Showing posts from September, 2013

What's wrong with giving Josh +1 for teamwork?

Next Thursday,   Paul Driver   is taking part in an online discussion at  #AusELT chat  about gamification that promises to be very interesting. In preparation for this, Paul has written an article, Well done Josh +1 for teamwork: Gamification and Crabs which outlines his stance on this new(-ish) trend that has started to enter the ELT classroom .  Paul makes some very valid points about gamification, which is often defined as  the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity . He doesn't sit on the fence when it comes to saying what he thinks of it, implying that gamification is " at best, an over-hyped and misguided fad, and, at worst, an evil and manipulative strategy for getting people to do things they normally wouldn’t want to. "  It's not the first time that Paul has spoken against the trend. In 2012, he wrote on his blog, Digital Debris that " in the maj

There's video-conferencing...and then there's video-conferencing...

Before I started working at Plan Ceibal , when anyone mentioned video-conferencing, I'd think of Skype . There was that other way of doing it, but I assumed that was for corporate meetings in big businesses. I did wonder before I started working here why they were installing expensive video conference systems and high speed fibre-optic cables in schools all over Uruguay and insisting on it being installed in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines (where the remote teachers are based). Why didn't they just use Skype or another similar system? I asked myself. Now, after helping with installation and testing of equipment, observing classes and working here for over three months, it is clear that part of the success of this project is because high definition video-conference equipment is used and not the low quality, low-cost solutions that are fine for most people's domestic use (and sometimes business) use. Having to depend on Skype myself to contact friend

Reform Symposium 04 (#RSCON4) presentation on Ceibal English

I was happy to be invited to present at the Future of Education´s Reform Symposium 04 (#RSCON4) and have decided it was a good opportunity to talk about the kind of teaching that is happening via video conferencing on the Ceibal English project . Here are the details of my presentation: Remote teaching, distance learning, team teaching or blended learning? I n Uruguay, due to a lack of qualified and experienced teachers, English is being taught in almost 1000 primary classes across the country via video conferencing, using teachers from elsewhere (other parts of Uruguay, Argentina, the Philippines, Colombia and Mexico). Because there are two teachers, the classroom teacher (CT) and the remote teacher (RT), a new type of methodology is being developed that combines elements of distance learning, team teaching and blended learning, but which is also requires a unique approach.  Day/Time : Sunday 13th October  12.00-13.00 (UTC/GMT) 10.00-11.00 UYST This online c

Distance learning? Remote learning?

In  Jeremy Harmer's recent blog post  reflecting on his observation of a class taking place in the Ceibal English ( Ceibal en Ingl és ) project, he writes about the project using ' distance teachers  who teach English remotely' At Ceibal, we talked about this label and how the term  remote teacher  had been adopted instead and that we didn't think  distance teacher  was the appropriate term. From the time of piloting the term  remote teacher  has been used throughout the project internally. In the  paper written by Dario Luis Banegas  (2013), he briefly explains the teaching situation of Ceibal English in this way: 'Plan   Cei bal   seeks to demonstrate that lessons delivered by remote teachers (RTs) via videocon- fe re nc ing   with   sup port   from   cl as sr oom   te achers   (CT s)   wi th   li ttl e   co mmand   of  Engli sh   can   facilitate   successful   learning   outcomes   in   learners,   including   effective interaction with the   R T , CT an

3 months of Ceibal English

I've now been working in Montevideo for Plan Ceibal for just over three months now and still can't get over the fact that it feels like I'm in a very special place at a very special time. Three months isn't a very long time, but it feels like I have learnt a lot since I've been here. As the British Council's project manager for Ceibal English ( Ceibal en Ingl és ) in Uruguay, I took over from Dario Luis Banegas , whose article ' ELT through videoconferencing in primary schools in Uruguay: first steps ' is an excellent introduction to the pilot and first stage of the project.  The introductory project video (below) gives another good overview of what is involved. Shortly after I arrived, the project expanded from 500 English classes a week to just under 1000, with classes being taught in multiple locations across the country by remote teachers from various institutes in Montevideo, the British Council in Colombia and Mexico, AACI and other insti