Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Reading Challenge: another free mini-course from SEETA

From today 27 February until 5 March, the wonderful Marisa Constantinides is moderating a mini-workshop called The Reading Challenge: Motivation and Creativity in Reading Lessons

Reading is a key input skill in acquiring a foreign language. This workshop aims to work on participants' existing teaching skills and encourage them to find ways of transforming possibly dull coursebook lessons into more challenging and motivating learning experiences. The workshop participants will be encouraged to use whatever tools they have available whether they are proficient with technology or not but it is hoped that they will be able to use some new ideas with a variety of Web 2.0 tools .

Marisa is one of the most valued members of my PLN and several other teachers I've connected with on Twitter, in the previous SEETA mini-course on mLearning, and in the EVO sessions are also taking part.  It's got all the makings of a fabulous educational and social experience!

The previous mini-course on mLearning was excellent, and proved to me that the one-week format is a good model.  Enough time to absorb and reflect on the daily tasks, but not too long that you lose track, which I think is what might have happened in some of the EVO sessions where participation dropped right off after the first couple of weeks.

If you stumble upon this post, I encourage you to join us - sign up here:

My SEETA guest blogging spot - a post-mortem

I have now finished my guest blogging gig for SEETA's My Working Week series:

My guide for how to approach it was the title of the blog My Working Week and the Community Manager Anna Parisi's comments in her invitation, both of which seemed to suggest that I simply shared details about what I did in my working week.  In retrospect, maybe I should have taken more notice of the main SEETA page where it says I will give readers my "insights, thoughts and reflections".

It has been an interesting experience which has given me new insight into my working day, even if I did bore any other readers silly.  I think of myself as good at reflecting on my teaching experiences, but realise that I do less and less of this the busier I have become, and haven’t kept a journal for some time.  Writing the blog posts meant my reflections had to be much more thoughtful, considered and regimented.  It also meant sitting at my laptop until after 11pm every night, which is very difficult for me.

I agonised over each post, I chopped, changed and edited, and feel I lost any spontaneity in the process.  I found it hard talking into 'thin air' without any feedback, or any sense of an audience.  I've written many long epistles while on extended working holidays abroad, and had very enthusiastic feedback from friends and family, but this blogging 'professionally' was a new, and interesting, experience for me.

It was kind of difficult when I wasn't even sure if anyone was reading.  On day 5 I sent Anna an email just to check as I had felt a little mad just talking to myself.  I had two comments to my first post, both by people I'd sent to the blog, one a friend and colleague, and had solicited comments via email from other writerly friends.  But after that I had no sense whether anyway was out there.  I had promoted it widely at my workplace, but no one mentioned having looked at it.  I got to the stage where I was wondering if it might be that they wanted to avoid the embarrassment of trying to find something nice to say when they really thought it was awful.  I do understand people's reluctance to make comments on blogs.  I know I will try to comment on other blogs more now, but then I always feel I need to have something to ask, or something worthwhile to add!

Anna reported that teachers had been reading my posts and that a teacher from Greece joined the #ELTchat after following my link on SEETA. I'm very happy about that as I've been trying to spread the word about this wonderful PD opportunity.  Anna also said that other teachers are sending emails asking if they could be future bloggers, so perhaps I made it all seem more accessible to others.

Posting to the blog has reminded me just how interesting and varied my work is, and how much I love it, even though sometimes it is very frustrating.  It also made me realise how much more I do as co-ordinator of our Distance Learning program than I had given myself credit for before (I just always wondered where the hours went!).  I also realised how much IT troubleshooting I do, many things which probably should go straight to our help desk, but need to have an intermediary since our support people don't always understand the needs of teachers and learners.

I didn't have time to make notes during the day, and have now realised that I left out lots of interesting things, but I hope I got across some of the fabulous programs we have for new arrivals in Australia.  I also hope that, through all of my editing and rewriting, some of the passion, enthusiasm and dedication got through!

I am very grateful to Anna and SEETA for inviting me to do this, it was an insightful week for me.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

My SEETA guest blogging spot - 13-18 February

The SEETA Community is a collaborative on-line community of twelve Teachers' Associations in SE Europe run by volunteers.

SEETA organised and hosted the mLearning: an Introduction course that I recently blogged about.  From my participation in the course I was invited by Anna Parisi, the SEETA Community Manager, to be a guest blogger. The SEETA blog is a diary of a teacher's working week in the classroom, and Anna thought my teaching situation sounded very challenging and thought many teachers would be interested in my working week.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to give something back to SEETA for being able to participate in the wonderful mLearning course, so readily agreed.  I explained to Anna that I don't actually teach in the classroom at the moment, and don't have a 'typical' week, but she graciously conceded that my variety of activities in a working week will be of interest, and perhaps even inspiring, to other teachers.

I will be blogging about my teaching with adult migrants via Distance Learning, and working with other teachers in the Adult Migrant English program at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). I will also reflect on my role co-ordinating e-learning in CIT Vocational College (my faculty), supporting and training teachers in the use of ICTs in teaching and learning, and working on special projects and planning.  And I'm sure I won't be able to resist the opportunity to talk about my project for this year to implement an online community of practice for teachers to share ideas and resources (the SEETA Online Community has given me more ideas for this).

I plan to start my working week blog on a Sunday, as I teach adult migrant & refugee women to swim on Sundays over summer.  This season I'm also mentoring two women, one from Iran and one from Korea, to become swimming teachers in Australia.  Both are still learning English at CIT.

I will be blogging from next Sunday 13th February, please join me at - comments welcome!

mLearning: an Introduction - yet another online short course for holiday PD!

I just couldn't resist this one, a introductory one week course on mLearning, and specifically how mLearning relates to English language teaching.  The one-week format with daily tasks and discussions was ideal, and I managed to keep on track except for day 6, but I still have access to all the resources and discussions, so can revisit it anytime, and so can you - read on for details.

The course was hosted by South Eastern Europe Teachers Associations (SEETA) who generously made it available to this teacher who is very south-east of Europe!

Our moderator was Nicky Hockly of TheConsultants-E and Nicky's own blog post about the course - MOOCs, mLearning & mobseeta - illustrates her own enthusiasm about the experience and you can read comments from some of the participants.  

During the week we considered what mLearning is and how it might be relevant (or not) to our own teaching context and some of the key issues in implementing mLearning and how they relate to our own teaching contexts.  We had an in-depth look at one mLearning project in a high school and a day of looking at video on hand-held devices. We looked at reviews of some language learning apps and shared our own evaluations of apps.  We ended the week with a live session where we were joined by Nicky's co-director at TheConsultants-E, Gavin Dudeney.   All through the week there was a lot of interaction and sharing on the forums, and on day 7 were invited to share a one-minute video of what we had learned from the course.

This is my video contribution, sharing some Australian bush scenery and sounds with the participants from all parts of the world: 

I hadn't planned to go 'public' with this but, since I agreed to make it available on TheConsultants-E YouTube channel, I decided to publish it here too.

Also, a statement I made in one of my posts, summarising the key points that I had learned from Nicky and my fellow participants about implementing mLearning, "Get ready, start slow, use what you have!", became a kind of motto or mantra for the course!

I first heard about the course from Janet Bianchini's blog, via her tweet, and she has written an excellent post,  Feedback on Introduction to m-Learning Course, which includes her Day 7 video complete with pets and olive trees!  One of the very best things about the course for me was the sharing of ideas, resources and opinions with my fellow travellers, participants like Janet - aren't TESOL people the most generous souls!

I haven't included links to any of the resources provided for the course, or those shared by participants, as they are available to anyone, for the foreseeable future, at SEETA mLearning: an Introduction. Of course, you won't be able to benefit from the amazing moderation and interaction of the 'live' course.  I know I will be revisiting the course site often as there is a tremendous amount of learning there to absorb, and I have only just skimmed the surface so far. 

Based on this experience I am seriously considering enrolling in the TheConsultants-E six-week mLearning course.  Unfortunately, because I'll be busy working on my Masters project, I won't have time again until the end of the year, so maybe the January 2012 one.  I recommend you check it out!