Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our story of flipping in the Flipped Learning Network

I follow the Flipped Learning Network on Twitter (@flippedlearning), and a couple of weeks ago they posted an invitation to share flipping stories from around the globe. The tweet read something like "Do you want to write a blog post about flipping? Contact Brian Bennett" So, I contacted him and briefly outlined our story at Universidad de La Sabana. The international nature of our story was immediately appealing to Brian, and he told me to go ahead and write it! I know we have to work on a more formal article soon. However, this opportunity to reach our immediate community couldn't be missed! I had to go ahead and seize it.

Here's the blog post if you want to read it!

Monday, January 4, 2016

EVO changed my professional life

Have you ever blindly followed a recommendation someone made? Last year, Christine Bauer-Ramazani (who I like to call my tech angel) recommended EVO. EVO stands for Electronic Village Online, a professional development opportunity launched by the CALL interest section of TESOL International. I was surprised to hear of a group of altruistic ELT professionals who would just share knowledge for the sake of doing so. I had to enroll! Even though there were like 15 sessions, they offered a particularly interesting one in Flipped Learning. I decided to take that one because of my growing interest in the subject. This far, enrolling in that course has been one of the best decisions I've made in my career.
I enrolled and realized there were 237+ participants from all around the globe. The moderators were unknown to me at the time, but then I realized they were all very experienced professionals in the field of Educational Technology and English Language Teaching.  I enjoyed every minute of the session, participated in the weekly webcast, posted my comments in the weekly forum discussions, did my assignments thoroughly. In general terms, I enjoyed the course very much. During week 5 of the course, they had a guest speaker, Robyn Brinks Lockwood, the author of Flip it! Strategies for the ESL classroom. She was amazing and as soon as the session finished, I went to amazon.com and bought the book! It's a must-read for anybody interested in Flipped Learning.
One of the best parts of it was that I was going to the TESOL conference in Toronto last year, so I knew I would be able to meet the people in the course face to face. I was really excited! After the course I was definitely convinced that flipped learning was going to be my point of focus from then on.
Then, I went to Toronto and met them all! Helaine Marshall, John Graney, Robyn Brinks Lockwood and what's more important I realized there are a lot of people for whom flipped learning was as important as it is for me. They made me feel as part of something big!
After the conference, I kept in touch with them all and joined the CALL listserv. I have been receiving information about events, readings, webcasts, etc. From them since the moment I joined.
I also met Kevin Coleman, another flipped learning session moderator in our own TESOL Colombia. I invited him to come and do a presentation on FL, he came down to Bogotá and gave a killer presentation interesting more and more people in the subject.
Then, in October, Kevin invited me to become a moderator for the Flipped Learning EVO session this year. ME! I couldn't believe him! But there I was, one more stepping stone towards my "burning desire" (as Napoleon Hill would call it)...oh, and that's a secret for now 
I then took the Moderator Training with Nina Liakos, Vance Stevens, Elizabeth (I don't remember her last name) and a lot of very experienced EVO moderators. I learned so much. And now, I'm co-moderating the session with an awesome team (Jeff, Kevin, Khalid and John: The rolling stones of flipping) a combination of experience, energy, patience and perseverance. What an awesome team!!! We have over 300 participants and so far the experience has been fantastic !
EVO has shown me a couple of great things:
1. There are "intense" professionals out there who are willing to go the extra mile to make education happen.
2. There is room for my ideas! Somewhere around the globe there are people who care about nd connect with my thinking and that's awesome!
3. We all have something to share! And we are all called to contribute to the improvement of ELT, EFL, and education in general the world over.
4. It's okay to be opinionated! You just need to find a platform to share your opinions with people who care.
5. There are no limitations to learning!
EVO has changed my professional life because it has become the platform I can use to share and learn!
What are you waiting for? Join us at http://evosessions.pbworks.com
Let EVO change you!
Oh and I will be forever grateful to Christine-Bauer Ramazani for introducing me to technology back in 2009! 

Google+ and Twitter: two powerful PD tools

Some time ago, in 2010, I read a thesis paper about the use of Twitter for teachers' professional development and it got me interested in learning about this social networking tool. In that moment, I opened my Twitter account and started using it clumsily. I started to follow some people and Twitting about silly things. However, nowadays, Twitter and G+ have become my greatest Professional Development allies and in this post I'm going to share how they got to be so with you....

1. By following the "stars":
I'm not talking about Hollywood stars, I'm talking about the academic "celebrities" that make us want to be better professionals every day. Be it @chemicalsams @JeffGoins or @skrashen, now it is easy for any teacher to follow the authorities in different fields and to see the academic world through their eyes. By following experts in my fields (ELT, flipped learning, Educational Technology, Writing, etc.) I have been able to learn about their ideas and positions about current topics, to read their blogs, to find texts they recommend, to know about different world events (by @OzMark17) or simply to know where they are. Some of these experts are fabulous curators, as well, helping the regular teacher look in the right direction when interested in reading about the latest trends in education, teaching and learning. 

2. By learning about tools every day:
As a member of the global Educational Technology community, it is my responsibility to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and their uses in education. It is shameful not to know what's hot now in terms of technology. But, how can a teacher learn about the latest tools to teach English when she is not teaching it? I mean, as a teacher trainer and without having students constantly ask about tools it is really hard to know what "kids are using these days". However, following sites like @Edutopia and Mindshift (@MindShiftKQED) on Twitter and Google apps for Education on G+ have really helped me stay tuned with the latest trends and the most useful learning tools available. They even inspired me to work on this blog!

3. By hyperlinking and hypelearning:
Even though it might turn a bit hectic, hyperlinking is one of the best qualities of online reading (in my opinion). It is important to learn to take advantage of the myriad of readings available out there. For that reason, following your interests will spark your curiosity and take you in a non-return way to constant learning (or as I like to call it: hyperlearning).

In my opinion, Twitter and G+ are two great professional development tools. They have ignited my curiosity and taken me through paths I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  Have you found other ways these two social networks potentialize your teaching?