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CALRG 2020 Evaluation Report

The Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG) held its 41st annual conference solely online for the first time in 2020. With some funding from OpenTEL, CALRG were able to collect extended feedback on the experiences of organisers, presenters and participants about attending an online conference. The findings have been compiled into a short report with practical recommendations that you can find here CALRG 2020 Evaluation Report!

Recommendations include:

  • For organisers: Take accessibility into consideration when selecting the platform for your conference and in the options given to presenters (e.g., some may prefer to send in a recording of the presentation and just take live questions)
  • For presenters: Set a timer next to your screen as it is hard for the facilitator to give you a discrete reminder about reaching your time limit.
  • For participants: Mute your mic when not speaking.

The ongoing pandemic will mean that CALRG2021 is likely to be held at least partly online. This report will inform the planning and running of the event, and the organisers will use this report’s evaluation methods as a starting point for an upstream evaluation approach to understanding the benefits and challenges of CALRG2021 (scheduled for 15-16 June 2020).

CALRG talk: OU leading community education in Zimbabwe

​​​On Thursday 11 February, Tom Power and Dr Alison Buckler presented a CALRG session how community champions in remote communities in Zimbabwe are providing digital learning resources to learners.

“The community came to me and said ‘Mrs Dumisilele, should we let these children fail because of COVID? Are we saying this is the end of everything because of COVID?’. That is when I started to negotiate with them. I said ‘OK, if you are willing to let your children come to my house, I will teach them’” (Community Learning Champion)

Presenting alongside project members Claire Hedges, and Dr Margaret Ebubedike, research conducted by WELS, and project partners World Vision Zimbabwe, has explored the complexities of learning being remote for many children in low-income countries who are offline.

Record numbers of children worldwide have been required to not go to school. It has been predicted that a prolonged absence from school will be devastating for millions of children’s futures. However, questions about when or how to re-open schools, particularly in poor contexts, are highly complex.

OU researchers have explored how technology can be used as a creative solution to support the learning of children in these contexts. This CALRG session will share key findings from the CHILD (Community Help for Inclusive Learning and Development) study, carried out in collaboration with colleagues from World Vision Zimbabwe.

The seminar will also share these experiences of Community Learning Champions who have been delivering education materials, as well as propose recommendations for mobilising community volunteers to support children’s learning during emergency school closures.

Discussing the findings which will be shared in the session, Dr Alison Buckler stated:

“Sporadic disruptions and unpredictable and uneven returns to school are likely to be features of education for millions of children for the foreseeable future. Exploring how community education champions can be mobilised and supported is crucial to understanding more about the diverse and creative ways children’s learning can be maintained”.

Read the project report here

For more information contact

Ethics in Educational Technology Project

In the past six months educational technology has received an increasing amount of attention in the media, as many schools and universities have begun teaching at a distance. Rather than a recent fad however, educational technology has a long history going back several decades, although recent events have catalysed uptake. As educational technology becomes increasingly integrated into learning in schools, universities, workplaces, and people’s free-time, it is more important than ever to consider how to use it ethically.

With this in mind, the Open University’s openTEL research group has initiated a project to examine the ethics surrounding technology enhanced learning (TEL). Often ethics is spoken about in relation to one TEL domain (such as AI or learning analytics), but, in reality, most issues span the gamut of topics in TEL. Data ownership is as relevant to accessibility or citizen science as it is to learning analytics. The Ethics in TEL (EthTEL) project therefore examines ethical issues around educational technology holistically.

If you would like to share your experiences and opinions on ethics in educational technology, then EthTEL is currently collecting answers to a short survey. The survey can be accessed at and should take around 10 minutes to complete. Whether you’ve experienced educational technology as a student, educator, learning designer, researcher, or some other role, we’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to hear more about the EthTEL project then please join us at the next Show and TEL event on 2nd November. Guests external to the OU will be able to join using the link

Welcome to CALRG and the new Autumn term

Welcome back to CALRG as we start the Autumn term. We continue to hold our events online, building on the success of the CALRG2020 conference where we were joined by 100 participants from seven countries.

We have an exciting series of talks and events in the Autumn 2020 term for those in the Open University and beyond interested in how computers and other information communication  technologies may support teaching and learning.

Take a look at the events page – we have speakers from the Open University and beyond, but to bring us all together in these extraordinary times, we start on 15th October with a social, informal event – the legendary quiz by IET PhD graduate Vicky Murphy! (now appointed as a Grand Union Fellowship in the Faculty of Business and Law).

Sign up for the CALRG conference

CALRG is holding its 41st Annual Conference online (15-17 June, 2020) for all those who have an interest in researching technologies in education.

Please join us!

The Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG), an Open University research group based in the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology is holding its 41st Annual Conference online on 15-17 June 2020. We welcome all those who have an interest in researching the use of technologies in formal and informal learning.

Over two and a half days there will be an exciting programme of talks, demonstrations, a doctoral consortium and an ethics workshop. This year we’ll be exploring the themes of: Artificial Intelligence, Adaptive Technology Enhanced Learning, Responding to Covid-19 and Citizen Inquiry.

Keynote speakers will be Vanessa Evers (NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Charles Crook (University of Nottingham, UK). Panel discussants will include Dave Cormier (University of Windsor, Canada), Dave White (University of the Arts, London, UK), Amber Thomas (University of Warwick, UK), Sheila MacNeill (Glasgow Caledonian University, UK) and Roger Emery (Solent University, UK).

Please register on Eventbrite if you would like to attend and we will keep you updated with the final programme.

CALRG Conference Day 3: Ethics in TEL workshop

In the morning of 17th June the CALRG Conference this year will be hosting a special 2-hour long interactive workshop focused on ethics in TEL.The workshop will aim to have participants collaboratively produce a framework for ethics in educational technology.

In preparation for the workshop we are currently requesting people to complete a short questionnaire to help us create an initial version of the framwork. The survey has been approved for distribution by the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee and Staff Survey Project Panel and can be accessed here:

41st Annual CALRG Conference

We are delighted to announce this year’s Call for Papers for the OU’s annual CALRG conference.

We invite submissions for the 41st annual conference of the Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG), to be held on 15th-17th June 2020. The conference will be online, and open to everyone free of charge. CALRG is one of the UK‘s leading research groups in the use of technologies in education. CALRG’s annual conference provides a forum for members, as well as other researchers and practitioners in the field, to present their work. We particularly encourage research students to contribute submissions and attend to discuss their project. For research students, there will be an opportunity to present in a doctoral consortium.


The conference will consist of two days of presentations and interactive sessions across a broad range of relevant topics, including:

  • Learning in a time of social distancing
  • AI and education
  • Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)
  • Accessible online learning
  • Mobile learning
  • Effective designing for learning and learner experiences
  • Citizen science and public engagement
  • Learning analytics
  • Openness in education
  • Game-based learning
  • Professional learning
  • Widening access and participation in education with technology

The third day of the conference will be a 2-hour interactive workshop focused on producing a framework for ethics in educational technology.

Submission Types


Contributions are invited in the following forms:

  • Full presentations
  • Doctoral Consortium
  • Posters
  • Innovative formats


As the conference will be held in a virtual environment, we encourage any submissions that would like to trial an innovative online-friendly format. We especially welcome presentations that explore the links between different research projects. We would encourage doctoral students in particular to collaborate and produce a shared presentation that explores how concepts, methods, or findings connect together.


For full information, see the Call for Papers. The deadline for submitting to the conference is now midnight on Friday 22nd May 2020. All submissions should be made through the Easychair website.

Please address all correspondence and enquiries about the CALRG 2020 conference to

The Twitter hashtag for the conference is #CALRG2020

Online CALRG

In the past two weeks CALRG has experimented with an online format using Adobe Connect. Following the success of the two trial weeks, all CALRG sessions will now be held online for the forseeable future.

Join us tomorrow for the next in this online series with Dr Victoria Murphy presenting on ‘Beneficial practices and barriers to learning from incidents in the energy sector’. The session can be accessed internally from the OU here.