Tag Archives: autonomy

Reflective Practice: Benefits, Tips, Feedback (#AusELT Twitter chat on 7/8/2016)

double-tree-reflection

Dear AusELTers

Our August Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 7th Aug at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

In our Twitter chat for August 2016 we discussed reflective practice.
This chat has now taken place but you can read the transcript/summary here.

This topic was suggested after there was a lot on interest in a post on the #AusELT Facebook page recently about using teacher post-lesson reflections effectively. As this is a familiar concept to most of us from pre-service training and in-service observations, perhaps we can use this as as a jumping off point. Some questions we could consider here are:

  • Is this useful? Why?
  • Could we do it better? How?
  • Is RP really a skill that can be developed?
  • How can practising teachers, trainers and managers also benefit from RP?
  • What are some problems or obstacles to effective RP?
  • What are some useful ways to ‘operationalise’ it for individuals or institutions?

Looking forward to discussing these questions or any others you care to bring with you on Sunday.

If you are new to Twitter, please come along, we are a friendly bunch  (send a tweet to me @sophiakhan4 and I’ll look out for you!)

You might also be interested in these posts:

This chat has now taken place but you can read the transcript/summary here.

This post by @sophiakhan4, edited by @cioccas

Upcoming #AusELT Twitter chat Thurs 6th Aug 2015: Mobile language learning: Moving from ‘why’ to ‘how’, with guest moderator Mark Pegrum

Unsurprisingly for a community that grew out of social media, the topic of technology for learning and development has always been a cornerstone for #AusELT. One of our first ever Twitter chats back in 2012 was on experiences with technology in the classroom. In 2013, Paul Driver wrote an excellent and widely shared post for us on the topic of gamification in learning (you can read the summary here), and in 2014, Scott Thornbury’s thought-provoking post, ‘Edtech: The mouse that roared?’, generated so many tweets that the summary had to be divided into four separate posts! Later that year we were back with Huw Jarvis, the man behind the very helpful TESOL academic website of open-access keynotes, research and publications. Huw was concerned with how teachers and learners perceive mobile-assisted language use, and you can read the summary here. 4742869256_8d8e8e67e3_zIn 2015, the debate continues . . . but are we really moving forward? Those of us actively discussing the issue seem to agree that m-learning, used effectively and not just for the sake of it, has real value when based on sound pedagogy. Yet we are often stuck in a situation where institutions or colleagues still advocate the blind banning of mobiles in the classroom.

In our next #AusELT Twitter chat on Thursday 6th August 2015 at 6.30pm Perth time, 8.30pm Sydney time [click here to check the time elsewhere in the world], we would like to focus on how rather than if m-learning can work to our students’ benefit, and we are very lucky to have Mark Pegrum join us as guest moderator on this topic. EAJ 30.2_CT_10 Qs for Mark Pegrum_IMAGEApart from being an all round general nice guy, Mark is also an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at The University of Western Australia, where he teaches and researches in the areas of e-learning and mobile learning. His recent books include: From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in Education (2009); Digital Literacies (co-authored with Gavin Dudeney & Nicky Hockly, 2013); and Mobile Learning: Languages, Literacies and Cultures (2014). Before the chat, please have a think about the following questions, suggested by Mark. We will use these to guide our discussion.

  • How do you and your students currently use mobile devices for language learning inside and outside the classroom?
  • How can you imagine you and your students using mobile devices for language learning in the future?
  • How does the learning enabled by mobile devices differ from learning with more traditional desktop and laptop computers?
  • What are your institution’s views on the use of mobile devices for language learning, and how do these views support or hinder your ability to use mobile devices in your teaching?
  • What, if anything, would need to change for you and your students to make more, or better, use of mobile devices for language learning?

And of course please bring along your own questions – the more the merrier 🙂 If you are new to Twitter, please check out the resources available here and don’t be shy – we are a very friendly bunch and will happily help you out getting the hang of things! See you on Thurs 6th Aug!

This post by @sophiakhan4 and @OzMark17

#AusELT chat summary: Learner Autonomy, with Phil Benson (4 Sept, 2014)

Highlighted Section of Book

The #AusELT chat on learner autonomy on Thursday 4th September was once again lively, fast-paced and interesting. Phil Benson, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University joined as guest moderator and supplied some pre-chat questions for people to think about beforehand. As the chat went on, it was clear that this was a subject that people often considered in their day-to-day teaching.

Phil Benson (@philbensonmq) started the chat with the first question, ‘What does “autonomy” mean to you, personally, in your own learning, teaching, or professional development?’ Several people answered with ideas about freedom to choose learning style and students not needing a teacher, book or other guiding influence in their learning. Others mentioned the possibility of making choices and decisions based on their own desired outcomes, as well as being responsible for their progress, which led to discussion of the role that perseverance plays in learning autonomy.

Motivation – the elephant in the room?

At the same time, @forstersensei asked the question ‘Is motivation the defining factor in learner autonomy?’ and this issue wove its way throughout the chat. @andrea_rivett raised the point that motivation is very important but that students need to learn how to be autonomous, an idea that many agree on. Phil Benson agreed that descriptions of motivation and autonomy include a lot of the same things. As @Penultimate_K said ‘I find you’re more likely to “push through” if your learning is self-determined.’ However, people agreed that learner autonomy might be something that needs to be taught or developed.

Phil Benson then asked whether ‘autonomy starts with being motivated but doesn’t end there?’ A brief flurry of discussion about whether motivation is in fact the starting point ensued, with @alicechik suggesting that imagination (the ability to imagine possibilities) was where it all started. Phil Benson explained that his model has ‘desire (motivation), ability, and freedom’ as three possible starting points and @alicechik suggested that motivation is perhaps the ‘externalised construct’, whereas desire is internalised. This led to discussion of the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, with @McIntyreShona and @MeredithMacAul1 mentioning the possibility to convert extrinsic to intrinsic motivators. @SophiaKhan4 added that the ‘right’ kind of experiences can help learners to become motivated, which @MeredithMacAul1 supported with her comment about learners setting goals, learning about resources and becoming more self-motivated. @TESOLatMQ then asked if that simply meant that students were ‘engaged’ in their learning, while Phil Benson agreed that motivation can be enhanced with ‘more ability or more freedom.’

Nature or Nurture?

@forstersensei then asked if the ability to learn autonomously is inherent or learnt, which @SophiaKhan4 answered by saying ‘Humans are creative, learning creatures [therefore] inherent’ while @andrea_rivett thought that it is rather learned through modelling and by doing. @Penultimate_K also chose inherent, since ‘from infancy we are motivated to reach out beyond ourselves and achieve goals.’ Phil Benson later agreed with this but lamented that students lose that motivation ‘either because of school or things just get harder to learn.’ @SophiaKhan4 raised the possibility that students are discouraged from being autonomous through ‘education’.

@forstersensei summed it up as ‘we could say all have the ability, but it must be taught/modelled at some stage.’ This became the main focus of conversation with @alicechik asking if autonomy is thus inauthentic if it has to be taught, which once more brought the teacher’s role back into the mix. Would it be so because it would be more the teachers’ concept of autonomy put into place, rather than the students’, thus possibly causing demotivation, as Paul Forster suggested and others agreed with. Doing what someone else wants you to do is not autonomy.

@SophiaKhan4, in a brief summary, grouped together Motivation, goals, goal setting and knowing yourself, adding that ‘autonomy is the default’ , while others mentioned that it is perhaps ‘culture specific’.

Phil Benson then commented ‘imagination, motivation, autonomy – I see these as things you can’t ‘teach’. It’s what do you do in a classroom to help them grow?’ The distinction between ‘teaching’ autonomy’ and ‘growing’ or developing it was seen as an important one because of the dangers of teachers treating it like just one more skill to teach. It was agreed that skills are associated with autonomy and that teachers need to shift focus to what we can do in a classroom to help students develop them.

The teachers’ role? What can we do to help?

The question of what strategies or activities can be used led Phil Benson to ask if the 10 strategies discussed here would help with ‘teaching autonomy.’ This was generally agreed but other strategies people liked were setting achievable targets and drawing on out-of-class experience, personalisation of content. This was an important point, according to many, who said that more needed to be done, not only by bringing materials into the classroom but also sending students out into society to complete tasks.

There was some discussion of the pros and cons of peer teaching, with Phil Benson explaining that ‘the point is in the process, not the assessment itself’. There was a sense that the amount of teacher scaffolding and direction necessary for the activity perhaps took away the effectiveness of it. @AgsBod explained that she found it difficult in ESL since students might not accept feedback from each other. Many agreed that students need to learn to listen to each other much more. David Block’s 1997 article,  ‘Learn by listening to language learners’, was cited and group work was suggested as a good way to encourage this skill. It was stated that giving feedback as constructive criticism is also a skill that people need to learn. As @SophiaKhan4 said, ‘[students] can learn from it and learn to focus on their own work in constructive, specific ways.’

In another thread, @andrea_rivett said that ‘being an active, autonomous learner is more productive than sitting there passively for hours’. However, @McIntyreShona raised the question of whether a non-autonomous learner is necessarily passive. @TESOLatMQ agreed that he has had very active students who were ‘over-reliant’ on teachers and other students. Phil Benson made the very good point that ‘active’ needed to be ‘more than what you can see on the outside. Mentally active…’

Final thoughts

Other points raised as the chat neared the end were the idea that ‘safety nets’ such as dictionaries, textbooks, teachers, etc. can be removed to encourage autonomy, while Paul Forster suggested that mobile devices could be brought in to do the same since students use them extensively outside the class to learn autonomously. @SophiaKhan4 said that this would depend on the learning context and @McIntyreShona mentioned time as a factor. @andrea_rivett felt that those traditional ‘tools’ could definitely discourage autonomy but Phil Benson asked whether dictionaries weren’t in fact good tools for autonomous learning. @Penultimate_K agreed that the potential for dependence on the traditional ed elements exists but the teachers’ role is to help students to ‘move beyond’ them.

Phil Benson asked how mobile devices are relevant to autonomy and several ideas were given, such as smartphone dictionaries, apps for learning, learning communities online, access to extensive materials for reading and research.

Winding down, Phil Benson asked ‘Autonomy can be defined as ‘the capacity to control one’s own learning’ with 98 characters to spare. What would you add?’ @alicechik added ‘over time and space with imagination and creativity.’ @Penultimate_K half jokingly threw in the term ‘heutagogy’ which our guest moderator liked. The hour ended with everyone saying how much they had enjoyed the fast paced chat full of ideas and learning.

Many thanks to Phil Benson for joining the chat and providing some thought provoking discussion throughout the hour.

Useful resources and reading

This post by @McIntyreShona

Are you ready to talk about learner autonomy?

MP900398819

Our next Twitter chat will take place on Thursday 4th September at 8.30pm Sydney time (check here to see the time where you are) and will be on the zeitgeisty topic of ‘learner autonomy’. We are privileged to have this chat guest-moderated by Phil Benson, who is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, and has researched and published in the area of learner autonomy and informal language learning beyond the classroom for many years. Phil has put together a few questions to whet the appetite and we look forward to discussing them on Thursday. Enjoy!

 

 

Pre-chat thinking

1. What does ‘autonomy’ mean to you, personally, in your own learning, teaching, or professional development?

2. If you are interested in autonomy and another teacher isn’t interested in it at all, how do you think that would show up in your teaching?

3. In Autonomy in language teaching and learning: How to do it ‘here’, I listed 10 pedagogical strategies that I think contribute to learner autonomy in the classroom (NB: there’s a brief explanation of each on pp. 10-11 of the article):

  • encouraging student preparation
  • drawing on out-of-class experience
  • using ‘authentic’ materials and ‘real’ language
  • independent inquiry
  • involve students in task design
  • encouraging student-student interaction
  • peer teaching
  • encouraging divergent student outcomes
  • self- and peer-assessment
  • encourage reflection

So my questions are:

  • Which strategies have you used in your own teaching?
  • Which strategies could you use more?
  • Are there any strategies that you find problematic?
  • Any strategies to add?

4. Autonomy can be defined as ‘the capacity to control one’s own learning’ with 98 characters to spare. What would you add?

Pre-chat reading (optional!)

Benson, P. Autonomy in language teaching and learning: How to do it ‘here’.

Smith, R (2008). Learner autonomy. ELTJ, 62(4), 395-397.

Looking forward to discussing these questions and others relating to learner autonomy in Thursday’s chat!