From the chalkface…

As a teacher, whenever I came across a new activity or way of teaching something, I would always ask a colleague whether they had tried it, and how it went, especially if it was something very different from things I had done before.  I realise it’s all very well me giving you suggestions about what you could do with your students, but I know that what you really want to hear is how it went for someone who tried it.  Of course you’re always welcome to post your comments on any of the blog posts when you’ve tried something out but I thought we might take it a bit further.

Next week, Dina Dobrou, a teacher from Greece, who recently started using Touchstone will be telling us about her experiences and giving some advice on surviving those first few months in the new realm of teaching online.

If you or a teacher at your organisation would like to share the wisdom of your experience, then please do contact me at – the more the merrier!


New Directions

‘You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction.’  Edison

I actually borrowed this quote from Michael Peluse who is the Managing Director, Cambridge ELT who was talking about how we all need to change as our environment changes.  He was talking about publishing as we enter the digital age but it applies just as well to how teaching and learning has to adapt as the landscape of new materials, ways of working and communicating change all around us.  It requires us not only to adapt to a new way of thinking but to develop the ability to adapt to constantly changing needs and demands of our learners and their sponsors, be they parents or employers.  Books and materials change.  Activities change.  Relationships change.

So, whether you’re teaching with Touchstone or any other online or blended learning product, you may need a bit of inspiration from time to time so here are just a few of the great resources that are out there to help you.  If you have any favourites of your own, do tell us!

Resources for Teachers

Teaching Online: A new skill set by Dewar and Whittington

An academic article on exactly this theme   Written in 2000, the article is quite ‘old’ but the notion of developing new skills for a changing environment still holds true.

An old favourite – the BBC’s Teaching English site.  This link is to a blog post on the kinds of skills that have been identified in online teachers.  Can you see where you are on the pyramid?

The full pyramid is represented here:

A similar theme is explored by Nicky Hockly in her post and subsequent discussion linking face to face and online teaching skills

The on teaching online blog is a bit more about the bigger picture of teaching online so moving away from individual interactions and thinking about creating a course framework or assessment strategy around the materials you are using.

Resource for Learners

And finally, a little something for the most important people in the process, our learners. 7 tips for developing online learning skills

So it seems there are plenty of us going in this new direction.  Let’s keep in touch!

What’s it all about?

During recent training with some very smart teachers in Moscow in October, it became apparent that teachers were feeling confident about some parts of the LMS, teaching using the programme and the Web 2.0 tools…but not all of them.  Everybody had different strengths and weaknesses and were worried about different components or activities or philosophies or had one idea of how to use something but wanted to try alternatives.

So, on the inspired suggestion of Olga from Samara, I have started this blog to keep putting out ideas for teaching, for using the platform and motivating students.  Every Monday there will be a post on a topic of the week, with technical How To’s and pedagogical What For’s with practical advice on different components and methodology.  Teachers are invited to share their practical ideas too, particularly if they try out something they heard on the blog.  From time to time we’ll hear from other trainers and even teachers who would like to talk about their experiences of how they adopted Touchstone with their learners.

I hope that this will become a resource for new and experienced teachers alike so if there’s anything in particular you’d like to read about and try out do let me know!