“This Is How We Dream” (Miller, 2008)

newhumanities Channel

newhumanities Channel

Check out Richard E. Miller’s presentation for the Modern Language Association’s Presidential Forum, December 28, 2008, “to tell the story of how reading and writing have been transformed by the web” (YouTube, newhumanities, 2009.01.15), and see whether those are the kinds of reading and writing that we teach.

This Is How We Dream, Part 1

This Is How We Dream, Part 2

Blogroll addition: An A-Z of ELT

LTD Project Blogroll Addition (20100731)

This quick post is to point out the addition of Scott Thornsbury’s blog to the LTD Project Blog’s Blogroll (in the sidebar). I’d had An A-Z of ELT in Google Reader for a while already, and decided to make a bit more of it than a private browsing location. For a description here on the awfully inert of late LTD Project Blog, I’ve called An A-Z of ELT, “Thought provoking observations and suggestions for [language] teacher development” (PB, 2010.07.31), while pondering where to put an auto-updating RSS feed display.

“What’s Your … Social Networking Policy?” (Ross)

Not long ago, Heather Ross asked about institutional social networking policies, and also about institutional access to third-party sites educators use.

What’s Your Institution’s / School’s Social Networking Policy (2009.08.17)

Though I tried commenting on that post, I got error messages twice, and then fedback to this effect, “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!” Since I’m unsure what got through, here goes again.

I thought Heather might be interested in an encapsulated gem I found the other day, and have described like this in Diigo:

Jenna McWilliams’ post frames and follows on from Steve Taffee’s post comprising Proposed Guidelines for Use of Social Networks by School Faculty and Staff (Blogg-Ed Indetermination, Social Networking Guidelines for School Employees, 2009.02.12). Her follow-ons focus “On ‘Misrepresentation'” and “On Course Use of Social Networking.”

on social networking guidelines … (2009.06.02)

The stimulus for Jenna’s post (Taffee, 2009.02.12) points further to a Facebook source, Faculty Ethics on Facebook, a group to which Taffee belongs.

Presence, assessment, and adult learners

In an interview podcast to warm the pool by building social presence prior to an online conference, Jonathan Finkelstein prompts Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt to touch upon online assessment strategies, especially ones to use with adult learners who are likely to be learning what they need to, just in time, rather than learning what someone else thinks they need to, just in case it’s on a quiz or test.

A gem that I’m carrying away reflects remarks Paloff made about 14 of 15 minutes into the interview, about the value of social presence. Segueing from assessment to online presence, when Pratt emphasizes presence (instead of social), he’s probably referring to facilitators as much as to other online inter-actors (or course-takers). If he isn’t, he ought to be.

In turn, Palloff mentions research indicating that deliberate if not explicit developments of online presence at the onset of interactions enhance learner involvement, engagement, persistence, performance, and satisfaction. She characterizes such developments as “an extremely important component of community building” (Show #3: Assessing the Online Learner – An Interview with Rena Palloff & Keith Pratt, 2008.08.31).

Stepping stones to learner engagement

These are “Eight Simple Rules for Engaging Learners” gleaned from Heather Ross (McToonish, 2007.07.16), who’d picked them up from a conference presentation by Ellen Wagner the day before:

  1. Capture their attention;
  2. Convince them to care;
  3. Motivate them to change;
  4. Give them choices;
  5. Connect them with community;
  6. Induce them to participate;
  7. Enable opportunities to contribute; [and]
  8. Make it an experience to remember.

That’s a tall order that I want to reflect upon further, possibly after tracking down details of Wagner’s presentation.

Another Edublog and more Wikispaces

Making a leap, I’ve created another Edublog for language learner development purposes. Although the companion wiki is still in a conceptual development phase, I expect to use the LLD Project Blog for modeling, journaling, and filtering posts for audiences of college-aged English as an additional language (EAL) learners, Japanese university students in particular.

I don’t expect it to remain as narrowly focused as the Writing Studio Blog that I’ve been running on Blogger for a bit over a year now. In spite of familiarity with Blogger functionality, I decided to make the leap into Edublogs and blended instruction with students in an English for communicative purposes course that I resumed teaching in April this year (2008).


After reading Sue Waters clarification of the differences between categories and tags (Edublogger, What’s The Difference…, 2008.03.02), I deliberately established three initial categories that correspond to the intended purposes of the new Edublog. Those are fostering and facilitating development of learners’ computer literacy along with their language skills, and a degree (modicum?) of autonomy in their own learning (LLD Project Blog, About).

Having grown accustomed to dedicating Wikispaces to individual courses, it wasn’t much trouble to build a course wiki for the blended course before actually deciding whether to go with another blog. However, I felt an itch to consolidate resources and tutorials less directly related to course assignments somewhere they would be equally accessible to students in all of the courses that I teach, in a venue less noticeably earmarked for teachers than the Language Teacher Development Project Wiki. Hence there now is a budding Wikispaces companion, the Language Learner Development Project Wiki.

To ICTify teachers in training

The other day, I received an inquiry regarding ICT from a researcher up north (in Hokkaido, Japan). Today, as I was trying to construct a suitable response, I decided I might as well share my preliminary findings in a venue accessible to others interested in language teacher development. So here they are; they began: “Thank you for your inquiry….”

… I take it that by ICT you mean “Information and Communications Technology, a broad subject concerned with technology and other aspects of managing and processing information” (Wikipedia, ICT, retrieved 2008.03.16).

Since I have been more involved in continuing teacher education than in pre-service teacher training, details of the current core curricula elude me. At present, I am unaware of any compulsory ICT coursework for teachers in training in Japan. (Readers, if you know of any, please leave a comment to let us know.) It seems however that you are suggesting that teacher-trainees should be compelled to bang away on computers both in training and in practice teaching, as you say their counterparts in Singapore must do for at least 60 hours (personal correspondence, 2008.03.13).

Well, as of 2005-06, the National Institute of Multi-media Education (NIME) was undertaking surveys for the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Technology (MEXT) to ascertain whether using ICT for educational purposes influenced desired academic outcomes. See for example: Projects and Activities – Primary/Secondary Education and Life-long Learning (NIME, 2006). You may interpret that as a suggestion the MEXT may be beginning to encourage the horses to catch up with the cart, and also that there is not yet agreement on educational value added by current expenditures on glamourous carts in prestigious, selected venues.

In 2007, the MEXT promulgated skills checklists for educational leadership in the ability to use ICT for educational purposes at both primary and secondary school levels. Those checklists apparently went to committee for continuing deliberation.
How many hundreds (or thousands) of hours it might take trainees and practitioners to acquire and hone the ICT-related teaching skills listed up already may be anyone’s guess.

Then, whatever the number you postulate, there are questions about what those hours might displace in the core curricula for teachers in training (subject matter courses, for instance), or in continuing education courses for teachers already in the field. Moreover, we may find grim assessments regarding when or where teachers in Japan might be able to apply fresh new ICT-related teaching skills in traditional teaching practices, especially within common, shall we say, less than individualized, learner-centered, or technologically advanced teaching environments.

The National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER) might be a good place to look for leads on planned or recent developments. The NIER, for example, has published Fukumoto & Kikuchi’s paper on teacher-librarians’ information literacy, information morals, and ICT-related skills:
Research on Teacher-Librarian’s ICT Education Skills Using Pathfinder (2008), in which the government resources that they’ve cited stretch into 2007. Journals of the Japan Society for Information and Systems in Eduction, in both English and Japanese, might touch upon teacher training requirements, too.

All in all, perhaps these preliminary findings suggest that we’re not there yet.  Although Japanese educational culture in general (pre-tertiary at least) may be poised to embrace notions of learners’ ICT-related needs, it may be having trouble agreeing what those needs will be 10 or 20 years down the road. Under these circumstances, it may be up to tomorrow’s teachers to prepare themselves, and yesteryear’s teachers and schools to seek elsewhere than on high to find the support they need in guiding learners in the directions that they’ll need to go.

Spring Cleaning Find: “Educational Heart?”

Stashed away hither and thither in this office are notes accumulating from various presentations attended over the ages, some of which only come to light when virtually everything must move for floor waxing.

This spring, if I may call it that even though it’s threatening to snow tonight in southwestern Japan, the most surprising find has been the last page of notes from a faculty development session a year ago, almost to the day. It is short, sweet, and to the point:

Instill “educational heart” and teaching skills will follow.

([details to rediscover and insert about here: presenter, title…], 2007.03.07)

Machine translation from the original, vernacular wording of the phrase in question, 教育マインド (kyouiku mind), produces the phrase in quotations marks above. “Educational soul” might be just as accurate for an off-the-cuff translation.

It no doubt will be an adventure to explore the connotations of “educational heart,” one requiring suspension of beliefs regarding the easy-come, laissez-faire implications regarding development of appropriate teaching practices at the university level.

EduBlogs Insights: More True than Ever

… Blogging has helped me view each of my students as constructors of knowledge who need frequent opportunities to be involved in the process of creating meaning. Blogs can be short, quick writes that give them the practice they need to learn from putting their thoughts down and then engaging in the dialogue about the process, both online and in the classroom….

Davis, EduBlogs Insights,
Blogs and Pedagogy, 2006.05.31

Now that I’ve spent a year with students in a blended learning environment for whom blogging was the primary course activity, I must say that those choice words from a Blogging for Educators workshop reading ring more true than ever.

One activity that I will continue to assign next year will be quick-writes at the beginning of face-to-face class meetings in order to encourage students to develop fluency in written thought production. This activity will continue to challenge them not only cognitively, but also linguistically – as they write in a language other than their vernacular, and typographically – because they may be better at text input with a thumb or two on cellphone keypads than than they are on keyboards with four fingers and two [one or both] thumbs.

In order to engage them further, in dialogues about the process of writing in English as an additional language, I am seeking to adopt and adapt or develop activities that both promote and facilitate reflective, meta-cognitive and interpersonal writing. I’ll be looking in particular for activities like that as I view cristinacost‘s November 2007 SlideShare, “Practically Speaking: A ‘How To’ Approach and Practical Examples on Blogging in the EFL Classroom.”