Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Workshops for teachers and teacher trainers

Now that I'm retired, I am sometimes asked what kind of workshops I could do for teachers, so I've gone into my websites and compiled an inventory of my skills and pretensions, hopefully more the former than the latter. Two places where I address this directly are on my CV at and at the top of my ongoing listing of presentations and publications at

I've come up with a list of 24 topics, which derive from a set of concepts which explain and contextualize the workshops I have in mind. The concepts relate to projects I've been working on actively over the past year, since I left my last paid EFL teaching job in July, 2018, and the list of 24 workshops appears at the end of this blog post.

But I mean for this post to be a work in progress. That is, I might use this as a space to flesh out my ideas and concepts and possibly come up with more ideas for workshops. But every journey starts with a first step.

Where I've derived my expertise

The first steps in my current tangents started with a two year journey mostly overland through Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in the 1970's which plopped me back in Texas, table rase, ready to start a new life teaching English. Within a year my new job had taken me to the TESOL conference in New York in 1976, where I was able to find an EFL job in Saudi Arabia that very year. This is where I first got my hands on a computer in my workplace, leading to my being appointed to head a task force to develop a CAI facility for EFL at the university where I worked.

By 1981 I had started an MA in Hawaii which produced a thesis relating to what we were then calling CALI, and an invitation to attend a symposium in Toronto in 1983, where the acronym was changed to CALL, and which put me in position to co-found the CALL Interest Section in TESOL in 1985 and become its first chair. By then I was teaching EFL and working in CALL at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman where I developed and managed the Learning Resource Center and produced CALL software there. This qualified me, when I left SQU in 1995, to get a position as Director of EFL Courseware Design and become involved in producing CALL software at a start up company in Cupertino, California.

This was where my career path headed toward the mountain top. Because I missed teaching, I got involved with teaching online as a volunteer. Two years later I was in Abu Dhabi working as a consultant for a language center being envisioned there. We were putting in a LAN and suddenly I could hang out online. In my spare time I upped my game and created websites which gathered followers in the Webheads student and teacher movements. In 2003 I became a coordinator with EVO, Electronic Village Online, now in its 20th year as a significant precursor to what are now known as MOOCs. This is where I started working in various ways on the projects described below.

Coding in ELT

Based on my experience with coding language teaching materials, working 2 years full-time as a software developer, and having recently co-written an article on coding in English language teaching,, I proposed a workshop at CAMTESOL 2020 on practical coding activities for language teachers to use in the classroom, even without computers (currently awaiting acceptance):
  • The presenter gives examples of language teachers who use coding in language classes to promote the 21st century skills of critical and creative thinking, analysis, and problem solving, in addition to the more obviously language-related skills of communication and collaboration. The workshop introduces and guides participants through a simple activity using a step-by-step approach, presented in accessible terminology, that can clarify for them this relationship between coding and language development. The activity is set out in a handout that participants can use during the workshop and with students later in class. The activity requires neither a computer nor prior knowledge of programming, only the instructions on the handout, and participants will be pointed to repositories of many more such activities.
The proposal is for a 30 min “workshop” and for an audience that may not have devices handy, but can be extrapolated to a longer one that can be done using computers

Technology in the Classroom/E-learning/Blended learning/CALL

I have been teaching online since 1998 and since then have consistently taken initiatives to seed and nurture communities of practice of learners and teaching peers, one of which,, has been in action for 20 years. In all of my teaching jobs since then I have taken on roles such as CALL coordinator, computing instructor, Moodle administrator, software developer, and professional development coordinator. I blend learning for my face-to-face classes by creating wiki spaces where students can download materials and submit work online. This could suggest a variety of different workshop topics

One could be simply practical technologies for classroom use - specifics would depend on what kind of facilities existed at the target institution: do students have Internet or just teachers or neither; do students have their own devices? Personal phones, tablets, PCs, personal or in lab configurations? Do teachers have access to smart boards, some way of projecting in the class? Etc. I blogged issues faced when giving this kind of workshop in Khorat, Thailand in 2008, More recent materials along these lines can be found at another of my blogs,


DIYLMS stands for do-it-yourself-learning-management-system, or the tools needed to cobble together a portal and other free Web 2.0 tools facilitating blended or online learning, to whatever degree appropriate. The concept is illustrated in two workshops I gave on the topic in 2012, in Dubai and Erzincan, Turkey, where there is a wiki portal (i.e. handout) for the workshops and links to the materials to be covered in the workshops, and a means of students submitting work to the facilitator.

Also in 2012 I gave a plenary in Marrakech on the topic, recording and slides at I gave other presentations around that time, and published on the topic, which in 2011 I was calling MePortolios,

Professional development through networking in communities of practice

Another kind of workshop I could give could be on ways to engage in continuing professional development through engaging in networks of other learners / teachers and communities of practice.
I have been a coordinator of EVO (the TESOL sponsored Electronic Village Online) since 2002 and for the past two decades I have conceived and moderated several EVO sessions designed to train teachers in topics ranging from pursuing professional development online through communities of practice, leveraging multiliteracies and 21st century skills and tools in their teaching and PD, and most recently, gamification.

It happens that I may be in Thailand at the end of January. I would be just starting a 5-week session of EVO Minecraft MOOC, That is, I will be interacting online in a live on-going (in its 6th year) community of practice whose purpose is to understand what gamification is and feels like through participation in Minecraft, and how what we learn can be used with our students and impact their learning. Therefore, I could give workshops on
  • Minecraft itself, 
  • on game-based learning and gamification (two similar but different things), 
  • or use the opportunity to have a live community of practice on hand to illustrate the look and feel of ongoing professional development in such a context.
  • EVO - Electronic Village Online: Recharge your professional development with the friendliest and most engaging trainers on the planet, free

    Since these sessions will have just started (Jan 11 through Feb 16, 2020, it occurs to me that a great workshop would be to introduce EVO to participants, get them to enrol in a session, and then follow up by getting them to introduce themselves to their chosen community, and get started on the first week’s activities. It wouldn’t matter too much if they were a little late to the party
Multimedia skills

My definitive work in regard to multimedia professional development is, a podcast series I have been doing for the past ten years, without any funding, using free Web 2.0 tools. Besides the community of practice and networked learning aspects, this work requires numerous media skills which I could also train via workshops. These include
  • the rationale for podcasting in language learning, 
  • spaces for meeting synchronously online, 
  • recording, editing, and streaming audio and video, 
  • harvesting recordings and uploading to YouTube and Vimeo. 
  • Using screen casting to create podcasts, interactions with teacher or student peers, and even produce lesson materials

    e.g. the simple-to-use Screencast-o-matic to the more complicated but more versatile OBS (Open Broadast Software), which I have used to “Record Lesson Materials On-the-Fly” as presented at TESOL in Seattle, 2017, I am part of a team using this software for live webcasting from the last three TESOL conferences. 
Another aspect of this work is tagging and making your materials known through social networking, as in my 2010 BrazTESOL workshop on

Task and Content-Based Instruction / Content and Language Integrated Learning / ESP

From 2003-2011, I taught computing as a subject in its own right, through the medium of English to EFL students, when I was a computing instructor at Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, and in 2004 I published a book chapter on using task-based learning in an EFL online context. From 2013-2018, I helped develop curriculum and materials, and adapted materials directed at pilot and aviation support cadets while teaching EFL at a UAE air college. I could give workshops on developing materials for ESP

Research Writing and Publication / Academic Writing

This is usually what I volunteer to teach when I am working as a teacher. I have produced and edited hundreds of publications. I have often taught at the college level and specialized in teaching academic writing to low to intermediate proficiency students. I usually create wiki portals to help my students with concepts and activities; e.g. one I created to teach academic writing for my students at New York Institute of Technology in Abu Dhabi, at

Some of my most recent publications and presentations have been on technology-enhanced techniques for giving feedback to students and dealing with plagiarism. My particular focus is on utilizing the voice capabilities of modern mobile, tablet, and PC devices for improving effectiveness and efficiency in giving well-directed feedback on writing to students, something that can take a lot of a teacher’s time.

Workshops on teaching ESOL skills

As a teacher with 40 years experience in EFL I could also give workshops on more traditional topics such as grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, vocabulary. I would have a lot to impart about the latter topic through my background of research and publication in concordancing and familiarity with a number of corpus-based and gamified tools for vocabulary acquisition.

Here’s the above distilled into a list, which I may develop further here in the future:

  1. Coding in ELT: Empowering teachers to integrate coding into their language lessons, and why (or why not?)
  2. Technology in the Classroom/E-learning/Blended learning/CALL environments
  3. Practical technologies for classroom use (need to narrow down its purpose based on need)
  4. DIYLMS: Designing classroom ecologies (do-it-yourself-learning-management-systems) from free and easily available Web 2.0 tools
  5. Helping students direct and archive their learning in MePortfolios
  6. Continuing professional development through engaging in networks of other learners / teachers and communities of practice
  7. EVO - Electronic Village Online: Start today, NOW, right in this workshop, to recharge your professional development with the friendliest and most engaging trainers on the planet, free
  8. Learning2gether to teach and learn through communities of practice
  9. Using multiliteracies and 21st century skills and tools in your own PD so that it helps you model to students how to learn in a future world that is here already
  10. Minecraft in language learning, why and how?
  11. Interacting live and online with EVO Minecraft MOOC,
  12. Gamification or game-based learning? What’s the difference and how can they be utilized in my classrooms
  13. Joining MOOCs and communities of practice to help you broaden your learning through free and self-directed continuing PD; or start your own MOOC
  14. What multimedia skills do you need for language teaching?
  15. Podcasting in language learning: Helping students learn through both consuming and creating content that helps them learn English
  16. Record lesson materials on-the-fly using tools for capturing images, audio, and whatever else happens on your screen
  17. Using YouTube and Vimeo in language learning as both a consumer and creator of content.
  18. Tag games: Bringing groups of learners together through intelligent use of tagging and aggregating content (making your materials known) through social networking
  19. Task and Content-Based Instruction / Content and Language Integrated Learning / ESP
  20. Improve you research writing and publication skills: Academic writing for teachers and learners
  21. Utilizing the voice capabilities of modern mobile, tablet, and PC devices for improving effectiveness and efficiency in giving well-directed feedback on writing
  22. Help your students improve their vocabulary skills through use of concordancing, and other corpus-based and gamified tools for vocabulary acquisition
  23. Kick your pronunciation teaching skills up a notch: Exploring the videos in the ESL Teachers’ Guide to Pronunciation Teaching Using Online Resources
  24. Grammar, reading, listening, writing: Which should you teach first and why? Defend your choice!