Help is everywhere (you just need to ask politely)

May 11, 2011

I  previously kept a blog called eslimaginarium which I used to release my creativity and explore the use of video clips to stimulate interesting activities.  Throughout my year at University I realised that my blog did not have any clear pedagogic focus and it lacked any knowledge of language learning theories.  I would like to return to my blog and actually connect the activities to sound pedagogic principles. In my second term at University I decided to choose on-line language learning as my option course.  This course was influential in my decision for the dissertation.  As part of the course assignment I was required to create an on-line course.  I found this to be highly stimulating and I constantly wondered how it would actually work with students.  This is when I thought about using it as part of my dissertation.  I thought about how I could use it to research how effective an online language learning course could encourage the development of a community of practice?  I made a research poster to clarify my proposal and share my thoughts with tutors and peers.  Check it out here: Research Proposal Poster

I needed to find out more information about the topic so I decided to contact the professionals.  Here is what I sent:

I’m really interested in how effectively an online language learning course can encourage the development of a community of practice amongst efl learners. I will attempt to answer the following questions:
What are students beliefs and perceptions about learning within an online language learning community?
What role does the teacher have in supporting and facilitating an OLL community?

I was wondering if you have any ideas on references or similar studies which you could recommend.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.

From this e.mail I found that there is support everywhere and people are genuinely willing to help me on this journey.  Here are some of the professionals who encouraged me to continue with my topic:

Nicky Hockley’s teaching online‘ book offers some very engaging activities which encouraged me when developing my online course.  Her website is a constant inspiration and I hope I can attend one of the highly recommended teaching online training courses which the Consultants-E offer.  Nicky’s  recent appearance at the IATEFL conference was a resounding success and added some fuel to the technology debate.Nicky suggested that I contact people doing online courses via online teachers’ networks such as the British Council ELTECS lists, or the Webheads list.

Nicky created a mind map last year which I would like to consider while I carry out my online course:

Shelly Terrell’s ‘teacher reboot camp‘ is another blog which I find to be highly influential.  Shelly suggested some very helpful webinars taken from the virtual round table site  Her 30 goals challenge is an excellent way for teachers to constantly develop their practice within a supportive community.  I particularly want to develop a Personal Learning Network(PLN) which I believe will give me some much-needed support and guidance through the dissertation process.  Check out her video about establishing a web presence:

From Shelly’s links I discovered Heike Philp.  She was very insightful and we had a nice discussion over g.mail.  She suggested that I research whether the live synchronous component use in SL could make a difference to participants sticking with the course.  It is something I would love to pursue but I’m unsure I will have enough time and participants to research this.

I was very worried about changing my direction of dissertation topic, however with such a response of supportive e.mails I am more assured with what I want to research and I feel that my journey will not be in isolation.  It is wonderful to know that I’m surrounded by such a caring and insightful community.

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