Category Archives: Conferences

IAFOR ACSET Featured Speaker Presentation Preview

I am very pleased to be invited back to present as a Featured Speaker at the International Academic Forum this week. The new Asian Conference on Society Education and Technology will be held jointly with the Asian Conference on Education in Osaka starting this Wednesday.

You can see the full program at their site, but here are my slides and abstract as a preview to give you an idea of what I will present. UPDATE: The slightly less wieldy slides with full notes follow.

Getting to the Point: The Least Educators Need to Know About Massively Open Online Courses Now

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) started in 2008 as a connectivist experiment in education. Extremely large MOOCs were convened in 2011, and the term took off in the popular media in 2012. This year, the backlash is well underway. However, these experiments should still be of interest to teachers and have the potential to benefit many learners.

MOOCs have been hailed as revolutionary and disruptive to the status quo in higher education. They have also been put forward as a fix for rising university costs, perceived declines in quality, and problems of access all-in-one. However, few of the ideas behind MOOCs are new. Moreover, as for-profit corporations have co-opted and fragmented the initial practice, there is no longer even a clear consensus on a coherent description of MOOCs.

This presentation will bring educators up-to-date on the current state of MOOCs–including a critical view of their potential. This will help in evaluating MOOCs and making informed choices about selecting courses, using them to augment their own teaching, participating in them directly, or even starting one. Participants will gain a critical understanding of MOOCs and see how this trend may change education in their contexts.

IAFOR ACTC Featured Speaker Presenation Preview and How To

I’ll be giving a featured speaker presentation at the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom for IAFOR: The International Academic Forum at the Ramada Osaka this weekend. This is jointly held with the Asian Conference on Language Learning.


You can see the full program here, but here’s my abstract, a few thoughts on this process, and a preview to give you an idea of what I will present.

Title: Putting Massive Open Online Courses in Context for Educators.

Abstract: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) started in 2008 as a connectivist experiment in education with a participatory focus. Extremely large MOOCs were convened 2011, and the term took off in popular media reports in 2012. They have been hailed as “revolutionary” and disruptive to the status quo in higher education. However, the ideas behind MOOCs are not new. Moreover, as the practice has become fragmented, there is not a clear consensus on a coherent description of MOOCs. Still, these courses are part of our educational landscape and may benefit many learners. Educators need to understand the potential uses and abuses of MOOCs.

This presentation will review the current state of MOOCs, including a critical view of the hype and hopes that accompany this trend. This will help educators evaluate MOOCs and make informed choices about selecting courses, using them to augment their own teaching, participating in them directly, or even starting one. Participants will gain perspective and critical understanding of MOOCs and indicators for how they may change education in their contexts.

A few thoughts on process

I’ve been going through many versions of this talk for two reasons: personal and external. Getting a chance to be a featured speaker at a significant conference is a real privilege and a challenge. I wanted to do something great. In an early version, I tried working out doing the talk with just index cards and a single sheet of A4 for the attendees. Everyone is sick to death of PowerPoint, right? I’ve seen a few talks, Paul Nation as a JALT plenary a few years ago was a tour de force, where the speaker has just spoken. No slides, no graphics, no multimedia. Just the ideas. Done well, this can be very effective. Done poorly, it can be death-on-a-stick. So, back to the slide drawing board.

But the slides are the very last thing this time. I worked a little bit differently than I have on past presentations. This time, I really worked in an iterative way, wrote down much more of my talk, and spent a lot of time listening.

  1. Read everything I could for the past 6 months.
  2. Made a map of post-its on my office wall facing my desk. I had to look at the damn thing everyday and fiddle with it.
  3. Index cards and the failed attempt to go slideless.
  4. Write out the talk in outline form.
  5. Give the talk in the privacy of my home or office and record it. 
  6. Listen to the recording on my way to or from work.
  7. Transcribe it back into the outline and edit.
  8. Re-record the talk. Listen. Edit again.
  9. Repeat Steps 5-9 four times.
  10. Make the slides.

Phew! Damn, I’m sick of listening to myself. But, I feel like I know the material much better and was able to edit my talk down from 46 minutes to a relatively speedy 35 minutes. Assuming a few live stumbles that should still allow at least 5-8 minutes for questions at the end of my 45 minute time slot.

The other problem

I really chose a horrible topic. It is almost impossible to estimate what experience or knowledge the attendees will bring to the talk. Luckily, I am last, so I have a chance to listen to everyone else and ask a few people about what they think about MOOCs before I speak, so I can adjust a bit.

I think the topic is interesting, relevant to the conference theme, and timely. But that last one has been killing me. It’s too timely. Every time I thought I had something nailed down,  a new development popped up. Antioch College went with MOOCs, but then Amherst said no thank you. xMOOCs had an openness problem, but then EdX finally started offering a course under Creative Commons. Then, just a couple of weeks before my talk, there was the EDUCAUSE ELI Online Spring Focus Session 2013, “Learning and the Massive Open Online Course. Talk about a shifting landscape! Let’s hope nothing else goes through a transformation in the next five days.

So, my talk will be a snapshot. I’ll try to digest all of the reading I’m filing away in a Diigo group. (Please do check that out if you want to learn more about MOOCs.) I’ll bring in my own experience participating to one extent or another in four MOOCs. But, in the end, it is just too soon to to have all, or even many, of the answers. So, I’ll be presenting as a kind of live FAQ. Perhaps I should have called my talk…

29 Things You Wanted to Know About MOOCs, Dut Didn’t Even Know to Ask

  1. What does MOOC mean?
  2. How can we define MOOCs?
  3. How large is Massive?
  4. In what senses are MOOCs open?
  5. What do we really mean by Online?
  6. What goes in a Course
  7. Where did MOOCs come from? And, why now?
  8. What is a cMOOC?
  9. What is an xMOOC?
  10. What are some of the problems with MOOCs?
  11. What’s wrong with cMOOCs rooted in connectivism?
  12. What problems do both c and xMOOCs share?
  13. What about xMOOCs in particular?
  14. What about assessment?
  15. But really, who cares about assessment?
  16. Who are MOOcs good for?
  17. Who are MOOCs bad for?
  18. Will MOOCs reduce the cost of higher education?
  19. What about psMOOCs?
  20. How should we think about MOOCs?
  21. Has this happened before?
  22. Are there any success stories?
  23. What do these have in common?
  24. What should you do if (when) your institution asks you to run a MOOC?
  25. What if you want to organize a MOOC?
  26. What developments should we look for?
  27. Should you try it?
  28. Where can I find out more?
  29. How can we continue this discussion?

What if you know nothing and want to learn a little about MOOCs before the talk?

This would be a fine place to start.

Do you dare drink from the Cup of Death?

Here is a little teaser for one of my upcoming presentations at the JALT2012 conference. This is a commercial presentation sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education Asia. They are publishing the new series of Choose Your Own Adventure graded readers that I have been working on. Marcos Benevides is the series editor and he asked me to contribute 4 of the 30 titles in the series. (Disclaimer: The Cup of Death is actually Mark Firth’s book, but I’m using it for this workshop because it is set in Japan.)

Update: At risk of giving people no reason to come to my presentation, here is my handout.

It’s quite helpful if people know the story background ahead of time, but we’ll have sample copies of the book to give away. If my narration grates on your nerves, you can read the beginning of the book yourself quite quickly at the conference. Hope to see you there.

Interactive reading to deepen learner engagement

Saturday, 13 October 2012 6:10-7:10pm Room MR37

Abstract: Stories should invite learners to make the characters and the language their own. This presentation will provide participants with practical ways for learners to interact with graded readers in and out of the classroom. Based on experience as a classroom teacher, program coordinator, and materials writer, the presenter will share some pitfalls best avoided along with plenty of example activities to support readers interacting with their reading on both a textual and a narrative level.

PANSIG 2012 proposals

The JALT PANSIG 2012 call for papers closed yesterday. The conference theme is “Literacy: SIGnals of emergence”, and I think I managed to line up with it reasonably well. The conference is always a good weekend to get together with some old friends and meet some new teachers. The presentations are good and the audience is engaged. This year the conference will be held at Hiroshima University not far from Saijo, so I hope to get a little sight-seeing in as well. Naomi Fujishima is the conference chair so I felt like I had to support her and send in an request to present. Unfortunately,then I got a second idea, too.

The first proposal is based on work I’ve been pursuing over the years using wikis. My writing boss, Marcos Benevides, will be happy to see that I’m taking more of a task-based approach than he might have expected.

The PANSIG conference schedulers only want one proposal per person, but I hope the vetting gods will smile upon me for the second one. It isn’t anything to do with teaching or research, but a response to discussion on the JALT EBM-Net mailing list and recent discussions (sometimes heated) at the last JALT Executive Board Meeting. It’s an attempt to bring together writers and publishers from all of the SIGs to build up shared expertise in publishing by teachers for teachers. I was very lucky to have help from Jim Smiley and Andy Barfield in putting it together. And, Andy agreed to help conduct the session with me if we are accepted. I hope it all works out–it has been ages since I worked with someone else on a conference presentation, so that would be an added plus.

Proposal 1
Title: L2 reading/writing tasks with Simple English Wikipedia

Abstract: Simple English Wikipedia (SEWP) describes itself this way: “Wikipedias are places where people work together to write encyclopedias in different languages.” However, the primary English Wikipedia is far too demanding for most learners to contribute to. Simple English Wikipedia is much more inviting and offers a range of tasks for learners from low to high language proficiency that require students to think and allow them to communicate with native and non-native speakers of English. Participants will actually perform some of these tasks in this workshop and leave ready to try them with students.

Proposal 2
Title: SIG Publications Community Roundtable

Abstract: JALT SIG publications involve a diverse range of writing, editing and publishing where each SIG freely decides its publishing policies. Different editorial teams face many similar challenges in attracting writers, developing writing, and making the writing-publishing activities of the SIG inclusive and sustainable. This workshop is for SIG publications editors/editorial teams to discuss writing for, editing, and developing SIG publications. Please bring samples of your publications to exchange, together with a handout (paper and electronic) listing important information about: your SIG publication(s), writing successes your SIG has had, any challenges it faces, and plans for the future. We will discuss.

Wish me luck. The organizers already rejected my Hiroshima food-based theme suggestion, TepPANsig. I was really hoping for an okonomiyaki visual for the logo, but such is not to be. I hope Hasbro/Mattel doesn’t bust them for using Scrabble tiles.