What: Briar Jamieson, “You Live and Learn: Action Learning for Course and Organizational Design (in the Wild)”
When: Friday, May 22
Where: University College
Our notes: We asked Briar to join us at #toscon15 because we are impressed by her organisation and passion towards the CIC-funded annual web conference, REALIZE, and English Online. We know she’ll inspire so many of us with her experiences.
Abstract: Online learning provides flexible learning options and entrenches 21st Century skills for EAL learners; however, the traditional classroom model of language instruction continues to be the dominant mode of learner delivery in TESL classrooms. How do educators develop their online skills and craft in the still emerging practice of online language delivery? In this session, I will reflect on the development of programming for learners at English Online Inc. (www.myenglishonline.ca and www.youliveandlearn.ca). Over the last 6 years, the EO team have enjoyed facilitating learner success in the development of language and digital skills. Equally, the EO team have struggled to understand low learner activity or the overwhelming facilitation chaos of 1600 learners to 2 instructors. I will share the learning experiences of designing for online language delivery, which have included: drawing from a variety of formal and informal feedback from online learners, experimenting with different learning options for engagement, researching other online models, drawing on the experience of experts, reflecting on practices, and playing with various software and social media tools to engage learners. I personally approach design in a constant state of development, tweaking, iteration or in a technical perspective in ‘perpetual beta’. This approach lends itself well to solving the constant research questions of how to improve our pedagogical/andragogical approach in an online environment.
Bio: I am part Japanese, in the early 80’s my family took a trip to Japan. I was 12 and had the awkwardness of a girl on the edge of puberty. Japan has a tradition of public baths; we went to one that had, to my childish eyes, a waterslide. At the top, I realized the slide was actually a waterfall, but I slipped and spun down the tiled ramp, screaming and naked. Minutes later, three Japanese women perched themselves at the top of the waterfall. They daintily sat of their small washcloth and came down laughing. That day I learnt that mistakes are a matter of perspective and even if something is a blunder it can be handled with grace and laughter.
What: Russell Mayne, “Down the rabbit hole: pseudoscience in ELT”
When: Friday, May 22
Where: University College
Our notes: We first started paying attention to Russ through his Evidence-based EFL blog and then the world turned towards him when he gave his talk at IATEFL 2014 in Harrogate, which pointed out common practice in language teaching that does not have evidence to support it. His might be the session we’ll all be talking about during #toscon15.
Abstract: This talk will focus on aspects of English language teaching which have little or no scientific credibility. Practices such as Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), learning styles, multiples intelligences and brain gym will be examined. This talk will ask why–despite the evidence against these approaches–they remain popular. It will also include a demonstration on how teachers can spot pseudo-science. I will be talking in more detail about some of these practices and just how bizarre they can be at times. I will also be looking at why such practice are so readily accepted in ELT, where our beliefs as teachers generally come from, and how we can become a more evidence-based profession.
Bio: Russell Mayne has taught English for over 14 years, in Japan, Taiwan and the UK and is interested in evidence-based teaching. He is now teaching EAP in the English language teaching Unit at the University of Leicester.
What: Jeremy Harmer, “Is teaching English an art, a science or a craft?”
When: Saturday, May 23
Where: Sidney Smith Hall
Our notes: What can we say? Jeremy has been a mainstream in our industry everywhere from methodology books to course books to conference plenaries. It’s our turn to witness him in action. We’re sure we won’t be disappointed.
Abstract: We live in interesting times. We have always lived in interesting times! But right now, with data analytics and efficacy studies, it seems as if all learning can be quantified and measured. Or can it? There has always been a tension between classroom practice and research studies. So what is measurable? How do we know what good teaching is? What do teachers need to know, now, about the classrooms they live in and the world their students inhabit? These are some of the questions which this talk will address.
Bio: Perhaps Jeremy is well-known in our industry as author of The Practice of English Language Teaching (Pearson) and How to Teach English (Pearson). He has also produced a number of classroom materials, including the Just Right series (Cengage).