On my Tweeter network, I received a post from Cristina Costa, a longtime Webhead colleague, regarding an online conference for PG students. This got me excited because it's a conference for PG students BY PG students. University of Birmingham, Applied Linguistics, English Depts have a weekly-Friday PG seminars where PG students present/share something about their research studies. Back in 2004, I got in touch with a couple of students who were in Japan and asked them if they'll be interested in doing an online PG seminar. Sure enough, they were pretty cool with the idea--but nothing came out of it. My first supervisor left the Uni and I was re-assigned to a new supervisor-and not knowing who to talk to at that time made it worse so the whole thing just kinda fizzled out. I was then later told that the PG students who were in the UK at that time were not interested in doing an online seminar because many of them were not comfortable with it. I told them all they had to do was to have a computer with webcam and internet access- I was thinking, if they were not interested in presenting, I can get in touch with distance learning students who can and who will. Well, getting the list of students isn't that easy. When I finally went there to do my residency, I got the chance to attend these PG seminars. Interesting stuff but not any different to conference presentations. These seminars are supposed to provide students training and experience in doing presentations. And they do- some students really need the training. Anyway, I was able to talk to someone in-charge, I talked-the-talk, and was told that it can be done. I know it can; I've seen it done and it works! And so I waited. And waited. Still waiting. I told myself, well, Aiden, don't rock the boat too hard, you still need to get that degree. And so you must see how proud I am when Cris made this online conference happened. I am sad rather than envious; sad because UoB provides Distance learning programmes in different modes- and yet no online PG seminars. The only connection I have with fellow students is the PG list, and it's simply for online announcements- much like an email announcement board. I'm not really craving for another network and connections- I've got the Webheads and IATEFL folks- they keep me pretty much connected every single day. But yes, I do wish there's an online CoP for UoB Arts & Humanities PG students.
Here's Cris's Retweet:
OCTIS programme, http://www.slideshare.net/salfordpgrs/octis1-2010-programme
Here's a snapshot of the morning conference that I attended,
This was a great experience not just for me but for the Professors and students who participated as well. For one, they have experienced how different online teaching/lecturing/presenting is compared to f2f presentations. In blended presentations, you've got to deal with both the online participants and those who are physicially there in the room- and I think many Webheads are experts on this :-)
Some professors do lecture/s well (it depends on how look at them). But I like lectures/presentations that are lively, interactive, and those who do not present themselves as 'I know it all' kind of experts.
In this OCTIS conference, I get to reaffirm my beliefs that you do not have to be a native speaker of English to be able to deliver an effective online/blended presentations. I don't know Prof. Gaspari and I'm not into Translation studies or related research but I did enjoy his session--I learned something from him. He made use of the whiteboard to make his presentation even more interactive; he was just, in my opinion, pretty awesome.
From this event, I could give another example of the power of social networks and how it provides access to online teacher professional development. Below is a snapshot of my FB wall showing a message I received from another Webhead-EVO colleague from France, Moira H. thanking me for forwarding the link. If you click on the picture above, you might just see her username- she was there in the online conference.
And going back to UoB PG seminars, the
(BELP) conference is going to be held on Sept. 27, Monday at Westmere House. I'll be presenting in the afternoon, right after lunch (I know, siesta time for me...). Talks about whether this event will be streamed or webcast are still ongoing--but nah, not counting on it.
And so folks, that's it for me.