#CMALT is driving me crazy


Disclaimer: Just to be clear from the outset CMALT is in no way at fault in this scenario, despite the title the fault lies solely with me.

On this sunny Friday I have dusted down this old blog site, from when I dabbled with MOOCs, to have a rant at myself regarding my CMALT portfolio. I have quite literally lost track of the number of years I have been ‘thinking’ about this. So just what is the problem, why have I not finished and submitted? To answer this it is probably best to begin with the steps that I have taken to date and the support that I have benefited from.


I first heard about the CMALT programme at ALT 2009 (ah now, that let the how long cat out of the bag) however at that time I felt I didn’t have sufficient experience and evidence to complete the process. Time passed and the width and breadth of my skills and knowledge was gradually building – maybe I should start thinking seriously about CMALT. Decision made I first turned to all the supporting material available on the ALT website. I downloaded the forms, read the documentation, attended webinars and viewed publicly open successful portfolios.

Now that I had the experience, understood the process and knew what others had done to be successful I started the writing process and this is where the train comes to a halt. As I write this post I think that I have rewritten my application from scratch at least three times. I even created a new WordPress site and made all the pages, adding notes in each section thinking that if it was in a more aesthetic setting than a plain document I would get a better sense of completion and impetus. Sadly it was not to be, as soon as the busy summer period arrived it was forgotten yet again.

Then at the start of 2015 I tried to blackmail myself by tweeting a self imposed deadline – yet another fail – so sorry @hopkinsdavid.

In January this year I started on the MSc in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh and throughout the first module I was required to blog several times a week in a reflective manner. This allowed me to gain experience in a safe environment and crucially provided me with invaluable feedback on how to reflect successfully and coherently. Now I couldn’t use the inability to reflect as an excuse.

I knew the issues that weren’t problematic but just what WAS the problem? Was it because I was waiting for perfection; if I hold off until this project is finished, this paper submitted, this conference talk given…? Was it because as an educational technologist it is difficult to claim things in an individual context as it is an innately team based role? Was the content too long? Or was it too short? Is the quality lacking? Is it good old procrastination? Questions continually whirling around in my head with no helpful answers.

Lightbulb moment

This brings me to the present when having listened to Maren Deepwell and Martin Hawksey’s CMALT talk at the Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association, I dug out the paperwork yet again.

As I re-read the different sections I thought that they just didn’t make any sense. It just seemed to be a lot of separate jigsaw pieces and nothing was joining up. If I was struggling to make sense of it then how on earth would anyone else?

Image attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Hans-2/ (CC zero)

Then I got it – there is no narrative, for me personally I need a STORY to join the dots. This may have been obvious to others but I was viewing the areas and sub areas as separate entities before. So this afternoon I deleted the whole lot (again) and started at the beginning, rewriting the Context section. I provided the wider background to my work within Medical Education over the last eight years along with visuals to introduce my story.

I now have the first chapter, the scene is set and I am starting to sort my way through the pieces to try to start fitting it all together. Despite this major breakthrough I know that there is still a long way to go but I have renewed hope that I can now get to the end of the process. Over the coming weeks I will sketch out the content for each section, adding the evidence and descriptions first then reflect on the picture as a whole.

Please don’t hold your breath for a completed version just yet but I am hopeful for resolution soon…

May 2016

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