viernes, 23 de mayo de 2014

Digital Citizenship and the importance of including it in our teaching

Let´s begin by saying that if we talk about "digital" citizenship, some teachers may argue that they don´t need it since they don´t use any technology in school.  This is the case of many classes in Argentina where digital technology is being slowly introduced either through government or private iniciative.  What happens outside  the classroom may vary from children who have access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and are already using it profusely with their friends to those who are not allowed to use any social media at all, this group is the minority.  As regards teachers, we range from those who are connected via facebook, to those who have a twitter account but never check it or don´t see the pedagogical implications of using twitter (or any other social media) for professional development or any other school purpose.  However the conversation in classrooms about "digital" citizenship has not started yet.  It seems that we are waiting for the computers to arrive, the wifi connection to work and the curricullum to adjust itself.  Meanwhile children are already producing content, interacting through social media, and using the internet to look for materials for homework assignments.  All these without having had the chance to actually do what we have been doing during these two weeks of DCMOOC:  reflect and share our opinions about the elements that should be present in the "good digital citizenship" equation.
Not having access to technology may not be that bad after all, since it would allow us to focus on different aspects one at a time, or to establish priorities.

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2014

Digital Citizenship MOOC


Digital Citizenship MOOC homepage

I can say that I was thrown into the waters of the web without having any idea of the protocol of behaviour to follow during my interactions with educators from around the world.  Learning how to behave online was not something I sat down to do, since there were so many exciting things to learn and catch up with that I often postponed the systematic study of this matter.  However, and as I got more involved in social media interactions with other educators I felt the time has come for me to reflect on where I stood regarding digital behaviour.
I agree with Alec Couros when he says that chances are that we are going to see more and more technology in our society, so it is only natural for a connected educator to get involved in the conversation about what we mean when we talk about Digital Citizenship.  It also resonated with me when he mentioned (I watched the recording today) that he has three children and I remember how I tortured mine in the early times of the internet at home.   Being a parent is also a strong reason to be here as well.
Digital Citizenship is also another example of those things that you learn by doing, that is why I believe the connectivist approach to this subject is the most appropriate one.
My aims for this course are getting to know what other teachers have experienced so far, learning about classroom techniques to foster good practices, and participating in discussions regarding what miths should be destroyed and what paths should be taken in order to focus our work on the best that the internet has to offer: people getting together to make this world a better place.

PS.  As I was sipping my tea after I published this post I remember another reason why I wanted to join this MOOC.  Last night I watched the recording of one session from the "Learning Together" series by my friend Vance Stevens with Alexander Hayes.  Link to the you tube recording.  In it I was able to have a glimpse of the research he is carrying out regarding the impact of the use of wearable technology in education and society.  The conversation brought about interesting but disturbing issues concerning privacy and transparency (and obscurity!) Technology is being blended into society and we are faced with new predicaments as we go along.  At the same time, and why not, it also has the potential of making us become closer, so close that we could become the person wearing the device, when it comes to seeing the world through somebody else´s Google Glasses.  It is an educators´responsibility to address the issues that come with this by discussing technology, not by demonizing it.

sábado, 17 de mayo de 2014

Artesol, Jujuy, Argentina May 9-10, 2014

Here are some pictures

Now that things have come to some kind of normality around the house and at work, I sit down to write a few thoughts on what has been my second experience with the people of Artesol here in my country.  
Getting there and back from home was an entire adventure to me, due to the lack of connectivity by land among our provinces.  I live in the capital of the province of Santa Fe, in the center of the country and I had to travel to a province which borders Chile and Bolivia, and in order to do so I had to change three buses and the whole trip (1100 km) lasted 18 hours.  All this because I refused to go to Buenos Aires and take a plane to Jujuy from there, which would have been the most sensible thing to do considering the hard time I had on my trip to and from the conference venue.
The reason I attended this conference was to present about the TESOL EVO Sessions, which I had been my greatest source of inspiration and learning the past two years.  Apart from presenting I attended several workshops and presentations from teachers interested in sharing things they consider important.  I am afraid I will not be able to share links, apart from my material, since the presenters handed out paper copies of material which I don´t plan to scan.
In the conference I met enthusiastic teachers who reminded me of the reason why I keep going to conferences: to meet like minded educators.  I got some new classroom ideas, such as the use of famous self portraits to include in a lesson based on Selfies, by Mathilde Verilleaut.  I also reviewed some of my practices, such as personalizing material,  in the light of the Taxonomy of language learning strategies (from Rebecca Oxford´s,  Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston, Heinle and Heinle, 1990) provided by the presenters Mariana Lloberas and Silvana Irusta.  
I drank from the enthusiasm of some teachers like Mónica Rodríguez Salvo, who presented on 21st Century Skills,and also Susana Company and Maria Soledad Loutayf whose demonstration called Digital Literacy for Dummies: ELT in the 21st Century was packed with teachers eager to know more about what they had to say.  These teachers I hope to keep in contact with.  In a way I feel that we “speak the same language” when it comes to language teaching.
However, I´m afraid, connectivity  is still absent from the conferences workshops, plenaries, or presentations.   I found myself exchanging facebook names, twitter handles, email addresses in the hope of changing this for future conferences. I am aware that in my country there are teachers with poor internet access who are finding it difficult even to open their email boxes daily. (one of my workshop attendees told me she had to wait for 3 hours for her email account to open)
I have experienced learning with other teachers, some of them were not teachers of English, but we are in the field of education and we have many things in common.  My wish is that one day those teachers from geographically isolated places join me in the fun of learning together with the world and by so doing making this a better place for our children.
Meanwhile I will share today with you what I went to present up North and I really hope you find it useful.  

Artesol annual convention, Introducing TESOL EVO Sessions from Maria Colussa

TESOL Electronic Village Online
Your Passport to Professional Development.


In an age of rapid change and innovation professional development is a must.  Tesol EVO (Electronic Village Online) is a yearly opportunity for us to get updated as regards the latest methodologies as well as an opportunity for networking with other teachers in our field of interest.  Come to see how to get the most of this amazing opportunity!

These sessions are held during a period of 5 weeks prior to the TESOL Convention, generally by the end of January and beginning of February. They are free of charge and they are moderated by outstanding educators.  After attending my second one this year I want to share my learning journey.  Each one of us has a different scenario and how we decide to pursue our own professional development will be strongly dependent on what we want to achieve in our classrooms.  The EVO sessions have multiple opportunities for further develop our professional skills, and also provides a space for reflection on our practice together with other teachers from all over the world.
The participants in this workshop will leave with an idea of what the EVO sessions are, how to choose the best option according to their particular situation and also what are the tools to get acquainted with beforehand to make the most of this experience.
EVO Sessions are the future of professional development, a virtual space to share, grow and learn with other teachers who are looking for the same things we are:  becoming better language teaching professionals.

Maria del Carmen Colussa, a graduate from Alte Brown Teacher Training Institute, Santa Fe.  Over twenty years of experience as a teacher at the VIP Institute Santo Tomé, Liceo Municipal Santo Tomé.  Currently teaching freelance mostly to adults and in my journey to become an online teacher.

EVO Sessions  
The ideal starting place for a beginner's journey on their road to tech integration and pd.


Free: perfect for economically disadvantaged teachers
We learn TOGETHER, which is  essential to ease every beginner's anxiety, moderators are available and willing to help.
It's custom made: everyone chooses their own level of commitment by submitting work/deciding how much to participate.
Online, we can do it from the comfort of our own coach/sofa/(in Argentina) under a parasol by the swimming pool!
It fosters networking: helps us build our PLN if we are here it's because we want the same things, the general tone of the sessions is one of celebrating learning no one is competing for any prize!
Moderators carefully plan each session by gradually leading participants into the themes, but at the same time they challenge participants to take risks, the question is: Why not, rather than Why?
Online also means everyone has access to the material, which is convenient for geographically isolated teachers with limited wifi, even if there are live sessions in your chosen session, everything is recorded and can be accessed asynchronously.  This is also convenient if you cannot follow a fixed timetable (my case!).

Collaborative, Connectivist great to start building your PLN
Self paced, no rush.  Keep calm and carry on!/Sign up for EVO
Chaotic, it's the way we learn these days!  However it´s up to you to find a way to organize your learning.
Varied: There's one session for you, no matter where you teach you will surely find something of interest.


1.Study the sessions' proposals by reading the summary, the mods bio, the platform where they will be held, the tools that will be used.

It will probably be a good idea to familiarise yourself with: Edmodo, WIKI pages, Google Plus (and the fabulous Google tools like Google Hangouts, Gmail, Google groups/docs, Blogger).  These days there are tutorials available on you tube for virtually every tool you want to learn how to use.
It would be a good idea to choose a session based on tools which you feel comfortable with.    However, don't discard a session too soon.  In my case the first year I was absolutely terrified by sound files, so I signed up for the podcasting session, and I never regretted that decision since then I have felt more confident to try out new things, just because I had already experimented knowing that there was a safety net of teachers who would gladly answer any questions I might have.

2. One session at a time please! Resist the temptation to sign up to more than 1 session.  Next year there will surely be another chance for you to do it.  Besides you can always browse the materials and tasks of the rest of the sessions as a visitor.  You can also attend live sessions too.  Concentrating on just one session will help you focus on what you need to learn today, however sporadically visiting other sessions will probably give you an idea of things you might like to explore in the future.  Have a notebook and pencil nearby every time you attend a live session you will have to write down many things!

3.Timetables: yes, they exist and they're there for organization purposes, however  no one dies if we fail to submit an assigned task in due time and form.  We could always join in the discussion forums/threads, and listen to what people who were lucky enough to squeeze the task into their busy schedules  have to say about  it.  Even if you find no time to follow a week´s task, join the group discussions anyway, or read what others have posted and respond contributing to the discussion, not just praising and agreeing, this really adds value to the group content.


It's ok not to know. ASK QUESTIONS, there will always be someone there to give answers.
Learning is serendipitous, you never know what you're going to learn, and sometimes you don't even know what you are learning!
Be patient with yourself.
Above all ENJOY THE RIDE!!!

It´s ok to lurk, Go Lurkers! Our brains need time to adjust to new things, just be patient with yourself.