Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sometimes Things do work out for the best...

I’ve just had one of those weeks where the planets have aligned to bring total chaos to my life – you know the one, you have 6 million things to do, have everything organised and then someone/thing throws a spanner in the works by trying to re-organise your tightly controlled coordination. I thought that I had everything sorted: Friday afternoon – facilitating at CITE symposium, Saturday morning facilitating again, lunch in town, meet daughter/husband at speech and then go to swimming lessons.... oh no it was not to be. I was beginning to wish I had stuck to my NO answer for this symposium and not ‘volunteered’ to ‘waste” my time facilitating.

The Great Spanner Thrower (aka husband) suddenly has to go back to China (again) and won’t be back until the 6pm ferry... no problems I finish at 5:45pm can pick up on way home. Because he was in China 2 days his email box is full – he can’t send/receive mail – and the idiosyncrasies of his work system are such that you can only archive email live on the system, not via the VPN. So last night husband announces that he has to go into work. This is ok until I also realise he has a Dr’s appointment later in the morning and great spanner thrower has a hissy fit over how this will all work.

To a woman juggling all these things comes naturally – and as I sit here typing this today has gone like clockwork – despite husband's worring about how it will all work out. And I’m also over feeling as though facilitating was a waste of time as it was great. I have walked away from all 4 presentations with something; from weblinks to share with colleagues, ideas for classroom practice, to an express line on my research for dissertation. Here is a snapshot of the 4 paper presentations I facilitated at the CITE Symposium 2009.

1. PDAs in Incidental Language Learning – Song, Yanjie: in the past research had focused on the referential use of PDAs for learning language – this research showed that the affordances that a PDA offers are much wider and longer lasting. What does this mean for the classroom? Use mobile phones or PDAs for language learning. Imagine a student who is sitting in your classroom listening to you explain something and you write up a word on the board that they don’t understand. Do they get out of their seat and get one of the 3 dictionaries in the classroom or do they struggle on not understanding? What if they have a laptop/mobilephone with which to look this word up on the internet dictionary, would they do it? The research says yes and that this type of learning is super beneficial to EFL students in the English medium classroom.

2. Near Miss Traffic Analysis – some first year students at HKU had to do a knowledge management project – they decided to investigate near misses and their causes at a black spot in HK. What did I take away from this? Well these students integrated the technology at their disposal taking photos, video and doing animations on PowerPoint that weren’t pointless. I also learnt what a couple of the traffic signs in HK mean ( I never knew there was one just for black spots for instance), and I was heartened that they came up with relevant, feasible results that the local council seem to be listening to.

3. Is there Gender/Age bias in e-Learning readiness of HK teachers? – this research feeds straight into my own dissertation so I was very interested to listen to Dr Teddy So. He has taken e-Readiness models from business and adapted them for use in education. His findings for HK show that for in-service teachers there are definite biases based on age and gender. If you are a female teacher over 31 then you are less likely to be e-Ready than your male colleagues. This is damming in a profession that is a) aging and b) dominated by females! The good news is that when he surveyed pre-service teachers neither bias were found. So we either have to wait for our old female teachers to leave teaching or target professional development at them.

4. Using Videos to improve Oral Presentation – Action Research – Paul Lip reported on a self-evaluation exercise he did with his students. The discussion at the end of his presentation was really engaging as other teachers in the audience gave suggestions of how he could embedd this pilotting work into his everyday teaching. One suggestion stuck with me; filming only 1 group (for each series of presentations) and getting the class to do a peer evaluation and self targeting exercise based on this reflection. Each group of students is to be filmed in turn, but only filming 1 group each time cuts down on the work for the teacher, gives authentic A4L opportunities for students and gets students to relfect on how the "video doesn't lie".

Just one of those days that you thought would be bad... but in the end everything works out fine.
Solar System image from Royalty Free Image Collection on Flickr


Paul McMahon said...

Hi Lee-Anne,
I had no idea that you kept a blog! Found your review of the CITE Symposium useful as I could not attend for reason of which you are aware.
Not surprised, but saddened to read Teddy So's research. It reflects my own experiences with the IT in Education Section of the EDB of HK which I wrote about in the SCMP recently. Copy also on my blog here.

Paul McMahon said...

Whoops, sorry that last link did not work. Try this one:
href=""A Letter to the Education Editor