Alla Leonidovna Nazarenko was one of the plenary speakers at the E-merging Forum 5. Watch her talk from the conference and her interview here.

About

Prof. Alla Nazarenko holds a PhD in Philology and is Deputy Dean for Information and Educational Technology of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at Lomonosov Moscow State University. She holds the positions of Head of Linguistics and Information Technologies Department at MSU and Head of the Distance Learning Centre, is a presidium member of the Research and Methodology Council for Foreign Languages of the Ministry of Education of Russia, and leads on “ICT in Linguistic Education”.
 
She teaches a number of general courses: “ICT in linguodidactics: theory and practice”, “Theory and methods of distance learning for foreign language study”, “Theoretical and pragmatic basics of ICT integration into linguodidactics” and delivers other courses and seminars. A professional course for retraining teachers of foreign (English) languages “Theoretical and pragmatic basics of foreign language teaching: modern approaches” was developed under her supervision.
She is a member of numerous national and international scientific conferences and forums on linguistic education informatisation issues, and has contributed to around 100 publications on this topic, including a coursebook “Information and Communication Technologies in Linguodidactics: Distance Learning” (MSU publishing house, 2013). In 2012, she was awarded a grant from the Vladimir Potanin Foundation “Professor MSU online”. As a participant of the Fulbright Program she has studied the organisation of distance education systems in the United States and participated in workshops and training courses for teachers of distance learning courses through the SUNY Learning Network (State University of New York).
 
Topic: The power of technologies? The power of a teacher? The power of a learner?
 
When education ‘adopted’ modern technologies, the most impressive outcome was the creation of Interactive Distance Learning. In DL it is not the learner coming to education but rather education coming to the learner. This existed before in DL. Importantly, the striking feature of DL based on ICT is the immediate and unlimited access to any necessary information and — due to the inherent interactivity — quick (or even immediate) contact with a teacher / tutor. ICT makes teaching and learning at a distance comparable in many respects to traditional F2F education, due to its inherent properties and special didactic principles and the strategies and methods based on them. DL with modern technologies can provide unprecedented access to education for those who for some reason cannot or do not want to have it in more traditional formats.
Traditional education can also use technologies, profiting from DL by adapting its principles and approaches and enriching its own learning environment. The addition of an online component to a traditional F2F mode results in Blended Learning, a new format of education.
Nonetheless both forms — distance and blended learning — despite having a lot of advantages, are not devoid of problems. What are these problems? How can they be overcome? What is the role of the teacher in a class using technologies? What are the commitments of the learner? How can we teach successfully with technologies?
The author of this talk will answer these questions, relying on her experience and knowledge.
 
Video recording of the plenary session
 
You can watch the full recording of Alla L. Nazarenko’s talk on British Council Russia’s YouTube channel by clicking the link below:
 
Interview
 
In this interview, Alla looks at the ideas surrounding distance learning and expands on the notion that it brings learning to the learner. She talks about some of the benefits and drawbacks of distance learning and dicusses how it can create a positive learning environment. She also talks about the move towards a more blended approach and some of its advantages.
 
Watch the interview with Alla Leonidovna here: http://www.viddler.com/v/2bc21a49
 
Questions
 
Alla also answered some of your online questions. You can read what she said below:
 
Speaking of teachers: how would you rank teaching competences: great language knowledge, highest interest in the subject and student's success, great knowledge of teaching methods?
 
This question only looks simple but it is very complicated. I would be inclined to say: it depends. All competences look equally important but there are paradoxes. F.ex., I used to know a teacher who did not know English but taught it with a great success. His students could speak much better than the teacher, after their course of study with this teacher. But this is rather an exception. A teacher should know his subject very well to be a live example for her/his students to follow. And to be a live "resource" of knowledge for the students to turn to. Though there is no person in the world who would know everything. And a wise teacher should agree to it without losing her/his face.
Great interest in the subject and the student's success is the most appealing to me (though, as I said, I value all mentioned competences). But enthusiasm, creative energy and love of the subject and learners – can produce miracles. Again I am referring to my personal experience as a student. I was SO lucky to have several teachers of that kind and that shaped my attitudes to many things, including philology.
Great knowledge of teaching methods I would give the last place (risking to cause a storm of indignation on the part of experts in methodology). Certainly, any teacher should get a clear idea of teaching methods, pedagogy and psychology of teaching. But she/he shouldn't be a "slave" of methodology. I personally believe in euristic methods: a teacher should be able to "feel" the situation, to "feel" her/his students and to "feel" when and how to use this or that method (so it important to know them!!:)) and sometimes such teachers invent completely unique methods of their own.
But again – everything is important but in different degree in different situations!
 
Will the idea of a "flipped classroom" work at the univesity level in Russia, in your opinion?
 
Thank you for this question: I am now preoccupied with thoughts about the validity of the "flipped classroom" technology and even undertook an attempt of research in this. What I found (trying this method on my students) I can summerize as : you cannot "implant" it without any transformation/adaptation into "Russian soil". My students were not ready for self-study, learning new material before a teacher "chewed" it to the extent they could easily "digest". The majority (about 80%) were very negative about the method and only about 20% found it to be effective, "allowing to get prepared to a discussion in the classroom". The problem is that this is the effect of organization of the Russian system of education, with its emphasis on "translating" model of teaching/learning. But a new approach should be introduced despite the inertia, students should be taught to learn autonomously, to think critically. That is what a competency-based approach is about, I think.
 
In your opinion what should the role of the intercultural competence be in the school curriculum? How can teachers develop it at the lessons of English at school? Especially develop students' ability to speak about their own culture (e.g. Russian) and represent it in the English speaking world?
 
I think this is a broader question than just teaching English (though the knowledge of English is an integral part of the intercultural competence). To be able to speak with confidence about your own culture one should know and love it. And this is the question of upbringing, of broad humanitarian education, the elements of which should also be included into a linguistic education. I think also that teacher's attitudes play an important role in shaping the correspondent attitudes of her/his students.
 
Presentation
 
You can download Alla Leonidovna’s presentation “The power of technologies? The power of a teacher? The power of a learner?” below
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