Message from the Conference Chair

On behalf of the Conference Committee, I am very pleased to welcome you to the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference 2021 #ALDCon21 that will be held on 7-9 April 2021. This year, the venue is online and thus virtual! This 19th edition of our well-established and expanding annual conference is focused around four broad strands:

  • Advocacy for Learning Development
  • Creativity for change
  • Embracing diversity
  • Digital equality

The Covid-19 pandemic has had such huge implications for higher education, both currently and for the foreseeable future. The conference represents the opportunity to come together as a community, to share best practice and to socialize, all of which are important, particularly to those of us working in small teams or individually and during this time, mostly remotely. 

We are committed to provide informative, innovative, and accessible content through workshops, papers, lightning talks and poster sessions. Our virtual platform will offer high visibility and many ways for attendees to connect.

Melanie Crisfield
Melanie Crisfield

The four broad strands of this year’s conference outlines key priority areas to guide our network and align our collective work and mission. Covid-19 has exposed areas of inequality; issues that have been ignored because there wasn’t a comfortable or easy solution. The conference is an opportunity to be informed rather than driven by the current climate, and ensuring learning development responds effectively and remains sustainable in the long-term, taking the opportunity to tackle some of these issues so that a future ‘normal’ is one in which everyone can benefit equally. Throughout the conference we are looking at values-driven learning and practice and how you are expressing these or working with students to these values. As you reflect throughout the conference, you may wish to apply this lens to inclusivity or BAME students, to scholarship, to digital learning, delivery and accessibility, or to a combination of all of these. Consider also how you might bring students into the conversation.  What could higher education look like in 2021, and where do we want learning development to be? This conference is an opportunity to help shape that outcome and is critical to work we must do as a network, both now and in the decade to come. We as a network and the larger learning development community must continue to make significant strides in our efforts to advance diversity and inclusion. This year’s conference strands serve as a call to action for the LD community to create a national equity agenda. In response to this call to action, I hope the conference will serve as a forum to recognise the individual work that is occurring within the network, celebrate accomplishments, engage in meaningful dialogue on what it will take to achieve digital equality, embrace diversity, advocate for learning development and be creative in change, over the next decade, and define the role of the ALDinHE in leading the way.

We have an exciting programme at this conference that will allow members to reflect upon and celebrate our past accomplishments, renew friendships and extend our networks, and jointly explore current and future research directions in learning development.  We hope that you will have a productive and fun‐filled time at this very special conference.

I would like to close this welcome with a round of thanks for everyone who has made #ALDCon21 possible. We are all dreadfully sad to not be meeting face-to-face at the University of Northampton this year and truly hope you will be able to join us at our next physical conference in the future. I would like to start by thanking my fellow members of the Conference Committee and in particular, Carina Buckley, Co-Chair and the team from University of Northampton: Kate Coulson, Sheryl Mansfield, Helena Beeson and Kate Swinton; and the many individual reviewers for helping us select the papers to be presented. And I would like to thank all our presenters for agreeing to take time out of their busy schedules to give us their perspectives on a broad-ranging set of topics. I would particularly like to extend our gratitude to our sponsors. Lastly, I would like to thank all of the conference delegates for their contributions which are the foundation of this conference.  

I look forward to coming together in April virtually for an inspiring annual conference, and commit to: leading advocacy for learning development, creativity for change, embracing diversity and digital equality.

The ALDinHE conference committee wish you a warm welcome at the virtual venue and an enjoyable #ALDCon21!

Melanie Crisfield, Conference Chair