Reflection on MOCA 2019 by Ezgi Öner
Conference Title: MOCA 2019: Creativity and Challenge in Learning
Participants: Ezgi Öner, Beste Çağıltı (student)
a. Brief information about the conference
Moca (Meeting of Change Agents) initiated by Ege University School of Foreign Languages in January 2017 for the students and teachers of the English Prep Class was hosted by Sabancı University in April this year. The Moca team states that they would like to move away from conservations that often exclude learners and instead offer a platform where learners and teachers can:
• collaborate to discuss any issue regarding learning and teaching including curriculum, testing and assessment, technology use, autonomy
• share experiences, practices and views on teaching and learning
• learn from and with each other as partners
• develop mutual trust and a better understanding of each other
• build shared responsibility and a community of learning and practice.
The third event of MOCA hosted by Sabancı University on Saturday, April 27th aim to exchange views and share experiences on creativity and challenge in learning with emphasis on the 21th century skills and I had a chance to attend the organization with one of my students in order to experience this platform providing us with renewed perspectives and opportunities for dialogue with colleagues and peers from different parts of Turkey.
Moca 2019 underlines that creativity and challenge in learning have an undeniable positive effect on learner motivation fostering greater involvement in learning, choice, autonomy and freedom. It basically tries to address questions:
‘Does creativity boost challenge or is it the other way around? Or are they intertwined? What do our experiences as language learners and teachers reveal in this respect?’
In order to address such questions, it was stated that it is essential to explore dimensions such as how creativity emerges, the type of tasks that promote alternative learning opportunities and balancing scaffolding and challenge.
b. Brief information about focus groups
Moca 2019 organized 6 different focus groups aiming to create an opportunity for the sharing of expectations and experiences of English prep school students and instructors in Turkey on the concept of ‘creativity and challenge in language learning’ with respect to curriculum, teaching methodology and assessment of learning and related dimensions, possibilities and opportunities.
In the first session of the focus groups, students and teachers worked in mixed groups in different rooms brainstorming and discussing following topic areas as questions:
• How do you define creativity and challenge?
• Can creativity be learned and taught?
• What is the relationship between creativity and challenge?
• Can you provide examples of creative and challenging tasks?
• What are in and out-of-class sources for creativity?
In the second session of the focus groups, the following questions were brainstormed and discussed:
• How are creativity and individual differences related in language learning?
• What kind of methods can be used to address these differences?
• What is the relationship between creativity and standardization?
c. “Highlights from Conference” and presentation of our student
After brainstorming and discussing important questions in focus groups, there was a panel discussion in which there was one spokesperson from every focus group to summarize their work to the whole group. Our student, Beste Cağıltı also took the responsibility of her own focus group and she was the spokesperson of this group to summarize their findings.
This was followed by a Question & Answer session between the panellists and the audience on the implications of their findings for the future of learning, teaching and better collaboration.
Following the focus groups and panel discussions, the participants were asked to reflect and exchange views on some evaluative questions. After that, the Moca coordinator made the closing speech of the event, and decided the candidate to host the next year’s event as well as having the suggestions for its theme. My suggestion for next year’s theme is ‘the role and effect of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in learning’.
Our student Beste Çağıltı also shared her ideas as:
‘Moca event was such a social event that I met lots of people from different universities and had a chance to have an interaction with them. People from different universities including teachers discussed different questions about creativity and challenge in learning. It was a pleasure for me to join this event with my instructor from Ozyegin University’.