an interview with joy egbert from darren elliott on Vimeo.

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Joy Egbert was in Kyoto, Japan for the 2010 JALTCALL conference and gave the keynote speech on student engagement. In this interview we talked about that, teacher training, creating ‘flow’ and ‘micro-flow’ situations, and working in limited technology contexts. Joy has a book coming out this year on the last topic, which I am very much looking forward to reading.

I had read a little about flow and the name Csikszentmihhalyi (which Joy can not only pronounce, but spell without reference to notes) but it was good to hear about the relationship between flow and teaching from someone who has been working in that area. Check google scholar to find Joy’s articles. But in the meantime, watch Tina Weymouth playing bass in this clip… that’s flow, I think ; D

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The Japan Association of Language Teaching is over thirty years old now, and currently numbers around three-thousand members. One of it’s larger special interest groups is the CALL sig with an internationally peer-reviewed journal, and last weekend I attended it’s annual conference.  Paul Lewis, one of the co-chairs and someone with a longstanding involvement with the sig, details the history of the conference here.

What is the JALTCALL Conference? from darren elliott on Vimeo.

As well as making two presentations of my own, I did a few interviews, went to plenty of great presentations and plenaries, and met a lot of very nice people. Like most conferences, this one had a theme, and I thought it would be interesting to reflect on it as I walked around the campus. The question is “What’s your motivation?”, and like most conference themes it is open to interpretation.

jaltcall 2010 – what’s your motivation? from darren elliott on Vimeo.

So, what is your motivation?

Two workshop prezis from JALTCALL 2010 at Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan, May 29th – 30th 2010.

Parallel Learning: How online teacher development informs classroom practice

Video blogging and Podcasting: Interviews with English Language Teaching Professionals

As you can imagine, there is a fair bit of overlap between the two sessions, so I chose to use the ‘flavour of the month’ presentation tool to make one big slide with two different pathways. It was really fun mapping it out… I am not sure if it helps me think differently, in a less linear fashion, or if it just panders to the mind’s natural inclination towards multiplicity. But this is my first paper run through….

Anyway, I am not sure whether it is such a bad thing to have ones thoughts marshalled into straight lines by PowerPoint or Keynote. Something about Prezi does scream ‘Big Fat Gimmick!’, but let’s enjoy the whizz bang fireworks while they last.

Because I hate decontextualised slides so much (one of the greatest dangers to academic discourse today, I’ll venture, is the proliferation of mute online slideshows, stripped of the only thing which gives them a life) I have recorded a run through with commentary so you know what all the pictures mean. It’s forty minutes condensed into twenty, so it’s both too long to watch online and not long enough to make any sense. Apologies for the mumble, everyone else is asleep and I really ought to be myself.

Parallel Learning: How online teacher development informs classroom practice from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I made this using iShowU HD, which works very nicely. Screentoaster also seems good, but a bit more obtrusive.

If you were at either of the sessions in Kyoto, thanks! Questions or comments are very welcome.

I very much enjoyed the recent ‘ten blogs’ deal doing the blogosphere rounds, and I also love the monthly round ups that Shelly Terrell and Karenne Sylvester (and others) often do, but I got to thinking about all those other blog posts that are going to waste….

Maybe they appeared before the blog took off. Maybe they were eclipsed by an important event or meme, or perhaps they just didn’t catch the eye in the google reader as they passed by. There is a whole library of great writing and thinking out there which, for whatever reason, has been missed.

So, how about some homework for the weekend?

1. Have a look through the archives of your favourite bloggers. You can usually find archives in the sidebar, click a tag or category, or search for keywords in a search box.

2. Find a piece you like but haven’t noticed before and leave a comment.

3. Link to it on your blog, or tweet it.

What do you think?

These are mine….

Vicki Hollett is always interesting, and I love to read what she has to say whenever she comments elsewhere, too. This one about compliments is facsinating – particularly the advice for Asian students.

English Raven has been going long enough to accumulate a sizeable archive, and Jason seems to be haring along at quite a clip lately…. a new one every day. I liked this one as I have been thinking lately about the effects of personal circumstances on teacher development.

Someone else who has no off switch is Alex Case. He very helpfully republishes lists of his own favourites from time to time, but I want to know if you are past your TEFL peak  like I am.

The aforementioned Karenne is yet another prolific blogging superstar, and I had plenty of fun browsing the back catalogue of Kalinago English. This one compelled me to respond… never mind the width, feel the quality.

Over to you, and have a fun weekend’s pottering! I’m off to Osaka for the JALT PanSig conference… interviews, tweets and reports to follow.

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This is the audio version of my video interview with Hayo earlier this year.

I’m by no means a gamer*, but I was fascinated to hear Hayo address the question ‘Do computer games really contribute to language learning?’ as keynote speaker at the 4th International Wireless Ready Symposium in Nagoya, Japan. The answer? They can, but…..

I meant to ask a little more about the institutional obstacles to success in incorporating technology into language learning. One thing Hayo alluded to in his talk was the difficulty in controlling who and what learners come into contact with in the online world. Here in Japan the age of majority is twenty, so technically many of my students are still children! My personal preference would be to give them a little training in online ’smarts’ and let them free, but I realise life is not so simple and that we have a duty of care. How should we approach this problem, then? Do you think fears about security / ‘bad’ language / inappropriate content are justified? Or that firewalls and filters just end up shackling us?

It was great to finally meet Dr. Reinders and he gives a great interview here, despite being on a nine-hour time difference from his home in London. I first came across his work when I started looking into self-access learning and learner autonomy, and we discussed these topics too. For all things ‘Reinders’ I recommend his website “Innovation in Teaching”. As well as many, many fine articles you can find a clip of Hayo on Pakistani breakfast television…..

*apart from ‘Urban Dead’, but that’s more about my love for zombies than my love for computer games

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This is a podcast version of the video interview available here.

If you have ever taught children, you may well have come across the ‘Let’s Go!‘ series, now on the third edition and a multimedia behemoth! I met with Barbara, one of the authors, at the ETJ Chubu Expo in October 2009 and she was kind enough to give this interview. She is delightful company and I wish I’d left the camera running because we talked for as long again after I turned it off. She has a lot to say about teaching children and professional development in particular, but we also touched on a few other topics. If you haven’t already, you should check out Barbara’s blog and have a look for her on twitter (@barbsaka ). Being in this part of the world opportunities to meet members of the online ELT community are limited, so it is always especially enjoyable to catch up with someone as lovely as Barbara… even if it is only a few times a year ; D

If you like this, please subscribe via iTunes as there are plenty more on the way.

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I got tagged by Jason at the wonderful English Raven as a part of the “It’s worth taking a look at this blog”  thing which is doing the rounds. It’s quite a timely initiative, with the ELT blogosphere a little bit tired and emotional recently. Nice to share the love again. Had I decided to do this straight, Jason’s blog would certainly have been in my top ten… but I am pretty sure that anyone who is reading my blog is reading his. I really do recommend all the blogs in my blogroll – none are there for show, they are the ELT blogs I regularly read, and often comment on. So my list is made up of the twenty one blogs in my blog roll. Can I call that my ‘trad’ list, and then give you something a little more wonky?

Here is a list of ten blogs you probably don’t read…

I’ll kick off with the two who are blogging most specifically about ELT. What I like about them both is that they are writing fairly specifically about the minutiae of classroom activity. A lot of ELT bloggers like to address the ‘big’ issues, but I love to read about the daily concerns of practising teachers. Eisensei is working in Japanese universities, like me. This post is an account of his experiments with dogme, part of a journey which I am really enjoying watching and (to a small degree) participating in. Rich is in Spain, and his writing is quite affecting. I love this pithy piece about online community.

Now three bloggers who teach English, but don’t really blog about it. ELT does seem to attract the creative, or perhaps it makes one creative? Maybe once people realise that the life of a TEFLer is a precarious one, they invest more in their lives outside work. There are plenty of us who do it because it’s all we can do, because it enables us to live where we want, because it offers us little and expects little in return, leaving us free to pursue our passions. For every one of us who defines themselves as a teacher, there is another who ‘teaches’… but is actually a writer, a photographer, an entrepreneur…

I am sure that all three of these bloggers are committed and talented teachers. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to read about the other things they love. Pig Sty Avenue is currently learning the piano, but also writes a lot about football and photography. This is a rare piece about teaching, and an initiative which needs to get off the ground. Scribe of Light is an incredible photographer working mainly in China, who I first came across via Flickr. This piece, about itchy feet, will resonate with many of you world travelling teachers out there. And finally, I have actually had the pleasure of meeting the author of Troutfactory Notebook, another brilliant photographer and writer, based in Osaka. This piece on the soapbox derby is a dazzling example of his thought-provoking writing about art and ideas.

There are a few news blogs I read regularly. The first is Mashable, which you may be familiar with, collecting techie, social media type stuff. This one on David Letterman’s Twitter Machine is a lot of fun. For an alternative take on the mainstream news, for the stuff that falls through the cracks, Global Voices Online is a great resource. I enjoyed this recent post about the new company recruits here in Japan. And speaking of Japan, Education in Japan does a great job in gathering stories together without editorialising (and without the awful, awful comments you often get on Japan News blogs). Everything you need to know about the collapse of the GEOS language school chain is here.

I have long been an admirer of George Siemens, and he is a very prolific blogger about education and (of course) connectivism. His blog is like a fat twitter. Libraries is a nice spot to start. And if you like that, there are about eight years of archives, updated several times daily….

I have now idea how to categorise the last one, but I love it. Pull Up the Roots bills itself as “a visual essay exploring teaching, learning, and society”, and it utilises the tumblr platform perfectly. My first blogging experiments came via tumblr, when I noticed a lot of my flickr photos were being linked there. If you can imagine a twitter for visual artists, designers, and the painfully young and hip, that’s tumblr. Even though I am none of those things, I love tumblr!

So, thanks Jason. And it’s a nice idea, but can we shake it up a bit? I am pretty sure that the ELT blogosphere has been sufficiently mapped. I’d like everyone to do this again, but actually surprise me ;)

I have three interviews scheduled for next month, and I am inviting questions.

The first interview is at the PanSig conference in Osaka, with Kip Cates. Kip has been active in promoting global issues in language education for many years, and I am looking forward to talking about his work with the Asian Youth Forum, JALT, the Peace Boat and other socially aware associations.

The next two interviews will take place at the JALTCALL conference in Kyoto. The first is with Joy Egbert of Washington State University. I am especially interested in the book she is bringing out this year about CALL in limited technology contexts. Looking forward to hearing about how we should engage our students.

I will also talk to Larry Davies, mainly about Learning Management Systems. Are they old hat? Are institutions living in the 1990’s whilst the students move into 2020?

The abstracts for both Larry and Joy’s plenaries are available here.

So, this post is a bit of a taster, but also an appeal for questions. I have actually been invited to JALTCALL in an official capacity this time around, so I feel a greater responsibility to make the interviews the best I possibly can! Cheers all!

Too tired to write anything thought provoking or challenging today… the new semester has started and I am full of the joys of actually TEACHING.. meeting new students, putting into practice all the improvements I’ve been dreaming up over the last couple of months. I’ll tell you more when I get time, but for today, just to tide you over, something I’ve been saving up for a rainy day.

Blogging is a wonderful thing, they said. You have to do it, build your PLN, make connections, be the teacher you can be, they shouted. What nobody said was “Spend hours cleaning out spam”. But, for health chuckles, here are a few of the ones I actually enjoyed.

The Non-Sequitur

Money is so intangible, its almost like a promise and a piece of paper

Its all in the manual they make you read before they download your being into those tiny bodies in those dark wombs

Hi First time skipped here on your site, found on Google. Thank you for the advice, I spoke with my girlfriend, and she agreed. We have spoken about it now, and it is slowly getting better

The Back-Handed Compliment

Good post, however only some of the points were actually treated really good, I think digging deep for the topic to make it more informative will really help, will be looking forward for more informative post than this. Will suggest some points which are to the best of my knowledge. This might help you bringing more information for all of us

It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place

Not bad article, but I really miss that you didn’t express your opinion, but ok you just have different approach

Happened across your post while searching through yahoo. I understand the very first paragraph and its fantastic! I don’t have time to finish it now, but I have bookmarked your web page and will study the rest tonight

I was searching for a solution to my problem. This doesn’t solve my problem but it helped me somehow

The Odd Request

Could you please translate your site into Italian since I’m not so comfortable reading it in English?

I like that, (or rather, those bits I could easily read). I am afflicted with color blindness (tritanopia to be exact) and a lot of your web page is a bit of a strain on my eyes. I know it is my problem to deal with but it would be kind if you would take into account color blind visitors while doing the next web page re-working.

The Superlative

Simply, the information is truly the greatest on this worthwhile topic. I with your conclusions and will desperately look forward to your upcoming updates. Expressing thanks will not be sufficient, for the exceptional clarity in your writing.

Got any favourites of your own, my fellow bloggers? Or, even better, some teaching ideas to put them to work?

And just in case you don’t know why spam is called spam….

An Interview With Hayo Reinders from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I’m by no means a gamer*, but I was fascinated to hear Hayo address the question ‘Do computer games really contribute to language learning?’ as keynote speaker at the 4th International Wireless Ready Symposium in Nagoya, Japan. The answer? They can, but…..

I meant to ask a little more about the institutional obstacles to success in incorporating technology into language learning. One thing Hayo alluded to in his talk was the difficulty in controlling who and what learners come into contact with in the online world. Here in Japan the age of majority is twenty, so technically many of my students are still children! My personal preference would be to give them a little training in online ‘smarts’ and let them free, but I realise life is not so simple and that we have a duty of care. How should we approach this problem, then? Do you think fears about security / ‘bad’ language / inappropriate content are justified? Or that firewalls and filters just end up shackling us?

It was great to finally meet Dr. Reinders and he gives a great interview here, despite being on a nine-hour time difference from his home in London. I first came across his work when I started looking into self-access learning and learner autonomy, and we discussed these topics too. For all things ‘Reinders’ I recommend his website “Innovation in Teaching”. As well as many, many fine articles you can find a clip of Hayo on Pakistani breakfast television…..

*apart from ‘Urban Dead’, but that’s more about my love for zombies than my love for computer games