Just home from participating in an event held at the University of Wolverhampton Walsall campus at the invitation of Howard Scott and I would categorise it as an opportunity to provide my experience of CALL, or more specifically CMC and my subsequent journey into the Erasmus Plus Virtual Exchange initiative. I was able to provide myself as an OER. My focus was particularly upon the importance of finding suitable networks to support our professional development and I am pleased to say that I have come home to connection requests on various social media platforms which mean the conversations can continue. Particularly important given that it will take the Palestinian teacher trainers I met today 2 days to return to their homes. We will be able to overcome our geographical distance and continue to interact and learn from each other.
My slides from the session and the google doc with the tasks we tried to cover are linked here. Our conversations were urgent and rather restricted as we were part of a packed programme and participants were eager to find out as much as possible during their visit. We talked about how technologies of all sorts have long been part of our practice as language educators - from blackboards and chalk (chalk and talk was the expression used by one of the visiting teachers) to digital tools which they are very keen to embrace but wish to understand what works. Both myself and the final keynote speaker Michael Thomas spoke about the importance of critical reflection when adopting digital technologies, alluding to the dangers of a solution based mindset and techno evangelism and the importance of prioritising the learning when designing with technology. Central to these arguments is the notion of ownership. The digital wilds, where your data is harvested, trolling, spam and fake news abound, are not exactly a safe space. If you are insisting that your students engage there, you need to ensure that they are digitally savvy. We as teachers need therefore to be well informed and to ask better questions. As Michael said we need to uphold our responsibilities as "difficultators" (taking learners out of their comfort zone).
Much to ruminate on, I hope the conversations will continue.
I captured the social media footprint of the event here: