Free Online #ELT #CPD in August

Webinars and web conferences in August:

6 Aug EdmodoCon
Organized by: Edmodo
8-9 Aug Reading and Writing Conference
Organized by: TESL Toronto and BELTA
15 Aug Language Skills 2.0: Speaking – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.
16 Aug Language Skills 2.0: Speaking – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc. (repeat session)
30 Aug Getting the most out of online video resources – Nik Peachey
Organized by: IATEFL

In-progress and upcoming MOOCs worth taking a look:

1 Jul – 31 Aug Summer EAL MOOC for newcomers to Manitoba
Organized by: English Online Inc. -> learning materials available for use and adaptation
20 Jul – 17 Aug iTDi Summer School MOOC for English Teachers
Organized by: iTDi
28 Jul – 22 Sep Learning to Teach Online
Organized by: University of New South Wales Australia
2 Sep – 12 Dec Open Knowledge: Changing the Global Course of Learning
Organized by: Stanford University


Finally, a couple of future ELT web conferences:

iatefl web conference 2014

 -> Call for Proposals open

Free Online #ELT #CPD in July

Some webinars:

13 Jul Stop-and-go simulations in intercultural training – Akos Gerold
Organized by: IATEFL BESIG
19 Jul The Lives of English Language Teachers – Barbara Sakamoto
Organized by: IATEFL
25 Jul Webquests and Task-based Teaching – Margarita Berezyanskaya
Organized by: English Online Inc.

And some MOOCs…

30 Jun – Aug 10 e-Learning Ecologies (on Coursera)
Organized by: Uni of Illinois (USA)
7 Jul – Sep 1 Developing a Research Project (on FutureLearn)
Organized by: Uni of Southampton (UK)
28 Jul -Sep 22 Learning to Teach Online (on Coursera)
Organized by: Uni of New South Wales (Australia)

Advantages and Challenges of Flipped Learning

On October 26 Margarita and I are scheduled to make a presentation on flipped learning for ELT at the 41st annual TESL Ontario conference in Toronto. Leading up to that day, I am planning to blog about my explorations of this topic.

Some initial thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning:


  • open access resources, if shared online, free
  • sustainable
      •  materials ready for multiuse by Ts and Ls
      • materials always available for new Ls (continuous intake)
  • differentiation – Ls can go through the lessons at their own pace, catch up, review, repeat
  • facilitation – flipping allows Ts to better support individual Ls in person in class, personalized learning, building better 1-on-1 rapport
  • learner-centred – Ls take actively participate in learning and take responsibility for it
  •  thinking and discovery before class; practice, review and consolidation (interactive activities) in class
  • engaging – it creates a collaborative learning environment in the classroom since time is spent engaging deeply with the concepts being learned, rather than sitting listening to the teacher (took a French class once and that’s all we ever did)
  • Ls get instant feedback on practice activities either from peers or from the T
  • while prepping for the class time, Ls can build a list of questions – active learning


  • technology dependent, hence not accessible for all, there may be learners who have no access to a computer/internet
      • Q: Is there a computer lab at school with open hours for independent study?
  • some Ls may not have extra time to stay at a computer lab
      • Q: Has a needs assessment been done? Could this be negotiated in any way?
  • lack of digital skills
      • Q: as before, needs assessment; simple activities incorporated into lessons to build up certain skills for future ‘flipped’ tasks and projects
  • Ls miss classes or don’t do the pre-class work
      • this one is tough because life happens…Plan B?
  • lack of L motivation, with adult learners this is rarely the case although some do not believe in independent work
      • could flipping be scaffolded to bring out the value of autonomous learning?
  • time-consuming for Ts – is flipping only about making videos? or is it a wider concept encompassing autonomous learning via one’s personal learning environment/network?  T => not a sage on stage but a guide on the side? What about existing OERs?

What are your thoughts, questions? Are you aware of any research papers on the concept of flipped learning?

some thoughts on virtual teaching

Yesterday I led a virtual class that had all sorts of problems…

First of all, only one learner showed up despite my efforts to widely advertise the class. It seems even though online learning is supposed to be flexible adult learners still struggle with finding time for synchronous events. Is it because they forget to mark their calendars? Is it because they don’t think they will learn anything? I don’t seem to be able to find answers to those questions.

Second of all, the learner who attended the class did not have a headset, which caused a lot of echoing when I passed the microphone to her: I could hear myself twice throughout the whole lesson. Even though this is usually a major disruption I decided to go with it and after each time I spoke I paused until my voice decided to dissipate.

Thirdly, the screen sharing tool got blocked by my anti-virus program! It was a first. I apologized to my learner and chatted with her while fiddling with the ports on my computer to fix my access to screen sharing. After a few minutes screen sharing was available and I was happy to move on. Hooray!

On the bright side,

  • I didn’t panic; I just played along with what came at me.
  • I successfully multitasked and fixed the port issue on my computer while chatting with the participant.
  • The participant did not get flustered although it was her first virtual class experience. She was happy to realize that she could understand what was being said and done.
  • As there was only one person in the class, I was able to ask her to demonstrate what she learnt: she shared her screen with me and successfully displayed her new skills.

So, some best practices that came out of this experience are:

  • Never panic – smile and take your time to find a solution.
  • Have some extra questions on hand that participants can work on while you are solving any problems.
  • Have Skype open on the side to talk with participants during screen sharing (the chat box in the virtual class cannot be seen at that time). Form a group conversation in Skype so you don’t have to respond to 10 similar messages.
  • Insist that participants have headsets if they wish to speak during the class.
  • Be happy with what you have and make the best of it.