Webinar: How to use Web 2.0 for professional development

Centro Colombo Americano is a private language institute with branches in major Colombian cities. Last Friday, I delivered a webinar at a national ELT conference organised by CCA Bogotá. I had previously run a few workshops for students and teachers, but this was the first one focusing on a topic that I had chosen by myself. My webinar was one of many sessions taking place at the same time, so it was a low-key event attended mostly by people I know from real life.

How to use Web 2.0 for professional development

This is the abstract of my webinar:

Professional development is associated mainly with workshops and conferences, which are part and parcel of our teaching lives. It is also important to mention that there are additional sources of information available to teachers. This presentation aims to highlight the value of user-generated online content for professionals involved in ELT.

Social media sites can serve as much more than a platform for sharing memes and photos of food. They allow teachers to create their own personal learning network and learn from more experienced colleagues. It is valuable to stay in touch with teachers from around the world and share ideas with them, which can include ready-made lesson plans that can be used in one’s teaching practice.

There is also a plethora of useful information on ELT blogs. This type content is based on the author’s personal experience and it may provide the readers with inspiration for their own actions. Blogs also include guides for successfully obtaining advanced teaching qualifications.

Web 2.0 empowers teachers to get involved in the parts of professional development they find relevant to their own needs and interests. The presentation focuses on practical tips for taking advantage of this content and for getting involved in its production.

I know very well that Web 2.0 is just a buzzword that was popular fifteen years ago, and that it isn’t really used anymore. I figured that using fancy terms like that would increase the chances of having my proposal accepted. I was right because the organisers asked me to deliver a 40-minute workshop with a short Q&A session. This is how it went:

At first, I used Mentimeter to find out what ideas the participants associate with professional development.

Mind map: professional development

I then referred to Matt Ellman’s excellent blog post CPD is dead and here is why. I am sure that most teachers have attended workshops that turned out to be a complete waste of time. Ellman provides valid explanations for ineffectiveness of some CPD sessions, and suggests combining expert-guided learning with self-guided development. In my webinar, I stressed the importance of taking responsibility for your development as a teacher.

The main part of the session comprised of demonstrating how teachers can benefit from using social media and blogs. As I have mentioned before, there is a really nice community of ELT professionals on Twitter. I also find blogging very useful because it makes me reflect on my own teaching practice. By the way, I recommend watching Jim Fuller’s interview with Rachel Tsateri because they talked about the benefits of blogging and discussed other topics that developing teachers will find relevant.

There most likely isn’t a recording of the whole session, so I will leave only my slides here. I hope that you find some of the links to social media posts and blogs interesting. I imagine that a couple of the images may seem a little bit weird without an accompanying commentary, but I’m sure it’s obvious that they weren’t meant to be taken completely seriously.

What a weird year!

This blog is a product of this year’s events. At the beginning of 2020, I moved to a new city with a list of beautiful places in Santander that I wanted to visit. The idea of having my own website hadn’t even crossed my mind before mid-March. When our in-class courses got suspended and various measures were imposed in Colombia, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time. Since I don’t like being idle, I decided to start writing down my thoughts about my experience with teaching English in Colombia. There is quite a lot of information about this subject, but it is fragmented across many websites, so I made the decision to set up a blog to publish all my posts in one place.

Festival de Luces, Villa de Leyva

I now receive visitors from search engines and not only from my social media connections, so let me quickly introduce this blog. Since launching TEFL in Colombia in September, I have been publishing a new article every Sunday at 10am (Bogotá time zone). I try to write about various topics related to teaching English in Colombia as a foreigner, and that’s why there are a few different post categories. I have published the following articles so far:

Teaching and CPD
The importance of teaching qualifications
The curious case of native speakerism in Colombia
ELT Concourse is a priceless resource
Tips for getting a CELTA Pass A
Six ELT blogs worth following
Applying for a teaching job in Colombia (post-pandemic)

Life in Colombia
Everybody wants to live in Medellín
My experience with learning Spanish
Valle de la Samaria: Colombia’s hidden gem
Cañón del Combeima provides a good reason to visit Ibagué

Jennifer Soto: We need to adapt to this new reality
Ndana Chibanda: ELT in Colombia is a mix of fun and hard work

Important documents
● How to obtain your work visa, partner visa and cédula de extranjería

If you enjoy this type of content, consider following the TEFL in Colombia Facebok page, where I post links to all articles. WordPress users may follow this blog through the Reader. There is also an option to subscribe for old-school e-mail notifications, which doesn’t seem to be very popular. Whatever way you access this website, I appreciate the fact that you feel this blog is worth visiting. I am always happy to see my readers’ reactions on social media, and it motivates me to keep writing.

I know that posting a new article every week may not be sustainable in the long term. In fact, I am going to take a short break from blogging and try to enjoy this vacation period. I plan to be back with new content in the middle of January.

The good news is that I have plenty of ideas for posts. I managed to read some interesting books in preparation for my Delta Module Two course (which was cancelled), so I would like to write about ELT literature that I have found useful for my teaching practice. I definitely wish to continue conducting interviews because I enjoy talking to other ELT professionals about their work.

I am also open to publishing guest posts. If you are interested in contributing to this blog with your own article, feel free to get in touch.

Let’s hope 2021 will be a little more cheerful!