B is for Blogging

18 09 2011

It seems appropriate to resume blogging, after a short break, by blogging about blogging.

I recently got a request from an MA TESOL student at Durham University, who is writing her dissertation on blogging in ELT:

My focus will be on the question of how teachers and academics use blogs to push forward their ideas. I have been following your blog for a while now and would be interested in analysing it for my work. In order to get a detailed understanding of ELT blogs and blogging practices in general, it would be really helpful if I could get more information about your blog and blogging practices.

Here is my response to five of the questions I was sent.

 

My thanks to Kerstin Müller for initiating this discussion.


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49 responses

18 09 2011
barryjameson

Interesting as always Scott. Reading other teachers blogs has opened me up to a world of ideas. The ideas and discussions that follow are often fascinating and blogs really are a fantastic educational tool. Being relatively new to teaching, I only started reading blogs in the last 6 months or so and I feel I have learned a huge amount from reading excellent contributions written by you, Dale Coulter, Anthony Gaughan etc. Now, if I could just stop being so lazy and start writing one myself, I might develop my teaching even further.

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks for the comment, Barry. As for writing your own blog, great – but I didn’t mean to imply that this should be a prerequisite for participating in the online ‘discourse community’ of like-minded practitioners. COMMENTING on other people’s blogs seems to me to be just as much an important function as blogging itself, and I wish that I had made this point in my video.

20 09 2011
Declan Cooley

Far from being ”lazy” – it might just be that we all sit somewhere on The Social Technographic Ladder – if intrigued, more here > (not mine !):

http://www.classroom20.com/profiles/blogs/profile-the-groundswell-of

http://educationinnovation.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/07/technology-leadership-is-literacy-leadership-leadership-day-2008.html

Perhaps the groundswell in PLN-catalysed CPD among individuals and their networks can lead to another groundswell of change in TEFL as a whole. Perhaps things like Teaching Unplugged will become * “A social trend in which people (use bottom-up technologies) to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.”

* adapted definition of “groundswell” by authors of Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies

18 09 2011
tony gurr's

Scott – great to see this. I loved the fact that the post was up-fronted with the question “What do you use your blog for?”…

Blogs are a great way to empower and engage learners – sadly, however, blogging can fall foul of the “new-toy-effect” or “flavour-of-the-month-initiative”. I know many teachers who feel that they are being “pressured” to use blogs – when they do not, in fact, use them much themselves or worse have not been given enough support to get their own “blogging skills” up to scratch.

Sadly, I overheard a story at one school that had “mandated” that every teacher have a blog up and running within two weeks of term starting – without any PD or support!

Blogging can be a great addition to the T & L armory of any teacher – but like all the best initiatives it’s about grassroots champions helping others to adjust mindscapes. Mandating a shift in the landscape (through “blagging”) in not the way – seriously, not the way to ensure “blogging” becomes a tool for further learning.

18 09 2011
DaveDodgson

I have also heard of similar ‘initiatives’, which in effect are forcing teachers to blog. Much like a journal, the motivation and desire to write has to come from within.

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks Tony – and Dave, too. Yes, there shouldn’t be a compulsion to blog… it should, ideally, be an emergent phenonemon (to borrow a dogme-esque term). At the same time, if you wanted to institute blogging with a group of learners, how could you do it in such a way that the students didn’t feel pressured? A class blog, perhaps, where everyone is free to post and comment, but doesn’t have to … i.e. it’s not evaluated? I see an analogy with Community Language Learning and the jointly (and voluntarily) constructed conversation.

18 09 2011
English Raven

Great stuff Scott. Yep, I think this blogging thing (and certainly the way you’ve handled blogging in particular) is a brilliant alternative to conference plenaries and waiting for transfers in airports.

I envy new teachers coming into ELT now… It was pretty dark and lonely for a lot of us newbie teachers before the Internet and blogosphere came along. Then again, I do wonder if that isolation and struggle is what helped so many teachers really learn about what does and doesn’t work in the essential kernel of a classroom. These days it might even be the agony of choice for teachers looking for help from the Internet.

Haven’t popped by your blog in a bit, so glad I did just now. Shall scoot off and see what else you’ve been writing about!

Cheers,

– Jason

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Jason. As one of my blogging ‘role models’ it’s great to have your comment. I agree – teachers nowadays are both blessed and cursed by the plethora of ‘community’ that is available to them online.

18 09 2011
DaveDodgson

Thanks for this post Scott. I agree with a lot of what you have said. Personally, blogging has rapdily become the biggest source of development in my teaching over the last 18 months or so – not only writing on my own blog but also reading and commenting on other people’s posts as well.

As you said, the potential for interaction is great, much more than is possible in a workshop or plenary session. It’s also great that this interaction covers a very wide cross-section of ELT – I’m often amazed that the thoughts of a university prep teacher in Brazil or a teacher-trainer in Japan can have an impact on what I do with children in Turkey!

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Dave. The potential that the internet offers in terms of teacher development was first brought home to me by the amazing (and exponential) growth of the dogme discussion list: for many teachers and teacher trainers, this becamse the most powerful forum for their own on-going professional development. For me, blogging was a natural continuation of the same ‘long conversation’.

18 09 2011
dalecoulter

A pleasure as always Scott, thanks for the post. I also find that blogging my own thoughts and practices helps me crystalise what I think about X or Y. Not only this, but the discussion element that a blog gives me sort of forces me to go back to what I wrote and reconsider it, which I think makes one’s ideas much more concrete.

One thing I’ve started to see more often in the blog world is video-blogging. You also said that we’ll be seeing a lot more of you here than on the conference scene and I wonder if video-blogging will have a bigger role to play? If so, what could be the potential benefits to one’s subscribers, or passers by for that matter?

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Dale. Yes, the really powerful thing about blogging is the discussion that is generated. And even if it consists of only two or three comments, you also know that many more people are following the discussion than are actually contributing, and this in itself is very motivating.

Incidentally, your own blog is a really good example of how blogging can be enlisted for the purposes of personal teacher development. For those of you who don’t know it, go there now:
http://languagemoments.wordpress.com/

18 09 2011
Simon Greenall

Not only informative, but charming and touching – especially the last bit, which I understand very well.

Simon

18 09 2011
Chiew

Hi Scott!
Interesting that you should choose the video medium for your response – kinda reminds me of our interview back in June, remember? Those who’d missed it, it’s here: http://iasku.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/scott-thornbury/
IaskU has been evolving well since then, which brings me to Dale’s comment. Yes, I, too, have noticed the increasing trend of video-blogging, and I think it’s just another step away from our comfort zone, as far as blog publishers are concerned, and as for readers, it makes reading a much more multi-dimensional activity, doesn’t it? The introduction of the Net has made reading a more visual affair, and video-blogging seems such a natural evolution. It’s always nice to put a face & a voice to what’s being written, and the reader now finds the writer that much more accessible, which, in my opinion, is no bad thing.

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Chiew … the point about ‘accessability’ is well made. In recent years, several conferences have been trying to optimise accessibility to name speakers by, for example, havign a ‘meet the plenary speaker’ spot, or a ‘Breakfast with the Luminary’ session, but my experience of these has been mixed. Blogging, on the other hand, does allow a direct (if public) channel of communication (and one which does not involve having to get up at 7 in the morning!)

18 09 2011
brad5patterson

“look for me here, and not on the circuit”

“more interactive than a plenary”

These flattening effects of a blog are remarkable, and I can relate to Jason’s comment above about “feeling in the dark” before discovering the blogosphere. Enjoyed the video blog for a change, as Chiew said, “nice to put a face/voice to what’s being written” every now and again. Cheers

18 09 2011
Miguel

Hello!
It’s so good to have you back! I agree the amount of people blogging allows you to reach is mind-boggling. I also value how easy it is to access posts and comments from all over the world. If anything, I am a bit wary about the nature of virtual communities. Traditionally, the concept of community involved geographic as well as social connectedness but online communities bring people together on the basis of their interests only (see Weinberger, 2002: Small Pieces Loosely Joined). The thing is that while if I go to a conference I will end up attending your plenary whether I like it or not; and if you write an article for the ELTJ, I will at least read the title and the abstract. It is different online: as you say at the end of your video, we have to look for you. I don’t think this is a terrible thing but it is true that I have been pleasantly surprised at some plenaries because I would have never been interested in a specific issue and the fact that it was a traditional sense of community in place forced me to attend the session… and realize it was much more interesting than I had expected. As Samoriski (2002: Issues in Cyberspace) suggests: “virtual communities may fragment more than they unite through the specialization that atomizes society into more and more individual groups” (p. 41). I will always look for you wherever you are (blog, twitter…) because I know you and I like to learn from you (and the other people commenting the posts) but I sometimes fear others will miss you. In any case, it’s great to be able to find you online.
Best,
Miguel.

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Miguel, and it’s good to be back!

Your wariness about the proliferation of online ‘communities’ is well-advised, I think. Years ago, Neil Postman warned against the misuse of the term ‘community’. In a pre-digital era, a communiy was any collection of people who – for whatever reason – were compelled not only to co-habit – but to make a go of it, despite their heterogeneity.That is to say, communities were formed, not out of sameness (the ‘fragmentation’ you refer to), but out of diversity. Nowadays, ‘community’ is used to refer only to groups that share a common interest or characteristic – the webtech community and the dogme community being just two examples in our own field.

18 09 2011
darridge

Mmm – yes Postman makes that point about communities too! he points out that the traditional idea of a community is a group of people with different interests forced to negotiate, while new communities resulting from technology are groups of like-minded individuals. Preaching to the converted as it were…

18 09 2011
darridge

Sorry about that – should read down first!

18 09 2011
Penny Hands

Welcome back, Scott! Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

I’m intrigued to think about how international conferences will evolve in the future. I’ve just signed up for an online conference that’s on next Friday (not ELT-related – more to do with freelancing). It was entirely free, and there are some great speakers giving some very interesting-sounding talks. I wonder if they’ll be speaking from their armchairs?

I, personally, have spoken at some conferences, even in the UK, where it’s taken me the best part of a day and a lot of money to get there, only to give a half-hour talk the following morning, to then begin the long haul home again.

There’s definitely something to be said, however, for the buzz you get from being in the same room as the speaker and the audience. (Remember the dogme symposium at IATEFL last year?) And to then go for drinks, dinner, etc. and to argue things out over a glass of wine. But, I think that this sort of thing should be regarded as a luxury – perhaps something that one does once, or at most twice, a year.

I wonder how potential attendees of conferences feel about it, though? Would they rather watch their gurus on-screen from the comfort of their office chair, or would they prefer to travel halfway across Europe/the world for the pleasure?

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Penny, for your thoughtful comment. I do agree, of course, about the conference ‘buzz’ (a good example being the recent ETAS Symposium in Zug which, regrettably, I had to miss). But sometimes I wonder if – for all the participants who experienced the ‘buzz’ – there might have been just as many who went away frustrated that they didn’t have their questions answered, or didn’t experience the one-to.one moment with the ‘luminary’. Online discussions, of ths type, might not only be cheaper and more ecological, but also (for some at least) more fulfilling.

18 09 2011
phil

For myself I’d definitely say that blogging is about interacting and putting yourself out there for criticism whilst you formulate ideas or just thoughts. I was a backseat blog passenger for a while and just sat at in the back seat going “hhmmm” or “I like that” but eventually threw myself in. Yes, sometimes people won’t comment on what you have to say, some may not even post it but then there’ll be the occasion where you hit the spot and raise something you have which other people are thinking about at the other end of the world. Then more people jump on board with different ideas and at the end you have some new understanding which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

What still amazes me is that EFL gurus such as you Scott, are real people who will actually be happy to comment on your posts and offer ideas back. This is what makes EFL so great, it’s full of people at every level from DELTA trainers to CELTA grads who communicate without any superiority complexes. Luke Meddings mentioned this recently about Twitter too, that it has bridged the divide between those who’ve been around for years and those newbies but that both can help each other. I’m probably somewhere in between and at times when I’ve felt that I’ve had enough of teaching I’ve been inspired, supported and just amazed by other EFLers who offer advice and just act as a role model. With the industry being as it is there are teachers out there who may work on their own in foreign countries and know no other native speakers or someone who feels out of sync with their department because of the way they teach. Blogging helps these people meet others in the same boat. EFL anonymous maybe.

Keep it up Scott. You’ve managed to perfectly combine consistent informative blog posts with a supportive place for discussion that I will return to for all my career.

18 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Phil – from someone who has contributed SO much to the dogme discussion list in recent months, this truly is a complement. One thing I value about blogging (and online discussions in general) is that I get first-hand accounts from the front line (i.e. the classroom) and your accounts are some of the very best.

18 09 2011
phil

Thanks Scott. That means a lot. If you want some EFL humour for a 5 minute break have look at my new blog where I interview alternative EFL gurus:

http://alternativeeflgurus.tumblr.com/

When I get into the swing of my new job I’ll try to post some reflections of my attempts at using Dogme with 1 to 1 elementary. Should be interesting.I hope.

19 09 2011
Rob

Scott, yours is the only blog I regularly follow – where do people find the time to read blogs, much less to write them?

Funny how I feel comfortable writing a long post for the ELT dogme discussion (long conversation), but don’t feel so confident claiming I’ve got something so important to share that it deserves a blog with my name on it. I I’ve heard from at least one colleague who finds blogs do not promote the same sense of community as do discussion lists. I wonder. I also wonder how ELT stacks up against the wider blogosphere, which according to this article is still a patriarchy: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/fashion/27blogher.html

Good to see you blogging again, Scott. Is blogging about blogging a form of loop input?🙂

Rob

19 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Hi Rob. Is there a phrasal verb: ‘to be blogged out’ – perhaps? It’s true, it’s very difficult to keep up, and one of the nice things about Twitter is that it often alerts you to posts that you might otherwise miss, even on blogs you visit fairly often. To me, Twitter and blogging have a symbiotic relationship.

19 09 2011
Anne

Hello Scott,

As a regular teacher blogging for professional development, I’d say that blogging is indeed intrinsically motivating, both in terms of the discipline of getting into professional development and the opportunity to get out of the isolation so many of us teachers feel. There is always the need for reflective development, and it’s great to get feedback in comments outside one’s immediate circle of colleagues. I blog to discover what and how I think. Blogging has shown me my gaps and limitations and made me go back and hit the books and do a proper course.

As a blog reader engaging in the blogosphere, I’d just like to break a lance for the world of barefoot teachers the world over working for a pittance who will probably never see a conference. I love going to conferences, and enjoy both the hob nobbing, the buzz and the career opportunities that giving talks affords. Even if I live in Europe, it’s really an enormous investment, and you have to be very selective. So blogs and such let you go to one conference a year, perhaps, and experience 10!

19 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Anne, for your comment (and for helping redress the gender bias in blogging that Rob’s link refers to above!).

Yes, blogging, moderated discussions, twitter etc offer a really viable alternative to conferencing, and now that many conferences (such as IATEFL) have both an online component and live video feeds, the opportunities for teachers to direct their own prefessional development are just amazing (when I think back 15 or 20 years). Of course, there’s nothing quite like a buzzing teacher’s room, or shooting the breeze in the conference bar… but short of that…

19 09 2011
David Wright

I wonder if – for all the participants who experienced the ‘buzz’ – there might have been just as many who went away frustrated that they didn’t have their questions answered, or didn’t experience the one-to.one moment with the ‘luminary’.

Great to have you back, Scott.🙂

This is a really important point you raised

Time and inclination permitting there is naturally nothing to stop you responding to all the comments posted on your blog and trying to answer any questions posed to you.

Furthermore, not having to reply in real time means that, before you post you have more time to marshal your thoughts and then look up a reference to include and so on…

19 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Nice to have YOU back, David (aka Mr Darkbloom).

Yes, there is a certain responsibility involved in blogging – to turn comments round, answer questions etc, and I have attempted to follow the example of my ‘mentors’ such as David Crystal and John Wells, who really are exemplary.

As you say, the permissable lag between comment and response allows time to formulate a reply that is perhaps more considered than the answers you give to questions from the floor in a live talk. This is something I learned from moderating discussions on the online MA program that I teach.

19 09 2011
philb81

It’s nice to read your post and the comments, as always… Blogging seems to be a fantastic way to keep in touch with debate, this one is particularly good as there is always a long stream of discussion afterwards. So much of what new technology has done, in music, photography, cinema, whatever, is making what was once only available to ‘pros’ available to any ‘amateur’ and blogging is part of that and a great leveller. I love the fact that wordpress makes it so easy to get something online ( a key part of 21st Century literacy). It also means that practioners can contribute things other than standard blogs (Cheeky Plug alert: Have recently been supporting a collaboration for resources and articles for ESOL learners: http://www.esolnews.org)

I’ve done a bit of blogging about blogging myself: http://classroom201x.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/online-cpd-updated-bloglist/ and added a link to this post there (also embedded the video, if that seems too cheeky, I can take it out…). Video blogging is an interesting development, but what do people prefer – for information and debate online, I much prefer text… maybe I’m in the minority…

I love the depth of this blog, something my own can’t really match… mine started out of making handouts to support other tutors where I work and just deciding that I’d like to stick them online – then other people seemed to read it… though I find it can be very time consuming. I love the fact that people read it, but to be honest – I reckon that it is more for my benefit in developing ideas.

People being forced to blog sounds a bit sinister. Apart from anything, I think people blog for different reasons and in very different ways and being forced from above isn’t likely to help that – so yes, what does that mean for class blogging?

20 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks for the comment, Phil… and no problems with your posting the video in your own blog – it is labelled ‘creative commons – re-use allowed’ – so long as you’re not making any money out of it!😉

Which raises another issue, incidentally – would blogging be as popular and as interactive if it were made remunerative? That is to say, would people pay to subscribe to a blog? And if so, how much?

Not that I’m suggesting that I’m thinking along these lines – but one or two people have voiced their incredulity (verging on scorn!) that I should want to do this for nothing.

20 09 2011
English Raven

I’ve already commented about this — possibly here. Yes, a blog of this quality with this level of 1-1 attention should absolutely attract a subscription fee, but in a freemium-style application where your master post is accessible to all for free but people who want to engage you and others in personalised dialogue should be willing to pay a small amount of money for it.

Why? The quality and regularity of the posts (this blog will quite soon overtake and supercede a number of the most popular ELT methodology books out there). The mentoring (from you) and the engagement with others (hosted and facilitated by you).

I’ll let others jump in and shout about how everything should be free and it’s greedy to even contemplate monetising something like an education blog, but facts are that certain people have spent a very long time in this field gathering an enormous amount of knowledge as well as top-quality mentoring skills. Those people deserve some remuneration, even if it is a small token of appreciation.

Bombs away!

20 09 2011
David Wright

Scott,

I can’t really say whether a subscription fee for the blog would be a good move or not (pros and cons for sure), but if you are going to gather up your thoughts from all this discourse into a new book (an A-Z sequel book perhaps), naturally it can be business as usual.

I do have one burning question, though: What about an e-book?

21 09 2011
Chris

I think people always pay to read blogs “An A-Z of ELT” inclusive. They spend their time reading. If it is good, they expend thoughts on the topic. They might expend credibility and time by passing a link on to friends. If a post is really interesting, a reader might write up a response, and this takes more time. If their response is thought provoking, they’ve added value to the original post. If someone responds to their comment, a dialog has ensued. This adds more value. So they derive value, the provide value, and everyone gets paid. Or not. All depends on the quality of the original post, and the quality community that reads it.

When so much of the value of a post depends on the network that develops around the post, I think one can reasonably expect that erecting a toll gate in front of the original content would decrease overall network participation and thus lead to a decrease in overall value (for me). For this reason I wouldn’t want pay money to subscribe to a blog that benefits so strongly from reader participation.

There are blogs that don’t derive value from a network effect. Nobody comments on the posts. The author doesn’t respond to comments. They are more like newsletters, or magazines, or radio broadcasts. I don’t mind paying for such content.

21 09 2011
Lao The Younger

A cheekily placed question, Mr T! Of course, whether you charge for it or not has to be up to you, although I have the suspicion that you wouldn’t dream of it.

Jason thinks that this is exactly the type of blog that should attract a subscription fee in exchange for the level of insight shown and the degree of aftercare that is provided, but I think he would also agree with the idea that the actual blog is payment in and of itself.

Far more insidious than all sorts of technology is that everything is commodifiable and can be exploited for commercial gain. Daniel Pink’s theories about what makes for a motivating task would suggest that you blog -and blog so well- precisely because it is NOT a way of earning your daily pumpernickel-topped sourdough bread. You blog, Pink would suggest, because you get a kick out of it. You blog because you can, not because you have to. You blog, as you say, for all of the reasons that you say.

I most certainly wouldn’t pay for this blog despite being as avid a reader of it as might be possible to imagine. Not because I’m a freeloader; not because I am an anarchist; not because I believe in the free flow of ideas; not because I believe that knowledge is socially constructed and therefore not the privilege of one individual to package and sell. Simply because the internet is not where I expect to pay to engage in debate.

What next? Will the luminaries of our world charge on the meter any conversation that we might enter into with them at conferences? Begad, sirrah! I hereby declare my incredulity (nay, scorn) that anyone might think of wanting to do this for something.

21 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks for your thoughts, all of you, and for reminding me (Jason) of the verb ‘to monetise’ (not one that slips off my tongue, I have to admit). I think, in the end, I have to side with Diarmuid (aka Lao..) in his contention that I blog because I can, not because I have to. Blogito, ergo sum.

This is not to say that I have a problem with others making a bob or two out of their blogs. (Bob-a-blog, squire?) But, like Diarmuid, I don’t think I’d pay to subscribe to anyone’s blog, not even to David Crystal’s.

Of course, in an indirect way, it probably doesn’t do me any harm, and may even sell the odd book. But that’s certainly not the intention. Who was it – Charles Curran – who talked about some teachers (the ones you have to be a little wary of, perhaps) who have ‘a sickness to teach’. I guess I have a sickness to blog. Blogophilia. Or blogomania. Either way, it may just be a phase – I just need a good book. To write, I mean.

21 09 2011
Chiew

I’m with Diarmuid.
Besides, it depends if you prefer maximum or selective exposure. It’s easy to say you should charge for something when you can afford to pay for it, but think of the billions who can’t (little is relative, as so are rich and poor); think of what you’re depriving them of. You might as well say heck, isn’t it incredulous that WordPress, Blogger, Google, et al don’t charge for their services? Scorn, scorn, they should start charging for Internet. Each click should be chargeable.

22 09 2011
Lao The Younger

Juvenal described it as “cacoethes scribendi” – an irresistible urge to write. Shamefully I know this solely because I scour lists of Latin phrases, not because I am well-schooled in the classics.

25 09 2011
English Raven

Diarmuid said “but I think he would also agree with the idea that the actual blog is payment in and of itself.”

Yes, I would, of course. I blog because I can as well, and because I get other forms of currency out of it, and wouldn’t dream of charging people to read it. But then again, my blog is nowhere near as good or as well-researched and ‘tended’ as this one. I know there are a lot of people getting paid good money for providing insights and research that is half the calibre of this one, and I would be completely willing to pay for access to it.

I also maintain a resource site and, alongside a plethora of freely available material and ideas, I do also ask for a user-selected fee to access the entire bank of resources. Why? It costs money to make, store and maintain a body of work of that magnitude, and I don’t think it is unfair to ask for those costs to be covered by the users who use most of it.

But anyway, it’s a bit of a sticky issue in a variety of ways. I’m not really satisfied with either ‘I charge you’ or ‘you get all of my hard work for free.’ Letting people choose for themselves whether they want to pay, and how much, appears to be the least problematic solution for me (for the moment!).

Cheers,

– Jason

19 09 2011
Tap IntoTheTeenWorld (@tapintoteens)

We love your blog, and we are glad that you’re back! We are bloggers, (actually new bloggers) and teachers, and blogging is giving us an opportunity to become learners ourselves, to develop our ideas, to create new activities. We feel a boost of creativity from it. Sometimes it’s hard to put our ideas out there, but as we regularly check blogs, search for new trends online, posts etc… We feel that we should share what we have created as well.

19 09 2011
kalinagoenglish

Great video and definitely agree that blogs and vlogs are often more informative and interactive than “live”

– I recently opted for doing a 90min presentation over Skype as have just-just moved to Manchester (:-))… and I simply couldn’t face/manage the -jumping-on-a-plane-wandering-around-Switzerland-paying-4-hotel/transport-etc – so when the coordinator suggested we try to do it online, I jumped at the chance.

Worked just brilliantly for both me, cosy in my corner chair w/ cup of tea (where participants couldn’t see the warehouse of half-unpacked boxes), and for the participants who I had “do” activities with each other even though I wasn’t “there” in room to walk around – still, they reported that they concentrated even more and found the experience educational…

no idea if this is the future of teacher-education but with the combination of tools like Skype/AdobeAcrobat etc and blogs to follow up (no lost slips of paper with important notes)… who knows? In the meantime it’s good to have you back and hope you had a great holiday.

Karenne

p.s.
funny that you started blogging because Harmer did, I always wondered what prompted the leap into the ‘sphere😀

20 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Karenne. The fact that you yourself have embarked on an MA prompts me to comment that it’s significant that the questions that framed my vlog were sent by an MA student, researching blogging. This suggests that blogging has not only gained academic respectability, but is itself a viable mode of professional discourse.

As for Jeremy – yes, anything he can do, I can do later😉

20 09 2011
Lao The Younger

Fine – as long as you make it to the odd IATEFL conference…

It was very interesting to hear of the thought-forming nature of your blogging – something that I found its main saving grace throughout the TTC blog. These days, I think that what has taken prominence is the irresistable itch to write. On reflection, that was probably always the main drive but it was fascinating while blogging to see ideas emerge. Do you also experience the wonder of re-reading blogposts from way back and thinking, “Did I write that?”

I also write about things that I am hopelessly insecure about. I’ve just posted to the dogme list (where I am more assured of a response than I am from a blogpost) about my insecurities relating to a course that we run. Dogme has always been a great source of ideas, debate and clarification for me. And the dogme community is pretty much as close to a community as I can get in the virtual world. It’s a broad church with all sorts of people, views and ideologies participating.

I’m fascinated by the idea of forcing people to blog. Is this the 21st century equivalent of locking up twenty monkeys in a room with twenty typewriters? The contracts in these places of employment must make for strangely intriguing reading. I imagine Article 3.5 as reading, “Teachers must make at least one orginal contribution to syllabus design per year. It is not enough to come up with a novel spin on competency-based syllabi nor to refocus the direction of a task-based syllabus. Examples from previous years that teachers should aim to match for inventiveness and innovation are the “Carrot-based syllabus” where learning was structured around describing the hue and shape of the D. Carota family and the George Bush syllabus, which might possibly be criticised for its undue focus on word building. Failure to contribute to the bank of existing syllabi will be regarded as gross misconduct and, as such, may possibly culminate insummary dismissal.” Eeh. Some people, eh? They don’t know they’re born.

Anyway, enough blabbering. Suffice to say that I also agree with you that one of the best things about this blog and others (although sadly not my own) is the debate that arises from the blogposts. Your post-hibernation emergence does not bode well for the finishing of my dissertation.

20 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

I never feel that a thread has really worked until Diarmuid picks it up and toys with it.😉

Yes, the experience of the dogme site, all ten or more years of it, woke me up to the formative potential of an online community. This, coupled with my experience with the on-line MA TESOL (as I said) helped hone my virtual skills.

But I still look forward to a pint in a pub with you in Glasgow, chewing the fat while the football is beamed live on at least a dozen screens!

21 09 2011
Ann Foreman

Just shared your reasons for blogging – and the really interesting comments they’ve provoked on the TeachingEnglish facebook page if you’d like to check there for what people add.

Best,

Ann

22 09 2011
Alastair Grant

Well Scott, I can certainly say that you were my inspiration for starting my blog!

Really, the concept of having a “living” resource, drawing experience and inspiration from all corners of the ELT world is first rate, and “A-Z of ELT” is a blog I always recommend to our new teachers.

I started because I always reflect on how I can improve my classes, if I’ve had a new idea and…. especially if I’m having doubts about something!

Typically for ELT, people are very willing to help!

There is so much experience that we all share that any forum for combining this is invaluable.

Viva la blog!

23 09 2011
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Alistair – yes, I wonder if in other professions there is so much cross-fertilization of ideas via blogging and other social media? I guess there probably is, but we live in a closed world! (Or, at least, I do – I should get out more!)

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