martes, 18 de noviembre de 2014

Global Education Conference, Vance Stevens and myself, a joint venture

Gec 2014 Presentation by Maria Colussa and Vance Stevens from Vance Stevens

Conference Session Recording
How did we meet?
It is often difficult to trace back when exactly one meets another teacher online, that´s why I had to write down the dates shown in the slide to try to remember when Vance´s and myself first crossed paths for the first time.
Between Electronic Village Online sessions and Global Education Conferences there have been lots of other online events where I also came across the same people or met new ones.  Instances of these are Virtual Round Table, Wiziq courses run by Jason Levine, the ITDI Summer (my Winter) course, IATEFL broadcast of plenaries and the many events organised by Vance and Jeff in their weekly meetings.
So many times I found myself saying: "This is awesome!" that I started presenting sessions online as well as face to face.  Always with the aid and support of my new teacher friends.

What do I get from connecting?
Free PD.
The present day scenario was unthinkable when I graduated from teacher training college.  I am making up for the things that have been going on since then.
Access to experts
Materials that people share.  Ideas and inspiration,  It´s invigotating to hear stories of achievement, resilience, challenges conquered.  I don´t know who or what type of student will come through my classroom door.  Being connected exposed me to a variety of experiences which in a way prepared me for future scenarios.  I know I can teach anywhere now!  Interacting online has given me the drive to try out new things, I am teaching a visually impaired student and I am also teaching my own language, Spanish, in English!

Collaboration among classes can be very simple sometimes it is just filling in a survey or adding a picture in a Padlet wall
I am very active in the Hello Little World teachers skypers community and have fun and learn in each of the sessions I have had with my friends´classes.  They are usually delighted to hear I am from the same province as Messi, the famous Argentinian football player.  However that is not the end of the conversation because I take advantage of their interest to show them bits from my culture such as "dulce de leche" or "mate" both very important items in our culture.
Check mate and its process from my Flickr page

I often prepare "presents" for them such as pictures of the river nearby or a short video I record while in the islands near my city.
Connecting has also helped me in another aspect.  How do I keep my advanced students engaged? By providing interesting material.  My connections are an ongoing source of up to date material that I use with those students.

As I was walking the five blocks to my friend´s language school, it really felt I was going to a party.  And in a way it was!  Bettina, my friend, was there together with two more teachers, Marcia and Sofia, and we were joined by my South African friend Steve Sherman, who helped me sort out technical difficulties.  Jeff and Vance also offered me their platforms, for me to use while they were sleeping on the other side of the globe.  We were joined by Benjamin Steward, from Aguas Calientes, Mexico.  The whole thing was possible with only two things: a government provided netbook computer (from the Conectar Igualdad National Scheme) and an internet connection provided by my friend.  However the inspiration to go out there came from the OCLMOOC.
The power of the herd
Many teachers believe that they are alone in the world.  Today it is possible to join other educators who share our same situation.

PLN, stands for People you Learn New Things with
As we wait for that ideal time when "global learning" is just "learning" and the research findings get published, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to become better teachers.

Which is your favourite beach?
At times I like a solitary stroll by the river.  That is when I reflect and think about a future lesson or a blog post.
However, mingling with other educators online looks more like the second picture with lots of people whose paths intercept sometimes and they show us the way, making our lives easier.

The future
It will be exciting to see what outcomes these global interactions will bring about in the future.
As we see scientists and artists already collaborating to solve problems and create content together, our classrooms can become laboratories where we can try out what we model with our global connections.
I am spoiled by global learning.  I know that if I miss an event I can catch up with the recording later.  I know that it is ok to just lurk or fall behind in a MOOC. I have discovered the value of reflecting in my blog.  I have re-discovered the magic of learning in a community and I can just think of a word: thank you!

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