universities adopt this environment; you have also become my Google Apps go-to person (as well as the person I refer people to for technical advice…!;-). The approach you take of providing contextualised, working, real world examples of how make more use of such tools than just scratching the surface features is something that takes flair, insight and a not inconsiderable amount of experience (i.e. I know it can only come from putting the hours in…). Your ability to spot powerful and potentially disruptive application features (for example, publishing Google spreadsheets as a service) is something that also benefits from your deep-and-wide experience.
    The way you teach on your own learning acquired through the development of demonstrator applications as tutorial like blogposts means that the Mashe blog has come to be a very valuable source (to me at least) of Q&A tricks and tips and relevant P2P worked example support. Your use of technology in a natural way (e.g. the highly appropriate use of embedded video tutorials/screencasts within blogposts showing how to set-up applications you have created) is not only directly useful, but also demonstrates an effective and intuitive use of the technology as an appropriate and effective communication medium in a natural way (learning technology in action; i.e. you embed good practice in your communications activities). On a personal note, MASHe is also one of the very few blogs I search specifically/by name.
    Whilst some of the tools you have produced may not have acquired the very large number of users that might have accrued if they had been developed by a start-up company (for example, your work on YouTube subtitling), I think they can still indicate the sorts of technologies and application that are likely to become mainstream over the short-to-mid-term, and as such your work takes on something of a beacon, as well as a focus, role. In the general case, social media conversations are likely to become used as metadata for indexing into video content, for example, and iTitle already provides this. (In the more local case, the use of backchannel content as a searchable resource to support deeplink discovery into recorded conference or academic presentations is one that I could imagine JISC spending stupid amounts on!;-)
    Finally, your free and generous support of others’ work (including my own) demonstrates your role as an advocate/evangelist of new technologies that you perceive of as relevant to your audience, and reinforces the role you play as technology adviser to the eduweb, as well as your local community.
    Good luck in your application; if I had a vote, it’d be [+1] 🙂

    • Martin Hawksey

      A quick thanks to Tony, Colin and Brian for the latest comments to this post.
      @Tony My OCD is yet another case of where you lead I follow. I’m limited as to what I can submit by word count so I’ll be going down the incorporate a summary and point here route. I did try and setup a account to comment on the text but I got caught in the moderation queue (mentioned to Eddie to add ;). One for next time!
      @Colin I’ve been very fortunate in my early career to be surrounded by some great colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian Uni and Strathcylde, it was a fantastic foundation to where I am now 😉 REAP in particular is still an experience I draw upon now.
      @Brian your blog is one of my two must read sites and it has been great to see you write about and explore ideas around iTitle. With the evolution of anything, person or product, feedback is key and I’m very grateful for the time you’ve spent exploring and sharing your ideas about iTitle (and I look forward to one day buying you a beer ;).

  • Linda Creanor

    I agree that making your application open is a great idea. If ALT can’t embrace this approach who can!
    I can only say that over the years I’ve known you, your enthusiasm and dedication to promoting, developing and supporting innovative approaches to technology enhanced learning has constantly impressed. Through your creative work with the former E-learning Support Unit at GCU, your major contribution to the development of feedback and assessment with technology through the REAP project at Strathclyde, GCU and Glasgow Universities, and your more recent dissemination and development responsibilities with JISC RSC Scotland (N & E), you’ve become a well known and highly respected learning technologist across the Scottish HE and FE scene. And on top of that, you can also relate well to people at all levels, explaining technology and its uses in a way that everyone can understand.
    I wish you all the best with your application 🙂

  • Terry Mayes

    Great idea Martin, characteristically innovative.
    I’ve no idea about the competition of course but I’d be very happy to endorse you for Learning Technologist of this and any other year.
    Agree with all that Linda Creanor has said about your work with us and subsequently and I wish you the best of luck for this.

  • Joss Winn

    For the judges…
    Martin’s work and his consistent commitment to openly sharing his ideas, successes and failures, is both inspiring and encouraging. His ability to experiment with the web as a collection of technologies for learning and his ability to write clearly for a general reader, as evidenced on his blog, is exemplary. He bridges a number of roles often undertaken in relative isolation by Learning Technologists: those of supporting staff and encouraging best practice, cutting-edge technical R&D, champion of innovation and practitioner of openness.
    Martin is both a Researcher and Developer and is clearly committed to inquiry into the role of technology for learning, regularly producing really useful results, which is why I fully support his application for ALT Learning Technologist of the Year.

  • Jo Badge

    Just been referring someone to Martin’s excellent google spreadsheet for exporting twitter friends and followers which is a great example of his open approach to supporting the community of learning technologists in the UK and beyond.

  • David Nicol

    Good idea Martin,
    I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending you for Learning Technologist of the year. What follows is a short account of some things you’ve done that I know about but readers should know that there is so much more.
    I have known Martin and his work since he worked with me on the REAP project ( Indeed, Martin constructed the reap website with some very innovative features. He also helped build an online environment for conferencing which was used to good effect when we discussed the project findings with the international community: we had participants from 32 countries and we could not have run this event without Martin’s expert input. However, Martin is more than an expert in technologies. He is also insightful about educational matters and uses technology to develop practical and usually innovative solutions to teaching and learning issues.
    For example, at the time of REAP (2005-2008), Electronic Voting Technologies were widely available but there was little guidance about how to use them or how to deal with the logistics of handset use in an HE institution. Martin set out on his own to research this. Single-handedly he developed a range of web resources detailing how handset logistics could be handled and he also created an induction programme for new users.
    Martin has continued to produce innovative resources and to bring new ideas to the academic community. He has continued his interest in technology-supported assessment/feedback, and specifically in audio and video feedback. He has produced summaries of research papers, developed a basic starter guide which incorporates the ‘student voice’ As well as highlighting the pedagogy behind audio/video feedback he has also highlighted other aspects including the legal and technological.
    When proposing technological solutions I believe that Martin is very conscious that staff may not have access to institutional systems so to address this barrier he continues to explore and demonstrate how free tools can be used: examples can be found here. Generating Student Video Feedback using screenr
    Using YouTube for audio/video feedback for students
    Overall, Martin has done a lot for the academic and technology communities but it is quite difficult to classify his work because of the number of initiatives he is involved in and the innovativeness of what he produces. I personally however find everything Martin does has value not just to users now but also to the wider cause of promoting the practical use of technologies in the future. Martin has some great qualities, he is research and customer focused, he is innovative, he is a self-starter and he always rises to the challenge in that if there is a solution to be found he will find it. I think Martin is a serious candidate for Learning Technologist of the Year.

    • Martin Hawksey

      Wow, many thanks for all these kind words!
      My application has now been submitted. There was some last minutes tweaking and the final version is available as a Google Doc or Webpage
      If nothing else this has been a great opportunity to reflect on the last couple of years work and see that what I do is valued by the community.
      Many thanks again,
      PS comments to this post are still open if you want to have your say

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