About the Webcast
demonstration project will produce a "technology kit" to enable other
ELT organizations around the world to affordably produce webcasts of their own
conferences/symposia, with the obvious benefit to teachers in accessing conferences
beyond borders. That kit will be on the internet, and publicized. And of course,
this first event will bring ELT figures such as David Nunan, Donald Freeman, and
Dave Sperling to groups of teachers in various locales outside of Korea in live
The idea of making ELT conferences available to those who can't travel is hardly new. In the past year the British Council, IATEFL, and ELTeCS have joined to include video broadcasts to a few venues and daily email reports to a wider community. Several other conferences have used live chatboards.
While the Internet has long been lauded as a means to access information, connect teachers, and provide teaching resources, the interactive side of the technology has been largely untapped. Research has indicated that there have been no ELT conferences that utilize audio-video technology for real-time presentation and interaction. While recognizing the value of "chatboard conferences" (where participants read documents and then discuss them through either "live chat" resources or asynchronous "discussion boards"), all teachers are aware of the value of aural and visual input. Additionally, the input of an audience crossing national/ethnic/cultural boundaries is a benefit to all.
There are certainly a great number of technological options - a large number of online courses are available, including some MATESOL and TESOL-studies programs. These generally rely on expensive and technologically-advanced environments: WebCT, Blackboard, etc. Even if a local university were to offer access to their online classes system, the learning curve for presenters and viewers alike makes this an unattractive choice. Additionally, there is no assurance such support would be available in subsequent years at differing venues - this project aims to develop non-dependency.
IATEFL 2003 was the inspiration for this ELTeCS project, along with a few chatboard conferences and our own history. Korea TESOL took the first step on this path in 1999, when we hosted PAC2 (the Second Pan-Asia Conference) and placed a number of presentations and interviews on the web - most of this is still available, at http://www.asianbridges.com/pac2/index.html .
Recording presentations and interviews and placing these on the internet is nothing innovative. Interactivity, in conferences and well as in classrooms, is the key. However, we must also recognize technology's limitations - which in this case is infrastructure and pricing, not computer hardware or software.
solution is to offer followup "meet the presenter" interactive discussion
sessions, using audio-only output from Korea, and email/chatboard/"messenger"
input from our overseas participants. These sessions take place on Sunday after
viewers have watched Saturday presentations, which are downloaded overnight. This
webcast both proves the viability of this approach, and produces a kit to enable
others to replicate this project. And the files will remain on the web for years
to come. (As of September 2003, the Claire Kramsch video at the Asianbridges.com
site gets over 30 hits per month - for a four year old recording)
Webcast Coordinator: Robert J. Dickey, Immediate
Past President, Korea TESOL; Assistant Professor, Gyeongju University School of
Foreign Languages & Tourism (Administrative coordination)