Tagged: PLN

8 things they don’t tell you about PLNs (Twitterversary post)

It was about three years ago I got involved with Twitter and connected with teachers (especially English teachers) around the world. It changed my life. In a 2012 post I detailed my decision to join Twitter and talked about some members of my PLN. Last year I wrote about some of the “wow” moments I’ve had as a result of being connected. In other posts, I have extolled the virtues of Twitter and tried my hand at proselytizing on the magic of PLNs. In this post, I will not do these things much but I’d like to try to share some lesser-known benefits of having a PLN. These benefits appear after the picture of my first tweet. Any benefits to add? Please feel free to share them in the comments.

  1. I have people around the world  I can ask random questions that come up in class or in life.
    This is a great one. Quite often in my classes a question about another country or culture comes up and I often happen to know someone from that place. While the responses are quite often just one person’s take on something the fact that it is a real life person adds some credibility and excitement, I believe. I also get the sense this seems somewhat magical to students. They’ve asked me “How do you know people from ____?”
  2. I am more clued in on the daily lives of people around the world.
    For me, this is probably more about Faceboook than Twitter (though with people I first met on Twitter). It’s exciting to see the daily lives and special events of friends around the world and I think it gives me a sense of how people live and what is important to them. Pictures and other status updates give a nice glimpse into places I might not be very familiar with if not for these. Of course, a skeptic could say I’m only following a very small subset within a specific field of people in certain countries. I’d agree with this but I’d also say I have a better idea about many places than I would otherwise.
  3. I am more aware of the educational situation in countries around the world. 
    In addition to learning about the daily lives of folks around the world, I have also been able to steal some peeks into the educational (again, especially English related) situation of countries around the world. For whatever reason, it has been especially heartening for me to see how English teachers all around are faced with similar challenges. I think here in Korea there can be a strong sense of thinking many things fit under the category of “Only in Korea” even when they are quite common worldwide. In my previous work with Korean public school English teachers I was often confronted with ideas about Korea being the only country in the world facing particular problems. Knowledge of other places and teachers’ views on the situation has given me a lot of needed perspective. I wish I could do a better job sharing these common concerns and helping people see they are not alone in having such concerns.
  4. Through hearing, reading and learning about other contexts I can see my context and my teaching more clearly.
    This is related to the above point, but is more specific as a tangible benefit to my own teaching, or at least understanding. I think through seeing and reading and learning about other contexts I have gained a clearer perspective on my own. When people write and talk about (as an example) EAP in the UK I can see how things in my context are similar and different and it opens up my thoughts on the choices I make and how and why they might or might not be different as well. Sometimes this analysis helps me see where I have missed something or assumed too much about my current context.
    (I suppose this might not be so much of a hidden benefit but is actually one that is mentioned frequently. I’m not sure anymore.)
  5. I’m more in touch with and less apathetic about the political situation in places around the world.
    As an example, when Twitter was banned in Turkey it had an impact on me in terms of the above points. It also prompted me to care just a bit more and to do a little research on the issues. I can directly link my increased interest in certain countries to having friends in or from the country. This is quite interesting to me and probably not what I expected back in 2011 when I first joined Twitter.
  6. I have another reason to try food from around the world.
    Earlier this year I was faced with a choice on what sort of chicken dish I wanted to order. I was not familiar with any of the options and I had no idea what was on offer. I made a decision based on my PLN and chose (what was being called) “Hungary Style” chicken. It was fantastic and I was pleased with my decision. Thank you, Hungarian friends, for unknowingly guiding me in the right direction on that day.
    (I am quite pleased about not making any puns on hungry. I await your praise.)
  7. I have an improved sense of time zones.
    I am not trying to brag but.. I have dramatically increased my skillz in this area. Some might even characterize my skillz as mad. Someday I might not even need the World Time Clock or the related Meeting Planner. Maybe I spoke too soon as daylight saving’s time will always keep me guessing.
  8. Travel and conferences became more fun for me.
    I suppose I have already mentioned the conference aspect in previous posts. It is still quite a buzz to meet people face-to-face that I have only met online to that point. It is fun and exciting and somewhat odd. One thing I like about it is the idea that I already know a lot about a person even if I have never talked to them. I don’t think this will get old any time soon. As for travel, it is fun to think I could make plans to meet  at a coffee shop in Boston, in the streets of Belgrade, on a Siberian railroad, in an airport in Jakarta, at a pub in Taipei, or at the beach in Gangneung.

#KELTchat happenings


Well, hello there. I just finished an enlightening (not to mention fun and funny) Twitter chat with some of my friends from #AUSELT and I am feeling inspired about online professional development and online communities. This is just a very quick post with some #KELTchat related updates. What is #KELTchat? Clicking here will help you with that question.  I’m going to share two updates below. Just FYI the #KELTchat Facebook page is also a good resource for updates (and much more including articles and links and generally adult conversation).

The first update is the return of #KELTchat, which is scheduled for March 9th, 2014. A preview for the chat can be found here. The topic is “Being a Whole Teacher: Personal Development for Teachers.” I think it is going to be an interesting and important chat. I think it will be a special chat because Josette LeBlanc will be participating as an expert moderator.  Also, as the preview says, “Although there’s a K in #KELTchat, this topic is a global issue and we invite our friends around the world to join this chat” which means that everyone is welcome.

The second update relates to an upcoming #KELTchat presentation. Anne Hendler, Alex “TBV” Grevett and I will be presenting at the annual Seoul KOTESOL Conference on March 29th. Our title is “#KELTchat (live and) Unplugged” and we will have a mix of what the group is about and how to get involved as well as face-to-face (technology free and Twitterless) discussions about a few issues we think would be of interest to English teachers in Korea. The theme of the conference is, “Think Global, Teach Local” and the keynote speaker is Sandra McKay (!!). If that is not enough to persuade you (assuming you are in Korea) to come then perhaps some cheeky #KELTchatbeverages might do the trick? Let me know if you will be around or if you have any questions or comments or anything.

It’s the thought that counts: 11+ things about me

Well hello and happy holidays!

I wanted to share some interesting and random facts about myself here. Yet, I am afraid I am not so interesting and not nearly as interesting as many in my PLN. What follows is (at least) 11 random things about me.

One thing that springs to mind in comparison (with full realization it is not a competition and that such comparisons are not needed or helpful) to my esteemed colleagues is how I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. (1) I definitely can’t sing or play any instrument. I am not totally sure what tonedeaf means but I might be that. I am not actually all that into music, even though I occasionally post what I am listening to on Facebook. That is more like a shout out to a time or person than anything else. I am ok with pretty much any type of music including classical. If I had to choose my favorite types it would be 90’s hip hop and 70’s rock. But, as I said, I am not really into music and I have never been all that into it. In fact, I have never purchased a CD for myself, which I think it is a startling fact considering the generation in which I grew up. (2) Two things I have always been into are reading and sports. I remember reading voraciously in high school but not really reading the assigned books for English class. Since the teachers were going to tell us the meanings anyway and then test us on these explanations I didn’t’ really see the point in this.  I read a lot on my own and enjoyed (and still do) all sorts of books. Among the most memorable reading experiences for me in high school was reading The Stand (unabridged, mind) in about 10 days. (3) On a related note, the most famous person I have ever met is probably Stephen King. (4) It was long enough ago that I thought it was brilliant and not at all trite to tell him that I was his “number one fan.” By reading my own choices in high school I missed out on some classics. I remember slightly kicking myself one summer during college when I finally got around to reading The Great Gatsby. While on the subject of classics, I feel I *should mention that it took me about ten years each to get through “A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man, and Grapes of Wrath  (Much respect and mad props to the Secret DoS for getting through this one in a day. With a hangover.) (5) It wasn’t that I disliked these books. I liked them fine. It was just that I kept losing my copies of them and taking a while to get back on track. When I got through them I felt deserving of some sort of award. My fifth and almost final copy of Grapes of Wrath had a few pages ripped off at the back so I had to wait a few months before getting to the very final ending. Imagine my surprise when I finally got to the very end after all those years. The only two things I have ever really collected are old books and baseball cards. (6) When in the states I typically try to pick up a few books from 100 or so years ago. I have no idea how valuable these are (or more likely, aren’t) it has just been a bit of fun and I have never even thought of reading them. These days I am trying to curtail my book buying because this nasty habit takes up too much space. Aside from reading sports have always attracted my attention. The pinnacle of my fandom and random was undoubtedly when I followed the Yokahama F-Marinos,  a Japanese professional association football soccer team, around as part of the Marinos (un)Official International Supporters Team (aka MOIST). (7) Those were the days. The sport that I was most interested in as a kid was baseball. I loved it. The strategy, the stats, the pace, the lore. I loved it all. The 1986 Red Sox broke my heart but maybe taught me a bit about life. These days I don’t think I could sit through an entire baseball game without doing something else like drinking, talking, chatting or tweeting but I still consider myself a baseball fan as I like to keep up with the stats and stories. Statistics and numbers in any area always catch my attention. (8) I find it particularly pleasing to try to make up or think about numbers to quantify things we might expect are not easily quantifiable. Also, I like nice round numbers.  (9) I felt this push towards round numbers recently when Steve Brown posted his 50th blog post of the year and I felt somehow relieved.  I even like to leave the house at even times when possible. What else? I probably like movie quotes more or as much as the next guy. (10) Even though I might talk at length about The Wire or Breaking Bad I don’t really watch TV very much and could surely live without it (though if I didn’t have a TV I hope I wouldn’t get all hipsterish about it and constantly brag about not having a TV.) (11)

Some readers might be wondering why I shared the above.

It is (part of) my addition to the 11 things challenge/whatehaveyou that has been floating around the ELTblogosphere as of late. Here are the listed tasks:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
    Next post!
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
    Next post!
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.
    Not doing this now. Since I am a rock’n’roll rebel and known party pooper I have decided not to do this or Step 4 at this point in time. Though, I did ask 10 questions to readers  recently which is not quite the same thing.
yuji bomber head

In the spirit of giving, I offer you this photo from the MOIST official archives.
The wigs are in honor of Yuji Nakazawa.