In this show you’ll be going on a guided tour of Mecca; we’ll be hearing from Mark Pegrum, author of the book ‘From Blogs to Bombs’ about the impact of digital technologies and we’ll be finding out how international a team of online moderators can be.
What I want to concentrate on in this show is a phenomenon which started about 10 years ago as an event leading up to the TESOL convention which usually happens in March. TESOL is an organisation of teachers of English and 10 years ago a couple of TESOL members had the idea of offering free online development sessions of interest to English teachers in the run-up to the face to face convention in March. The idea was such a success that it has become an annual feature and the current sessions are going on right now.
I thought I would explore some of the intercultural aspects of this event since it draws people from all over the world both as moderators and as participants and is built on the voluntary efforts of a growing band of enthusiasts. So, for 6 weeks starting in mid-January you can sign up to any of a growing list of sessions which this year included using video in class, using images, using the Internet with Young Learners, making the most of your Interactive Whiteboard, using drama, using online games and teaching in Second Life.
After ten years a certain number of traditions have emerged, one of which is the kick-off meeting during which all the sessions on offer are described by their moderators. There is a link to a recording of the full 2 hour event here. If you have ever taken part in an Evonline session for example perhaps you could tell us about your experience of working with such a mixed international group as a comment to this blog. Not only do the participants come from all over the world but the moderators do too. Teresa Almeida d’Eça talked about the locations of the moderating panel for the session ‘Becoming a Webhead’ which is abbreviated to BAW.
That international mix is also reflected in the participants who sign up for the sessions and means that lively discussion is guaranteed. For example, in this year’s drama session, the moderators planned that participants should develop activities around the theme of tolerance and over the past few days there has been a heated, but respectful discussion about whether tolerance is actually a good thing or not. Does it lead us to condone actions which we disapprove of?
When the Evonline sessions started over ten years ago most sessions were text-based discussions supported by a collection of Internet links. Now technology has moved on to such an extent that live meetings are common across all the sessions and teachers explore the use of all types of communication and storytelling methods. These include the use of virtual worlds such as Second Life where for example you can take your students on a virtual tour. What could that be like? One example is the tour led by Nergiz Kern around virtual Mecca as part of the Evonline session on teaching languages in a virtual world. You can see the full 30 minute tour on the video above but for now we will eavesdrop on the introduction. The way the tour was organised meant that only Nergiz spoke, while comments and questions were taken through text chat so you’ll hear typing noises when the ‘tourists’ ask questions. You will also hear camera shutters when the tourists take photographs. Is this Absolutely Mecca?
So it’s not just a question of walking round replicas of buildings. With a good guide like Nergiz and an interested mixed group such as these language teachers I think you can learn a great deal from an event like this.
Another of the Evonline sessions is about exploring the idea of multiliteracies, that it is not enough to be able to read and write but that we also have to be able to read more critically all the different digital channels which have emerged recently. Mark Pegrum in Australia has recently published a book about the topic and he was happy to join the Multiliteracies Evonline session to take questions about it. I let Vance Stevens, one of the Multiliteracies moderators introduce Mark, during one of the live sessions which were organised for this topic.
Now we’ll continue with our tour of Mecca by going into the Grand Mosque. Hey! Don’t forget to take off your shoes!
absolutely the best European podcast?
We’ve been nominated for the European Podcast Award which is being offered for the first time this year. You can go to the European Podcast Award webpage. What we need from you is a rating if you like the podcast. Now for the hard part. The award is divided according to countries and the Award organisers don’t know whether to allocate us to Germany or Denmark. At the moment you will find us listed under both countries but I think in the end we will only appear on the Danish pages. That’s the problem with being intercultural I guess! Anyway well keep you posted about how you can help us. The first deadline is mid-March so there is time to tidy things up.
The next show will be coming to you on 19th Febuary from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Australia.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole