Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Conference on Virtual Worlds, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain

I have just returned from Spain, where I contributed to a two-day conference on virtual worlds at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), 16-17 December 2011. The conference was organised under the auspices of the CAMILLE Project in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the Polytechnic University of Valencia within the framework of EUROCALL’s programme of regional events, in collaboration with the Inter-University Institute of Applied Modern Languages, supported by the Vice President for Research at the UPV Ministry of Science and Innovation, with sponsorship by Macmillan ELT.

There were five invited guest speakers: Randall Sadler, Luisa Panichi, Heike Philp, Kristi Jauregi, and myself. The main target audience was local secondary school teachers of English, but a number of research students were also in attendance. Each day of the conference was divided into two parts: presentations by the guest speakers in the morning and hands-on workshops in the afternoon.

This was a remarkable event in three different ways. Firstly, the size of the audience was impressive: around 75 participants. Secondly, it was the first time that I have been able to work in Real Life with such a distinguished a group of experts in the use of virtual worlds in language learning and teaching. Thirdly, this is the first occasion on which I have experienced such a large number of participants in hands-on workshops. The computer lab that was provided for the workshops comprised 50 high-end PCs with excellent graphics cards and a fast connection to the Internet. This meant that, with 75 participants in attendance, some people had to share a computer, but everybody was able to join Second Life and learn the basics. The hands-on workshops were led in turn by one of the guest speakers, with the others circulating amongst the participants and troubleshooting where necessary. We experienced surprisingly few technical hiccups, and Second Life behaved itself very well – with very little lag, even when the participants were gathered together on a shopping spree in the boutique holodeck on EduNation I Island.

I wish to offer my personal congratulations to the UPV team who organised this event, especially Ana Gimeno and Rafael Seiz Ortiz, who took care of all our needs, including transporting us to the excellent tapas restaurants in Valencia!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Friday, 9 September 2011

Joe Dale’s blog on EUROCALL 2011

Joe Dale has written a very informative and complimentary report on his experiences at his first EUROCALL conference, both as a speaker and as a participant. Worth a read!

Graham Davies

Graham Davies: Thoughts on EUROCALL 2011

I always return home from a EUROCALL conference with my head buzzing with new ideas. It takes at least a week, sometimes two weeks, for the ideas to settle down and then I can assess what I really found useful.

It was a busy week for me, beginning with a whole-day meeting of the EUROCALL Executive Committee, followed by another whole day running a workshop on Second Life for beginners. And then for the rest of the week I was keeping a watchful eye on Twitter and CoveritLive, checking on the tweets and comments that were coming in both from conference participants and from people who were following our activities at a distance - see the CoveritLive windows below, all of which can be replayed.

The presentations that I attended at this year’s conference were of an exceptionally high standard. I enjoyed all three keynotes and I was impressed by the parallel sessions that I chose – a very mixed bag for me, including the use of online games in learning languages (Frederik Cornille), learning French in a digital kitchen (Paul Seedhouse), quests in Second Life (Denise Kastoudi), teaching pronunciation of English to native French speakers (Anthony Stenton), PLNs for language teachers (Joe Dale), a survey of the different types of ICT tools that teachers are actually using (Scott Windeatt & Heejin Chang) - and many others.

I was invited to take part in the panel discussion on the final day of the conference. It took a different form this year: rather than the panelists making statements first and then inviting the audience to comment, it was decided to invite the audience to ask the panelists questions first. This worked very well, and I think we probably had a more lively and stimulating discussion than usual. An interesting topic came up in the course of the panel discussion, namely the way in which some technologies sit around for many years before the CALL community takes notice of them, or the way in which “forgotten” technologies make a comeback when newcomers to CALL “discover” them and find that they can be implemented very effectively in new technological environments, Intelligent CALL (ICALL) being a typical example.

EUROCALL 2011 was a bit of a sad occasion for me. I decided not to stand for re-election as a member of the Executive Committee, a post that I have held since 2000, following on from my term of office as Founder President of EUROCALL from 1993 to 2000. Time for new blood, I thought, but I shall continue to play an active role as a member of EUROCALL and I shall continue to maintain our presence in the EUROCALL/CALICO HQ on EduNation III Island in Second Life.

Finally, a big “thank you” to Oranna Speicher and her team for making this a very successful event.

Graham Davies

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Gala Dinner, EUROCALL 2011

I enjoyed the Gala Dinner at Blotts Country Club yesterday evening. We were greeted by Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, Maid Marian and a juggler. They put on a good show for us during dinner. The disco was great. A 1950s-style jukebox was made available to us and we keyed in our selection of tunes. Got back to the uni just before 1am. Feeling a bit tired this morning. Here's a pic of Salomi and me with Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

Graham Davies

EUROCALL DAY 4, 3 September 2011

Morning all! Hope you all enjoyed the gala dinner and the entertainment by Robin Hood and his Merrie Men - plus Maid Marian, of course. Keep an eye on the CoveritLive window (below). You can add your comments via this blog or via Twitter using the hashtag #eurocall2011

Friday, 2 September 2011

A truly green campus :)

Even the water is all green here. And definitely on purpose. The ducks seem to love it!

C. Caws and M.-J. Hamel on Critical and electronic literacies

Critical and electronic literacy in this context mean helping students develop skills that bridge the potential gaps in their ability to use their  informal media skills for learning that is engaging while being focused on the task at hand.

The presenters propose to use the term ergonomic approach to CALL design - by which they want to draw attention to focusing on learners' needs when designing learning tasks with conditions that give learners opportunities for interaction with the tool that is used. I see that I am not being very clear here.... sorry. I was trying to say that the presenters in a way want to combine the interactional affordances of a certain tool while having the task design and the learner needs in mind. All the while with an underlining emphasis on the proecess, not so much the outcome. The tool the have used in their research can be found at

The presenters also make a very valid point on the methodological issues. That along with the quantitative, you need the qualitative. And not only as a one off setting, but with a longitudinal, process-oriented approach in mind. For this they have found design-based research (DBR) as a useful approach as it embeds and itinerative ideology of development oriented research while also allowing various participant roles.

This research seems to make a lot of sense and is ambitious enough to create new approaches and ideas for us all to benefit from.

Melinda Dooly's presentation on socially constructed competences

The actual title for the presentation is in fact Connecting the Dots to put the emphasis and focus on linking our activities not only with theory but also with the participants and activities. Socially distributed cognition is a central concept in the approach - the dynamic nature of knowledge makes teaching more challenging as the content and in a way context are in a constant flux.

Melinda walked us through the PADS telecollaboration project with primary school students. The project connects the dots by including several "levels" of practitioners in the process. These are teacher educators, practicing teachers and student-teachers. The approach in the activities was based on the ideas of PBL and students worked through a multitude of teacher designed (note: not research designed) activities solving problems and communicating their acquired understanding to the others (both in the clasroom but also overseas with the partner class).

The preliminary results show clearly that the young students are quick to acquire skills, techniques and repertoires to communicate their thoughts to others. The aims of the project and the activities themselves sound very exciting and we definitely need to keep posted on the developments in the project. Melinda's website can be found at:

EUROCALL DAY 3, 2 September 2011

Morning all! Keep an eye on the CoveritLive window (below). You can add your comments via this blog or via Twitter using the hashtag #eurocall2011

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Monolingualism is a curable disease - the opening ceremony

The conference delegates had the pleasure of listening to the the Pro-Vice Chancellor Christine Ennew and the Head of the School of Cultures, Languages and Area studies. They both had a very positive and encouraging view on languages and e-learning and their support for the area of language teaching in the University of Nottingham seems strong. That is more than wonderful in these times of restructing and staff cuts in humanitites.

 (The Lord Mayor from the welcome reception in the picture in the lower right hand corner)

Sunshine at last

Hi all Eurocallers on site and in cyberland :-)

am happy to have you all here in whatever form, and am equally happy to see the sun finally appearing :-):-):-)

Wishing you all a fabulous time at Eurocall 2011

Oranna and team

Marie-Josée Hamel

Marie-Josée Hamel is from the Uni of Ottawa. She works on dictionary use by language learners. Her study deals with usability tests by using three measures : product-oriented measure (accuracy), effort-oriented measure (efficiency), and a subjective measure. The dictionary tool on which Marie-Josée is working is called "Dire Autrement"

EUROCALL DAY 2, 1 September 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The conference has officially opened with seven workshops with over a 100 participants, followed by five SIG meetings. The SIG meetings will take place in the evening (before the welcome reception) and are open to all interested. Check the programme book for further information.

For those who have not yet arrived on site or for those who are participating virtually, the photos are here to give you some glimpses of the green and idyllic conference venue.

Ok folks, let the fun begin!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

EUROCALL DAY 1, 31 August 2011

This year's EUROCALL conference begins with a whole day of workshops. All conference participants are encouraged to comment on the conference activities as from Wednesday, 31 August 2011, using the Twitter hashtag #eurocall2011. Tweets will appear in the CoveritLive window (below).

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

One week to go!

One week to go to the start of the EUROCALL 2011 conference at the University of Nottingham, beginning with a whole day of workshops on Wednesday, 31 August, followed by a full programme of plenary keynote presentations and parallel sessions. Full details of the programme can be found at the EUROCALL 2011 conference website.

We are pleased to welcome three distinguished keynote speakers:

Mike Sharples, University of Nottingham, who will speak on the topic
“Phone CALL: incidental language learning with mobile technologies”.

Gillian McLaughlin, European Commission, who will speak on the topic
“The CALL triangle: a European perspective”.

Gary Motteram, University of Manchester, who will speak on the topic
“The changing role of technology in language education in the early 21st century”.

The three keynotes and the Round Table Discussion on Saturday, 3 September, 11:30-12:30, will be streamed live and subsequently archived, and there will be online coverage of the remainder of the conference via this blog. As in previous years, we will be using a CoveritLive window that will provide a running commentary by conference participants on the parallel sessions and other conference activities. Twitter will be used to feed tweets containing the hashtag #eurocall2011 into the CoveritLive window. Our Twitter account is @Eurocall2011 and we also maintain EUROCALL groups on Facebook and LinkedIn:


Have a look at last year’s conference blog to see how the CoveritLive window for Day 4 of EUROCALL 2010 looked. As you can see, the commentary can be replayed.

Looking forward to seeing you face-to-face or online at EUROCALL 2011!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


And welcome to the Eurocall Virtual Strand Blog. More action and content will follow as the date for the conference approaches. In the meanwhile, enjoy the sun and keep this page bookmarked.

The Virtual Strand Team