Archive for February, 2012


Teacher Development Webinar – “Using Virtual Meeting Tools with Students.” #besig

The excellent English360 online learning platform are holding a community webinar next week, with the guest speaker Mike Hogan. (Disclosure: English 360 is one of the companies I do consultancy work for.) The webinar is on the topic of Virtual Meeting Tools and even though it’s geared towards those using, or thinking of using the English 360 platform, it will definitely be of interest to any language teachers who are using online meeting tools, or who want to, with their students.

Valentina Dodge, on the English360 blog has the following to say:

Are you using English360 in conjunction with real-time tools?

Do you have experience teaching in WebEx, Adobe Connect, or on Skype?

How can these virtual meeting environments be used with learners?

Come along to our English360 Open Community Webinar to find out more on delivering lessons in real-time when learners are geographically dispersed or unable to attend face-to-face classroom lessons.

Register now to enjoy Mike Hogan ‘s expertise and experience of using virtual meeting rooms.

Send us an email to Register for the Community Webinar 28th Feb 13.00-14.00 CET


I’ve personally spoken to Mike about e-learning quite a bit over the last few months and he certainly seems to have a good deal of practical experience of what “synchronous” e-learning requires. As it’s being organised by Valentina Dodge, too – I’m pretty sure that it will be well worth attending.

How To Build A PLN

Video – Build a PLN Step-by-Step (Personal Learning Network)

Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) are nothing particularly new, fancy, or special: just by being here and reading this you’re becoming part of my network in a way. PLNs have such a huge potential, which I still don’t think is being talked about widely enough.

I was performing some online college tutoring services for The University of Dresden recently, working with a great bunch of PhD students looking into digital literacies together. The group were really mixed, with engineers, forestry, medical and humanities students all in the same group. In the final week of the course I wanted to encourage them to create their own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so that after the course they would become more autonomous as learners and hopefully pick up new digital lietracies as they went along.

I wanted to show them a simple video to start off the week’s learning that would define PLNs in general terms. Try as I might, every single video I could find on YouTube was aimed squarely at teachers, or educators (and many of those were aimed at language teachers, too!)

So cutting a long story short, I decided to make my own video which in under five minutes could explain in clear terms:

  • What a PLN is – and why it’s worth having
  • Things students should consider before setting one up
  • Some basic web-based tools that will help you get started

8 hours later, after lots of cutting clips, editing audio,  shunting slides about to fit the narration, the final product is here.


Please really do feel free to use this with your students, trainees and colleagues – I made it using a Creative Commons license deliberately so that other folk could also use it. The only thing I ask is that you kindly credit me as the author of it 🙂

So, like I said at the end of the video: Let’s try to get as many useful PLN connections going on as possible in our network. I’m @SethDickens if you want to connect on Twitter, alternatively, if you have any other questions, queries or are looking for help in setting up a PLN, do please ask away by posting a comment in reply to this post!

Grow A Better Blog

Growing A Better Blog – Getting Serious About EdTech Blogging

Digitalang, my teacher training and educational technology consultancy has been alive for very close to five years now. In this time I have trained several hundred teachers, from scores of different institutions, both public and private. We have learnt about dozens of different tools to help  teachers introduce technology into their lessons in creative and constructive ways. This blog has also been going since 2007, but to my shame, all too often it takes a back seat to whichever of the most pressing, or demanding projects I’m working on. I’ve been trying to think about how I can grow a better blog.

Grow A Better Blog

Image made from an original Creative Commons photo by: Anamorphic Mike

Basically, as a (relatively) young dad, I want to make sure that I am at present as possible in my daughters lives, while at the same time trying to make sure we have a regular income. As I already mentioned, this means that blogging is not one of my first priorities, as It’s done for free, yet takes heaps of time, which is a shame, as I feel I’ve learnt a lot writing these posts and reading your comments. The steady readership numbers shows me that people who follow this blog will feel the same. so what’s the solution?

Click “More”to find our my plans, after the jump:


Why I want to be a Google Certified Teacher.

GTA Logo

For the past few years Google has been running a Google Teacher Academy, where it invites a group of 50 educators to its offices for an intense day of training, input and new resources. I originally heard about this year’s Academy at the BETT 2012 show. Dana Nguyen’s talk about becoming a Google certified teacher was pretty inspirational, so as a teacher (and perhaps more importantly teacher-trainer) I decided that this year I’m going to apply to attend. I guess I hope that knowing more about Google and its tools like Google Apps for Education will allow me to provide more meaningful seminars which will be cheaper for schools to implement and which will be simpler for my trainees to adapt to their teaching.

In its application page to join the Academy, Google says that it’s looking for teachers who are:Google Certified Teachers are:

  • Exceptional educators with a passion for using innovative tools to improve teaching and learning.
  • Creative leaders who understand their local needs and can spread innovation as a recognized expert.
  • Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity & inclusion, and innovation.

all of which I strive to be at all times, hopefully as successfully as possible.

As part of the application process, all potential participants, must upload a short 1 min video to YouTube, or Google video, explaining why they wish to be a Google teacher. Seeing as I’ve done a bit of work using video with my learners in the past, I thought that this would be a fun challenge, so I set about recording a video yesterday. What you see below is the result. I must admit I’m pretty pleased with how it come out, although there are certainly things I might still change, I think after a while you have to stop being a perfectionist and just say: “yes this has reached a decent enough standard.”


Thanks again to my friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter who suggested a couple of tweaks to the original video to make it snappy, and a little more logical. So what do you think, would you invite me to the Google Academy?

if you fancy joining this year’s Academy, it’s in London on the fourth and fifth of April 2012. You can find all the details and apply online here at the Google Teacher Academy page. But hurry though, there’s only six more days in which you can apply!


Go to Top