Earlier this year, after years of procrastinating, I was very proud to finally become a certified member of ALT. This is my short reflection on my experience of CMALT accreditation and my way of thanking all those that supported me along the way.
Since 2015 I’ve been fortunate to work in Information Services at the University of Edinburgh which provides bursaries and dedicated support to enable learning technologists to become Certified Members of ALT. The support is provided by my colleague Susan Greig in the form of advice, guidance, feedback and facilitated writing retreats. Although the scheme includes dedicated writing time, I found that due to other work commitments I ended up writing much of my portfolio in my own time. That’s okay though, when it comes to reflective writing, I think I probably work better at my own time and pace. Writing on demand is something I’ve always struggled with. I did spend a couple of days writing with my colleague Phil Barker which I found really helpful. Phil and I have written together for donkey’s years and aren’t afraid to be rude about each others writing, which was really helpful in the early stages of drafting my portfolio!
As an open education practitioner, I decided that I wanted to practice what I preach and develop my portfolio as an open resource. I had originally planned to blog about my experience of developing my portfolio in the open but, perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t have time to do this. However I did develop my whole portfolio in the open, building it up here on my blog, piece by piece.
ALT’s CMALT Portfolios Open Register proved to be an invaluable resource and I found it really helpful to have access to portfolios written by members in non-traditional learning technology roles and senior management positions. Maren Deepwell’s portfolio was a continual inspiration to me and I referred back to it countless times when I was planning and writing my own portfolio. A lot of my portfolio focuses on the development of policy and strategy, so it was incredibly useful to have access to an exemplary portfolio which also covered these areas. I also have to credit Sheila MacNeil for the idea of doing my contextual statement as a video!
The #CMALT community on twitter also proved to be enormously supportive and I benefitted from numerous helpful and encouraging comments from members. People seemed genuinely keen to share their experience of undertaking CMALT and to help others along the way.
When it came to providing evidence for the portfolio it was really useful to have all the information readily available on my blog. I’ve written before about the importance of my blog for keeping track of my career and my professional practice and boy did that really come home to me when I was organising my portfolio.
As I suspected, the section I found most challenging to write was Core Area 2: Teaching, learning and assessment processes. Although I do see myself as an educator of sorts, I’m not a teacher and I’ve never taught in formal contexts, so I had to think a bit creatively, particularly when it came to demonstrating an understanding of my target learners. For this section I chose to focus on my peers and colleagues who are part of the connected community of open learners and networked scholars who I engage with as an open practitioner.
Although I wasn’t able to get to any of Susan’s CMALT writing retreats I did benefit enormously from her feedback prior to submitting my portfolio. The advice she provided on how to be explicit about evidencing my portfolio was invaluable and I think it’s a direct result of that feedback that I was able to pass first time around, so thank you Susan!
I was so thrilled to receive an e-mail from ALT confirming that I’d been awarded CMALT in July that I actually didn’t notice the assessors comments attached to the mail :} When I did finally notice these I have to confess that I was completely bowled over. I was particularly touched by the comment that my commitment to open education demonstrated its potential for “revolutionary, humanising praxis”, as described by Paul Prinsloo. Thank you, I’m humbled.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I also got a shiny new badge to go with my conference shoes!
In late November, I was also delighted to be invited to a CMALT celebration event where Susan and Maren welcomed all the new CMALT members at the University of Edinburgh with fizz and cakes. And I’m proud to say that we now have more CMALT members than any other university in the country!
CC BY, @ammienoot
So that’s my CMALT journey, it was certainly hard work, but I found it to be an immensely positive experience. It’s not often that we have the time to step back and reflect on our work and CMALT provides us with the prefect opportunity to do just that. It’s also an excellent way to connect with an incredibly helpful and diverse group of colleagues who really do exemplify the best in peer support. So if you’ve ever been wondering whether CMALT is the right path for you, I can recommend it without reservation.