Upcoming conferences in Tokyo

For the EFL teachers in Japan, there are a couple of conferences coming up in Tokyo that I am interested in. I don’t think I can attend both, unfortunately.

1) ECAP 2007. I’ve heard Charles Browne present on vocab acquisition. He knows his stuff and is an engaging and relaxed presenter to boot. He helped created VCHECK.

2) Jaltcall 2007, in Waseda Uni, Tokyo. Scrolling thru the list of abstracts, I came across this one, to which my response was “been there, got the T-shirt.”

Too early to Moodle?

Since April 2006, the presenter has used Moodle for six courses, mostly as a redundant resource rather than as a required CMS program. He did not force his students to use Moodle—except on the rare occasions when he made them take quizzes—but simply encouraged them to use it by creating forums and chat rooms, posting information, making available images, articles, audio-visual clips, RSS feeds, and various data files. Overall, the participation of students in Moodle activities was far less forthcoming than the presenter had expected. In brief, not many logged in, and even those who did, only did the most basic or required activities.
In this presentation, the presenter hopes to examine this issue of students’ lack of interest in Moodle, and to identify the causes and possible solutions—based on his interviews with students and their Moodle activities. In brief, the causes seem to relate to the Japanese curriculum, student’s PC-incompetence, student’s attitudes, etc.; the solutions may lie in initiating students in Moodle, making more Moodle activities compulsory, etc. Some solutions, however, raise difficult questions like, “Should CALL/Moodle be forcibly integrated into the syllabus/curriculum?” and “Is voluntary use of CALL/Moodle too much to expect from Japanese students?”

One thought on “Upcoming conferences in Tokyo”

  1. Marco…I see what you mean.

    While some might find this presentation on Moodle interesting, it seems the presenter has got it all bass ackwards. Of course students aren’t interested in Moodle! Why should they be? You don’t just set up Moodle and expect students to use it – they’ve got far better things to do.

    If Moodle is used properly, it would support a pedagogical method in such a way that it’s use would be obvious and necessary. Ideally, it would be transparent to the student, since the main focus is accomplishing a particular task related to what is happening in the course. A parallel example: I use Yahoo! email everyday, but only because it helps me carry out necessary communications, not because I have a particular affinity toward the software. In fact, I don’t even think about it much; I simply use it. The need comes first; software merely provides a means of fulfilling it. The need is primary; the technology secondary.

    In sum, this is another case of technology before pedagogy.

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