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EVO as Professional Development 2011

Page history last edited by Ayat 5 years, 11 months ago


Yeh, A., Rogers, S., Philp, H. Chattopadhyay, K., Arena, C., & Stevens, V. 2011. The Electronic Village Online provides free professional development annually. TESOL-Italy Newsletter June-July 2011: 9-10. Available at http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/61439125?access_key=key-11q1yov3aph6p39ivyzm. (You will need a subscription to read it there, however, so we have pasted it in here.)



TESOL-Italy Newsletter, June-July 2011


The Electronic Village Online Provides Free Professional Development Annually

by Aiden Yeh, Sandra Rogers, Heike Philp, Kalyan Chattopadhyay, Carla Arena & Vance Stevens


With the advancement of Internet technology, teachers find it necessary to expand their knowledge and enhance their technological skills to be able to effectively integrate technology into their teaching. One of the traditional ways of doing this is by attending local and/or international conferences e.g. TESOL or IATEFL. However, attending such conferences do not come cheap; airfare and lodging, plus conference fees can be very expensive. For some teachers, the cost is more than their monthly salary, and they may not have access to other sources of funding, thus finding it impossible to travel and participate in traditional forms of professional development.


Recognizing these constraints, the CALL-IS took advantage of the availability of technology and the advancements of online distance learning courses and came up with an idea of bringing a similar-high caliber TESOL colloquia, forums, discussions, and workshops to teachers all over the world thru the Electronic Village Online (Hanson-Smith & Bauer-Ramazani, 2004). EVO is a fiveweek session (from January- February) offered entirely online to language teachers worldwide annually. Usually there are about 10-12 sessions offered, and some of these sessions are also presented at the TESOL annual convention.


How does EVO differ from online professional development courses? One of the biggest differences is that EVO sessions are free! The EVO moderators, mentors, coordinators, and participants are all volunteers. They’re offered by educators who have vast experiences and are considered experts in using Web tools as part of their language instructions and/or knowledgeable enough on topic/s of their EVO session. Secondly, participants are not graded. Although there isn’t any money involved, the process of vetting EVO proposals, training of EVO moderators, publication of Call for Participation, and the way the actual sessions are conducted adhere to the same professional quality TESOL colloquia, discussions, and workshops are known for.


Here’s a list of EVO sessions that already took place in 2012: http://tinyurl.com/36nxyaw. TESOL Italy sponsored an EVO session for the first time in 2011 titled, PLEs & PLNs for Lifelong Competencies. The moderators were Daniela Cuccurullo, Letizia Cinganotto, and Susan Burg. They created PLE & PNE for Lifelong Learning Competencies, learning environments for training teachers on TESOL Italy’s Moodle and a wiki on PBWorks.com. Here’s the link to their wiki: http://tinyurl.com/3w6uo9m. They had 132 participants for their session! Since this was their first time moderating, they received helped from several EVO mentors throughout the process.


Another well-attended session offered in 2011 was the Digital Storytelling: From Images to Motion to Great Stories (http:/ /digistorytelling.pbworks.com). In this session, participants were introduced to various online tools for digital storytelling and learned how to effectively incorporate those resources into their teaching practices. They explored how images, music, slideshows, among others, could be used in educational settings for storytelling. By the end of the workshop, participants were able to develop a digital storytelling plan to promote students’ creativity, engagement and learning, incorporating digital production into their lesson plans. There were around 250 educators all over the globe taking this session. Two of the Digital Storytelling co-moderators - Jane Petring and Mary Hillis - presented the results of the projects they carried out with their students at the TESOL Convention 2011 in New Orleans. All the ideas and resources from Mary Hillis and Jane Petring’s presentation, Using 21st Century Tools to Explore 19th Century Literature, are available at http://educationconnections.pbworks.com.


The VIrtual Language Learning and Group Experience (VILLAGE) session focused on language learning in Second Life (SL). With 167 participants signed up on the VILLAGE’s Grouply site http:// village.grouply.com/, and 50 new ones on SL, this proved to be a very lively session indeed. Moderators Dennis Newson [Osnacantab Nesterov], Kalyan Chattopadhyay [Kalyan Horatio], Nahir Aparicio [Nahiram Vaniva,] Mary Pinto [Mary Rousell], Carol Rainbow [Carolrb Roux], and Heike Philp [Gwen Gwasi] conducted 65 live events with dual goals. Namely to introduce language educators on the one hand to the awesome potential of teaching in SL, and on the other hand to build community. Their wiki provided the weekly schedule, numerous links to SL places, videos, and technical information: http:// village2011.pbworks.com/. This two-fold approach resulted in half of those events focused on visiting language learning sites, touring real-life places, and building workshops. The other half was dominated by bonfire chats and discussions taking place, which gave time and space for adding each other as friends, adding each other to groups, and discussing with SL expert teachers. A summary and a list of the recordings, as well as testimonials can be found on this page: http://village.grouply.com/page/summary.


Another session that’s been running for several EVO sessions now is Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning Environments. Course content was prepared largely by Vance Stevens with contributions from Jen Verschoor and Nelba Quintana, and moderators over the years have included Nina Liakos and Dennis Oliver. The course is archived each year and renewed continually at http:// goodbyegutenberg.com/. The course departs from most other sessions in that it is conceived as an ongoing community event. Whereas other EVO courses tend to start fresh each session with new portals and few overt connections with participants and artifacts from previous sessions, if any, the multiliteracies course has nurtured its community from the start, and current year participants are often joined in their discussions by voices from past renditions.


Another way the course differs is that it adopts certain principles from MOOCs, or massive open online courses (except we replace massive with miniscule in our version of the acronym). In such courses participants are expected to orient themselves within the course, declare their objectives and point of view, and then essentially make their own path through the course, largely through networking with others in the course and breaking into their own discussions of aspects of the course that interest them rather than rely on having the moderators drive the way the participants progress through the material. With that in mind, the course emulates real life where the content might be regarded at first as being daunting, when in fact it’s presented as a berry bush, where not all the berries are meant to be picked, only the most accessible and appealing. The course strives to model how information overflows in real life but can be managed through awareness of the appropriate digital literacy skills. Participants are encouraged to develop eportfolios which state their goals in the course and document progress made in meeting them.


The Electronic Village Online has been providing educators with opportunities for professional development that go beyond institutional and national boundaries. It has proven to be an efficient way to connect professionals in the educational field and to weave those connections year-long in a more powerful network of like-minded educators who support each other in their daily activities. Many past participants become active members in the network and end up offering their own sessions in their area of expertise. It’s an online “entity” that has gained a life of its own and has become an annual meeting point for those professionals who look for recycling and renewal of their pedagogical practices, fresh perspectives, and the constant interaction with other educators. The EVO has become a learning hub for the ones who seek sustainable, ongoing professional development.


EVO’s mission statement: The EVO is a creation of TESOL’s CALL Interest Section. In this age of electronic communication, it seems a natural way to bring the issues of our profession to the international stage. Our goal is to allow learning anywhere, anytime, with as little expense as possible. Thus EVO moderators and trainers are all volunteers, and participants need only provide their own Internet access to take part in activities. Contribution as a moderator is a significant act of volunteerism, and forms an important service to our profession.



Hanson-Smith, Elizabeth , and Christine Bauer-Ramazani. (2004). Professional Development: The Electronic Village Online of the TESOL CALL Interest Section. TESL-EJ, 8(2). http://tesl-ej.org/ej30/int.html.


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