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Cristina Costa :: Blog :: So many things happened in the last few days that I don’t even know where to start….

January 23, 2008

Last Thursday I finally met Anne Fox and the rest of the VITAE team. It was a great pleasure to be surrounded by such an interesting group of people. I am very thankful to my friend Helen Keegan, who invited me to join the VITAE project. It is a EU funded project and aims at developing a mentorship programme (don’t really like the word programme, but can’t come up with a better one…) for teachers. The challenge set forward is to develop ways to enable educators to come to grips with the 21st century skills by engaging in conversations and hands-on activities.

The way I see it, this is indeed the best way of keeping up-to-date with the emergent and continually-on-the-move reality. Keeping a close eye on what is happening is essential; engaging with it and get first hand knowledge is also crucial if you want to bring the 21st century into the learning environment.

And yes, that implies effort and will be time consuming for all the parties involved. That is maybe the major learning curve we all have to walk to get where we ought to be at.

Nothing comes for free and hard-working may be the answer. Eagerness and enthusiasm are definitelly the key! But hard-working can also be a lot of fun and quite inspiring, especially when we work together with people who are in schync with us. All of a suden everything makes more sense!

And this takes me to the last 2 events I took part in, and which can show-case what is written above fairly well.

This Monday we came to the end of a mini-mini project with a group of students in Japan. The entire project was developed informally. From a very causal meeting on MSN Elisabeth Fernandes and I came to the conclusion that it would bring value to her Communication Skill students to prepare their final assessment task for a “real” audience. I never thought I would get that emotional about such a small project, but the fact is that I feel everyone involved in it (students, teacher, techny person in Japan, audience in France and Australia, and myself in the UK)  were able to come up with more than one hour of meaningful interaction and cultural exchange. And I can only regret that many more didn’t allow themselves to be involved in this experience. Frown

My biggest Thank You goes for the students for all their courage and interest. These are 1st year college students whose English is still at a very basic level and whose ICT skills weren’t that high either. But their motivation and the willing to take part in the project were enormous, and so everything else became easy! Elisabeth helped them in their learning English Language and presenting skills. I operated in the background giving them tips on how to create an effective ppt presentation – if such thing exists- and the students came up with the enthusiasm to develop their projects and rehearse them in our e-conference room. Smile

We tried to get English speaking students - students of Japanese mainly – to join us, and although contacts were made, it somehow wasn’t possible! Cry But we had a lovely intercultural audience applauding the students’ presentations: Moira Hunter, a Brit in France, Geoff Kaye, in Australia, and moi, a Portuguese in the UK.

The presentations were brief, but really interesting. Although the students’ had some problems with the language they were able to convey the message without using slides packed with text. Most of them only had images and some 1-2 bullet points. The students also answered all our questions and even had a great laugh when I tried to pronounce the word “shamisen”. EmbarassedIt was a great way to break the ice and it was a terrific experience. In the end everyone was happy and I could picture those students on the other side of the globe smiling. And I thought to myself: After all, those last early 5am Monday wake up call exercises were worth every second of it! Smile 

Last night, Barbara( aka Bee) Dieu was a guest speaker at the Blogging for Educators workshop. I don’t want to bother you with detail, but the most important part of her talk was related with the fact she doesn’t use the “web as a book”. The live web is actually meant to communicate and interact. To learn with others. And that is where Bee sees blogs and other social tools as an important part of her current teaching and learning approaches. She also mentioned that in the past, she was so overwhelmed with class preparation that she hardly had time for formal teacher development, and as a teacher and a learner the web has given her the opportunity to go on constant and up-to-date training, by engaging with others about topics which interest her even beyond her professional career. And the case is that Bee, a photography and art devotee, has made it. This teacher from Brazil has established contacts and bonds with members of several communities, Flickr included, and has consequently been able to bring her students onboard as well, by involving them in online activities, which not only enrich the students’ perspectives but also inspire others educators to follow a similar route. And for me that is the best reward of all: when you are able to generate interest in learning by focusing on different aspects of the real daily life. We don’t only learn how to draw by doing drawing exercises, we also learn about it by looking at other people’s drawings, by engaging with different scenarios which will give us inspiration and also by allowing ourselves to be directly or indirectly part of those realities.

In the end, all we need is to be willing to take up the challenge and make the best of it. And then also have the generosity to share it.Wink

What do you think? 

Overview for Keywords: Anne Fox, Barbara Dieu, blogging for educators, euvitae, Helen Keegan, learning

Blogs with Keywords: Anne Fox, Barbara Dieu, blogging for educators, euvitae, Helen Keegan, learning

Posted by Cristina Costa

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