Monday, July 8, 2019

Continued Professional Development and FutureLearn

Online Learning and CPD
It's been four months since my last post and as you can imagine it's been really busy. This post is about Continued Professional Development as I think it is an important part of one's progress and, in my personal case, what keeps me ticking about teaching and learning and what brings the most satisfaction.

In a world where skill sets required for different jobs are changing rapidly because of technology and how it permeates our lives, I think that keeping up with the times as well as abreast in our field is not just necessary but an obligation, especially for those in the teaching sector. We need to be knowledgeable and well prepared - how can we help others learn if we do not keep curious about teaching and learning?

It is this curiosity that keeps me going and which inspires me to keep studying, reading, doing short courses and MOOCs. Someone once told me why I bothered and whether I didn't get bored! I think it's a matter of perspective as I think that we never stop learning and those courses which are similar to other courses I have done have allowed me to revise and revisit concepts and ideas also from different perspectives thus giving me a fresh take on them. I'm grateful for the internet and even more for open source education and platforms like FutureLearn, Coursera, EdX and the like as they make it possible for people to keep studying and learning. I'm on full-time employment and I would not have been able to complete 5 MA level qualifications and many other short lower level courses if it wasn't for the internet and online education! I love the fact that I can continue to learn from others via these courses at my own time and that I have the choice to do the course for free or pay a small fee to get a certificate of achievement.


What I've done so far!
With my relocation to the Basque Country last year and to a new job, I was especially busy in the last quarter of 2018 and also in the first trimester of 2019 so I didn't have as much time to study (my hobby - you've probably worked that out already!). I was able to get a bit more time for myself from Term 2 onwards, April on and so I've completed three courses on FutureLearn which I would definitely recommend:

TEACHING ENGLISH ONLINE
This is a 4 week course which recently won an ELTon Award by the British Council. Although I am already an online tutor and have been one for a few years working as lead tutor on the CertICT and also on other courses by TheConsultants-e.com, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting ideas and concepts, resources and my engagement in dialogue with other course participants. I think the different weeks provide a nice and balanced view of what teaching online. I found particularly useful the last week of the course where information about points to consider when setting up your own online teaching business or getting started as an online teacher. 

MANAGING PEOPLE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR ORGANISATION
This 3 week course was also very interesting. It helped me revise from a different perspective some of the aspects and ideas I had studied when I completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Academic Management. I liked the tasks and also being able to interact with people from different backgrounds - I think this was the best part as ideas and responses came from professionals outside the ESOL sector and this, in my opinion, allows for a different perspective. This course is the first one of 3 so I've signed up for the next one which starts in September.

ENGLISH IN EARLY CHILDHOOD
This British Council 6-week course was my favourite of the three! I work with Very Young Learners (VYLs) and YLs so it allowed me to refresh some of the theories and approaches I had studied and also taught as a YL trainer. The tasks and the videos are up to date and offer a fresh perspective - IMHO. I really enjoyed the tasks and the amount of reflection required and of course the interaction with some of the course participants.

So, CPD or not to CPD?
The answer is yes and always CPD. It is important that we do not become stale teachers and trainers, that we challenge ourselves and if not then that we revisit what we 'think' we know, that we explore and listen to other voices and perspectives in our field. Whatever it is you teach, keep learning and don't let that light and desire to discover go out! 

Nowadays, it is impossible not to continue with our learning journey. The internet provides the tools, many of which free, that allows us to keep learning, exploring, discovering the world and, in my case, learning and teaching!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Going Mobile - a conclusion!

Hello again!

As you know form my previous post, I was doing the Going Mobile course by TheConsultants-e.com and well, it's come to an end now and I'm sad it has finished because I loved every minute of it. Module 2 of the course was very hands on with lots of articles, tools to explore, pair and group work, and so what better way to learn than to do things yourself and then share your own experiences during the process, what your context is and what you're doing while also learning from others on the course about the same things. What I Iike the most about online learning and from good online courses is that they provided you with the opportunity to learn with and from others while acquiring new knowledge through the exploration of content, tools and theory via experimentation.

Module 2 also offered the possibility to meet virtually at a video conference to discuss the different topics and tasks, share experiences with both challenges and triumphs. It is not always possible to participate in these VCs because of last minute obligations or unforeseen circumstances, but they are recorded and then shared tin the Moodle so it is possible to then watch the meetings and still get to feel a little closer to the other participants.

What have I taken away? Lots of new ideas about how to use mobile devices in my classroom. These ideas came not only from links and resources included in the course but also through the experimentation with them and also through the generous sharing of participants' ideas, contexts and support. Mobile devices are here to stay and get better and more powerful every day and we're more and more involved by them in our daily lives and so are our learners so why not harness that power to enhance their learning experiences in the classroom? I'm a learner myself having just recently resumed studying French and learning Basque by myself and mobile devices e.g. my iPad and Samsung smart phone are key to what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Being a teacher myself allows me to see these devices both from my own student role and teacher roles and get the best of both to bring useful ideas of what I am doing already in terms of learning to the classroom for my students!

So, what's next then? Thirsty as I am for learning, I'm already on the look out for my next adventure!  Stay tuned and you'll soon find out!

(Picture taken from https://pixabay.com/en/confetti-paper-birthday-blank-3182653/)   

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Going Mobile - a must do course!

I'm really excited about the new online course I'm doing as a student: TheConsultants-e.com Going Mobile course with Lindsay Clansdfield as tutor. The course is divided into two modules and runs over 20 days. As with most online courses it is asynchronous so participants can log in when convenient and engage with the tasks and other participants in the different fora. This course came out of Nicky Hockly and Gavin Dudeney's super interesting book: Going Mobile - yes same name!

We're in the middle of the Module 1 and I really like how all the different tasks are clearly related, interesting and above all hands-on!  This is my type of course as you get to see the content, explore it, do something with it and then discuss it/share it with the other participants on the course. One of the things that I enjoy the most about online learning is that you usually get to do the course with people from all over the world, different levels of expertise, experiences and stories to tell. I find that allows for a wonderful opportunity to see things from a different perspective even when we may already know what is being discussed.

Anyways, can wait to do Module 2 and see what is in store for us participants on the course!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A year of big changes!

2018 is coming to an end and so I've realised it's been a year of big changes in many ways. 

Academically - I feel really satisfied with all the learning done this year! In my last post I shared I had started the IH London Diploma in Academic Management and well, I finished it in Aug and got a Distinction, so I couldn't be more pleased. It was hard but a rewarding experience and I learnt lots both from my tutor Maureen McGarvey and my classmates.

I also completed a few very interesting MOOCS: Culture of Services: A New Perspective on Customer Relations with EdXand the University of Kyoto. It was a real help during the IH London Diploma above.
The next course was a Udemy online course: Become a SuperLearner2: Speed Reading and Boost your Memory, which I enjoyed a lot too.
And the last one, also online, by Trinity College London - Excellent in Education: Quest for the Best: Teaching and Learning Vocabulary which I also enjoyed a lot. There were lots of interesting materials and the tutor, James Easton, was excellent too! 


I've started learning Basque while taking advantage of the fact that it is widely spoken here in my new town and that people are so friendly and patient when I try to practice everywhere I go. It's going to take a long time as it is truly difficult a language, but I love it and am determined to learn as much as I can and use it as much as possible too!  In also resumed French lessons at work so I couldn't be happier a man - I love languages and having a job that allows me to learn then and use them is a blessing! I've been actively using Memrise, Quizlet and following a couple of YouTubers (Eskera Satorra) to keep up with my learning curve!

My next academic adventure is the new Going Mobile Online Course by TheConsultants-e.com running from 1-20 Feb 2019! Nicky and Gavin's book Going Mobile is a great resource in the classroom already so I can't wait to start this course. Also, I'm seriously considering doing a PhD in Education and so that's in the back burner for the moment. I'm really thankful to my last MA tutor at the University of Nottingham, Cecilia Goria for her support and encouragement at this stage!

Personally - ups and downs family-wise but Thank God everything back to normal now. I also left my previous post as Academic Manager at GIGA IH Catania where I was for 8.5 years to join Lacunza IH in the Basque Country as Director/Team Leader Goierri Area at Lacunza IH Beasain. I learnt tons at GIGA and had a very productive time there, but it was time to move on to face new challenges!

I've resumed running and going to the fantastic gym here in my new town too so I'm really excited about all the new and positive aspects of our new life here!

ICT-wise - I continue to experiment and explore tech tools for the classroom so my blogging will resume shortly too!





Monday, January 15, 2018

Genyally - it's simply great

I came across Genially just recently thorugh a Twitter post by Nick Peachey and I simnply loved it. I think it's got a lot of potential for presenting information in a nice and visual way for our students.  Nick's great Genially presentation on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs here (there are links to Nick's social media at the end of the presentation) is a wonderful example of how you can use it.

I have now created a Teacher account and will start exploring it asap as I can see it can be very useful for me as a teacher trainer and learner myself. I'll keep you posted as I'll report soon on how I use it while reviewing it from a teacher's point of view.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Google Keep - a must keep!

I came across Google Keep not long ago and it's been an incredibly flexible tool so I decided to write a short entry here to share what I've been using it for and how useful it's been. There are other programs out there to make notes and organise one's ideas, commitments, etc., like EverNote, OneNote, Swipes and many more. Jimmy Daly's blog post here offers up to 14 different ones!

As I said earlier, I've been using Google Keep and it's been really simple to use and very useful so I would definitely recommend it to anyone doing lots of different things and wanting to be able to make, classify, find, edit, etc., notes in their daily lives.  As I have several roles besides my full time job, Google Keep is helping me organise all those extra commitments I have easily as you can create labels for the different categories you need and also colour code them.  They're accessible to you anywhere you go and so it's easy to keep track of all the different things I need to do. Here's a Google Keep video with the basics and do share the good stuff!



Update - after using it for over 6 months now (Jan 2018) I can say that Google Keep is definitely a tool worth exploring and using. I have at least 4 or 5 different jobs and so Keep helps me keep tabs on all my commitments and projects offering a lot of flexibility as I can create to-do lists or simply notes, I can also label them by creating the label I need to group them together thus making it is easier to organise. I can also add visuals, pictures and links to specific notes so this has been very useful when I get specific info from different parties at the same time on different projects or activities. Once done, I can archive them and move on and the best feature of all for me: that you can access your notes and important info anywhere on any browser and on your phone so I would recommend it without reservations.

Here we go again!

Hello!

It's been four months since my last post and I must confess it's been hectic to say the least. This is, of course, no excuse for my absence so here's an update on all the things I've been working on since then.  As regards my full time job, it's going well and as usual I'm enjoying it immensely. I think it's great when you can honestly say you do want to go to work in the morning so in spite of the usual ups and down we all go through, things are going well and changes are ahead as my role is changing from DoS to Academic Manager with a more supervisory capacity, but still very involved in the academics of the school and of course, Teacher Training and Development, which is my true love.

My external activities are also thriving and this year I started working for IDP as a language consultant so a very exciting opportunity from which I'm learning lots and also traveling a bit more! Language assessment can be said to be my second true love and as such I'm getting more and more involved in it as a lead trainer also for Cambridge so I'm very pleased that I can learn and also make a difference in the lives of those colleagues I'm to lead for.

Study-wise, I had said in late September last year after finishing my second MA wonderful results that I would have taken a break from study for a year as I have not stopped studying in the last 12 years and was feeling it was a time for me to focus on work and on making a bit of money! However, I cannot help it! So I've enrolled in the Diploma in Academic Management offered by International House London. As part of the Ih Family I know lots of people there and some of the tutors so I can't wait to learn with and from them!

As part of my Head of Teacher Training role, I will be leading the team offering the International House Certificate in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers at GIGA Ih Catania and so I'm now busy making sure the transition from the Cambridge YL Extension to CELTA into the IHCYL&T course, also validated by Cambridge, is smooth.  So if you're interested our next teacher training and development courses are:

CELTA 5-week course Mon through Thu: Aug 1 - Sep 5

IHCTYL&T 2-week course Mon through Fri:  C1 - Sep 11 - 22 & C2 - Sep 25 - Oct 6.

You can email me at direzionedidattica@gigact.com for information and an application pack.

Bye for now!

Continued Professional Development and FutureLearn

Online Learning and CPD It's been four months since my last post and as you can imagine it's been really busy. This post is about C...