K is for Kostas

“… making learning more interesting, more engaging”

“a trip … learning new things fast – and learning quickly.”

“everyday learning becomes part of your life..”

“… we are on the brink of a revolution”

Thank you Kostas for your time and participation! Many successes to you, your team and of course, schooX!

If you have any questions regarding schooX or would like to discuss educational disruptions further, why not drop Kostas a tweet @vaskos44

J is for John

“… the internet has made a very low impact on the way a teacher teaches …”

“..the 5oo pound gorilla in the room is management or administration”

“Blogging? Don’t do it!”

“… online I am not the sage on the stage”

“… every time you have huge changes, you have huge resistance”

Thank you John for your time, your patience with tech glitches and your participation!

Magical Connections

“It’s entirely conceivable that life’s splendor surrounds us all, and always in its complete fullness, accessible but veiled, beneath the surface, invisible, far away. But there it lies—not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If we call it by the right word, by the right name, then it comes. This is the essence of magic, which doesn’t create but calls.”            

Kafka

She presses her face against the window pane, knowing that essence lies behind veils, behind surfaces. Truths may be created, fabricated, but also illuminated. There are worlds of light in her musings on the  magic beyond glass panes, in connections, in what is possible if there is a will. Her world is open,  enlightened by ideas, by those who too indulge in magic and let themselves be marveled by life and a flow of  connectivity.

Splendor. Fullness.

Never complete.

Living is a constant breathe of change where completion only leads to another movement of change and wonder.

My next guest is someone who indulges in the world of technological wonders as much as I do, if not more.

 John Goldsmith is an online educator with the Fraser Valley Distance Education School (FVDES) where he teaches Business and IT related courses. John has been a part of the online world for more then two decades and an active Internet and computer user long before that. He has presented numerous technology and Internet related workshops for local, regional and provincial organisations. In 2009 he was honoured with the Premier’s award for teaching excellence in distributed learning.

In his spare time, John is an active blogger and tweeter, the web and list minder for the BC Social Studies Teachers’ Association and contributor to the “Bookmark”, the professional journal published by the BC Teacher Librarian’s Association.

You can learn more about him at DeTools or @cyberjohn07 on Twitter.

Despite a couple of tech glitches, we finally did connect. And talked, reflected,  questioning our worlds of technological changes. Join me here as John provokes us with stark realities of how teaching styles and the Internet may or not influence each other, considerations on whether to blog or not to blog, the essential skills of being an online tutor, technological backlashes and more.

Are you ready to be marveled?

How Using an IWB Led to Digital Revelation – David’s Odyssey

 

“It’s full of stars!”

David Bowman,

2001: A Space OdysseyArthur C. Clarke

Countdown

It seems so long ago now but it was actually spring 2007; the day I first taught a class with an interactive whiteboard. It looked like one of the spaceships from the 1950s film version of War of the Worlds. The projector was suspended on a long tentacle like thing stuck out into the room over my head while the board hummed and glowed white behind me. It was like having some kind of alien craft in the room and I did actually suggest to the class that if anyone hadn’t done the homework, at the merest click of my remote control, a laser beam would be emitted from the overhead tentacle and zap them to dust. The class took it in the good hearted way that my attempts at humour were usually received but I could see they were actually rather bemused by this new thing in their midst. I remember the expressions on all the faces of the mostly Polish 16-year-olds in my full time class and they seemed to say “OK. Go on. What are you going to do with that? Impress us then.”

And that is the challenge I have tried to meet ever since. The effect on me as a teacher of suddenly having this massive piece of technology in a classroom where I was teaching 5 mornings a week was to be profound and far-reaching. The space ship analogy isn’t far off actually. My students and I seemed about to be launched together on a Star Trek style mission of learning and discovery. In teaching terms it was like being abducted, having all your molecules rearranged and then being plonked back on Earth never to be the same again. I’d gone digital. Half man half smartboard. Just like David Bowman in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “2001: A Space Odyssey”, I looked at it and said “My God! It’s full of stars” and plunged right in.

Lift off

So, the first thing this new and rather expensive piece of hi-tech made me do was review and re-examine how exactly I went about trying to get students to communicate in my native language. I’d been teaching for about 15 years at that point and had built up a whole range of little teaching habits, short cuts, foibles and prejudices over the years.  Having an IWB in class was to make reassess what I did and ultimately reorganise my teaching around the possibilities that using IWBs offered.

I’d been interested in teaching with IT and had been preparing things to do in the computer room with various classes for a couple of years before I had the IWB. I was lucky enough to have a very encouraging CTL and an IT support team who were keen to see an expensive piece of kit looked after and used well (there were only about 3 or 4 in the college at that time so I felt quite privileged to have so much access to it). I already knew it was going to be pretty useful to have a computer with a big display screen in class however having one now meant every aspect of my planning and teaching could be done using IT. This was a first and it actually seemed to make life much simpler. Moreover I found my own IT skills were being developed at the same time as my creativity was stimulated. I was happy to be going fully digital.

 

Orbital

It all seemed so much simpler. Every time someone asked me what a word meant and I was stuck for an explanation, I could show them a photo on Google images. It was like having a new window on the world as I could also bring live news and topical events right into the class from websites to generate discussion, I could show presentations and film clips and do listenings from mp3s and package the whole lot up in the presentation software that came with it but I don’t think I was quite aware, on that first day, the effect it would have on the way I planned, presented, reflected on and designed classes in the next few years. I remember Andy, the head of IT support saying to me “You’re going to get addicted to this.” He was right. 5 years later the results of a fairly serious addiction can be used on my blog http://efllecturer.blogspot.com/   should anyone be interested.

I think the main lesson I learned when working with IT was to make sure everything was securely backed up. At the college we had an intranet and a VLE so I could plan things at home and upload them for use in class but I always kept everything on a USB stick too just in case. I remember one day I was being observed, and Sod’s law, the internet went down so I couldn’t show the Youtube clip I had prepared. Fortunately I had downloaded the clip the day before as an flv file and copied it onto my USB so everything could go ahead as planned. Lots of things can go wrong with IT and it will test you. The main lesson to learn is to always have back up.

I can see for miles

Having an IWB in the room also suddenly makes everything more visual. EFL classes have always used visual stimulation and we’ve all fumbled about with coffee stained flashcards, fraying posters and colour photocopies that bosses frown upon because they cost so much. Having an IWB makes you rethink, and I believe, simplifies how you go about presenting the classes. Teaching guru Geoff Petty once said that “87% of information enters our brain through our eyes, 9% by ear and 4% via other senses.” This might explain why, no matter how much you prattle on to your classes about this and that and the “s” on the end of the present simple 3rd person, only 9% of it is actually getting through. However that visual 87% there, that is where the IWB comes in. You can give all the speeches you want but put on a light show and we are talking illumination. In a way I even think it turns the teacher into a kind of creative visual artist. You ask yourself what is your message and how are you best going to visually present it.

It’s full of stars

The capacity of the IWB to present ideas, grammar, vocabulary and idioms in more visual ways allowed me to explore these creative aspects. The IWB offers the ability firstly, to gain the attention of the students in a more focused way but also to maintain their attention by variety and enhance understanding in a more personalised way. It can also aid memory by association. Certain images will trigger the memory of a structure given and so support recall. Images can be combined and used to provoke a reaction and stimulate thinking.  It’s true course books have always done this but now teachers with a few IT skills have the power to do this with their own presentations. The teacher now has the freedom to adapt or write their own course book. A book personalised for each class and which can also have content input from the students.

I think it is these visual and presentational aspects which are the greatest motivation to me. I am able to be more creative with the design of the way subject matter is displayed. Boring grammar books and course books can be easily redesigned to be more visually stimulating and more easily exploited to encourage the focused learning and group discussion which IWBs facilitate. This capability of designing the visual aspects of the way the language was presented really stimulated my creative juices and allowed me to pretty much write my own DIY course book materials (see my blog). Materials which can of course be accessed online by the students outside the class on a VLE or blog.  The teacher has far greater control over the way language is visually presented to students and in a way can become a kind of DJ mixing and mashing up already existing materials in order to get an idea more effectively across. This is refreshing when in many other areas of state education teachers seem to be having control taken away from them.

We now live in an age when young learners are used to accessing information on web pages whilst at the same time watching a video, reading and listening to news, downloading music or using facebook. If we wish to keep the attention of students and present new learning in a context which is recognizable to them, I believe the IWB offers them a familiar window through which to receive learning in class. With ICT skills  the teacher can design that window in such a way that students can more easily assimilate and evaluate information. IWBs turn teachers into both learning designers and internet guides.

Speed of light

This learning design ability can mean that the class also becomes more of a “show” with the teacher as presenter or guide. I have said that a creative teacher can mix photo images and cartoons or drawings with moving images or video files. A variety of backgrounds and font styles can be used to illustrate certain points turning, for example, an otherwise dull grammar lesson into an entertaining presentation, game or “show.” This must involve students. No death by powerpoints here. Students should be active participants.I think any good presentation should be designed to provoke responses from students and encourage group discussion, reflection, feedback and facilitate the teacher / student dialogue which promotes learning.

Let me give an example. If I am teaching the passive structure I can show half a dozen images of signs all of which feature the passive tense, for example, “Designed by Microsoft”, “Good food is served here”, “Made in China” etc and get the students to discuss what they have in common. With the teacher eliciting, the students should be able, not only to recognise the context in which the passive is used, but also work out how it is constructed and give more examples from their own experience. One could say that this is already done in course books but the interactive whiteboard gives the teacher far more control of which or how many images are being seen or discussed by the group and in what conjunction.  Course books are also unable to show anything like the number or variety of images which can be obtained on the net. See my blog for this example.  http://efllecturer.blogspot.com/2011/04/passive-present-simple.html  Another example could be using Sherlock Homes to run through the modal verbs of deduction http://efllecturer.blogspot.com/search/label/Deduction Of course students are able to access these presentations at home on the VLE after the class and also use then for revison purposes.

Walking on the Moon

The interactive whiteboard can also allow classes to be less teacher-centred. As I have already said death by powerpoint presentation is to be avoided at all costs. The IWB should be used to focus and stimulate group discussion and reflection. The board should be something that the teacher works with in class. The IWB allows the teacher to step back, ask questions, promote and observe more closely student interaction, participation and activity. It removes the focus from the teacher.

Some student Interaction with learning content is possible as students may also add their own feedback, ideas or comments to a worksheet displayed on the board. This can then be saved and printed at the end of the class for the students to take home as their own personalised worksheet or left as a display on a VLE or blog.

I should mention here that I do think there is a misconception about that “interactive” part of IWBs. The boards are called interactive because you can touch the screen and interact with the PC from the screen. It doesn’t mean that the students have to interact with it. Students can use the boards to present their own work but getting them to come out and click something just for the sake of it might be cumbersome, pointless and time consuming in many cases and better done in a computer lab. Ofsted like it though (which possibly tells you what you need to know about them).

In any case software now exists which allows students to respond to quizzes and questionnaires using handsets in class however I do think that it might be easier and maybe even less costly to have the students interacting with whatever is displayed on the board through their own mobile devices, tablets or netbooks, even if it is just texting an answer on a smartphone to a question on a facebook page.

Ground control to Major Tom

It’s true that most of what I have described here can be done with a laptop and projector and you may be asking how you can justify the expense of an IWB over a projector. Good point. The interactive touch screen feature does allow you to more easily add notes and comments at the board and frees you up from having to be next to a keyboard or mouse but I will admit most of what I am describing here can be just as easily done with a projector. There may also be some who reject the whole idea of using technology in the classroom and who promote a more unplugged approach. That’s fine and there is an awful lot of planning and time investment in running courses with this kind of ICT involvement. Going in and improvising a conversation class is fine every now and then (we’ve all done it) but if we really want students to participate and take more control of their own learning development I think technology demonstrates far more potential, especially in the online age we live in. Anyway, I always liked the idea that my students were learning English and picking up a few IT skills at the same time.

 

Life on Mars

I think the future will bring paper free lesson as the teacher will have all the things currently needed for class stored on his class PC, a USB or learning network. There might be no need to take books, tapes, videos, photocopies, even board pens into class ever again. Teachers will be clutter free at last!  Students will take notes on mobile devices in class and store notes on networks. Planning also becomes easier and more adaptable as you can save a presentation and adapt it making changes to suit the needs of each class without having to rewrite a worksheet or redo photocopies. A saved presentation can even become a (non paper) lesson plan. It is this freedom which I think has had the most effect on the way I plan or arrange resources for my classes. All my resources can be on a portable USB stick or a laptop. With free and excellent quality learning activities appearing every day on the internet now why do we need course books and paper anymore? The next class is just a click away.

In the 5 years since that first class with the IWB I feel I’ve come a long way with using IT to teach English and would now never go back to the pre digital age. I feel completely at home with technology in the class and enjoy the control over the learning environment that it gives me. I have seen the benefits of it in terms of student motivation, learning and creativity. I also feel I have been learning and developing with my students. It’s been challenging, rewarding, fun and, as David Bowman also said just before that famous “full of stars” quote, “It goes on forever”.

IWBs – to sum up

  • Visual presentation means the class can become a “show”
  • Teacher has far greater control over visual aspects of language presentation
  • Less teacher centred – aids focused group discussion on what is displayed and easily visible to all
  • Interactive adaptable worksheets that students input to and take home or access online from home
  • Allows more creativity by the teacher to invent and adapt materials
  • Easier and more adaptable planning once initial time investment has been made by the teacher to build up digitised resources eg pdfs, ppts, mp3s, youtube clips etc
  • Saves money on photocopying
  • There are far more free teaching resources on the internet now than are on the shelves of your school / academy. It’s easy to show and use them on an IWB
  • No need to take books, tapes, videos, photocopies, pens into class ever again! It is all on your computer.

Thank you David for your contribution,  and sharing your inspirational odyssey!

Images from: 

Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive – NASA 

Austalian Photographer Lincoln Harrison

Milky Way Photographs by Alex Cherney 

NOAA Photo Library 

Memoirs of a SmartBoarding Man

I look at my world of 2011 and wonder. On the brink of changing a page on the calendar, I quietly reflect on the past twelve months. An odyssey of changes. Where would I begin to make sense of these changes without disregarding one particular event, person or moment in time?

Hence my choice to refer to a brief sequence of events. I am currently studying for a post-graduate degree within the field education.  In a recent blog posting in Dreaming Weaving Learning,   I received an interesting and pertinent comment related to the use of Interactive White Boards in the classroom. This in turn made me consider  my own limited use of IWBs in my daily practices. Curious to know more about the changes that IWBs really bring in practice, I then asked others for their opinions and experiences with IWBs.

David Mainwood  is someone who uses the IWB most creatively and so it is no wonder that our conversations were a stimulation for me to change my own practices. Our reflections and communication took place without audio or video recording; therefore, what follows is an account of David’s personal and professional  experience of using IWBs in classrooms.

For those who are not familiar with David Mainwood‘s work, the following sites will definitely give you a better understanding of David’s expertise:

The Lecturer’s EFL SMARTBlog 

EFL SMARTBlog on FaceBook

Conditionals

EFL Interactive Games and Quizzes for IWBs

IELTS Writing Task 1 Practice 

IELTS Writing Task 2 Practice 

Reading News for IELTS 

Horizonte Electrico 

How relevant are IWBs in your classroom practices?

S is for Stephen

From research infrastructures ,reflections on the changes in the nature of research practices, to the significance of open access and how Connectivism occurs in classrooms, Stephen Downes explains all  – and more – with clarity, enthusiasm and joyous energy.

Thank you Stephen for your time, participation – and inspirational explanations!

Connecting Snowflakes

The golden morning light poured warmly into the room. He watched her quietly as she moved,  shifting and sorting the  rhythm of the day about to unravel. Beginnings were always important to her. Each new dawn, a new revival of hope, of expectation, a welcoming of wonders on the verge.

“Did you sleep well?”, he asked. She smiled. Dreams too belonged in the sunshine as much as to the stars at night.

“You know…..each dream is as unique as a snowflake. Did you know that?”, continued the soft voice.

And so she turned away from the window and morning routine of preparation, replying with a smile.

“You are my snowflake.”

 Their eyes connected with shared understanding.

Connections. That is what one does in life – connect with others, with nature, with one’s surroundings. Even if one chooses to reject an environment,  an individual, a fact –  a theory even- there has to be the initial acknowledgement, some degree of perception and understanding, then the realization there is in fact no will  of connection, no desire to connect, no purpose in connecting.

Connections. Because the synergies of life connect.

Naturally. Digitally. Collectively.

 Now imagine the synergy of snowflake whirls, flying flocks of unique, collective knowledge – all explained in ways that one can make sense of.

My next guest needs no long introduction. He is a master in connecting, an expert with words, a specialist in collective connections.

Stephen Downes is a Senior Researcher for the National Research Council of Canada and is well known for being a strong supporter of Free Learning. Among the many publications, presentations and activities that Stephen contributes to and is involved in, his  OLDailyStephen’s Web, and Half an Hour are widely read and referred to.

Here you can find further references of his work – but please note, these are merely a very small reflection of Stephen’s contributions towards educational and social studies.

Currently running the MOOC #change11 (Change: Education, Learning and Technology) with George Siemens and Dave Cormier, Stephen is widely associated with Connectivism and change in all its shades and variations.

Join me here as Stephen discusses change in the research process, what scientific value there may be in open access,  how Connectivism is relevant to educators of all levels  – and more.

What flocks of snowflakes will Stephen release to the open?

J is for James

 Owing to time constraints on my behalf and James, the following interview is presented in a transcript. James has kindly agreed to participate another time with a podcast, time permitting.

Ana Cristina:  James, you are from Canada which has been a leading country in terms of telecommunications, internet activity and research. I’d like to ask you whether and what are the differences you have seen – if any – between classroom practices, when using technology,  in the Arabian Gulf and in Canada?

James Buckingham:  There are two important things to mention before answering such a question -

Canada is a big place, jurisdiction for education rests with each of Canada’s 12 Provinces, even within Provinces the scope of educational practices and resourcing can differ widely. As a result, there really is no one common answer available for the question.

I’ve also been away too long to be in the know about what really is happening in the educational system in Canada. However I do note that from my limited exposure to others who are working in education back home, things are moving forward and many of the same issues that educators are dealing with in the UAE are common there too. Namely:

  • adoption of ICT in the classroom

◦                inconsistent (or even unavailable) professional development / training / support for educators on the use of ICT in the classroom

▪                typically the result of funding issues

◦                search for solid emperical evidence to justify expenditures on ICT training for educators

  • recognition of the need to pay attention to and capitalize on the needs and interests of today’s students… and from current business trends

◦                push coming from students themselves (because more and more of them are tech literate (whatever that may mean)

◦                there is a realization that this needs to be tapped into, to make education more relevant and interesting for today’s students,  not to be overlooked is how today’s ICT tools are likely to be used by students as they graduate into the world of work

Ana Cristina: With laptops and even iPads now becoming more widespread in schools and higher education, (well, at least in richer countries), how do you see the role of the learner and the role of the teacher changing – if they are indeed changing? In other words, are there role changes of learners and teachers in a digital classroom?

James Buckingham: Great question! For now, we continue to plod along using a tried and true paradigm in education, which includes the following:

◦                as an educator, know the purpose or goal of what it is that is to be learned .. and then identify measureable objectives .. then design instruction that is relevant to our learners:

◦                this often is interpreted to mean being “educator” centric

◦                this means identifying objectives, inviting students to practice meeting those objectives, then assessing student mastery of those objectives.

◦                ICT is often seen as simply an “add on” .. a way to increase student involvement..

◦                .. but ..  along the way we become witness to its other possibilities such as:

▪                individualized instruction

▪                self paced / self directed learning

▪                multi modal delivery of content

▪                student voice

What is really changing is how more and more educators are questionning this paradigm … largely in response to a review of the future needs of today’s students and through witnessing first hand the potential of ICT to be more than simply an “add on” or supplement to education.

  • more and more educators are beginning to realize that students themselves need to be more and more involved in this whole instructional design process .. if they are to be successful (meaningful) contributors to society…. if they are to become lifelong learners
  • perhaps not all at once but at some point students need to at least be acquainted with their “learning processes” so that they can take control of them  .. to ultimately realize their own aims, objectives and desires .. and to structure their learning to achieve them

this means

  • reflecting on where they are now (i.e. what do I know and what do I still need to know?)
  • determining their own objectives (i.e. clarify what do I want or need to learn)
  • demonstrating how they have mastered what it is they needed to learn (i.e. collect evidence of my learning),
  • seeking out and assembling resources (i.e. tapping into teachers as facilitators and community workers as experts to help find those resources)

Thus the role of an educator may be more and more about facilitating a student’s journey through phases of and mastery of learning – initially assuming the role of director (i.e. you need this .. so follow me) to mentor (i.e. I can give you my opinion or feedback to reflect on).

Concurrently, the role of a student may also go through phases – from pupil (i.e. tell me what I need and I will follow you) to leader (i.e. I can innovate in my use of the information and skills provided to me to realize a better understanding of today’s problems and thus potentially finding useful solutions to those problems).

I can see a day when we share the various methodologies for realizing that learning.. (i.e. rote learning, problem based learning, case study learning, constructivist learning).

ICT is a major factor in how this will be realized.

  • ICT has the power to help students on this journey … by facilitating like never before

◦                access to a rich and ever expanding list of resources (via online searches, conversations, discussion forums)

◦                targeted, frequent, relevant feedback (via the construction of meaningful and purposeful communities)

◦                meaningful reflection (via journalling and evidencing online one’s learning journey in a personal, social and/or global context)

◦                construction of possible solutions to today’s issues (via identification of needs through participation in online communities, social networks)

◦                purposeful contributions to community (via sharing and having tested ones ideas with peers in online communities of professional practice)

◦                connecting students with other students of either similar interest or with different skill sets different to realize collaboratively what might not have been possible on their own

Ana Cristina:  This new academic year has begun with some interesting changes; for example, in Abu Dhabi children beginning school were given an iPad for their school studies. How do you see education changing in the next 3 years – if at all possible to make such predictions?

James Buckingham: It is debatable if we will really be able to measure change in such a short period.

  • the optimist says that

◦                the Ministries of Education throughout the UAE at least, recognize the need for reform, have investigated success stories in realizing effective educational reform in other parts of the world, and are putting in place similar policies and resources that realized reform and so improvements to education are coming.

◦                many of these reforms are more fundamental than just introducing new technologies (i.e. a change in teaching methodology so that it is more inquiry based and less rote based) ..

  • the pessimist says that
  • when I think of the costs associated with realizing such reforms on their own without the integration of ICT .. then I am less optimistic that those sorts of changes are likely to include  ICT
  • why?

◦                the current economic climate

▪                evidence of tight control of costs

▪                demographic profile which suggests that already tight resources will be directed towards meeting more fundamental education needs .. of which ICT may be seen as a lower priority

◦                note the ease at which ICT tools can often be bought .. but not quickly and effectively integrated .. as seen in various other parts of the world.

Ana Cristina:  Focusing now more on changes in language learning,  what does it mean to be an EFL professional and why is that important? (English as a Foreign Language)

James Buckingham: what is professional behaviour first of all….

  • conducting yourself by putting the interests of your clients first (not acting in self interest i.e. tutoring to make money first)
  • staying current .. by learning about and using current best practices
  • contributing to your professional field by sharing your own findings

The importance of demonstrating professional behaviour is

  • for your personal well being – growth as an individual
  • for your professional well being – staying current .. potential for advancement
  • for your profession’s well being – demonstrating that it is a vibrant profession that warrants respect and recognition from others

◦                this can mean an invitation to policy making etc.

And  how does one demonstrate professional behaviour?

  • staying current – reading about current issues, advancements, trends
  • reflecting and adapting what has been read to one’s current practice
  • contributing to the profession

◦                sharing your ideas, listening and supporting others ideas

◦                working with your peers to identify good or best practices

▪                testing the ideas of others

▪                contributing your own ideas for testing & critical review by others

▪                publishing those best practices

Ana Cristina: How can one become a better EFL instructor and demonstrate their professionalism here in the UAE?

James Buckingham: There is the  traditional approach -

  • reading professional journals
  • involvement with TESOL Arabia

◦                conference attendance

◦                chapter events

◦                special interest groups

And then the non traditional -

  • participating in

◦                online communities

◦                social media related activities

Ana Cristina: What are you offering through the TA Education Technology SIG that can help an EFL instructor , or someone aspiring to demonstrate that they are an EFL professional?

James Buckingham: Well, I would recommend they

  • become involved with the TA Education Technology SIG
  • that can start by

◦                becoming a member of the SIG’s Ning – and participate in its online community

◦                joining us at face to face events that are held in various locales throughout the UAE

  • here you will have a a chance to

◦                connect with other EFL practitioners / professionals from across the region

◦                help contribute to the building of an EFL practitioners community of practice..

Of course the focus is on how to use ICT in one’s EFL instruction; by doing so .. you have a chance to grow professionally in the general ways I noted earlier.. but to be more specific, you can grow by

  • contributing to discussions on EFL and ICT topics
  • sharing resources with colleagues that you have found to be useful in guiding your own practice here in the region
  • sharing ideas to invite review / feedback / testing / challenging from your peers  .. in an effort to improve upon them
  • contributing resources of your own .. to show ways of doing things that can help your colleagues realize (lesson plans, methods)
  • identifying and collaborating with your peers to discover common and best practices for EFL educators in the region
  • reaching out to your peers for help on learning an ICT skill or strategy
  • presenting  your findings through formal presentations to your peers
Thank you James for your time and reflections! If you would like to know more about James’ work, do visit his site and of course, the TA Education Technology Ning.

The Intangible

My bicycle lies still as I stare at the sky. Each cloud a fleeting thought, a momentary wish. Love letters are like the sky. Temporary, in motion, in transit.

 Totally intangible. Irredeemably irrelevant.

My next guest is anything but irrelevant. Unlike clouds and imaginary creatures flying gently through the blue, she has contributed enormously towards opening spaces of change and inquiry. The changes that trickle and trade as a result of her work and commitment to education and technology, are visible to many.

Nicky is the Director of Pedagogy of The Consultants-E (www.theconsultants-e.com), an online training and development organisation which helps teachers with technology in the classroom. She has been involved in EFL teaching and training since 1987, and is author of several methodology books about technology in EFL. She specialises in online teaching and training via virtual learning environments such as Moodle, and is currently writing a book about digital literacies. You can read more about Nicky here.

Nicky has also several other publications:

Teaching Online (with LindsayClandfield)

Imagination is never irrelevant.

Imagination has moments of touching the tangible.

Sunset, Sunrise

Sunset, sunrise. Seasons of change, seasons of growth, seasons of discord.

Liquid light running in my veins. With each season, a new discovery, a new sense of knowing. Should there be discord in change, there is the coming sunrise which will lighten arguments and provide clarity. Each season brings its wealth, its distribution of change and knowledge.

I grew up with the National Geographic (note: the image above is courtesy of The National Geographic). Before I could read, already I was being read the changes  and differences in the world, revealed through publications of  The National Geographic. Change has always run wild, loose, willfully  in my veins.

My professional learning too has developed through seasons. Yet there has been a constant mentor to me, like to so many others around the world. His work is full of generosity, inspiration and dignified calm. He writes, develops materials and websites, thinks and motivates educators to go beyond the current season, and to adapt to a world of changes,  unafraid and with calm.

My next guest is Nik Peachey.

Nik Peachey is  a freelance teacher trainer and consultant doing a wide range of tasks from designing online teacher training courses, research and design for new digital teaching products, exploring new ways of delivering teacher training, instructional design of web based and mobile learning products and writing materials to enable teachers to make best use of available technologies.

He has worked with a diverse range of both big and small companies that include the British Council, the Open University, Cambridge ESOL, The Consultants-E, IATEFL, International House and Study Group.

He also works as an associate trainer for Bell Educational Trust and am a visiting lecturer on the University of Westminster MA TESOL course.

 He has been working in ELT since 1992 first as a teacher and then as a teacher trainer, ICT trainer and ELT writer and then as a project manager for the BBC | British Council’s Teaching English website.

Join me here as Nik discusses his  views on flipped classrooms, ownership and other seasonal changes in the world of education.