Finding my voice


Since submitting my CMALT e-portfolio I have gone on to find my voice (over the internet) and grown significantly as an open practitioner and an engaged member of the TEL and CALL communities as demonstrated in this review. I have chosen the image here (taken by Steve Wheeler at a workshop I organised for the HEA) as I think this event marked a personal turning point for me, the point at which I realised that my online experiences of connecting using social media as part of my professional development were relevant to others too. 


I have revisited each of the sections of my original CMALT submission in order to complete this review. My professional development has been largely self determined and external to my institution and the reasons for this are largely to do with my academic focus. Internally I have completed Warwick's Leadership Programme during academic year 2015-16 including a 360 feedback and mentoring. This was a helpful way to increase my strategies for management but restructuring is yet to clarify my leadership role in the School so my leadership is deployed in the wider community. Recently project management opportunities have materialised through Warwick's International Higher Education Academy which are described below. 

Having the ability to shape my own professional development has meant that I have been able to embrace the directions which are significant for me and have probably therefore been more impactful as they are aligned with my passions as an educator. 

Operational issues

Since the award of CMALT at the end of 2013, my work context has changed significantly. The Language centre has become part of a newly established School of Modern Languages and Cultures and this has involved a lengthy process of drawing together diverse ways of working which is ongoing today. The challenges this has entailed have increased my activity beyond my immediate context and I have become very active in the ALT and the EuroCALL communities, taking on opportunities to extend my professional development. 

These include: 

Taking the role of Co-Chair in the ALT Open Education Sig

Chairing the Eurocall CMC SIG

Jointly setting up a Mahara Users Midlands (MUM) group with a colleague at Birmingham City University. 

My expertise in online communication and use of social media has been put to good use in campaigning on language teaching issues nationally for UCML (University Council for Modern Languages) and on the organising group for #LTHEchat. My effectiveness as an influencer was recognised by Jisc.  This year I have also been part of the #BYOD4L course facilitators, an experience which I blogged and shared through twitter and the G+ community. I have learned how to make greater use of social media tools such as Tags Explorer and IFTTT in order to manage my time effectively. 

The Next Steps blog I set up (which has an RSS feed in the original CMALT e-portfolio) continues to be a space for sharing my activity but I also found it helpful to set up a reflective blog Espace Sisyphe as a more personal online space where I could work through deeper issues and consider my decisions and direction. I have found this very liberating and it has been fundamental in finding my voice and extending the depth of discussion I have been able to have in the scholarly community. 

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 The ubiquitous nature of technology today has provided affordances that were previously impossible, although there still remains barriers to access such as firewalls, paywalls and competencies. Reflecting on the limitations for example to mobility and how we used to address these when I started teaching compared to the possibilities we now have, it seems to me that there are significant advantages to effective use of the available technologies. 

Teaching, learning and/or assessment processes.

My love of language teaching is central to my identity and permeates all that I do both on and offline. I have been able to fully embrace my role as an academic language teacher in Higher Education through the process of applying to the HEA and being awarded a Senior Fellowship, for promotion internally where I am now a Principal Teaching Fellow, and becoming a founder fellow of the newly established Warwick International Higher Education Academy. A highlight of my professional development in language education was the invitation to deliver a keynote at the LLAS E-learning symposium in 2016 where I framed my life experience as a call to language professional to spend more time engaging in online spaces in order to bring their communicative expertise to their learners. 

Language education is often sidelined in the UK, hence the need for national mobilisation to defend the opportunities to access and prevent language education returning to limited availability in more exclusive teaching contexts. It is this perilous state of language learning which also drives my desire to practice as openly as possible. I continue to share my teaching materials as an open practitioner and found the suggestion for a guild based approach suggested by Terry Loane through the Open Education sig . The opportunity to work jointly on research around sustainability with colleagues at Monash University, Australia resulted in a publication as part of a special issue which will form the basis of a presentation I shall deliver at #OER17

I have also been able to work collaboratively to publish on the use of open badges to recognise skills acquisition through Online Intercultural Exchange in this volume building on the work I have done in the Clavier project reported in the original CMALT submission. I have also collaborated with others in HE on open badges, organising a conference at Southampton University. I have profiles on several open badge sites such as:

BadgeList ; Open Badge Passport ; Credly 

My experience of working on the European project Video for All provided a welcome platform to create open educational resources which could be used to train teachers and increase their understanding of the issues around digital media creation and use. The project provides cross referenced examples of teaching practice, each with suggestions for modification for different sectors and guidance for technical and pedagogical decisions. I recently facilitated an online workshop for the University of Limerick to disseminate this. 

Working in areas such as video has brought a sharp focus on copyright issues and their negative effect when looking to teach and learn languages. This is explored in this published paper on Produsage which I wrote collaboratively with a Monash colleague. Such scholarly work has helped me to develop a strong academic profile in technology enhanced language learning. 

I curate a wide range of video resources on an open gallery made available to us as part of our Kaltura provision, this has been a useful way to increase the visibility of teaching and learning resources such as tutorials and academic webinars. I play an active part in contributing to Warwick's teaching and learning community which is increasingly using technology to enhance learning.

The wider context

There have been many changes to the wider context over recent years. In the technological domain we have seen huge changes to web architecture which have come with a significant degree of pain. The move to HTML has been complex, we have seen a move away from Flash and Java use which has meant the re-engineering of many of the tools used in delivering audio and video online. These changes are welcome from a security perspective but have meant a complex landscape in tool use as the industry battles for market share leaving users perplexed. Different approaches to browser security have resulted in changes to user experience which those of us supporting users can find challenging. Locally I moved Languages@Warwick (a moodle based platform) to a new host, Moodlerooms in order to benefit from their closer connections to research and development and this has helped us weather the various storms and maintain a good level of service with limited resources. Our voice provision (now using Voicethread, which is expected to remove their Flash requirement later this year) and video streaming (Kaltura) have been decisions based on keeping our eyes on the future needs of our learners and teachers, not just the immediate. 

The rapid pace of change has meant the need to keep informed and active in order to continue to support professional development. I have maintained an active advocacy for Creative Commons certification as shown in this recording. Added my voice to the fight against "link tax" and the prevention of an internet dominated by large corporate interests which runs counter to the empowering nature of an open internet.  I have also used my twitter channel to support greater awareness of internet access issues using #tequity and my #openedsig role. 

As the need to increase digital capabilities in teaching continues to develop, I am keeping a close watch on the developments proposed to include this aspect of practice in accreditation and reward for teaching in Higher Education. As part of my WIHEA role I am currently working with a small group of fellows examining the existing recognition and reward processes in order to inform management here at Warwick. 



My online presence has continued to grow through rhizomatic connections and I feel I am very much a connected educator these days with an active network of scholars across the world. I have recently had a second WIHEA proposal accepted and am embarking on a project (#KNOWHOW) to support a wider institutional group of tutors and students from across the institution the challenges and benefits of connected practice. 

My journey has involved increasing familiarity with a wide range of web tools and online spaces and a skill set through a process which could best be described as heutagogic. I explained the outputs of my first WIHEA student experience project at ALT 2016 alongside library colleagues. 

I have learned much about the importance of channel choices for individuals and the necessity of embracing a wide range of communication tools in order to connect. I have also joined the team of ALTC blog editors, working with learning technologists to share their insights and build a community of practice. This experience has been very positive, I have been able to combine my knowledge of use of language and technology to increase awareness of current technology experiences in education. I have also reviewed academic papers and conference abstracts for Eurocall, ReCALL, ALT and OER conferences. 

Communication of skills and experiences is a challenge in the digital age and I believe that open badges offer a positive move to update the often rather slow moving accreditation process. Their issue allows individuals to collect verifiable evidence of the micro skills that they have gained within and outside formal accreditation systems. The individual agency this offers is welcome as is the opportunity to work more closely with a rapidly changing employment landscape. I have included a small collection of some of my open badges below which I think demonstrate the range of activities I have been involved in. 


Over the past few years my involvement in computer-mediated communication (CMC) has deepened and I have researched and published in this area as you can see on my Google Scholar profile. The area of CMC I am now involved in is Online Intercultural Exchange (OIE). 

I have delivered specialist input into several projects including: 

Coventry University's MexCo virtual exchange

European project Video for All

I have been able to use my expertise in order to curate resources for the field of CMC conducting webinars for the CMC SIG and sharing the research activities of others openly under Creative Commons licences for re-use. 

Open practice is important for languages as there is a low level of awareness of the research in effective use of language and communication, an area which has had significant attention in the language community and could contribute positively to other disciplines who are increasingly getting involved in international telecollaborative activity. I am delighted that the CALL community is allowing CMC researchers to reach out to form a cross disciplinary academic organisation, to help share best practice and support the many opportunities this sort of activity can offer for social justice and intercultural understanding. 

I am actively involved in new developments in education which have resulted from the rise of digital technologies and have presented at Coventry University's Disruptive Media Learning Lab as a member of the West Midlands Region ALT group on how CMC disrupts borders. In the coming weeks I am working with Alastair Creelman @alacre in Sweden to provide a practitioner perspective in his ONL MOOC which helps interested practitioners get involved in open practice. Working at the leading (bleeding?) edge can be very challenging and I continue to be grateful for the support I have found in the ALT community where others face similar challenges. 



SFHEA accreditation

Open Badges - a selection

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Future plans

I have made considerable strides in my professional career which began in the 1980s. After 30 years in teaching I am delighted to have found an aspect of teaching practice which still holds plenty of challenge and interest for me, that of the successful implementation of technologies in learning and teaching. I am still enjoying contributing to this and have, thanks to the support network I have found through my PLN (personal learning network) a more confident, scholarly voice which I can bring to this area.

In future, even beyond retirement I intend to use it to: 

  • insist on equity and principled decision making so that education remains a common good
  • connect and collaborate with others wherever in the world they may be
  • create OER and remain a lifelong learner

My most recent adventure is as a contributor to the wikimedia project and I am excited to see where that may lead.