News, Events & Calls

Honorary Life Membership of the Association for Learning Technology

Left to right: Maren Deepwell (ALT CEO), Josie Fraser (Senior Technology Advisor, DCMS), Martin Weller (Professor of Open Education, Open University, and President of ALT).

I’m thrilled to have joined the list of luminaries including Diana Laurillard, Seb Schmoller, and Malcolm Read who have been awarded Honorary Life Membership by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). ALT has played such an essential role in my development as a professional, and enabled me to meet and connect with so many amazing people (some of whom I’m looking forward to ending up in the edtech retirement castle with).

Thank you so much ALT!

ALT awards Honorary Life Membership to individuals whom ALT believes have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the advancement of ALT’s aims for the development of learning technology in a regional, national or international context through research, practice, policy-development, leadership, or a combination of these.

During this year’s Annual General Meeting on 6 September 2017, Josie Fraser was recognised for her outstanding contribution by being awarded an Honorary Life Membership of ALT. Josie Fraser is a member of the UK Government’s National Technology Team, based in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Chair of the Board of Trustees for Wikimedia UK. She previously worked for Leicester City Council, on one of the UK’s largest and most accelerated school building programmes, and led on all aspects of technology for the programme. She also created the award winning DigiLit Leicester project to support and develop staff digital literacy.

Professor Martin Weller, President of ALT, commented, ‘What I most admire about Josie is that she really gets stuff done. In fact, if there was an ALT award for getting stuff done, she’d be a prime candidate. From setting up schools, chairing conferences, getting the UK ed tech blogging scene up and running, advising on cyberbullying to chairing Wikimedia UK,  it makes the rest of us look rather complacent. She has been hugely influential in the UK ed tech scene and has an international reputation as a thoughtful, practical, caring voice in ed tech.’

Reflecting on the award being made to only the second female recipient, with Professor Diana Laurillard being the first, Dr Maren Deepwell, chief executive of ALT, added, ‘Honorary Life Membership of ALT is designed to recognise individuals who have made a big impact over a long period of time, individuals who are role models and influencers with a vision that shows the path forward. Josie’s work spans different sectors, policy makers and practitioners across the UK and sets a hugely inspirational example of how the potential of Learning Technology can be harnessed to change things for the better. I am proud to see our community recognise her leadership and her achievements now and those yet to come.’

Speaking about the award, Josie Fraser said, ‘I’m overwhelmed to be honoured by ALT in this way. ALT sets the benchmark for professional practice in the field of educational technology, not just in the UK but internationally – so this is pretty much the highest accolade I could hope for. I’m extremely grateful to ALT for all the support the organisation has provided me with throughout my career, and to the wider ALT community for being a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. I’ll do my best to live up to the significant expectation the award confers, and continue to champion the ways in which educational technologists can help make positive, life-changing differences to people’s experiences of learning and education.’

Media Release: #OER17 The Politics of Open

Cross posted from OER17, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).

As we celebrate Open Education Week in the Year of Open, the OER17 Conference presents an opportunity for open practitioners, activists, educators and policy makers to come together as a community to reflect on ‘The Politics of Open’. The conference will be chaired by social and educational technologist and Wikimedia UK Trustee Josie Fraser, and Alek Tarkowski, Director of Centrum Cyfrowe, co-founder and coordinator of Creative Commons Poland.

This event will prompt participants from the UK and internationally to ask:

  • What are our current key challenges and strengths – locally, nationally, and  internationally?
  • What are our priorities – in terms of political governance, organisational and personal politics?
  • What are the changes that we want to effect together?

Co-chair Josie Fraser said: ‘This is a timely conference as governments and organisations across the globe look strategically at how open resources and open licensing can support access to education, reduce costs, help build capacity, and increase collaboration. There is still work to do in ensuring education funders, policy makers, leaders and practitioners understand the huge opportunity of open education. Open education advocates and activists have always put accessibility at the heart of their work – looking to support access to knowledge and resources for all, tackling issues of disability, discrimination and poverty head-on. This conference is an important meeting of all those working at the frontline of education, technology, and equality – exploring “the politics of open” at local, national, international level, as well as at the level of the personal.’

Alek Tarkowski, Co-Chair, said: ‘One of our goals is to look together at areas where our work on open education can extend beyond a focus on resources. An alternative focus on practices will surely be one of the main subjects of debate at our event, but we also hope to identify other such areas. One area that is of particular interest to me is copyright reform. Educational exceptions are one of the key issues debated during the ongoing copyright reform process in the European Union. From the perspective of “politics of open” we need to ask how development of Open Education and copyright reform advocacy can compliment each other.’

Over two days this event will bring together 170 participants running 100 sessions on all aspects of Open Education research and practice. Highlights within the programme are three keynote sessions with Maha Bali, American University in Cairo, Egypt, Lucy Crompton-Reid, Wikimedia, UK and Diana Arce, activist, artist and researcher, Germany.

Reflecting on the central importance of openness in education, Dr Maren Deepwell, chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology, said, ‘At a time when openness is being contested in so many contexts, it can feel like the inherently political dimension of Open Education dominates its enormous practical potential to help us meet the challenges we face in education. It is important to remember that taking an open approach through practice, resources, governance and policy is not a luxury. Instead, it is an efficient, effective and often empowering way for organisations to achieve their aims.’

For full details see

Press passes

If you would like a press pass to attend the conference, please contact Maren Deepwell,

Notes for Editors

  1. ALT (the Association for Learning Technology) is a professional and scholarly association which brings together those with an interest in the use of Learning Technology. As the UK’s leading membership organisation in the Learning Technology field, we work to improve practice, promote research, and influence policy.
  2. OER17 is organised by ALT and volunteer members from across the community.
  3. About 2,300 individuals belong to ALT, as do ~ 200 organisations across education sectors in the UK and internationally.
  4. If you are writing about, blogging or sharing images and videos about the OER17 Conference using tools that support tagging, please use the tag #oer17.
  5. Our Sponsors are listed at
  6. More information about the conference:
  7. Association for Learning Technology, Gipsy Lane, Headington, Oxford, OX3 0BP Tel: +44 (0)1865 484 125, URL:
  8. ALT is a Registered Charity in the UK, number: 1160039

OER Schools Conference

OER schools icons Leicester City Council, in partnership with De Montfort University, are holding a free day conference on the 29 January 2015, focusing on finding, using, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The event builds on the council’s recently released OER guidance and resources, which can be downloaded from

The resources were produced by Dr Bjoern Hassler,  Helen Neo (University of Cambridge) , and Josie Fraser (Leicester City Council), and have also benefited from the input of school staff, through review and practical trailing.

The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER). An understanding of OER and open licencing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge.

OER are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free.  Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop. At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools.

Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.


10am – 11.30

OER Leadership Briefing and Q&A

Chair:    Richard Hall

Panel:  Miles Berry, Josie Fraser, Marieke Guy, Bjoern Hassler

11.40am -1pm


  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy  – Josie Fraser

  • Computing, Primary  – Miles Berry

1pm-1.40 pm

Lunch & feedback

1.40pm – 3pm


  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy – Josie Fraser

  • Computing – secondary school – Miles Berry

  • Creating accessible OER – Dave Foord

3pm – 3.30

Next steps & close

Speakers and Workshop Leads

Miles BerryMiles Berry  (@mberry on Twitter) is principal lecturer and the subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton. He teaches initial teacher education courses, and his principal research focus is the role of online communities in the professional formation and development of teachers. Other professional interests include knowledge management in education, use of open source software and principles in schools, provision for the gifted and talented and independent learning. Miles was part of the drafting groups for computing in the 2014 national curriculum. Until 2009, Miles was head of Alton Convent Prep. In his former post as deputy head of St Ives School, Haslemere, he pioneered the use of Moodle and Elgg in primary education. His work on implementing Moodle was documented as the dissertation for Leicester University’s MBA in Educational Management, and won the 2006 Becta ICT in Practice Award for primary teaching.

Dave FroodDave Foord(@davefoord) is an experienced teacher, who during his years of teaching, developed and perfected many techniques for providing high quality, innovative, and differentiated learning. Some of his best known work is in the area of learning technology (also known as ILT, e-learning, ICT) – using technology to enhance the learning experience. Dave has been a keen advocate on accessibility considerations within this area of work, and specialises in the creation of resources that are highly accessible, mobile optimised, and easily adaptable. Dave works for his Loughborough based company A6 Training and Consultancy Ltd, which provides training, consultancy and resource development services to education providers.


Josie Fraser

Josie Fraser (@josiefraser on Twitter) is a UK-based Social and Educational Technologist. Since June 2010, she has lead on technology for Leicester City Council’s multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, one of the most accelerated building programmes in the UK. She is also responsible for setting, promoting and delivering on a city wide agenda for educational transformation in relation to the use of technology within schools. She developed and leads on the DigiLit Leicester staff development project, run in partnership with De Montfort University and the 23 BSF schools. The project achieved recognition as one of five global winners of the Reclaim Open Learning innovation competition, organised by the MacArthur Foundation, The Digital Media and Learning Hub, and MIT Media Lab. 


Marieke Guy

Marieke Guy (@mariekeguy on Twitter) is a project co-ordinator at Open Knowledge, a global not-for-profit organisation that wants to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful. Over the last two years she has been exploring open data in education and its relationship with open education as part of the LinkedUp Project. Her current projects are PASTEUR4OA , developing and/or reinforcing open access strategies and policies across Europe, and Europeana Space, creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. Marieke has been working with online information for over 16 years and was previously employed by UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital information management at the University of Bath. Marieke co-ordinates the Open Education Working Group.


Richard HallRichard Hall (@HallyMK1 on Twitter) is Professor of Education and Technology at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK. He is DMU’s Head of Enhancing Learning through Technology and leads the Centre for Pedagogic Research. Richard is a National Teaching Fellow and a co-operator at the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK. He writes about life in higher education at:



Bjoern HasslerBjoern Hassler (@bjoernhassler on Twitter) focuses on pedagogy, Open Educational Resources (OER) and digital technology. He led the JISC-funded ORBIT project, which produced an Open Resource Bank on Interactive Teaching for teacher education, focusing on innovative digital technology use in mathematics and science education. He is co-leading the OER4Schools project, introducing interactive teaching and digital technologies in Zambian primary schools.


Registration for the conference is available here.

Jailbrake & Spill, a mobile peer support service

getting late, originally uploaded by Josie Fraser.
I spent last weekend holed up in London at the Young Foundation, working with a stupidly talented group of young people, designers, developers, programmers, policy makers, service designers, youth service experts and anyone else you can imagine needing to pull together together solutions to social issues that involved tech. Jailbrake, the competition/camp we’d all signed up to, focused on supporting young people out of the cycle of re-offending.

Youth offending isn’t an area I’ve had a great deal to do with, although I have previously (& briefly) worked as a member of AoC’s Offender Learning Group. Primarily I was there to contribute in terms of risk management issues, since I’ve done a lot of work on social technologies and young people, and also to check out how Social Innovation Camp works  – the extremely rapid development process Alice Casey referred to recently as ‘hacking stuff together for social justice’. Between January and March, a call went out for approaches to using mobile and web-based techs to support young people involved in the criminal justice system, with the broad aim of putting the brakes on re-offending.

Keeping a young person in custody for a year currently costs around £140,000 in hard cash, and huge additional social costs. 6 ideas made it through this initial round and the people who came up with them were invited along for the weekend. I helped out Common Ground – the team who went on to win the judges vote (congratulations!), but spent most of my time working on & in the end pitching for Steven Whitehead‘s Phone A Friend idea, later rechristened Spill.

Spill was a small team, but we also benefited from floating support of other people contributing to the the weekend, and particularly from the input and encouragement of the young people – some of whom were working as volunteers on youth advice projects – who took the time to find out about our ideas and tell us exactly what they thought. As well as Stephen Whitehead, our team included Noemi Mas, Ian Bach, Lauren Currie & special thanks have to go to our developers, Ben Nickolls from Ribbit and Glyn Roberts who built our working service prototype in time for us to demo on Sunday afternoon.

Stephen’s Spill project idea was to use mobile technology to enable young people who are in trouble for the first time to be supported through and out of the criminal justice system by young adults who have ‘been there and done that’. What we came up with over the course of the weekend was not just the technology to support that in a cost effective way, but the whole project cycle development and implementation plan needed to support and run the service effectively. It would be great if Spill were taken up by the youth offending sector, but essentially what we designed is massively transferable: the frame work and infrastructure for a safe, co-produced, mobile phone peer mentoring service.  In terms of our planning, we had two groups in mind. Callers – 13-18 year olds, who may or may not have access to some professional support services, and need to talk about their situation – this might include questions about the legal processes and what next, their rights & obligation, or just someone to acknowledge anxieties and point them in the right direction.

Our adviser group was made up of young adults coming out of the criminal justice system, perhaps still on probation, not currently in employment, education or training, and wanting to develop skills, experience, confidence and to support young people in ways that they themselves might have benefited from but not had access too. Our service design solution matched these two groups of young people and used a mobile service to help meet the needs of the first group by developing the skills of the second.

We picked mobile because this would enable callers to select when and where they accessed services, using an already familiar, personal technology. Mobile allowed us to negotiate ‘on call’ periods with our adviser group, and to decentralize service provision – once they were comfortable with the process of handling calls, there would be no need for them to come to a specific office to answer a particular phone at set times. Their own phone would become the hot line. This shift from centralised call centers to a distributed mobile phone network has massive implications and opportunities for the provision of any phone support service, particularly within the voluntary sector, including potential cost savings benefits and greater flexibility for (& potentially availability of) those taking calls. The process of the call looked like this: The adviser logs onto the system through the web interface, leaving their phone number and submitting the times which they are available to be on call. This could be done centrally by an administrator but adviser access obviously provides greater flexibility, and the process is very simple/form based. The caller would text a command (ie CALL ME) to a number. This reduces the caller cost significantly, but for those unable to call out, we set up a prototype web-based interface. Using the web version the caller would simply enter their phone number and hit the submit button. We also talked about introducing a limited, additional caller command menu, for example in order to request someone previously spoken too, or to specify the preferred gender of the adviser. These are all feasible in terms of the technology, but dependent on adviser availability. So users would be able to make requests, but where these could not be met, would connect them with the best/next available adviser, giving them the opportunity to talk to someone or call back later. The adviser receives a call to their handset. The call is indicated as a service call, but they don’t receive any information regarding the caller, i.e. the callers number, at any point. Answering the call prompts the call back service: The callers phone rings, again, with a service indicator, not with the number of the adviser. The call-only costs of the service come in at 6p per minute, so you can extrapolate the cost of the service level you’d expect support from that. For our pilot it came in at around £4.7K per year. Working with current and ex-offenders raised a wide range of risk management issues.

Actually, these aren’t particularly unique this group, but are the same issues faced by any group wanting to work with young people or provide advice – a need to ensure quality of service; to support caller anonymity; to support people giving advice (what they are expected to provide, support available to them, anonymity); and to ensure there is no inappropriate contact or activity between the caller and adviser. We managed these risks in several ways. Since our solution would be likely to be perceived as a high risk approach, the idea was for a localized pilot which would enable us to prove concept and build confidence. The volunteer adviser recruitment process, and the initial adviser training process would both be designed to support the identification and navigation of risks. The co-production approach we envisaged as leading the service design and implementation can be used in the process of defining and addressing risk, although it’s effectiveness isn’t of course limited to that. Ensuring the service can technically support anonymity is obviously critical to the security of callers and advisers. The project-coordinator, or person with responsibility for training and supporting the advisers, would also need to take responsibility for sampling and reviewing calls, and feeding back on these as part of the adviser development process. Caller feedback would be enabled by mobile and web in case of specific concerns about the service, calls would be archived and retrievable for a specified period of time, and service guidelines would be made available in a readable format to all users. Again, our template design for service implementation is transferable, and could be adapted to a wide variety of service needs and variables. So that was my weekend 🙂

If you’re interested in finding out more about the service please get in touch, and find out more about all the projects here. The big message that I took away from the weekend was this: All of the projects came in at relatively small cost, especially in comparison to the direct and indirect costs of keeping a young person in custody for a year. You could maybe even fund all six projects for that amount. If you only managed to keep one person out of custody, you’d break even, and you’d be significantly improving someones prospects, and the lives of their family. Projects like the ones coming out of Social Innovation Camp are offering real, innovative opportunities for effective social change – if we want to see a difference these are the kind of risks we need to be taking.

New Year New Direction

Happy New Year!

This has been another interesting year for me, I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m pleased with what I’ve been able to achieve working over at AoC NILTA.

This year I’ve been able to concentrate on promoting the appropriate use of open source solutions, using weblogs and social technologies in education, making sure UGC is on the table when it comes to personalisation, thinking about e-portfolios in terms of learner-ownership and control, accessibility and data transferability, and championing digital literacy over censorship.

I also ran the UK’s first edublogging conference, and managed the third international Edublog Awards, as well as managing a pretty hectic commute. I had a lot of fun professionally this year – particularly at ALT-C 2007, and I’ve enjoyed the whole PLE debate so far. 

I’ve had a great time at AoC NILTA and I’m pleased with the work I was able to do while I was there – in particular the DOPA response (Which was well received by the Safe Use of the Internet Steering Committee) and the personalisation paper (which the QIA are looking at applying to the new resources for the National Teaching and Learning Change Programme, and are circulating to programme managers to raise awareness of how e-learning can be used to fulfil the personalisation agenda and to inform the development of new resources).

I learnt a lot this year, and couldn’t have hoped for a friendlier, more effective and kick-ass team than Sally-Anne Saull, Rebecca Dean and Judith Hylton. I‘m really going to miss everyone over at AoC and very much hope I get to work with them again at some point in the not-to-distant future. I left at the end of December and managed not to blub too much.

For the present I’m working independently, and you can find my consultancy site over at I also thought it would be timely to set up a new blog, SocialTech, to celebrate my change in circumstances, and get my personal blogging back on track. I’m expecting it to be a reasonably eclectic mix of social and educational technology news but who knows? EdTechUK is going to be put to bed so you can try switching your reader to this feed for a while and see if you like it or find it useful.

I started my first contract today, working for Childnet International on a DfES contract to provide guidance for UK schools on preventing and responding to cyberbullying (you can read the press release after the jump, please do drop me a line if you’re working in the area). I’m really proud to have such an important and interesting piece of work to be getting started with, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what else 2007 brings. 

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