Friday, 9 September 2011

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

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