Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lines of flight...

These are early days...

1995 I bought my first computer and connected it to the internet.

1999 I got a fixed post at the university.

2000 I was working on an internet conected resource centre in France and building a web site.

These are early days...

2005 I was coordinating a team of local teachers in France to develop online learning resources for 2000 students. Most students are still using a text book in their classes at the university. At home they have workbooks. The books cost them 30 euros. They don't bring computers to class. Smartphones have not yet been invented. I am working alone in a classroom with a blackboard and chalk. Wifi doesn't exist yet in the classrooms. They are still doing exams in ampthitheatres.

These are early days...

2008 I am using Facebook with all my students as a means of extending the classroom.

2009 I have never written a blog post.

2010 I wrote one blog post. I didn't know what Twitter was.

These are early days...

2012 I no longer have a classroom, I am working with a colleague in and open connected space.

2015 I wrote 120 blog posts. I am working with teachers and mentors in France, UK, Italy, Poland, USA, Australia, Egypt, Singapore, Haiti. I am doing research with people in France and Poland.

A group of students have largely self-organised a four-day learning program in the UK with their peers.

I spend a good deal of time learning and working with groups of  peers in cMOOCS and communicate via Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Scoop It, Instagram, Blogs, Websites.

Students are working online and offline with other students and teachers from different countries.

They are learning to develop search literacies with a team of librarians, they are curating their research using a a web application Scoop It. Librarians are responsible for part of their English grade which is based on their explanation and reflection of their personal research approach.

I now have a database of 180 student curated collections made for their assessments. 

They are making videos posted on Youtube from their smartphones for their evaluations.

They are using collaborative Google Documents to complete self-directed reflective learning portfolios.  20% of their assessment is now dependent on the quality of their reflection. 20% of their assessment is based on work which they have chosen to do. 30% of their grade depends on their individual work - projects, videos, presentations, discussions.

Only 30% of their grade is directly dependent on their level in English.

No text books are used, no documents are assigned, all documents and projects are selected by the students. There is a box full of text books which the students can take home if they want (none of them do).

80% at least of students have a smartphone.

200 second year students have been evaluated on their networking activities with students in the UK.

40 students will be mentored by student teachers in Poland.

20 masters students have been working with students in Italy.

All students in one masters' program accepted to blog every day for a week in English and shared their posts with business people met around a hashtag.

Five years ago, I didn't know what a hashtag was.

These are early days...

2014-15 CLAVIER extended - the possibilities for more and more students and teachers to connect.

I started to question my role.

How did I want my learning activities, research activities, teaching activities, teaching and development activities to continue.

Some of the people that I work with are predominantly researchers.

Most of the people that I work with are teachers with varying contracts and varying motivations.

Did I want to be responsible for stretching out the possibilities to connect with students in other institutions?

Did I want to concentrate my energy on really developing a connected model of language learning in the classes that I am directly responsible for?

Did I want to spend much more time on research?

How best to connect to online and offline affinity groups?

Via institutions? Via existing informal or professional communities?

I am constantly (re)adapting my attention and energy depending on what connections open up effective learning possibilities for the students.

I have worked horizontally after a period of working alone vertically on my own digital literacies.

Now I am going to work on attempting to embed certain approaches not across language teaching networks but with colleagues in other disciplines to see if it possible to consolidate and deepen critical thinking, self-directed reflective learning, digital literacies, and in particular networking literacies...

Safe to fail

There is an expression that I gleaned from Dave Snowden and it is the concept of safe to fail.  I, we are working within what might be described as complex adaptive systems. Things are changing rapidly around us. There is no uninventing the internet possible, there is no uninventing the desire to fly.

Working on the edge of what is possible is potentially risky for those who want to stretch out.

The rewards are not necessarily obvious. Many will prefer to wait until there are viable means to fly as passengers...

I am constantly reassessing risk to myself and demanding what is sustainable.

We can get ahead of ourselves. We can be sucked into areas of turbulence or experience engine failure.

I strive for sustainable real talk with my fellow explorers, I really don't want to crash.

I rather prefer to take time to appreciate the view...

As someone once said, we are attempting to rebuild an aeroplane while flying it.

These are early days...


  1. Getting vertigo with all this airplane talk. Too real. Much prefer the give and take of syllabi and desks in rows and daily quizzes to make the reading real to them. ;)

  2. I am sorry. I shall go and write a work sheet.
    Oh dear, I have lost my photocopy code, oh well I shall think of the 50,000€ the university is saving on dead trees.