Archive for September, 2008

links for 2008-09-23

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
  • Pedagogical patterns learning design tool

links for 2008-09-22

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Animoto Alicante Summer School!

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Animoto animation of the Spanish Summer school last week - what a great experience! Test for you - what has the duck got in it’s mouth????

El pescado peligroso y el muchacho

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008


alicante 1



The “boy” and the dangerous fish
Ok for those of you who don’t speak Spanish the title might be a bit challenging and even for those of you who do you might be wondering what on earth I am on about. I have just returned from the most amazing experience as a student on a summer school in Alicante. This blog is primarily about work – research etc. but I wanted to post something to reflect on the experience as I think it is relevant both in terms of an example of a learning experience AND the issue of technology-mediated learning versus face to face support. I’ve blogged a few times before about this. The title translates “the dangerous fish and the boy”, which was the nickname for two of my fellow students Gerald and Anthony. Can’t remember why they were called that but there you go! 


alicante 2It was a fantastic experience and I feel I have learnt more in a week that on the whole course. I wanted to reflect on why it was such a good experience and why I feel it’s being so useful. I think there are a number of factors. Firstly the intensity of it, non-stop immersion in the language. We all totally freaked out when we arrived Saturday to be confronted in class solely in Spanish. I got off to a bad start when I was asked “Donde vives?” (where do you live?) I replied that I liked fizzy water, tea and wine. Oh dear, oh dear… Secondly there is no doubt about it the tutors (Judit, Rosa and Fernando) were fabulous – energetic, sympathetic and able to react to what was happening in the class. Thirdly the contact with other students – sharing war stories, finding out that I wasn’t the only one who tended to do nothing and then work like mad just before an assignment was due, sharing learning strategies, figuring out street signs together. How sad is it when a group of you get really excited when you understand a street sign and realise it’s using the imperative? And what do you reckon “melon piel sapo” means? A fellow student M.A. and I had great fun trying to find out from a shopkeeper. The answer? It’s obvious! “Melon with the rough skin of a frog”! Fourthly the chance to practice – to talk!!! Languages are not dry academic subjects, they are conversational, living – you can only learn so much from books. As I have blogged before I think LXZ194 is a great course  - the materials, activities and audio tracks are excellent, BUT I have really missed having contact with other students. That shared camaraderie is such a critical part of being a student and more importantly I think a really key part of the learning process. So what does this mean in terms of technology-mediated learning? I am afraid there is just something about face-to-face learning that can’t be replicated online. Don’t all shout at me about second life etc, etc. Yes I think you can do a lot in audio or video conferencing, or immersive 3D worlds but I still think there is something unique and special about face-to-face interaction. For me the week was a learning-fest of sound, vision, contact, interaction… that together just made such a difference in terms of my level of Spanish and equally importantly my motivation for learning. It’s even made me want to continue to go on and do the next course in February! Mind you I haven’t done the exam for this course yet… Anyone out there thinking about learning Spanish I thoroughly recommend the course (and that’s honestly as a student not as an OU employee) BUT I recommend you sign up for the additional summer school as well – it’s worth every penny.