Using Technology in ELT
Lake School Oxford http://www.englishinoxford.com/courses/professional-development/learning-curves/ hosted a group of colleagues from several different countries this week for an intensive ILT / ELT course.
Final session was held @ OCVC & delivered by me so I took the opportunity to try out a few things I'd seen or heard . . . or been tweeted . . . or retweeted . . .
We kicked off by looking at http://todaysmeet.com/ which is a great 'back channelling' website. I wanted just to use it as a bit of a warmer / icebreaker to get a bit of info about the group as I hadn't actually met them before, but also wanted to show them a few tools to make the interactive whiteboard (IWB) a little more interactive. Within a minute or two, 'my' IWB was covered with 'their' writing & the theme of technology being used to facilitate collaboration had begun.
We had a whistle stop tour through the OCVC Moodle site & I showed them one or two of the features which I like to use. Something I regularly harp on about is the fact that Moodle sites can become a bit of a graveyard for Word & PowerPoint docs and little else. So we looked at the forums and in particular at the collaborative discussion tasks I blogged about in 'Using Moodle Forums in Creative Writing Class' & we talked about the different applications of this - whether it works best when started in class or not (I think it does) . . .
As I only saw them for an afternoon, it didn't seem worthwhile to build a specific Moodle site for the teachers, so I 'piggy-backed' the activities / websites I wanted them to look at on one of my existing sites & just 'hid' & 'revealed' it as and when it was required. Although if any of my level 2 Pre-access diploma group *had* been on the VLE late on a Friday afternoon (unlikely, but not unheard of) they may have been surprised by the presence of interlopers . . . . and possibly very alarmed at what may have look like a very unusual set of new modules to be studied so late in the year. Fortunately, now everything is 'hidden' again and it looks as if we had never been there.
Again because I was only seeing them for a one-off, I succumbed to the danger of demoing a list of my favourite resources & then letting participants get on with it. Mind you, if you can't fall into a few 'lazy teaching' habits on a Friday afternoon, when can you?
As ever with ILT sessions like this, it's the stuff I found out preparing / researching the session as well as the contributions from the group (still available - for one week only - on http://todaysmeet.com/ocvclearningcurves ).
In an earlier blog post I mentioned the difficulty I have processing the sheer wealth of what is out there on t'internet & in the 'cloud' & we discussed yesterday fears about what would happen if, for some reason, the cloud blew away. I got the feeling that their technology was a lot less reliable than what we have @ OCVC, although apart from our Moodle, everything else we looked at was free. But it was more that they might have dodgy LANs or Internet connections or just the fear that 'it might not work'.
We also discussed the balance you strike at at big college like OCVC where although the facilities can be impressive, adding resources to the network can be a long drawn out process where different departments need to talk to each other - not always as quickly as we might like. In fact, we were in a different room than originally planned for because the 'showcase' ILT room wasn't running flash (really!) and while most of the participants would have been able to download in their organisations in a (er) 'flash' (*cough*) that's something we would need to get permissions for & different members of staff would need to become involved, it would begin to,take time (and cost money) and in the end we decided to change the room . . . .
Finishing off on the idea of having trouble processing the amount of new material 'out there' & also the speed at which the list is being added to, we discussed how google/reader, blogger (of course!) & Twitter ( http://twitter.com/neobadwolfone ) could help provide strategies for coping with all the different threads of C21st Learning & how colleagues from all over the world are such an active resource.
It does seem a little paradoxical that certain paranoias about cyber-geekery can exist hand-in-hand with the wonderfully humanistic global collaboration & sharing of ideas. Paradoxical, but cool.
So I have vowed to trawl the feeds more carefully and with more purpose. To continue to let the general amazingness on learning technology wash over me in a wave of blog posts, tweets & retweets, but also doing something about it - the very wonderful Shelly Terrell http://twitter.com/#!/shellterrell has blogged extensively about several different projects one can participate in - which for me would be great and offer a bit of direction in my (admittedly enjoyable) sea of driftingness - interesting that I keep using sea analogies - clearly the 'Water, water' post hasn't gone away yet.
Now I just need to go away and think carefully about which particular project might work for me . . . . and also the focus . . .
1. Learners voices - listening to them & helping learners make their own voices more persuasive
2. Keeping up to date / worldwide collaboration / webinars & tweetings etc
3. Organising resources - this year everything feels like it's everywhere - laptop, iPad, google.docs, hotmail, work mail, USB stick etcetcetc
4. Projects. projects everywhere - not a mo to think . . . .