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.

The best of LinkedIn

I enjoy following this Twitter account that posts screenshots of ridiculous posts made by LinkedIn users. Some people on that social networking site share humblebrags and made up stories in order to get tons of likes. Fortunately, LinkedIn allows you to block them, so you don’t need to see that type of content.

In my post on social media, I promised to write an article on my experience with private messages on LinkedIn. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind responding to users who have read my profile and want to talk about my work or qualifications. However, there are many people who think it’s okay to send me irrelevant messages immediately after connecting. They obviously send the same stuff to lots of people and hope that at least some of them respond. Since I find it quite annoying, I just ignore the messages and never open the links.

The best of LinkedIn

Other LinkedIn users’ complaints about receiving this kind of spam inspired me to trawl through my inbox, and I would like to share some of the ‘best’ messages with you. My intention is to have lighthearted fun and not to focus on the individuals, so I have redacted their names and other data that could be used to identify them.

The Lazy Recruiter

Dear Martin,

I’m <NAME>, Senior Recruitment from <COMPANY>. We’re looking for a lead teacher will be a part of a team for online teaching and Learning Center in LATAM. I would like to provide you a warm welcome to the selection process for the vacancy. We were looking at your profile and we see that you comply with the required job description. I’ll share the profile link with the description: <URL>

This position requires the person to be from the USA or Canada. If you are interested to continue with the process please send your resume at: <e-mail> and your salary expectation.

Best Regards!

This is why I am reluctant to accept connection requests from recruiters. This one claimed to have read my profile and then offered me the option to apply for a position that requires the candidate to be from the USA or Canada. I have never even visited those two countries.

The Eager Improver

Hi this is my telegram channel for learning English

I would be so happy to teach you some skills for improving your level especially for international exams such as IELTS , TOEFL , GRE Please follow 👇👇

<URL>

What a flawless plan for making friends among teachers! I really appreciate the offer to improve my level.

The Aspiring Philosopher

Hello José. Good evening! It is a great pleasure to meet you here. I hope that we use this platform like a good seed that would make a good crop. As professionals, we could use this opportunity for mutual benefits as well as bringing our humble contribution to face the complicated situation the world has found itself following the pandemic. This three-headed global crisis that we are facing,namely the health, environmental and economic crisis, has revealed more than before the real world of unsustainability, injustice and inequity. We should all stand up and confront this collosal challenge to ensure that we leave a better world to the generations to come. How are you doing?

How do you see the situation of the pandemic unfolding?

Best regards

<NAME>

When I was fourteen, a classmate of mine copied someone’s homework and didn’t even bother to change the original’s author name. This copy & paste expert’s message reminded me of that situation. In addition, I have no idea what this person was trying to achieve with the pandemic stuff.

The Proud Pole

Dzień dobry. Nie znamy się i od razu proszę wybaczyć mi otwartość, ale chcę zadać Panu 2 pytania: Czy oprócz tego, co robi pan zawodowo, bierze pan pod uwagę prowadzenie dodatkowej działalności, by mieć dywersyfikację dochodów (branża e-commerce) i czy ewentualnie jeśli temat wyda się panu ciekawy znajdzie pan na niego czas? Szukam ludzi chętnych do współpracy. Nie chcę niczego obiecywać, ale może będzie to coś dla Pana. Pozdrawiam serdecznie 🙂

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your native language. However, sending that kind of message to someone who doesn’t mention Poland or the Polish language in their profile probably isn’t the best idea.

The Freeloading Writer

Dear Mr. Hajek,

I would like to write a series of letters in order to publish them in future.

I would be most grateful if you could help me in editing some long or short imaginary letters or real trip itinerary letters that I might send you sometimes.

Please let me know if you have free time.

Best wishes,

<NAME>

————————————-

Here is an example:

23 August 2017 an itinerary

It happened that my son and I received officially our Schengen Visas from the Italian embassy to visit Europe for 13 days in August 2017.

I found the situation new as I sensed I am entering a modern world to visit the collection of art of Europe in Rome, the land of Dante and Boccaccio. Arriving at the Isfahan airport at 11:30 pm, they checked us in and we finally went aboard the plane at 2 am. Istanbul was the first destination,then transfer would happen. The schedule was quite a bit different. My son’s seat was far ahead of me and my seat was behind . We asked the flight attendant to put our seats next to each other so as my son could take care of me and he agreed. We were happy to travel by Turkish Airlines. All was good so far. The speed monitor showed 1,000.00 km/h = 621.37 mph . Outside was quite dark except the cities which were shining brightly down like the spots of the pearls that gave me a feeling of void through space. It was like a Genesis dream. Only a gorgeous flight attendant girl was alert and almost all passengers around me were sleeping. 250 passengers were on board as the co_pilot announced.

To be continued

This is actually a pretty sound business plan. Do you want to publish something without paying for an editor? Just ask random strangers from the internet for free samples!

The Confused One

Dear Ms. Hajek,

Would you please fill out this questionnaire that applies to English language teachers.

I appreciate your contribution alot.

Best regards,

<NAME>

<URL>

I thought the combination of my first name and profile photo was more than enough to give a clear clue about my gender identity. I was wrong.