Saturday, August 15, 2009

Morocco photos

This is my Morocco Flickr set

This is Frans' Morocco Flickr set. He's a very talented photographer, he also documented many of his beautiful pics, matching names and faces. With a little help from the iearn community, most of the faces on pics could get names.

And this is the iEARN flickr group some of us flooded. :-)

Morocco reflections 3 - my pres

Walls have mouths
My presentation was scheduled on the last day of the conference. A fair number of people turned up and seemed interested in a graffiti sharing idea. I talked a bit about what inspired me to start the project, a bit about my partners in crime (esp. my dear webheads and Rita's CAEB class and pm and my class and I4E folk and sdutsj and mih and iatefl slo and EFL University and ... :-)), about the project tools and about where the project has taken us so far. We've been basically collecting and sharing graffiti and stories behind them and exploring our countries and cultures, spreading over all sorts of cyberspaces.
Our society is doing very well building all sorts of walls around us - physical and mental, it is also doing very well using and abusing all those walls, and the natural walls too, for all sorts of purposes; artistic and less artistic ones. Walls protect our ideas, culture, property, they divide and separate mine from yours, right from wrong, us from them; and they reflect urban responses of people inhabiting those spaces. Their passions, frustrations,beliefs, views. By listening to the walls around us we can learn more about the world around us and also about ourselves. What do I see? What do I hear? Do I care to see at all? Or hear? Should I?
It's stories of national heroes and it's stories of everyday people. It's drugs and wine and politics and sports. It's the land and the culture. It's funny writings and those that hurt. Many can be seen or heard in different ways and can as such be used as departing points for discussions.
Do looks matter that much?
Why aren't there more women in politics?
Does violent music mean violent people?
Often it is difficult to draw the line between the right and the wrong, humour and bullying, art and vandalism... and this means - talking. And talking in an EFL class is good, isn't it? Especially talking about stories from the walls of our schools, streets, towns... because these tell stories of people from these schools, streets, towns. And because these people matter.
Funny thing I noticed as soon as I set foot on AUI campus - there were lovely murals here and there but no graffiti anywhere. It confused me. I thought there were talking walls everywhere where there are people. Thought wrong it seems. But I guess the fact that AUI is a prestigious university not open to general public has something to do with it. I found talking walls alright in other places in Morocco. It made me wonder though - are there countries or cultures where you can't find graffiti on the walls?
I have been learning a lot all the time by paying attention to graffiti around me. Perhaps I'll try to focus more on things like prejudice, nationalism, intolerance (if my next groups are interested...) Or other things, we'll see...You can find any topic on the wall.... so I
hope to continue with the project in the future too. It has been included on the iEARN site, so perhaps there will be other teachers/classes joining the ride. :-)
Flickr gallery:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Morocco reflections 2 - nice presentations

Some presentations still stuck to the back of my mind are:

A day in a life project by Chris Baer
Chris will set 2 days during the coming school year, during which interested teachers with classes from all over the world are invited to document their life during that day in writing and photos (natural, ordinary photos preferred to 'pose for the camera' kind of photos) and share these stories online. Students are asked to be careful not to invade privacy of other people. This here is the iearn forum link of the project
I plan to invite my students along, it should be fun. Chris says he already has confirmations from classes from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, Israel (Palestine), Kenya, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Ukraine, USA and Yemen.

Copy Right or copy wrong by Diane Charlton Midness and Anindita Dutta Roy
A nice overview of basic guidelines for ethical and responsible use of media - not an easy topic to be delivered in a commn-sense friendly way, but the copyright girls did it very much so by asking questions of things we/people do and whether it is right or wrong to do them that way. They then provided explanations and guidelines to what often seemed to be divided audience. There is no global copyright protection all over the world, which additionally conmplicates things. Well, one useful thing I've learned is that using copyrighted photos in acadamic presentations falls under Fair use. Diane posted her slides to the iearn forum too

The Bridge of Generations by Manal Fitiani - Lina Daher;
The project is about connecting the youth and the old in East Jerusalem - the young generation teaches the great grands how to use computer - students and their great grands choose 1 topic and they covered it learning along computer skills (traditional food, etc.). This is a really nice way of bringing together the young spending too much time behind their computers and the old, feeling lonely and out of touch with the modern world.
I think we could use this idea at our school too - ours is a technically oriented school centre, home to computer science secondary school and informatics vocational college among numerous other schools. Instead of teaching their great grands, students could perhaps also instruct seniors in the nearby old people's home or interested people taking classes at The Third Age University ( I can see numerous possibilities here - in addition to helping old people explore topics they are interested in, perhaps also record things people want to share with the world, help them connect with their dear ones who may not live close to them, perhaps help them find a long lost relative overseas.... who knows. I think everybody learns a great deal by teaching others. And by helping others. And technology can do so much for us these days...

There were generally 6 concurrent sessions each time - and no repeats, so I missed some things.

Morocco reflections 1 - meeting friends

It's been weeks since my return from Morocco, impressions have settled down a bit so it's time to pour some of them out of my head and onto the web. :-)
It was an amazing experience - 430 people from 53 countries of the world - the north, the south, the east, the west - the young, and the young at heart. In blue jeans, in national costumes. Waving flags, playing music, singing songs, dancing, sharing experience, connecting.
And there were Webheads too! :-) Isabel, Nour Eddine, Mbarek and Claudia. We set aside a few hours for lunch one day, they flew with the speed of light. Such nice people! Such great moments! Nour Eddine is an amazing organizer - thinking of 200 things at the same time, always helpful, always with a smile on his face...
The Moroccans hospitality and thoughtfullness made sure everybody felt at home in Ifrane. They were so considerate all the time. Nour Eddine and Mbarek and Othmane and Said and Latife and Youssef and Aziz and Mohamed and... all those Morocccan boys and girls who were always there for us. I'll never forget it. I've learned so much from them. Of life in the desert. Of online learning. Of enjoying teaching. Of islam. Of diversity. Of respect. Of tolerance. Of perseverance.

It was also cool to get to know Slovene iEARN team - Alenka and Darja and Nives and Dušan and Gregor. It's funny to get to know colleagues from a town an hour away from yours.... in Africa! And learn there about what they do back home... an hour away from mine... :-).


I was really impressed by Darja's presentation - she did so many cool things with her young learners - collaborations, exchanges, performances, videos, you name it!

And Dušan's part was fun too - he uses delayed video in his physical education classes to show kids the mistakes they do when playing basketball or volleyball or performing certain moves. Image is worth a thousand words and video saves repeating Dušan all those thousands of words again and again. Judging from what I've seen on those videos Dušan showed, kids seem to really like checking a recording of themselves working on a task.

Gregor's part was interesting because it was an overview of introduction of Moodle in Slovene primary and secondary schools. I was part of an early phase of this programme too some 4 years ago. Together with a bunch of other colleagues we were walked through the Moodle basics - the technical part. I was fascinated by Moodle from the start, still use it today - partly because I have to, it's school policy, and partly because I still like it ok - in combination with other web based services it makes a cosy cyberspace. Gregor's overview of introduction of Moodle was top down, so it was nice to gain some broader insight into this national project. Being a teacher and a Moodler I find it interesting to observe mixed first responses of my colleagues - many see value in Moodle and play with it - many seem to feel the need for more pedagogy - technology is cool, but it needs to serve the purpose. Another issue is time... seems to kind of fly faster in cyberspace, and this is a problem for a busy teacher. People grab things that help them save some time... not so much things that take more of their time. ... but through this moodle project teachers are getting familiar with this cms, support communities are developing, and online learning is emerging. All in all I think this Moodle thing has been a huge project making a difference not just on paper but also in Slovene schools.