I’m just back from the fantastic IATEFL TD and LT SIG conference in Istanbul, locally organised by the very organised Burcu Akyol and team. A timely conference looking at teacher development with and without technology – though it so happens that when you look at the stories, they’re mostly about teacher development aided and abetted by technologies, which is not much of a surprise. As you might expect, there were major representatives both from the tech side of things, and also from the unplugged (not exactly dogme, as it goes) side.
I have to say I rather like the new take on dogme that the original founders are talking up. Scott Thornbury has switched from defending dogme against its detractors by recognising that much of the criticism is irrefutable (his words) and instead spent his time talking about what dogme is, rather than what it isn’t…
This turns out to be (to coin a phrase from the late, great Douglas Adams) ‘mostly harmless’, in the sense that Scott believes that nobody has ever been harmed in the pursuit of dogme. Which is probably the case – though that in itself is irrefutable at present. What Scott’s excellent talk DID highlight was that processes that allow teachers to reflect on what they do in class are good things and to be encouraged. Of course you don’t have to come over all dogme to reflect – but he has provided two amazing TD spaces over the years (the original Yahoo group for dogme, and his quality blog), and I’m a fan of both, though I don’t blindly drink it all up. Worth highlighting, of course, that they both depend on technology. And indeed technology has enabled teachers worldwide to develop more fully and more easily that ever before.
As I said in my talk, I’m still not at all convinced that microblogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook can provide meaningful opportunities for critical thinking and knowledge construction, but remain a solid fan of technologies that allow for the ‘long conversation’, the ones that don’t demand instant liking and instant gratification and mindless echoing of soundbite thoughts, but rather use the asynchronous to give people space to think, reflect, organise and share in something greater than the sum of the parts. That’s where spaces like Scott’s Yahoo group (quiet these days, but a torrent of conversation in its heyday) and his blog really come into their own. Twitter and Facebook are great for sharing links and endless rounds of ‘happy birthdays’, but it ends there for me. I find myself heading nearer Scott’s views on this (especially Twitter at conferences), which is rather odd!
Check out a great summary of Scott’s talk over on his blog…
Odd, too, to hear Luke Meddings showing off a wider variety of technologies in his talk than I did in mine. I couldn’t get to his talk but sent a proxy and heard great things afterwards. Another interesting moment for me, with Luke acknowledging that dogme isn’t right all the time, and then moving on to talk about ‘messy tech’ – I think those of us who have worked in tech for years are used to the concept of it being messy, but he wrapped it up so elegantly with music and typewriters and vintage photos that it’s nice to hear the story again.
It’s a mellow day of sunshine, and I like the mellow drift that the dogme founders have made towards a less dogmatic centre ground – a centre ground, incidentally, to which many of the tech people (myself included) have also drifted. The long hot summer starts here, I hope… I must be going soft in my old age.
Thanks to all who spoke, all who organised, all who catered, all who helped and everyone who made it a great event.