Showing posts from 2011

The Teacher Effect

As part of the research I'm doing on mentoring for the aPLaNet EU project , I've recently been reflecting on the effect that teachers have had on me, and the more I think about it, the more I realise just how much influence they have had upon the direction of my life. Because of this, and because it's something that all teachers should consider, I thought I'd blog about it here. Primary school I don't remember my primary school teachers very well, but I do remember all with vaguely positive memories. I remember lots of smiling, being encouraged to read, and rewarded with praise. I have more recollections of specific incidents, but here I want to focus on the effect that teachers have had, so I'll save those for another day. Secondary school I think my secondary school teachers have had the most influence on me and what I decided to do, without a doubt. When I started secondary school, I remember I found it a strange place with lots of rules I didn't

Looking back on 2011...Dogme ELT & Interactive Whiteboards

As usual, time flies and blog posts that I'd intended to write don't get written. However, now that summer is upon us and I have more time... So, looking back... One of the most interesting dates for me was the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG's PCE (Pre-Conference Event) , where a whole day was spent looking at IWBs from all angles. I have already written a post about the event on the iTILT website , but here I want to take a closer look at the discussion led by Luke Meddings on Dogme ELT and interactive whiteboards. This post has also been prompted by, and is a response to Gavin Dudeney's recent blog post about  " the increasingly blurry-edged DOGME which is mutating into something to please everyone " . I've written a version of the following as a comment on Gavin's post, but want to expand upon it here... Luke Meddings didn't run a workshop on IWBs  at the IATEFL LT SIG PCE . It was a discussion on ' Dogme ELT and IWBs ' and I

PLNs and PLEs - It's the 'Personal' bit that counts the most

I was writing a comment on an interesting blog post by Cecilia Lemos about what having a PLN has done for her, when I realised that this comment deserved to be expanded a blog post of its own, so here it is! For some time now, I've been concerned about how some people are using this term, which stands for 'Personal Learning Network' and which developed out of the concept of PLE (Personal Learning Environment).  Shelly Terrell has said she prefers the term 'Passionate Learning Network' and others refer to Professional Learning Networks , but for me, the whole point about the term is that it's 'personal'.  The term PLN is bandied about so much these days it's  starting to lose its meaning. Another thing I hear a lot now is people  talking about 'the PLN' , which is fine when people are referring to  'their' PLN, but not if they have a big social club in mind that  people are either part of or not. This is not a PLN. A PLN is

Better 'the Five Ws' than 'Because it's there'

I commented on Scott Thornbury's recent blog post 'T for Technology' that I was " happy to see the ‘edutech/no edutech’ debate has at least moved on, shifting away from the ‘should we use it?’ to the ‘We should be careful when and for what reasons we use it. " During the debate in the comment section on Scott's blog, it was mentioned that many learning technology (LT) presentations at conferences and blog posts are of the type '20 ways of using Wordle', etc., dealing with the 'how to use tech' but not the 'why it should be used'. I heard this criticism while I was at the IATEFL conference in Brighton too, and have to admit that it's often overlooked by many of us who use LT in our excitement to tell people about a new tool we have found to be of use. Sometimes, it's not that there isn't a good reason for using the technology, just that the reason is not made explicit. And, then, it has to be said that there are other tim

Teaching Large Classes - Can technology help?

One of the great things about attending international conferences like IATEFL is that you can come across educators with experience and views so far removed from your own experience that your own deeply held views can be called into question. I didn't get to attend the session on Investigating Large Classes - Are we making progess? , but it was one of the first sessions I decided to watch thanks to the wonderful recordings provided by the British Council's IATEFL Online site . I've been interested in this ever subject since reading David Graddol's English Next (PDF) , and have made it part of a talk I've done on Innovations in Language Learning Spaces , which I'm updating for the keynotes I've been invited to give in the Autumn, at the IATEFL Poland and IATEFL Hungary conferences. I didn't get very far into the session before my curiosity was aroused. Nigussie Negash from Ethiopia mentioned ' plasma teaching ' in his overview of the situ

The IATEFL afterglow

There is only one IATEFL conference, and this year's event, held in Brighton was a highly enjoyable if exhausting experience. The best thing about the IATEFL conference experience, and one thing that makes it so special, though, has got to be that although it's now over, you can catch up on what you missed out on in so many different ways. This IATEFL afterglow seems to last so much longer than it does with other events. There are several reasons for this. Petra Pointer  ,  Nik Peachey  &  Andi White One of the most important reasons is the amazing work done by the British Council with IATEFL Online - now in its fifth year, the team have streamlined the experience and have developed a formula that works wonderfully. Alongside the live channel , which pipes out the plenaries as they are being delivered, and a succession of interviews with some of the presenters ( the photo shows Petra Pointer being interviewed by Nik Peachey and Andi White ) and then there are the s

Mobile Apps & Language Learning #1 Foursquare

Inspired by the recent short course at SEETA on Mobile Learning ( m-learning ) for language educators run by Nicky Hockly , I've decided to start posting about some of the apps that I've come across that I think can be used by language educators or learners. The first of these is Foursquare , which is a mobile social networking tool that is also a game. Basically, it allows you to tell the people you are connected to where you are and what you think of the place you are at. So you 'check in' to a place (it works well with restaurants, cafes, etc.) and you can leave tips or your opinions for other people. This is helpful for other people who are in an area they do not know and are looking for a place to eat, have coffee, etc. As Foursquare gets more popular , some places have started recognising the marketing potential of this app. and offer discounts or freebies to customers who 'check in' to their establishment. Apart from this, the gaming element works in

The Merging of the Second Life Grids - Teen and Main

Last Friday, the Second Life Teen Grid  (TG) merged with the Main Grid (MG) (you can see the area below in the bottom right of the map), putting a definitive end to a long-standing separation of teens in this virtual world, that caused more problems than it solved. The original idea of separating the13-17 year-olds was to protect them from some of the more unsavoury aspects of (second) life, but the over-strict regulations that existed to keep non-teens out of the TG meant that a lot of teenagers simply lied about their age in order to get an account in Second Life . The original decision taken by Linden Labs was to close the Teen Grid, but they reversed this decision and plumped for a merger because of pressure from educators. Now, everyone aged 16+ can join Second Life, but those under 18 have restricted access to certain areas. Some of the other teens (aged 13-15) still have access to certain islands, which have been moved, but which are not open to the

How many online learners of English are there?

As part of my role as social media consultant for the British Council's English Innovation team , I've just been involved in an interesting discussion about how many learners of English it's possible for the British Council to reach online. I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts about this with people here, as I'm be particularly interested in finding out from people if my thinking about this is completely off, or if I'm making a reasonable guestimate .  So, here it is: David Graddol estimated the figure of  1 billion  'learners' of English in English Next (2006), saying it would increase to  2 billion  in 10-15 years. The figure of  1,000,000,000  is interesting. The total population of the world is currently  6,894,200,000  ( US Census Bureau ). So that means an estimated  14.5%  of the world is learning English. When you look for estimated figures for 'speakers' of English, you find the following figures: 371,000,000  people