Attending Language World organised by The Association for Language Learning at the University of Leicester was very memorable for me this year as it was my first talk for 2009 and I was very much looking forward to meeting up with friends and networking face to face rather than just online for a change.
The conference certainly lived up to my expectations and I attended some fascinating sessions on a variety of topics. Thanks to modern technology and the kind permission of speakers such Lisa Stevens and Alex Blagona, I was able to record everything on my iRiver and therefore not miss out on talks that clashed on the programme.
Moreover, having digital versions of their words of wisdom meant I could send Lisa and Alex the mp3 files so they could then transform their presentations Absorbing Language Learning and Using Wikis in MFL into slidecasts and share them with a much wider audience than those present on the day.
I wish this sort of practice happened more often as the benefits to the MFL community would be considerable. This really should be a no brainer in the 21st century and an opportunity to put into practice the theme of the conference of grasping the nettle.
That said, I was delighted to see a healthy Twitter backchannel going on throughout the conference as well as speakers readily referring to their blogs at the beginning or end of sessions as a means of offering their audience the opportunity for accessing further materials and support.
The new ALL magazine Languages Today also included the article My Top 10 Blogs (written by some ‘star blogger’ from the Isle of Wight) and as you can see below bloggers speaking at the conference were highlighted with a red pin raising their profile further. This was a welcome development and an indication of how blogging is coming of age and moving more into mainstream education.
In my talk I encouraged colleagues to create their own personal learning network by subscribing to blogs, listening to podcasts and using sites such as Del.icio.us and Flickr to keep their continuing professional development up to date. As an attempt to show how much teachers already value these types of social networks, I sent out a request on Twitter before starting my session asking what people's PLNs meant to them. I was touched by the response and very grateful for the wonderful tweets from:
jonsim29, blagona, HGJohn, carolrainbow, russelltarr, skinnyboyevans, markw29, DoBeLou, daibarnes, dominic_mcg, peterford, dannynic, winetimejs, teachernz, jennyluca, dannynic (again), lynnehorn, islayian, nickdennis, langwitch, lynnehorn (again), theokk, timrylands, daibarnes (again), adamsutcliffe, mrmackensie, ajep, don_iain, pilsward, lisibo, willie42, kenny73, snbeach, GeoBlogs, wmchamberlain, oide, pearlyadder, gusleonard, tonycassidy, kenroyal, MaryHr, jmlesoleil
and here they are:
@joedale the ability to collaborate instantly with other educators is one of the greatest tools I use in the classroom
@joedale Twitter is great for putting out new ideas, seeking out advice, and keeping up to date with the latest developments.
@joedale What better way is there to link in to a global network of educators for inspiration, ideas and support?
@joedale it means being given the opportunity to keep up to date with current thinking, articles & research by people with similar interests
@joedale PLN allows sharing of links to top resources in just a few words. Easy to scan lots of ideas in minutes (unlike email/forums)
@joedale personal network is more than googling answers from people its debating the answers with those people
@joedale My PLN (mainly via Twitter) is a great way of sharing ideas with some amazing educators, who are always creative and supportive.
@joedale I get a lot of interesting stuff from some really interesting people that otherwise I wouldn't get or know!
@joedale my PLN is how I met you, & 800 other teachers. Best professional move I ever made. It is my working community.
@joedale Twitter is the best way to share ideas and experiences. There is no hierarchy and everyone's voice is the same volume.
@joedale A drip-feed of creative ideas, discussion and prof. develop. potential. Beats normal force- or spoon-feeding of irrelevant CPD
@joedale my PLN gives me easy access to some amazing educators - can share ideas and expertise. Lots of talented people out here
@joedale Network helping me and my students learn Twitter, locate resources, find impt links, generate ideas. 2 weeks using twitter.
@joedale My PLN means that if I need support, answers, a laugh or collegiality they can ALL be found there. :-)
@joedale PLN means access to a supportive community with great minds to match. It's where I do most of my learning now.
@joedale have learned more, for free, in 9 months of Twitter than in 3 years of being a Naace subscriber
@joedale Allows me to meet + keep in touch with language teachers (+other subjs) all over UK, great for new ideas + help when needed.
@joedale Keeps connected to what is happening and to a support network even from an isolated place
@joedale Twitter is a place to bounce ideas and get expert advice from people that are willing to help :)
@joedale Twitter is great for finding out about new ideas and for support at times when you need it most!
@joedale Also about to start a bit of collaborative work between my class and class elsewhere in UK, all started via Twitter.
@joedale PLN gathers 'lots' of opinions, ideas and data to aggregate, greater than sum of parts
@joedale my PLN is a mix of analogue and digital. It is so good to meet the REAL hooman beings behind incredible digital ideas. :-)
@joedale more like minded educators on twitter than in the average staffroom. its a virtual staffroom, minus the coffee smell
@joedale twitter is my extended staffroom where links are shared, questions answered + there r lots of interesting conversations
@joedale PLN keeps me informed and up to date. Shows me fantastic resources, answers questions and fills me with enthusiasm. Inspiring.
@joedale I get to tap in to the minds of some great, innovative teachers for help, classroom ideas and new web tools.
@joedale - Twitter allows me to keep in touch with what's going on in the world, to share, to ask question and get answers
@joedale Started my PLN 6 months ago it's become my most used tool for garnering & sharing uptodate and innovative ED news & views
@joedale inspiration, support, sharing and the odd random conversation (as necessary as the others at times)
@joedale my learning network creates a "learning w/o boundaries" experience. I become a part of all from whom I learn with online.
@joedale advice, inspiration, tip-offs, CPD, technical support, a daily smile and traffic updates...
@joedale Hello from Noel, MO. Twitter = connections.
@joedale With 9 yrs to retirement. My PLN is a finely tuned amalgam of like-minded peers that assist in my CPD where official channels fail.
@joedale I have made so many contacts and learnt so much with the free share of ideas on Twitter. I wouldn't want to be without it.
@joedale PLN keeps me current in the field via live tweets during conferences. eg. #bootcamp #iatefl. Follow trends and ongoing events
@joedale moral/emotional support, learning, sharing, and a laugh...
@joedale It gives me the same opportunities e-mail did in the 14.4 modem days--only now, collaboration isn't such a hunt.
@joedale it provides access to online sages; serves as my interactive reference library and helps build my academic "social capital"
Below is a summary of the main points of my talk along with all the supporting links you should need to find out more.
- quoting Kathy Wicksteed quoting Chris Maynard from QCA at Language World 2008
- inviting teachers to be bold when implementing the new KS3 curriculum
- Alec Couros' diagram of the networked teacher
- creating new CPD opportunities using RSS
- how language teachers are creating their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN)
- explaining RSS and how to subscribe in Google Reader
- tailouring materials to personalise learning for students
- finding the RSS feed in your browser
- subscribing to a RSS feed
- celebrating language related events on Flickr
- tagging photos on Flickr so pictures can be shared by different people in the same collection
- embedding Flickr slideshows on to your blog
- uploading videos as well as images to Flickr
- using the video function on a still digital camera
- subscribing to the photostreams of other language teachers
- sharing your favourite websites online with social bookmarking
- using email to find out about the latest updates as an alternative to RSS
- adding a del.icio.us tag roll to your blog
- the benefits of being part of an online community (fora/Ning networks)
- having an open or closed network
- micro-blogging with Twitter
- the power of asking questions on Twitter
- twittering at The Isle of Wight Conference 2008
- using Twitter for language learning purposes
- Twitter blending the personal with the professional
- downloading YouTube clips and embedding them into PowerPoint
- creating customised RSS feeds to search for clips by username and tag
- using Skype to make free calls to other users or inexpensive calls to landlines over the internet
- recording and editing Skype calls from a USB stick
- bringing authentic voices into the classroom
- using SkypeOut credit to ring landlines for a few pence
- videoconferencing with Flashmeeting
- using wikis for creative writing, collaborative projects and for hosting multimedia resources
- reasons to start blogging and ideas on promoting your blog
- ideas to start moblogging
- using a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC)
- the educational value of podcasting
- CILT video case studies on the effective use of ICT
- using podcasting for assessment for learning purposes and distance learning
- using podcasting for global citizenship and eTwinning
- some cool tools for schools (Wordle, Mobus, Tumblr+Kwout, VoiceThread, eBook to Images, Go! Animate)
- how to morph your voice in Audacity
- further reading
- a few final thoughts
Thank you to The Association for Language Learning for organising such a great conference and for providing so many learning and networking opportunities for ALL our needs. See you next year.