How we managed to get on with the first work package plus some terminology about the European projects in a nutshell.
In the latest version of our Pelican magazine we’re including some brief news about how our project is going – from strength to strength, we hope 🙂 – and what has been so far prepared for teachers who prefer to create functional, professionally-oriented groups on social networks for uploading and sharing pictures of new earrings (nothing against it at all and cool for friends, but professionally does not really raise your profile much) alongside the first lesson on terminology for our European Union projects. It’s been almost a year since the approval of our proposal (which is an extremely tricky and rather large document that explained our plan of action and the reasons behind it) of the transversal programme aPLaNet. The project’s target group (a particular group of people intended as recipients of the project team’s attention, love and efforts) – language teachers – and its main mission (what is to be done, why, when and how) – are already well known. The point is to show how social networks and ICT can help a teacher’s lifelong professional development.
What we might not have said is how the project actually looks "inside". As each project, aPLaNet is composed of several work packages (a portion of work to be done) that are distributed among project team members (team of highly committed and motivated people). The first is the management whose leader (the institution in charge of their piece of project) is our coordinator (the BOSS) from the Turkish Association of schools ISTEK Schools, Burcu Akyol. Our institution, Language School with the State Language Exams Rights PELIKÁN, Ltd. is responsible for the bulky work package no. 2. Each package consists of individual deliverables (the material results that make up a work package), for example, methodological materials, videos, templates, guides, etc.
Our first deliverable – identifying ICT tools – is already finished. Together with our associate partner Shelley Terrell and other partners we have found 25 great tools for teachers and their personal development. The tools should help facilitate navigation and selection and we have divided them into ten groups according to the required focus, such as Web conferencing tools, blogging platforms, tools aimed at recording of audio messages, etc. By the way, the term "associate partner" does not sound very friendly (at least for me), but behind this term hides a colleague who gets involved in the project because of his genuine interest in it. He does not receive any funding or volunteers to carry out certain tasks and may not be responsible for core activities of the project. He’s a real sweetie, then 🙂 But back to the point. To understand what each tool is good for we should look at descriptions of individual ICT tools. This section contains a detailed description of what a tool is used for, what are its main features and functions, what is needed to operate the program, and if they are available free of charge or what costs there may be involved. The Guide also offers a few tips for implementing the tools and one complete example lesson plan that will hopefully be a welcome inspiration for your own magic tricks with ICT. Descriptions of the tools constitute a part of the next outcome, the Teachers Guide (usually a methodological guide explaining how to make project ideas work.) In here you’ll find a theoretical background on social networking which should aid the professional development of educators by facilitating a broader understanding of this phenomenon within education. The Teacher’s Guide is getting a bit thick, which is a good thing, as it contains everything that a teacher willing to start using social networking and educational tools on the Internet needs to know! In fact, the primary outcome of the project should be to encourage contact between the mentor (who is someone more experienced in the matter than you or, if a dictionary definition required, a wise and trusted counsellor) and the mentee (who is the subject of the mentor´s attention and efforts), where the more experienced colleague makes the curious newcomer see the world of ICT tools and then helps them implement them in his or her professional activities.
Actually, that is the reason why our Ning has been set up. It is supposed to be the post-modern agora where those interested but inexperienced in the world of social networking can find mentors that will guide them through the options that social networking offers to educators and teachers of language. It also includes practical presentation on useful teaching tools that mentees can use both in the classroom and to help them grow as professionals. Before the actual mentoring there will be a questionnaire focused on current attitudes of educators towards social networks and their use for professional purposes which we will compile together. After the mentoring has been done, the time will come for the second part - the post evaluation questionnaire. If you happen to get your hands on the questionnaire, do not hesitate a second and make sure you fill it in (it is online and will only take, say, 10 minutes max.) We hope that the interim report (a report on what is currently being done and what is planned for the future) will go well and that Brussels will be satisfied with the results. The project is concluded with the final report (which details what has been done), after which any language teachers who have let themselves be inspired with aPLaNet activities should not face any problems using Facebook and Twitter a little bit differently than their friends next-door.
Best summer holiday wishes.
Lenka and all aPLaNetars from the Language schools PELIKÁN in Brno, Czech Republic PD.: More details on the individual outputs of our package coming in the next post.