Showing posts from April, 2014

The Rise of SOLEs (part 2): At the Heart of a SOLE

This is part 2 of a three-part series about SOLEs. (see also  Part 1  and Part 3) One of the keystones of  Sugata Mitra's controversial plenary at the IATEFL conference this year was his belief in the positive effects of getting children learning with the Internet, clustered in groups around computers, solving a 'big question' on their own. This he has named the SOLE . What is a SOLE? SOLE stands for ' Self-Organised Learning Environment ' and it is an idea which developed out of Sugata Mitra's interest in further exploring  Minimally Invasive Education (MIE)  - something which he experimented with during the Hole-in-the -Wall project .   MIE has been defined by Sugata Mitra as a " pedagogic method that uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher." Sugata believes that the beauty of MIE is that children are 'd riven pur

The Rise of SOLEs (Part 1): The Decline of the Webquest

This is part 1 of a three-part series about SOLEs. (see also Part 2 and Part 3) A few days ago, I was chatting to Anne Fox about webquests and she commented that she felt the webquest was dying. The leading proponents of the model seem to have stopped writing/talking about it and fewer teachers were interested in doing them. So, if not exactly dying, webquests do seem to be fading in popularity, and why has the SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environment) , which some commentators feel is just a variation of the webquest , become more popular?  What is a webquest? The webquest  was developed by Bernie Dodge and Tom March  while they were teaching at San Diego State University in 1995. A webquest is " is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of an open-ended question " ( Tom March ). The webquest model is very structured , with a number of key feature

IATEFL Harrogate Online: Russell Mayne (Pseudo Science)

During the IATEFL conference in Harrogate , I noticed that Russell Mayne 's presentation was mentioned a lot on various social media channels. Russell, who is behind the Evidence-based EFL Twitter handle  and blog of the same name has now also written about the buzz his talk created in a lively blog post . As you will understand, the subject of his talk is disruptive (you could describe it as edupunk , if that term hadn't already been used to describe something else),   and w ith rock n' roll analogy being a particular theme of the conference this year , I suspect this presentation will be looked on as the ELT equivalent to the Sex Pistols gig at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall . Fortunately, the presentation was recorded and   his presentation is also available to download , so we can all make the claim ' I was there ' while chatting at the bar in future conferences.  The focus of Russell's talk, A guide to pseudo-science in English language teach

IATEFL Harrogate Online: Mykhailo Noshchenko (Computer Games)

Using computer games in language teaching continues to be a rising trend, with more research and practice being conducted around the world. It's a subject that continues to attract me as I think the surface has only just been scratched and there is so much potential out there. As computer games develop, as they become more mainstream , so the ways in which they are used in language teaching will grow. Mykhailo Noshchenko 's presentation on  Teaching English via computer games: merits and critique is the second games-related presentation of the IATEFL Online recordings, although the other presentation, by Karenne Sylvester , was concerned with gamification (the use of game elements in non-game contexts) . My interest comes principally from having co-written the first book on exploiting computer games for language teachers, Digital Play: computer games and language aims (Delta, 2011) , and participating in the accompanying blog of the same name . In both of these, Kyle M

6 of the best of the Harrogate Online Registered Bloggers' posts

Now that the conference has finished, I'm looking forward to catching up on some of the things I missed, and the first place I've started is with the Harrogate Online Registered Bloggers (HORB). What follows is my personal selection of some of the best blog posts from the HORB bloggers. 1) TEFL GEEK: The Sugata Mitra Debate I suspect the over-riding memory of The IATEFL 2014 Harrogate conference for many of those who participated in person and online will be the presence of Sugata Mitra and the hullabaloo that followed his plenary and interview . Here, David Petrie , writes a reflective and balanced account of the controversy. He also had the opportunity to ask Mitra about his ideas on the train from Harrogate, something a lot of other conference participants thought they should have had the opportunity to do (most of the plenary speakers had follow-up Q&A sessions).  David " got the distinct impression that he sees no need for specialized language instru

IATEFL Harrogate Online: Sugata Mitra (part 2)

This is part 2 - part 1 can be read here Sugata Mitra 's plenary on the last day of the IATEFL conference was entitled The Future of Learning , which " takes us through the origins of schooling as we know it " and explores his work related to self-organising learning environments . In the introduction, Sugata offers a disclaimer to what is about to follow: " I'm just going to tell you a sequence of work, which leads to a certain kind of conclusion. That conclusion is not, perhaps, entirely cast in stone, but the experiment and results are there. " Mitra started with " a few things we know."  We know that it is difficult to get good teachers in remote places.   Here, Sugata Mitra talks about an experiment he conducted 7-8 years ago heading out of New Delhi and stopping at state primary schools to administer a test of English, Maths and Science. Mitra plotted the results (see left) of the test and compared them to the distance fro