Reflections on EAQUALS Online Conference by Ervin Ostos, Salma Alamassi and Aslı Bektaş
Eaquals online 2021 took place via zoom. It was a different experience because it was fully online. The sessions were divided into 5 blocks: 1. Pastoral Care online, 2. Adapting Management for 2021 Needs, 3. Eaquals @ 30, Then and Now, 4. The Classroom in 2021 and 5. Voices and Insights.
The topics covered a wide range of actual and interesting topics related to online education during covid times, considering management, teachers and students.
We attended the sessions described below:
Pastoral Care Online
The first session called “How to create wellbeing policies and programmes for internal stakeholders such as managers and teachers” given by Chia Suan Chong was inspiring, relaxing and interesting especially that the speaker talked about some issues we all experience. We liked the ideas she suggested and we are planning to adopt some of them in our lessons in the languages we teach. We liked how she simplified things and made us feel that we do our job perfectly.
The ideas shared in the session “Looking after yours and your colleagues’ wellbeing in times of crisis” given by Joanne Mitten were so practical such as doing simple exercises, having a fresh mind, and designing the workplace in a more efficient way.
The first session was presented by our director Nergis Uyan. called: “ Managing the evolution of CPDs into PCDs: far beyond the plans” We liked how Nergis hoca defined the PCD and how she showed us the changing needs, the key challenges and the personal and professional development. It was not only about administration management but also about teacher management and development.
The second session was: “The climate emergency and international language education. Reviewing our institutional cultures” and it was interesting to attend because it was focusing on the positive side of Covid as a facilitator of “greening” of language education
The classroom in 2021
We enjoyed the session “Taking a step back: Applying Pedagogy to the Technology” given by Russell Stannard. It was a great session full of energy, ideas and motivation to do things and to develop other things. Already the title of the session was interesting and when seeing all the ideas the speaker showed us, it became more interesting. We liked the ideas of voice recording the feedback and not only writing it which makes the student feel the class atmosphere. We also liked how he engaged us as participants in his session and how he encouraged us to participate and to share our ideas. The google earth example was fine and can be applied in a speaking lesson but also to show our university and make a university atmosphere. The E-Portfolios is a great idea to link lessons with homework but it needs a big effort and a lot of work.
In the session “Teaching in a Socially Distanced Classroom”, Chris Farrell gave a definition of the SDC then he mentioned the areas of difficulties in class management and lesson planning.
In the “Hybrid Lessons- Planning and implementing a new mode of teaching”, Joseph Baker specifically detailed how hybrid lessons should be, firstly the technical requirements were presented, for example: audio and video equipment, technical support, students coaching in the new system, whiteboard, materials and Lms.
Then he described the teacher position while delivering a class, and gave some pieces of advice such as: avoid a barrier, use gestures, and vary teacher position. Following the teacher’s role on online teaching, some pedagogical challenges were presented and numbered.
The pedagogical challenge 1, it refers to the class dynamics, there, it is important to encourage interaction and allow students to see each other to dynamize the class.
The pedagogical challenge 2, talks about lesson planning and punctualize the importance to work different interactions (pairwork and classwork) and utilize efficiently the digital tools (breakout rooms) while the lesson is delivered, at the same time marking the importance of the feedback and interactive activities.
The pedagogical challenge 3, talks about elicitation, and list of recommendations: nominate, allow for time lag, teach functional language and type in the chat.
The pedagogical challenge 4, describes the importance of monitoring, it is important to give instant feedback, help in class to students or to do pair work checks, also to check that students are completing their tasks.
After this session finished, we realized that during this year we have been working in the right direction, and we are doing the right things.
Voices & Insights
In forum called “The Teacher Perspective”, some teachers from different countries and institutions shared their experiences when they started online education, their feelings during the beginning of the pandemic, and the challenges that they went through during this process.
It was a forum where teachers expressed their different perspectives about online education and how everyone faced and experienced it in a different way.
This forum was very useful because It allowed us to get closer because we experienced similar situations and feelings, and we felt identified with some of them.It was also great to see an instructor from ScOLa there-Selma Tamdoğan Çalışkan.
After this session finished, there was a panel discussion called “The Student Perspective”, this was the other face of the previous session. In this forum, students from different countries and institutions, shared their experiences and challenges experienced during online education.
It was a revealing session that allowed us to know directly their thoughts and feelings. At the same time, it was interesting to hear their different beliefs and perspectives about online education. It was also great to see a student from ScOLa Prep there and also hear how he spoke highly about the Prep Program and his instructors.
The truth is that this session was effective, because it opens the “Pandora’s box” about face to face versus online education, even when some students feel comfortable about online education, they miss socializing and being their learning physical space.