Concurrent Session – David Mearns – ICT in ELT and its Connectivity

David Mearns

David Mearns

David Mearns who is originally from Scotland, has been teaching inTurkey for almost twenty years. A central part of his work is ICT, which was the topic of his talk at Wired In or Out.

David mentions that there is a myth around the students who are engaged in technology – they become less and less interested. David’s work and talk come to dispel all this, as he has been using it effectively in his classes for years – he also mentioned that not using it altogether leaves the educator behind. There might be a digression, he says, but it is up to the educator to stay on top of the game and balance it all out.

David uses three tools effectively with his students:


QR Codes


– There is a plethora of video tutorials on David’s blog. Just click on the link:

To see more on David’s excellent work in e-learning and using technology in the classroom, visit his blog at

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yıldız University, Istanbul


Concurrent Session 2 – Michael Stout – Evaluating Web Technology Integration in Japanese EFL Classrooms

Michael Stout explaining some apps to attendees after his talk

Michael Stout explaining some apps to attendees after his talk

In Japan, they have a gadget for everything, says Michael. Most students and young people have mobile phones.

In 2006, 37% of all blog posts were in Japanese. 36% were in English.

You would expect Japanese people to be digital natives. Yes and no! At the University of Tsukuba, where Michael has been teaching since September, students are limited in digital literacy, but this phenomenon spreads to all Japanese students, he says.

Part of the research he presented was supported by a Grant-in- Aid for Scientific Research (23520696) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Mari Yamauchi (@m_yam) is the senior researcher on the project.

Most of his experiences in his talk were from his previous university, Toyo Gakuen University.

Michael has had a teacher blog for seven years now, as a learning management system. At first, Michael write alongside with them – he wrote about a topic he liked and then the students added their own projects and Michael showed them to the rest of the students and also made models for the next year as well. Then he started using it to assign homework.

He mentioned Web 2.0 applications and tools such as:

–         Voicethread:

–         Blogger:

–         Quizlet (an online flashcard application but social network as well):

–         Fotobabble (a text-to-speech application):

–         Posterous

–         Extranormal

–         Animoto (professional looking music videos you can make)

–         English Central

–         Google Docs to make quizzes

–         Mindmeister

–         Twitter: it wasn’t compulsory. Michael showed us a pair of students who exchanged a number of tweets in English about shopping.

Note: Michael kindly sent us some of the bibliogra[hy he used in his research:

– McLean and Elwood. (2009). Digital natives, learner perceptions and the use of ICT.

– Handbook on research on Web 2.0 and second language learning (pp. 156-179). Thomas, M. (Ed). New York: Information Science Reference.

– A survey of Japanese university students’ computer literacy levels. JALTCALL Journal, 7(3), 307-318.

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yıldız University, Istanbul

Concurrent Session – Işıl Boy – MLearning – More than an illusion of illumination

Işıl Boy – the organiser of the conference and a great speaker!

Işıl Boy, apart from being the great organiser of the event, also gave a great presentation on MLearning. She paralelled MLearning to a Portable Circus: the apps are a magic wand, but there is no magician needed. This magic wand, said Işıl, is beyond our imagination makes our life easier and is much much more than apps!

Işıl made a nice distinction between e-learning (which takes place beyond classroom walls) and MLearning (which happens with mobile devices – tablets, mobile phones and beyond computer screens).

She has come up with a very nice term: Teacherware (like software, hardware) with which she believes we can train teachers. She also has a new term: ME-Learning – a combination of e- and mobile learning.

She started off with a great website which is an app search engine: Quixey! Then she listed many useful apps for all skills in languages, storytelling, augmented reality apps (and made a demonstration with her tablet!) and M-Safety.

You can find Işıl’s tips on apps on her blog

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yıldız University, Istanbul

British Council Turkey interviews Nicky Hockly

Nicky Hockly gave an interview to British Council Turkey – she gave a great plenary!

Note: Nicky mentioned a great project in her plenary, about which Ann Loseva, who is one of the co-founders, kindly wrote below:

Students Connected is a Facebook space designed to help learners of English aged 17+ get in touch, practise and improve their English in the most natural of all ways – by communicating with each other. It’s important to note that it is a closed group, and this provides safety of connections as teachers invite their own students and we trust the teachers we add.
If you would like to give it a try with your students, you can request membership in the group. You will see all activity on the wall. Scroll all the way down to see various wall posts from both teachers and students and decide for yourself if you think it’s a good idea to tell about this group to your students and invite them to have a look.
The group was created to be optional (and fun!), so there is no assessment, visible teacher control or assignments. There is no pressure to be ‘active’, so students are free to take part in the group’s activities when they have the wish and time to do so.
At  the moment there are students from Chile, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Spain, Italy and India in the group, around 150 members altogether. Both teachers and students are welcome to initiate a discussion on whatever might seem interesting. They get acquainted, share pictures of their cities, towns, university campuses, meals and trips. They ask questions and discuss issues, conduct surveys and play games. They learn about cultures, traditions and lifestyles of other nationalities first-hand.
Michael Stout, one of the first teachers to support the idea, suggested extending the project into another type of social media – Twitter. So, for those students who have Twitter accounts and would like to use it for their learning, there is a hashtag #stsconnected and there soon will be created a list of Twitter handles to go with it, too.

It would be great to have more teachers and students joining us and making this experience even more enjoyable!

Interview with Dr. Gary Motteram by the British Council Turkey

(Text by the British Council Turkey) Is technology the new kid on the block? We conducted an interview with Dr. Gary Motteram about technology in ELT immediately following his wonderful session during the International ELT Symposium for Yıldız Technical University. His entire presentation will follow in the coming days.

Third Plenary – Luke Meddings – Give the Test a Rest

Luke Meddings during his plenary Give the Test a Rest at YTU 1st ELT Conference (photo by Vicky Loras)

Luke Meddings during his plenary Give the Test a Rest at YTU 1st ELT Conference (photo by Vicky Loras)

Here are a few notes I kept during Luke Meddings’ fascinating plenary – it is impossible to give such a great presentation justice.

Luke mentioned Dogme ELT towards the beginning – it is based on the lives and languages of the students.

He then quoted the story of Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times, where the teacher demands facts from the children. Luke asked: have things changed? He encouraged teachers to take account of standardised testing and take part in the debate.

Luke gave us examples from his children: his daughter was given a Phonics Screening Check – a bizarre name for a test, like a medical report, said Luke.

In order to see it from a positive side as well, Luke mentioned that there were noble intentions behind standardized testing: it was designed for everyone to be on a level playing field, to avoid favouritism.

He also mentioned Stephen Krashen’s open letter to President Obama which you can find here:

A great plenary by Luke which I am very happy to have attended, as everyone in the room did, I am sure!

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yıldız University, Istanbul

Concurrent Session 1 – Burcu Akyol – Teaching and Learning Beyond the Walls

Burcu AkyolBurcu started off by saying that today‘s children are very much exposed to various stimuli so their thinking processes are also very different. To illustrate this point, Burcu showed us an example of a paper boat she could make when she was a little girl – then goes on to show us a paper laptop her son made last year, when he was 6!).

She brought us examples of older English books, which are memorable, but then she showed us a text from a modern coursebook – and how we can integrate technology into the lesson. The text was about the environment, so Burcu then says that you can find relevant material on the internet – moving from the textbook word to the real world.  Children can sign up to newsletters.

–         Another example Burcu mentioned was Skype and specifically Skype in the Classroom which has a very active Facebook page with classrooms from all over the world.

Through this page, many teachers can Skype with other classrooms anywhere and the children can interact and even do projects together.

–         Webquests: structured, online activities which are based on inquiry.

–         Glogster: students make online posters on a specific subject. If yu create it on Glogster, it allows you to embed it onto your web platform (a website or a wiki).

–         Blogs: very flexible tools a. class blogs, b. student blogs, c. teacher blogs

Teachers, students and their parents can interact on them and leave comments – a member of the audience mentioned it is something that can be kept forever.

Burcu showed us one of her class blogs where her class interacted with another from South Dakota. The children left each other comments, read each other’s comments. The classwork is documented, the parents can also see what is happening in class and classwork is more open to the world.

–         Start building a PLN. Burcu mentioned the work teachers do when connecting to each other, sharing their blogs.

You can find Burcu Akyol online at:

–         Email:

–         Blog:

–         Twitter: @burcuakyol

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yildiz University, Istanbul



Second Plenary – Gary Motteram – Blending, Extending and Bridging Language Learning in the Digital Age

Gary Motteram is a Professor of ICT at the University of Manchester and runs the very successful online MA program.

He started off his talk by telling us a bit about himself – one thing that stood out was that he started his career in Mongolia, where he was asked to repair a computer lab.

He mentioned the term digital immigrants (people who later on in their lives started with technology) – which he later on mentioned that he dislikes, as it dismisses teachers in a way – and digital natives (those who were born with technology).

Showing us a visual representation of the relationships between the teachers, learners, their parents and the tools involved in their learning. The teachers need to be encouraged in their efforts in using the various electronic tools in the learning process. However, there is something else on the other side as well.

Gary mentioned that the students have expectations of what teachers are supposed to do, most of the times towards the goal of passing an exam or getting a job.

What does tech do?

–         It puts learning first

–         It can improve learning by augmenting and connecting proven learning activities.

This potential however, Gary mentioned will only be materialized through innovative teaching practice. However, teachers need encouragement and training. Gary asked, how many teachers are being given free time to get extra training? How many teachers are given time and support to apply what they are learning? There were a lot of negative responses in the room (naturally, my comment).

There is area of promise in areas where tech is undervalued and underused.

Teacher Decision-Making

–         It depends largely on the expectations of the learners and the institution.

–         What do we believe about language learning? We need to explore those beliefs in significant ways.

–         It depends on the institutional setting.

–         It depends on the interface between technology and learning. What can technology do to support us in that?

Blended Learning classrooms include:

–         Wikis (include link), Nings (include link)

These tech drivers give us and the learners access to the real world. There is a lot of material out there, which we can also change for our classes – this gives flexibility to our classes.

He then went on to show us the work of his students, who teach in different contexts. The variability of contexts, tools (online or not) and opportunities was tremendous and showed us how a combination of the use or not of technology can have positive results in the learning context.

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yildiz University, Istanbul

Countdown to Wired In or Out – 1st ELT Symposium, Yildiz Technical University

It is November 1st, 2012– exactly one month away from the 1st ELT Symposium 2012 – Wired In or Out, which will take place at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Over two days, December 1 and 2, 2012, attendees will have the chance to listen to plenary talks by Stephen Krashen, Gary Motteram, Nicky Hockly, Chuck Sandy, Luke Meddings and Lindsay Clanfield.
The concurrent keynote speakers are: Burcu Akyol, Işıl Boy, George Chinnery, Marisa Constantinides, David Dodgson, Osman Çeviktay, Jamie Keddie, Cecilia Lemos, David Mearns, Mark Pegrum, Heike Philp, Pete Sharma, Adam Simpson, Kristina Smith, Michael Stout, Burcu Tezcan Ünal & Özge Karaoğlu Ergen, Ken Wilson and Beyza Yılmaz.

A line-up not to be missed! Have you registered? Register now!