I was at the TESOL France conference in Paris and also being visited by my sister (who lives about 1.5 hours' drive away from Paris), so it was a very busy weekend and I rewarded myself with some time off from 'being connected'!
I'm not sure if anyone from the TESOL France committee will read this, but it was a fantastic conference, well-organised, diverse in speakers and very social too. I got to meet some old friends and acquaintances (Jamie Keddie, Burcu Akyol, Lindsay Clandfield, Penny Ur, Ken Wilson, Simon Greenall, Hugh Dellar, David Hill, Valentina Dodge, Cleve Miller, etc.) and also to finally meet in real life some virtual friends from Twitter and Second Life (most notably Shell Terrell and Kenny Christian). Being able to spend time laughing, eating and drinking with people is fantastic, and Paris was a great place to be for a couple of days too.
But of course we can't always get to conferences in real life (apart from anything else, it's actually very expensive and we have to work) and luckily there are plenty of opportunities for professional development online. If you click any of the names above you'll be taken to the Twitter account of the people mentioned - if you don't use Twitter yet, consider joining and following some (or all) of them. You might also be interested in online conferences: last week there was the free AVEALMEC conference, some of which I attended, and coming up this week another conference (free and online) talking about technologies and teaching. If you can't get to the event, sometimes the event can get to you...
At the conference I had a couple of interesting conversations about teachers and technology. In my session I did some light theory, looking at new digital literacies and then moved on to look at several tools which I think can enhance some teaching situations: we looked at using images in the classroom, using video, word clouds and cartoons - and, as always, some teachers had seen some of these tools, whilst others were delighted to find new ones. I remember the 'whoop of delight' from one participant to see how easy it is to work with Wordle. Nice reactions and a good crowd - my thanks to everyone who chose to come to my session.
After the session, talking to Lindsay Clandfield, he was telling me about a recent set of teacher training sessions he'd done and how he'd noticed that teachers responded very well to certain technology tools (video, Wordle, etc.) but less well to others (wikis and video subtitling were ones he mentioned). As we talked, we thought perhaps it was the tools that leave the teacher at the centre of the materials production and more in control of the class that were more attractive and that tools which put the emphasis on learner control were met with less enthusiasm. I can certainly see why that might happen, but I hope it's not a long-term thing!
What do you think?
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