Nathan Hall on Social Asynchronous Webinars
This will be my first time interviewing a fellow teacher. I felt inspired to do so because I want to share with you all a beautiful professional development project started by Nathan Hall very recently. Since I didn’t think that retweeting his blog post would do justice to how empowering and amazing this project is, I decided to ask him a few more questions about it. I’ve also added his blog post for anyone interested in participating in this 1st Social Asynchronous Webinar (SAW).
Note: Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Nathan. I have to say that I am thrilled at this project you’ve started with Social Asynchronous Webinars (SAWs). What a great idea to have seminars online that can space out a topic and include different voices! As you know, I discovered your current SAW thanks to @muranava. It’s incredible to me how all these connections and reflections are shared all over the world by ELT professionals through social media, and I think this idea of asynchronous webinars could really help more teachers connect on a particular topic.
I especially like the fact that you’ve broken up the first one into 5 different weeks -breaking down each video into 10 minutes segments is also perfect for those of us that never seem to have enough time (who does?). Brilliant.
So, let’s get started!
Laura: What would you tell someone who is interested in participating in this new type of webinar? Why should they give it a try?
Nathan: I would suggest that they approach the webinar with two things in mind: to learn and to share. As with any webinar, seminar, or lecture, the person attending is there to learn and I think that is the same with the idea of the SAW. It is about learning with the only major difference in who we are learning from. Instead of a heavily structured format where one or two people have spent a good deal of time on preparing for that topic, it gives the ownership over to the participants. This allows the webinar to adapt to those who are taking part and gives time for those who would like to have voice to prepare to share their ideas and experience. Mostly, it allows busy teachers to get involved in a session over an extended period of time. This is also important when we are talking about people from all over the world who can’t always get involved due to conflicts in schedules and time zones.
Another reason why someone may want to take part in a SAW is that they can be part of sharing in a webinar without all of the time involved in preparing one. If you have something to share, you can simply share it with a text comment, a voice comment, or a short video. I feel this would be especially good for those who may want to share something, but are reluctant for whatever reason to do a full blown webinar on their own.
Laura: How did you come up with this “Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active” SAW?
Nathan: This was an idea I had for a while for a blog post, but it sort of evolved into a short seminar I gave for a local group of teachers. I thought it would be good to hear what others had to say on the topic. I feel strongly that we make the classroom a place for knowledge creation instead of being a knowledge dispensary. This is even more important, I believe, when it comes to language education. My hope is that this SAW will give a voice to teachers who already employ these ideas in their classroom and will help us a community to learn from one another. I feel it can be really inspiring to hear stories of how others help their students grow.
Laura: Have you thought of some new topics after this current SAW on ELT?
Actually, no. I am hoping that someone else will feel inspired to take the reins for the next one. Again, I really want this to be about us, not me. If I stopped to think about it, I probably could come up with a few things, but I want to hear what others have to say.
Laura: Since you are so active online and have such insightful posts on both of your blogs, do you have any advice for teachers who may be considering getting a blog started?
Nathan: First off, thank you for your kind comments. To be honest, I don’t always feel like I have anything really helpful to say. I am always surprised when someone says they got something out of what I wrote.
Blogging for me has become really comfortable. I was really nervous about doing it at first. I thought I had to be super insightful and had to put on this professional persona in order to be taken seriously. It isn’t like that with blogging. What I really enjoy when reading other blogs is the personal voice. It isn’t about how perfectly you write or how amazing things went in the classroom, I find myself connecting more with a post when I read about someone’s successes AND struggles. It shows that I am not alone when I screw up. It helps me connect with the writer as a person.
I feel fairly strongly about not blogging for purposes other than to share your story. Sure, it can help with networking and possible future employment, but if you are writing for ulterior motives, it shows. People can sense when they are being used for other means. Again, that is why I love following certain bloggers who just lay it out there, warts and all. This shows to me that they have no other real purpose than to connect with other teachers and to learn together.
The first Social Asynchronous Webinar is called “Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active.” Check it out!