What is new and interesting in Learning Development? Debbie Holley reports from the ALDinHE conference 2018

What is new and interesting in Learning Development? Debbie Holley reports from the ALDinHE conference 2018

The ALDinHE conference ran 26/28 April, and featured two wonderful keynotes, the first from Prof Roni Bamber, speaking about the HE sector, metrics measurements and the need for the student voice and experience to shine through. ‘Stats and Stories’ was a key message in her talk, entitled “Tectonic shifts in HE = tectonic shifts in learning development? Roni commuted on the recent research by Neves and Hillman (2017) “students want money spent on student support’

“Prioritise based on your hearts and value’ she urged the LD community

Lee Fallon from Uni of Hull utilised his mind mapping skills, and kindly shared this summary of the talk:

And selected references from Ronis talk are here:

The Scottish Enhancement themes work:


Neves and Hillman (2017) authors of the HEPI report


Our second keynote came for Dr John Hilsdon, (http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/john-hilsdon) who set up ALDinHE with other colleagues from the LearnHigher CETL – the original materials and learning objects are still available and continue to be a source of inspiration and support, and can be accessed here:


I was one of the original evaluators for ‘learn higher groupwork’ (http://archive.learnhigher.ac.uk/groupwork/episodes.php) a series of two minute videos that takes a group of students through the trails and tribulations of group work in HE as they work together on an assessed presentation. Featuring the wonderful Prof Peter Hartley NTF as the lecturer, this is an amazing resource.

Getting back to the keynote, ‘LearningDevelopment, pedagogy, principles and progress’ John offered us a neo-liberal critique, suggesting this drives a deficit model of LD, where students seeking help and support are ‘othered’ stigmatised and even blamed for their lack of skills upon entering HE. This neo-liberal stance was, he suggested, like ‘green slime’ from an old fashioned movie, spreading and sliding into the spaces between, where LD have traditionally operated. The talk finished with an update call, that ‘now is our time’ as what we do really matters….

All the sessions have been captured through the abstract list (http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/leicester18?p=7_14_3) and there is a great twitter feed about the whole conference available at #aldcon. Separate blog posts available about the two Bournemouth University sessions ‘Can learners learn from the ‘teachable machine’ (Hobbs and Holley an ARU/BU ongoing collaboration) and our own BU ‘assessment fiestas’ went national – see the twitter feed to spot the whole audience learning salsa to get into the fiesta mindset. Do ‘like’ the tweet, as this is in the running for the best conference tweet!

Other news was the launch of the long planned ‘Certified Leading Practitioner of Learning Development’ award scheme, with star LDer Helen Webster (aka @scholastic-rat) receiving the very first certificate. The conference dinner is worth a mention, taking place in the National Space Centre at Leicester University, the Twitter feed has some fabulous images and the planetarium show ‘we are all stars’ was a fully immersive experience (https://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/spacepark)

On on a personal note, I was delighted to be re-elected onto the National Steering Group for a second time, I am looking forward to working with others on a range of projects in the forthcoming year, including further work on developing the ALDinHE brand and website; further regional events; a networks for managers in LD settings; the journal goes from strength to strength and of course the work towards next years conference in Exeter.

Leave a Reply

Your details
  • (Your email address will not be published in your comment)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>