The Istek ELT conference last weekend was on last weekend. A weekend full of presentations and workshops and the impressive number of 1000 ELT teachers mostly from around Istanbul. The conference was very well organized, six plenary sessions and six shorter workshop like (concurrent) sessions spread over the two days meant plenty of input. It was a good conference, with not too much new insight on first sight but lots of bits and pieces that might proove useful for my future work. While some of the speakers gave excellent talks – and it was a real treat to hear Andrew Wright or Jeremy Harmer speak – I more often than once wanted to ask them: what is your point? (a ten minute episode about rock climbing at pre-intermediate level) or, we have heard about this twenty years ago (sender – receiver communication model). At other times I felt that the presenters were somehow holding something back. Gavin Dudeney spoke about webquests in the age of web 2.0. Even if the webquest he presented (see below), is brilliant and I’m actually will be able to use it in one of my classes, I still would have much rather listened to him speak about “They just can’t hack it!”: Attitudes to technology, which is going to be his talk at the upcoming IATEFL in Harrogate.
While I didn’t find the presentations very stimulating, I do find that the speakers managed to spread an air of good mood and positivism throughout the two days. And the atmosphere was indeed a very good one, I felt. Then there were the many little hands on tips that did the trick. I’ll try to pass on a few .
Blogs: blogging seems to be something that has developed beyond the early adapters’ stage and there are some very good blogs out there that can be used both generally for professional development and specifically for lesson plans. For the first Lindsay Clandfield’s Six things is interesting as is eModeration Station. One of the great discoveries during Nicky Hockly’s talk, and I have already made good use of the site, is the Teflclips blog.
Presentations: I finally got to see Sean Banville, the news guy. I have been a great fan of his. he did a rundown of a news syllabus/lesson plan that I found very interesting and that I would like to look into. Andrew Wright referred to his story web page, another page to look into. Nicky Hockly, from the ConsultantsE did a sequence on windows movie maker (=easy ppt?). I feel encouraged to work on more video projects and thus integrate mobile tools into the traditional learning environment. One of the presenters made an interesting point about schools and I kind of have the feeling that it is not too far off. He or she said that kids needed to downshift when they come to school, i.e. that they perform much more challenging tasks away from their institutions/schools.
Tools: netbooks work well during conferences. Mine seems to have enough battery life for a day of note taking. If you’re good at multitasking, I do believe that there is added value in taking some kind of machine along. delicio.us keeps on working as one of my most valuble web 2.0 tools. Facebooking is easy and I even could see where twitter makes sense. Although most of the tweets during the conference were not really that interesting. Some of the participants used tweetdeck, a service that I’ll have to look into. Although I’m not a big twitterer.
Projects, books and misc: Nicky Hockly presented an interesting podcast project and Gavin Dudeny a great webquest on responisble consumerism. Literature was somehow never really a topic but it was present throughout the conference: two or three books that seem worth reading are A Black Woman’s Poems and A Concise Chinese + English Dictionary for Lovers. Jeremy Harmer spoke about a DVD in which teachers are filmed and their performance discussed. And Luke Prodromou – the good egg – included a list of 22 films on teaching in his handout, I need to get a hand on that.
Reviewing the ISTEK conference makes me realize that I did get a bit out of the two days at Yeditepe university and that it was actually a good conference. Among the many ‘make you feel good’ talks, there were lots of valuable bits and pieces of information. And isn’t that what makes good speakers?