CMALT Application

CMALT Contextual Statement

I began working in the field of educational development and technology in 1997, my first technology project was the development of a “virtual field course” to maximise the time students would have in the field when completing a Mediterranean field course. From here I worked on a range of science education and technology projects as the Science Faculty Learning Technologist at the University of Plymouth. The role was grounded in educational theory as well as using a range of technologies to support Science Undergraduates. At the time of doing this I was supported in taking a scholarly approach to my role, not just reacting to the demands of the job, but actively seeking out opportunities to write and participate in conferences to discuss, at the time, the emerging issues of technology in education.

In 2000 I was appointed to a national role, as the lead for e-learning at the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Subject Centre, commissioning and developing technology based projects, and also leading on the staff development materials in this area. Including a major conference in technology and fieldwork.

In 2001 I was asked to bid for, and then develop what was to become the Jisc TechDis Service. The service was highly successful, and was recognised in both Higher and Further Education for the impact it had on disabled students and staff. The guidelines written and developed for accessible e-learning are still in widespread use, and the paper (Implementing A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility) in which they were published won “Best Research Paper” at ALT-C 2005 and is still cited regularly (stats from Research Gate).

In 2006 I left TechDis and began working for Jisc, running a User Environments Programme. The Programme was Jisc’s first foray in to Web 2.0 and social media, yielding many excellent outputs, and providing an incubator for many current ideas in technology enhanced learning. Dave White who ran a project around engaging students via online virtual worlds stated: “The User Environments Programme was a vibrant community of practice which built a strong network of people and projects. The programme supported me professionally and was the inception on a number of productive lines of thinking which I am still building on to this day.”

Over the last 9 years at Jisc I have actively engaged in the projects I have commissioned, not just managing them, but engaging in their development and influencing their direction. Additionally I have actively developed materials to enhance and enrich the use of technology in the sector, co-directing the senior staff development programme of the highly successful Changing Learning Landscape programme, and currently developing Jisc’s digital leaders programme.

As I seek to embed and sustain the role of technology in institutions it is apparent that the professionalization of the field is essential in order to raise the status of practice. For me, completing CMALT is a desire to be part of a diverse community of staff seeking to ensure the use of technology where appropriate, and to demonstrate that I take professional standards, and CMALT’s role in them, seriously.

Core Area 1: Operational issues (place holder video)

The slides and audio above demonstrate Core Area 1: Operational Issues

  • An understanding of the constraints and benefits of different technology
  • Technical knowledge and ability in the use of learning technology
  • Supporting the deployment of learning technologies.

In the video references provide the evidence, these are also listed below:

Maltese Field Course

Phipps L (2001), Another Node on the Internet, Reflections on virtual fieldwork , Computers and Geosciences 27, Pergamon.

Phipps L & Stainfield J (1999) Beyond the Maltese Website: Lessons learned and new ‘web’ horizons. GeoCal 20. CTI Geography, Geology & Meteorology, University of Leicester.

Phipps L & Stainfield J (1999) Environmental themes in the Mediterranean: a web based case study of the Maltese Islands. Plymouth: SEED Publications, University of Plymouth.

Phipps L and Stainfield J (1998) Heightening the Experience: Using the Internet to ‘virtually enhance’ fieldwork. GeoCal 19. CTI Geography, Geology & Meteorology, University of Leicester.

Changing Learning Landscape (hosted on Jisc’s Slideshare)

Final Report of the CLL Programme

Programme Communities (hosted on Sheila MacNeil’s Slideshare)

Debating Technology

“It's an IT field day, but students lose” THE -

Phipps L, Cormier D, Stiles M (2008) Reflecting on the virtual learning systems–extinction or evolution? Educational Developments 9:2

Are learning technologies fit for purpose (2015) Jisc Digifest (with Dave White and Donna Lanclos)

Are learning technologies fit for purpose (2015) ALT-C (with Donna Lanclos)

Core Area 2: Teaching, learning and/or assessment processes

In both a. and b. below I have previously demonstrated my evidence and and been assessed by completing my Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (ILTHE at the time). In addition to these short reflections I submit below my FHEA certificate as evidence for Core Area 2.

a) An understanding of teaching, learning and/or assessment processes

My roles have always focused learning or supporting learning in some way. This as either been in the context of a learning technologist, where I have needed to understand and deploy the correct tools and approaches to achieve learning outcomes for undergraduates and post graduates, or in the role of academic developer designing content and workshops to support the learning of staff in higher education.

An example of designing and developing a short course for post-graduate skills development (environmental science and chemistry PhD students) demonstrates my understanding and processes around learning teaching and assessment. 

The objectives of the course were to:

  • Identify the skills required by industry in new graduates and links to the world of work.
  • Develop a format (case studies) whereby a range of  key skills are developed.
  • Provide a stimulating teaching experience for students.
  • Provide a setting where students can work on real (industrial) problems within a team and identify
    their own strengths and weaknesses.

In addition it was important to liaise with industry in the development of their prospective employees by:

  • Consulting with relevant companies/agencies on the type of case study used.
  • Discussing with industry the key skills they feel graduates need/are lacking.
  • Developing a strategy whereby industry can be involved in the assessment of student work.
(Evidence) These case studies and the associated pedagogy have been published.
  • Belt S T, Clarke, M.J. and Phipps, L.E. (1999)  Exercises for chemists involving time management, judgement and initiative University, Chemistry Education 3.
  • Belt S.T. and Phipps L.E (1999) Case Study: Linking Industry and Academia in Science Education. In Burns M, Lane S and Phillips J (1999) A guide to developing employer links in higher education. SEED Publications, University of Plymouth.
  • Belt S.T and Phipps L.E. (1998) Using case studies to develop key skills in chemists: A preliminary account. University Chemistry Education 2.
b) An understanding of your target learners

In my role as an academic developer, which as sat alongside and continues to sit alongside my current role, I have been responsible for the developing materials for many audiences. Taking on the role of developing the 2004 SEDA summer School meant working with already experienced HE staff to understand their needs and then designing appropriate content. Most recently I have been leading on the development of a short programme to enable senior staff in HE to develop their Digital Capabilities. Understanding the learner is the first step in all of these activities. For the digital capabilities course I commissioned a wide scoping study to provide a basis for the course and then conducted several interviews not only with potential learners but also with those learners' stakeholders.

Additional Evidence (Digital Capability blog postings on the development of the Digital Leaders Course)

Core area 3: The Wider Context

a) Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards

In 2001 and one I was contracted to set up and deliver a nationwide technology and disability service. The Jisc TechDis service was exceptionally successful in developing resources and materials to enable colleges and universities prepare for upcoming changes to legislation.

In 1995 the UK Government introduced the Disability Discrimination Act, it made it illegal to discriminate against a person because of their disability and it applied to their workplace, where they lived and the services they received. Education was not covered by the original 1995 act. The introduction of the Disability Rights Commission whose aim was:

"A society where all disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens"

And the introduction of the Human Rights Act which guarantees education for all meant that the government needed to address the issue of access to education for disabled people.

The result was the introduction of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001).

At the time it was clear to Jisc that with so much emphasis starting to be placed on what was then e-learning and e-assessment a service would be needed to decipher the legislation and create meaningful guidance for colleges and universities. My role, as well as managing the service, was to research and develop materials for higher education, my colleague Allan Sutherland covered Further Education. Eventually the service grew much bigger, with more of my time working on staff development material and intervention and collaborating with Simon Ball on research. We also pulled together an expert Steering Group comprising of disability experts and disabled staff from colleges and universities.

I premised all of the work we did and material we developed on three key elements of the legislation, these have remained constant:

  1. It states that disabled students cannot be treated less favourably than other students. This is the premise of equal access to education for all. A person cannot be denied access to learn because of their disability.
  2. Whilst students cannot be treated less favourably, the legislation provides for reasonable adjustment. For example, it would be an unreasonable adjustment for a small college to become financially unviable as a result of the adjustments it needed to make for a disabled student.
  3. The final element was that the legislation is anticipatory. This means that Institutions must make adjustments for students that they do not yet have, the legislation requires that colleges and universities create an environment that is widely accessible, and have processes in place to support disabled students whether or not they have them in attendance.

So what was the response of some of the people who work in education, such as e-learning developers. There was a period of several months (in some cases years) of panic responses. Some website designers refused to have anything except text on their websites, some teachers thought they couldn’t have field work. At the same time I had an unfortunate meeting with a variety of single issue disability groups, the outcome of which meant that various organisations started to use the Web Content Accessibility Guideline or WCAG (A, AA, AAA standard) as e-learning guidelines.

Why was this unfortunate? Legislation does not mention specific guidelines or standards. UK legislation relies on interpretation, the spirit of the UK law should be the primary concern:

“The principle behind the legislation is that disabled people should have the same opportunities as non-disabled people to benefit wherever possible from whatever education or other related provision is available.”

Between 2001 – 2002, we including myself and TechDis along with other Advisory Bodies, UKOLN, CETIS etc) were pressured into advising Universities and Colleges to use the W3C guidelines as a standard (AA ‘compliance) as there were no other standards available.

All major education bodies responded, strategically and operationally.

Some questions to think about. What was the best approach for the most students? Why were we pushing a ‘standard’ that served less than 1000 HE students? Were we excluding some disabled people by the approach we recommended?

The recommendations we issued served most effectively around 1000 disabled HE students; they were not useful for more than 150,000 disabled students.

Evidence (Publication) Pulling together others in the field we started to critically look at what we needed to achieve if we were going to genuinely support disabled students. In Kelly B, Sloan D and Phipps L (2003) Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web Sites we started to ask difficult questions of the legislation and those who were pushing standards approaches. Why should public libraries and museums only support wheelchair access or blind people? Should the Van Gough museum be closed because it is all visual media? After that we started to articulate the standards problem.

Evidence (Publication) In Kelly, B., Phipps, L. and Swift, E (2004) Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility , Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, we started by stating the problems with existing standards. How do we build a digital resource for both blind and deaf students? And then for students who have special educational needs?

Evidence (Publication) Later in Kelly, B., Sloan, D., Phipps, L., Petrie, H. and Hamilton, F. (2005) Forcing Standardization or Accommodating Diversity? A Framework for Applying the WCAG in the Real World we were critical of the W3C approach, in fact we were damning. There were ‘letters’ in the press and personally. We moved the debate on quickly, trying to find a third way, a sensible way. We wrote, in Kelly, B., Phipps, L. and Howell, C. (2005) Implementing A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility Paper published in the ALT-C 2005 Conference Proceedings a set of sensible guidelines, recognising that accessibility is not black and white. We proposed a framework for supporting a diverse range of learners, including those with disability, of differing ethnicity and with religious commitments and students with no declared issues.

The guidelines and the associated papers are still having an impact, using research gate alone the papers have been cited over 200 times.

Supporting Statement from Dr David Sloan:

"I could always count on Lawrie, as the manager of Techdis as a knowledgeable, reliable and friendly contact in the area of legislation, policy and activity relating to disability, learning and technology in the UK Higher Education sector. He was instrumental in the smooth handover from the Disability and information Systems in Higher Education (DISinHE) project that we had run at Dundee University into what became a hugely successful JISC service."

Supporting Statement from Prof. John Slater (former Director of Jisc Technologies Centre

"2000/1 was an exciting year for JISC with its role in support of Learning and Teaching established at York. Lawrie joined the team to help to establish the TechDiS service, accessibility having been identified as a major issue. This was timely as relevant legislation was being better developed and understood and the area was becoming an issue for institutions.

He soon made the service his own and its subsequent growth into the eventual service owes nearly all to his eye for the main chances, careful planning, understanding of the policy issues and especially those concerning growing legislation and its interpretation. He provided the relevant services and events in response to needs. TechDIS took on a very successful life of its own and this is largely due to Lawrie's sensitivity to human issues and listening to funders, policy makers and users of the service."

b) Policy (institutional strategies)

The Changing the Learning Landscape programme was a multi-agency approach that sought to help institutions bring changes to the student experience through the appropriate use of technology. As well as being multi-agency from the external perspective, the success of the programme was also in large part due to the participation of multiple agents in the institutions. These included involving a senior sponsor, such as a pro-vice chancellor, heads of IT, heads of technology enhanced learning, student representatives and lecturers. Working with the Changing Learning Landscape Programme across many universities and with senior staff gave me experience of a range of different institutional strategies, most commonly, learning and teaching, e-learning or Technology Enhanced Learning.

A key element of the programme was the “strategic conversation”; which provided opportunities for institutions to structure day-long meetings and dialogue with a range of institutional stakeholders who do not often come together. The format and methodology of the Strategic Conversations generate new ideas and connections, and provide a motivating way for staff and students to engage collaboratively in planning strategies for change.

My role was to go into institutions, going through and understanding their strategies before then acting as the facilitator to Strategic Conversations to help identify specific elements of the strategies that could be enhanced with technology, or in case of it being a technology strategy identify elements of change management processes that were needed.

Whilst a lot of learning emerged from the programme, the key elements with regards to strategy can be summarised below from a presentation I gave at Jisc Digifest 2015

Strategic Importance of Technology Enhanced Learning

Leaders recognise the importance of TEL, but there is a lot of variation in institutions around how learning and teaching strategies relate to technology and what statements such as “excellent learning experience” mean to lecturers at the chalkface.

Student Voice

Students were happy to be engaged in the strategic conversations, and were mostly positive about their experience. However, an over-riding complaint from students is about inconsistencies in staff use of TEL and staff digital literacy practices. However, there is no evidence that what “consistency” means in practice has been fully explored. Care also needs to be taken when defining consistency so as not to lose innovation or individuality.

All students emphasised their appreciation of face to face contact, and did not want to see technology as an alternative. They also wanted technology to be used for a reason, and not just for “its own sake”.

Change Management Approaches

In deploying technology enhanced learning it is clear that effective processes are needed, both to support the technology and in gaining ‘buy-in’. It became apparent during the programme that staff often have difficulty in understanding and making meaning of top-level strategies e.g. “excellent teaching”, “outstanding graduates” – these need to be “translated” into more meaningful statements.

Evidence: Papers, Presentations and Workshops for the Changing Learning Landscape programme

Core area 4: Communication and working with others

Candidates should demonstrate their knowledge and skills in communication through working with others.

Statements could describe the way in which your work involves collaboration, for example through participation in a team or acting as an interface to other groups.

Relevant evidence would include reflection on collaborations with others, reports outlining your activity within a team process, how you have brokered support for a particular initiative (for example from a technical or legal support service) or how you have worked with others to solve problems.

Where your evidence involved collaboration, please acknowledge the contribution of others. You may also chose to discuss how you select appropriate forms of communication.


In my current role I work with a close knit team in a specific R&D role. Working with colleagues to deliver specific outputs is the standard operating procedure. However, the situation is complicated by the dispersed nature of the team, working from home and at remote offices. The latest project is the development and delivery of staff development programme. This is aimed at staff in both HE and FE. In order to develop the programme liaison across several teams and outside consultants is required.

Work is something you do, not somewhere you go; how you are present with colleagues is more important than where you are present.


Donna Lanclos & Lawrie Phipps

Specialist Option(s) (place holder video)

Specialist Option(s)

As well as the core areas, candidates are required to demonstrate evidence of independent practice in one or more specialist options. This reflects the fact that, although there are common areas of work for learning technologists, practice is extremely diverse and everyone specialises in something different.

Your specialist topic should reflect an area where you have particular expertise. This may be unique to you or common across your team, but goes beyond what would be expected of any learning technologist. Below is an indicative list of possible specialist options. You are free to choose from it, or to select a different area that reflects your expertise.

 producing learning materials/content/courseware;

 project management, including resource management, in learning technology;  training, mentoring and developing others;

 evaluation;

 research;

 management/administration of a sustainable e-learning process;

 supporting and tutoring learners;

 designing tools and systems;

 institutional development/strategic work;

 knowledge and application of emerging standards for learning technology;

 assistive technologies;

 VLE administration and maintenance;

 interface design;

 distance learning/blended learning;

 managing and sourcing content;

 copyright;

 learner support;

 accessibility;

 sustainability

 inclusive learning practice

 open education resources (OER)


Defining and evidencing your specialist option

In describing your specialist option you should refer to the values listed at the top of these guidelines. Because these are specialist options you should be clear what makes your work distinct from common practice; many people teach on online courses, but designing and delivering fully online courses requires specific skills and would be considered specialist. . Similarly, many teachers provide blended learning, but developing and sharing guidelines for such practice or working with a distinctive blend of contexts might distinguish your work as specialist. It may be that your specialist option is common amongst the group that you work in as you all work in a similar area; that is perfectly acceptable.

Evidence for your specialist activity is likely to be very specific but could include: reports, papers or presentations you have written; this could be backed up by a job description plus written statements supporting your specialist knowledge from colleagues, clients or managers; active membership of professional or other bodies; certificates of completion of specialist training programmes or courses.

Future plans


While this section is not assessed you must complete it. This can be as detailed as you like. The purpose of this is to help you plan for your professional development; it will also be useful when preparing to meet your continuing professional development requirement to remain in good standing.