Steven Herder interviews Vance Stevens in the iTDi Teachers Room

Learning2gether episode 426

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Steven started by asking me, Vance, a few questions

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Where? In Zoom
in the Teachers’ Room, whose permanent address is:

When? Tue Oct 15 at noon UTC
at one of the regular events that take place 4 times a month in the Teachers’ Room

Steven Herder sent me a few questions in advance

During the interview Steven started with the first question and the interview proceeded organically from there. However, I did get through most of the narrative of my teaching journey.

How did you get where you are today?

In a nutshell, I graduated from the University of Houston with a BS in Biology in 1971, which was a long time ago. I got a job working as a purchaser in a company that made seismic sensors. I used that job to accumulate enough money for me to quit it and travel for two years, hitchhiking mostly through Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I returned to Houston with a desire to do something that would enable me to travel more, so I walked into a branch of English Language Services at my alma mater U of H and convinced the director there to hire me to teach ESL, part time. He must have been desperate for staff because he asked me to start the next day. I turned up and was told, there’s your class. I said, huh? what am I supposed to do? Someone told the class to chill for an hour while someone else answered my questions (I always tell people I got a quick 1-hour course in all-you-need-to-know about teaching ESL), and that’s how I started my teaching journey.

In March of 1976 I went to New York to the TESOL Conference there. Having only a bachelor’s degree in biology I was not that much in demand, as MA’s were preferred. But someone else over there was desperate for staff, and UPM in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, made me an offer. I was in KSA for the next 5 years. By the time I left to get my MA/ESL at another U of H, this one in Hawaii, I had been put in charge of the Language Center’s first ever computer-assisted language instruction development effort
(see Stevens, V. (1981). What’s an ESL teacher doing with a computer? TEAM. Dhahran, KSA: University of Petroleum and Minerals, pp. 3-11. Available:

At U of Hawaii I did my thesis on CAI in ESL (CAI, computer-assisted instruction, was what we used to call it). There was a TESOL Conference in Honolulu while I was there where a small coterie of CAI enthusiasts was forming, and I was invited to join them in Toronto the following year for a symposium on computers in language learning. This group set in motion an effort to form a CALL Interest Section in TESOL (by now it was computer-assisted learning, to put the emphasis where it belonged). A chair was easily selected but one by one all nominees for an associate chair position declined the nomination. Finally my name came up along with one other candidate, and I was elected. The chair dropped out later in the year for personal reasons and I was left to shepherd the group’s petition to become an interest section in TESOL. When the application succeeded I became the first chair of the CALL-IS in TESOL.

You can read all about that in Stevens, V. (2015). How the TESOL CALL Interest Section began (updated). On CALL (Sept 2015). Available:

When I graduated with my MA/ESL from UHM (University of Hawaii at Manoa) I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to implement a program designed to address the academic needs of ESL students there. I got the school to buy some computers but they didn’t budget for software so I learned enough BASIC programming to be able to adapt public domain software to our purposes (see Stevens, Vance. 1985. You’d be surprised at how much public domain software you can adapt to ESL and language learning. TESL Reporter 18, 1:8-15.

By now I had accumulated some publications on top of my MA (which you can read in as a set of 15 publications in under the year 1983, here, I was attending TESOL conferences where I met potential employers, and through these efforts I got a job as an instructional developer and lecturer of EFL at the under-construction SQU, Sultan Qaboos University, in Muscat Oman.

I was there for ten years and when I left it was to move to California to work as Director of ESL Software Design for an upstart start-up company there. The year was 1995 and I had by then been teaching for 20 years, but working at a software company, for the first time in my new career, I had no students. and I missed teaching. But a teacher at Berkeley named David Winet was organizing students and teachers around a website at and I became an online teacher of courses conducted by email on writing and grammar. One of my students created a web page for the course and it wasn’t long before I had learned HTML and was making my own web pages.

I stayed at the software company long enough to work on the speech recognition aspects of an interactive adventure game our team was developing for the ESL market called Traci Talk (Traci Talk was reviewed in Harashima, H. (1999). Software review of Tracy Talk, the Mystery. Computer Assisted Language Learning 12 (3), 271–274; available, but the company did not pay regularly, and a friend soon recruited me as a consultant and then CALL Coordinator for a Military Language Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Part of my work was to ensure the fit of our technical specification in support of the academic side, and when the military installed a LAN in our facility I was able to hang out online and pursue my volunteer work with in a connected environment. To make a long story short, this led to my online classes for language learners morphing, albeit at a much greater distance, into Writing for Webheads (WfW) at a website that I created and that remains online here:

Meanwhile I continued going to TESOL conferences and remained closely connected to CALL-IS, and when the interest section started its Electronic Village Online (EVO) program in 2001 (, I was asked to do an EVO online workshop lasting 6 weeks on how I had developed and sustained the WfW community. For that purpose, in 2002 I created the Webheads in Action (WiA) community of educator-practitioners, whose website also remains online at

These URLs and others associated with WiA are all collected on this page: That link can also be reached via

This community remains viable to this day, and a few years ago I was asked to create an entry in the TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching under the topic of Webheads, which had been included as one of the topics in the encyclopedia. It took a few years for the article to be published as:
Stevens, V. (2018). Webheads. In Liontas, J. (Ed.). The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching. Wiley-Blackwell. 5824 pages. Available:

From this point in my career, how I was earning my living in my paid jobs became less important to me in the long run than my work in my online communities. The two were inextricably related though. My work in connecting teachers online kept me at the peak of that aspect of my profession and helped me bring CMC (computer-mediated communication) and other connectivity tools to bear on my face-to-face work life. I became known for my expertise in technology in the places I worked and this helped me keep at the top of my game and continue to get real teaching jobs. In other words, my after-hours online activities were helping me get salaried jobs in brick-and-mortar institutions and thrive in them, while in my spare time, I was able to sustain an alternative existence with an  equally viable online web presence.

There are some quaint anecdotes from these early days that might amuse the colleagues I worked with at the MLI and Petroleum Institute at the time. These were the days where at home we worked on dialup connections, whereas at my workplaces I had access to always-on LAN connectivity. I was also provided with top quality desktop computers at work, and in both places I was able to bring in my laptops and connect those to the network as well. At the MLI we had to be at work at dawn, but everyone left in the afternoon and the workplace was deserted. Except for me. I liked to stay and have my two computers working in tandem over the unlimited bandwidth. It was so unusual for employees to stay behind at the workplace that it came down to me via our director that the military officers there suspected me of conducting some “business” after hours. The notion of working away happily for free online once everyone else had gone home was not on anyone’s radar.

I had the same habit at Petroleum Institute where I went to work teaching computing to aspiring engineering students after leaving MLI. In this more normal academic environment, people came in the morning to meet their classes and left at the end of the day after their classes were over. Again, when people left and the office became quiet  my own work would segue into my online activities, which I could conduct from the comfort of my office, top notch office furniture and desk arrangement, fast Internet, two computers going at once. I would often be there after dark, and I was possibly the only one of my colleagues to know that the lights were timed to go off at 8 pm throughout the building. By that I mean, all the lights went off, hallway lights, lights in my office, they all cut out at 8 pm, leaving me bathed in the glow of my computer screens. I couldn’t override this, the light switches no longer worked, and I couldn’t work this way. I touch-type but I couldn’t see the keyboards, so I would have to leave my office and walk into the hallways to trigger the motion sensors that would turn the lights back on long enough for me to shut down my computers and exit the building.

My wife Bobbi has always been tolerant of my odd work habits, even my frequent 9 pm returns home from work. My workplaces have been less tolerant, placing higher value on being in place and at a desk at 8 a.m. each morning, not taking into consideration such strange preferences for getting real work done in an environment which in the evenings afforded almost no distractions.

Meanwhile back in my all-hours online world, in 2005 the WiA community mounted its first of three Webheads in Action Online Convergences (WiAOC). These were significant efforts to put on entirely free, crowd-sourced, 3-day (72 hours running) online conferences with hundreds of registered participants who came together online using the CMC tools we had been exploring in WiA. We ran these conferences three times, in 2005, 2007, and 2009 (they were too intensive to do annually). We’ve preserved what records we have of these events here,

These WiAOC’s occurred at a time when people had already started experimenting with online conferences, but up to 2005, these all required a credit card; almost none were done for free (one exception, John Hibbs’s annual Global Learn Day events, The first significant effort at free online conferences for educators was the K-12 online conference which started in 2006 ( The first WiAOC in 2005 predated George Siemens’s first free Online Connectivism Conference in 2007,, and was three years ahead of the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course (CCK08) at—the-distributed-course which is widely acknowledged to be the first connectivist MOOC, the term connectivism having been coined in 2004 by George Siemens,, and the term MOOC having been coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier (and Brian Alexander), who was helping George and Stephen Downes put on the CCK08 course, including how they were going to deal with 2,200 participants, about 2000 of whom had registered unexpectedly. I’ve written about this era in Stevens, V. (2013). What’s with the MOOCs? TESL-EJ, Volume 16, Number 4, pp. 1-14:

Having dealt now with “how you got there” this brings us to my current position. After doing my last WiAOC in 2009, I realized that 3-day marathon conferences were too taxing and I hit on the idea of breaking this down into a weekly webinar/podcast series which I started in 2009 but began to do regularly in 2010. All the almost 430 podcasts produced between 2010 and up through today (currently updating this in Nov. 2019) are indexed here:

Meanwhile, back in my everyday routine life, I ended my teaching career in July, 2018, having been farmed out of my last job in the UAE. I moved to Malaysia and got an apartment in Penang and now I call myself Founder and Coordinator of

It doesn’t pay well, nothing at all actually. In fact I have to support it with an Internet line, computer equipment, and hosting services for its various aspects, including the WordPress site that hosts I am prevented from working for local currency in Malaysia, but I am beginning to be offered opportunities to speak at conferences and go on English Language Specialist assignments for the US State Dept.

My CV is online, if that helps with further details:

Who has influenced your teaching?

The four teachers who have influenced me most in my career path after my formal education, when I really began to learn on my own, have been Jeff Lebow, Dave Cormier, George Siemens, and Stephen Downes.

Jeff Lebow developed the Worldbridges network, at At about the time of the first MOOCs one of his most active channels was Another of his projects was, which derived from his conviction that by teaching others the art of webcasting, or more specifically having others teach themselves, he would relieve himself of trying to hold together a band of cats and channel their energy into productive outcomes (which I often express as “a teacher should never work harder than his/her students”). As editor of the On the Internet section of TESL-EJ, I helped Jeff publish an article there about what he was doing at a time when I was working most closely with him, Lebow, Jeff. (2006). Worldbridges: The Potential of Live, Interactive Webcasting. TESL-EJ 10, 1.

As one of Jeff’s Webcast Academy participants (students is not quite the right word) I learned how to do webcasting as opposed to being taught. Jeff helped me to come to grips with Hangouts on Air and get them streaming over YouTube.  YouTube eventually made this easier through tweaks to its own software, but whenever Google changes the playing field, it forces us to provide our own streaming tools and figure out how to use them. Thanks to Jeff’s modeling, I was able to work out how to get OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) working, and I also compiled a manual of sorts to help others come to grips with this versatile but complex tool,

Dave Cormier was Jeff’s partner in Dave has interesting theories on teaching and how learners need to share with one another in order to learn in a connected manner. This is too complicated to explain in the time I have available right now, but before he started breeding kids and got focused on that, Dave’s last MOOC was on Rhizomatic Learning, a topic on which he publishes, some pieces of which I have preserved on this Learning2gether wiki page, here:

Besides his running with the term Rhizomatic Learning, one of my favorite of Dave’s concepts is “community as curriculum”, which he explains in this blog post,

This has guided my own teaching as with EVO MInecraft MOOC, which we will be doing for the 6th year this January. The ‘syllabus’ for our course is laid out here, and is also reachable through

But the syllabus is only what we produce to get ourselves accepted as an EVO session so we can run a MOOC for another year. If you read that out loud it sounds like run amok, which is in fact what I meant, because a MOOC by its very nature is community driven. In other words, once the MOOC begins, the syllabus is neither here nor there. We do what the community of participants most active at the time wants to do. Once we get going and have assembled our cohort for the current instantiation of EVO Minecraft MOOC, we don’t worry about the syllabus unless the participants ask about it. We keep it in mind, and the participants might try to orient on it to some degree, especially at the outset of a session while they are getting their bearings, but it is there as scaffolding not as dogma.

According to Dave there are five stages of coming to terms with MOOCs. He delineates them in this video as being orient, declare, network, cluster, and focus:

Our syllabus at is distributed over five weeks, each addressed at one of Cormier’s five stages of achieving success in MOOCs, e.g. one week each for orientation, declaration, networking, clustering, and finally focusing on what has been achieved and more importantly, where we go from here.

After the initial stages of orienting on a MOOC and figuring out and then expressing why they are there, the participants network and cluster around their own goals and projects. The syllabus brings them together and starts them on their learning journey in the MOOC, but that journey departs from the journeys of others and leads like-minded people to collaborate in clusters into developing their own learning outcomes, which is the focus part.

This was George Siemens’ idea when he conceived of connectivism. He has said he was reacting to the fact of the matter where in his classes he would have no idea why individuals in a lecture hall were there. Each must have a reason, but as the sage on the stage he could not possibly cobble one shoe to fit all those feet.  Connectivism makes it possible for learners to utilize their networks to get from them what they need to know at any given time. The pipe is more important than the content of the pipes; if the pipes are working the content they lead to becomes available, as he famously wrote in his seminal work (2004) on Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, which you can download from

Siemens and Stephen Downes have explored the nature of knowledge; e.g. Knowing Knowledge by George Siemens (2006). George’s work tends to disappear from it’s original locations and then arise phoenix-like from the space dust of the Internet. I found at least two sources for this book as of Oct 8, 2019

I have always liked Stephen Downes’s Where’s Waldo analogy of what knowledge is.  You can stare for some time at a picture where Waldo is concealed and not be able to see him.  But once you see him, then you “know” where he is, and then you understand the corollary to what knowledge is, which is that it’s something you cannot “not know” as Downes puts it, or that you cannot ‘unknow’. In other words, once you KNOW where Waldo is, you cannot again NOT know, and you will always find him quickly in that same picture. Congratulations, you have acquired yet another tidbit of knowledge.

Siemens’s book offers a connectivist perspective on what it means to “know” and the book is about knowledge in this day and age. Siemens and Downes suggest that any one node in the network is as knowledgeable as the most knowledgeable node in the network. Thus “knowing” is largely a byproduct of being able to connect in this day and age, and this is what teachers need to grasp, and what they need to teach their students.

You can get Stephen’s free ebook on Connectivism and Connected Knowledge here: Downes, S. (2012). Connectivism and Connective Knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks. Stephen’s Web: My eBooks. Available,

You can get many more of Stephen’s books from his website, and dozens more such books besides those linked from my free eBook “store” Berrybush books, here

Berrybush Books got its name from a distinction made by the husband-wife researchers Scallon and Scallon in the early 80’s and which I included in my MA thesis (which you can read at the link provided earlier in this post). The distinction was an early one to describe access to information as through a conduit or by berry bush. A conduit is where information comes to you through a series of data points, so you get one item of information and then the next one. Computers made possible access to information as if it were berries on a bush. You pick the berries that appeal to you. Information systems are designed to improve access to any desired berry. I became associated with this distinction early in my career only through having read about it and then having talked about it enough in my writing and at conferences to where people thought it came from me. But that is just another anecdote.

Your beliefs about teaching and learning

Regarding my beliefs, this blog post from 2010 refers to an earlier one from 2007. I have been self-guided in my beliefs about learning and teaching at that time and ever since by what I articulated here:

Steven asked me to encapsulate these beliefs during our conversation so I repeated the mantra I have often used, based on the work of Stephen Downes in conjunction with David Warlick, whose blog posts and recorded presentations have been another significant influence on my beliefs.

I related how Stephen Downes appeared at our WiAOC in 2007 and gave a talk on Personal Learning the Web 2.0 Way, which Jeff Lebow still hosts at the Drupal site he set up to harvest recordings of our WiAOC conferences (but then his site was hacked, we suspect, by minions of a certain state actor because Jeff was hosting materials there relating to his prior work and interest in Tibet, and we lost all our WiAOC recordings and much else that was there preceding the hack):

Jeff’s Drupal still retains a link to Stephen’s presentation slides here:

And there you can find Stephen’s slide 22, which looks like this:


Stephen has often repeated this neat and comprehensive characterization of the two things that teachers do and the two things that learners do. I have added value to it by incorporating Warlick’s definition of teachers being master learners, from his post here:
Warlick, D. (2010, October 8). Are they students or are they learners? [Blog post]. Retrieved from

So I often point out that teachers, in their true role as master learners, in fact incorporate all four roles that Downes so succinctly shared with us in 2007; i.e. they must constantly percolate all the four actions, modeling, demonstrating, practicing, and reflecting, in an ongoing iterative process of learning and re-learning through teaching.

Here are two slides from this presentation that illustrate these concepts 

Another of my beliefs is that learning itself must be percolated. I have on occasion found myself at odds with teaching colleagues who have objected to my putting our common coursebooks online for students to freely access, in berry bush mode; because some teachers want to be the conduit, and feel that if students see the material before they appear in class to “teach” it, this will detract from the impact of their presentation. By the same token, some of my peers might object to my presenting on one class something that they were planning to present in their. This may be warranted if teaching is seen as performing, and why would students want to see one person perform the same ‘song’ as it were when they had just heard that ‘song’ from another teacher. But my view holds that learning a song IS a matter of hearing it over and over again. Not only the song itself but what it means, its underlying poetry, allusions, etc.

I think that flipped learning, where the material to be learned is presented in many formats, at many times, and in different modalities, is another form of delivery that technology is uniquely capable of facilitating. The following is from my slide show for which the above slides were created:


We can see that the first slide in this slide deck informs the audience to whom it was delivered that

“THIS IS A FLIPPED PRESENTATION ● You can read my presentation in full text here: ● You can download my slides at any time here: If you visit my slides you will find a link to the full text. If you visit the full text you will find a link to the slides.”

In the interview, and on the recording, I touched on the following points

My teaching approach has TWO KEY ASPECTS

I noted two aspects of my approach to teaching: the healthy role of chaos in teaching and learning, and the need to model, demonstrate, practice, and reflect on flipped learning.

The FIRST KEY ASPECT is to model and practice flipped learning

I recently proposed to give a plenary on Flipped Learning (the proposal has since been accepted for ThaiTESOL 2020; here I was writing about how I was conceptualizing it).

As can be seen from the example above, the plenary would be conceived as follows:

The plenary as I would envisage it would itself be flipped. I’ve done this with many of my presentations lately. When I’m about to give a plenary, or any kind of solo presentation, I usually start by writing out what I want to say. From that I produce a slide presentation. Doing that feeds back into the prose version as I work to tighten up the structure until I have a cohesive prose document and a slide presentation, both of which I can share online.

Any presenter practices what s/he does before delivery from a podium, and I might do this by offering an online event in Zoom which would make a recording of my presentation before I actually give it (or I might just practice it in my office and make a Zoom recording there; the live audience being beside the point for this purpose). In any event, all of this, the links to the prose writeup, the slides, and to YouTube version of the rehearsal goes up online before I give the presentation live, and I announce it with its links on my social media.

Normally my audiences are not so connected as to be following my social media, so when I appear before them, I tell them at the beginning of the presentation that everything I plan to say is already written out and recorded, and online, and I invite them to follow my slide show on their own devices as I present on the day, and they can see that in the slides there are links to the prose document prepared in advance and also to the video recording of my rehearsal.

To get them started on the slides, I usually make a TinyURL of the link to the slide show. A TinyURL is a mnemonic link which I generate from visiting Every TinyURL begins with that URL and is followed, after a slash/, by anything the creator of the TinyURL specifies. In my presentations I usually include the name of the conference, its,year, and my own name. The year is always in the middle but I transpose the conference acronym and my name for the TinyURL link to the slides and to the prose document. It doesn’t matter which way conference goers remember it because the two documents, slides and prose, link to one another.

For example at a recent plenary in Melaka in Malaysia I created these two TinyURLs, the first to the slides and the second to the prose document, so either link would get you to the slides:

I paused my presentation at the first slide to allow the delegates to get the presentation up on their personal devices, so they could follow the links as I mentioned them (as a reminder, here again is an image of that slide).


One nice thing here is that, if the presentation departs from script or runs out of time I can always tell the audience there is a backup elaborating on those last two slides. And of course I never have to tell an audience they can email me if they want a copy of my slides, nor do they need to take pictures of my slides during the presentation. If I’m presenting in a small room I might include a QR code on the first slide for the convenience of people who do like to photograph slides as speakers progress them.

And as the final part of the flip, there is an archive, which I can add to by fleshing out links or elaborating on tangents that came up during the presentation. I always make a blog post with the video recording or at least an audio (sometimes I attempt to make one during the presentation), Often because this started with a prose document I’ve now developed cohesively, there might eventually be a publication, which also becomes a part of the archive as I update it after the event that prompted the presentation.

So this is my technique and I was thinking that the plenary could itself be on the tools of podcasting and webcasting and how you can not only connect with peers, but you can put your students in touch with experts or with their peers in other countries, and not only that but you don’t have to go online while using these tools, you can use them to make recordings of yourself giving lectures, include screen shares, graphics, animations, web tours etc in the presentation and put that online as the first part of the flip, which you tell students to review before you meet them in class (and to do that you need to have a space where you can put things online where they can go to find what you want them to see and do before class, and this is where DIYLMS tools come in – Blackboard would work as well, but not everyone has Bb, and not everyone who has it likes it! but anyone with an internet connection can cobble together an effective DIYLMS. You can find out more about this through the links at

Anyway, to continue, the middle part of the flip is where you meet the students in class and ideally you set those who come prepared on to the next task. Others can use the time to view your materials and do the work they were supposed to have done prior to the class. Others might have questions, so you use class time to do what students need on a JIT (just-in-time) basis and not preach to a choir, a third of whom might be sleeping, and another third who are not quite keeping up with the nuances. And the last part of the flip is where students go off and use your archive of the event to figure out what they missed, or if they missed the whole class, to catch up. And in my plenary I would be modeling all this, well not exactly the middle part, but at least the first and 3rd stages.

So this is my vision for my next plenary but before the last one I gave I proposed several topics to the organizer, who chose for me to talk on gamification and preparing teachers to understand it through engaging with one another in Minecraft. You can see, and hear, how that flip went here:

Another example of where I put this to good effect was in this presentation at a recent conference in Malaysia

The SECOND KEY ASPECT of my teaching approach is the healthy role of chaos in learning

The following is clipped from my slide deck
Chaos in learning: Engaging learners in resolving chaos through networking

This was the extent of what we discussed in the iTDi interview. The quote comes from Howard Reingold’s interview of George Siemens somewhere in this video

Read the Zoom text chat for this event

Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) :
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Sounds like Vance caught travel bug 😉
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Minecraft
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : HI Hanaa Khamis. Welcome to The Teachers’ Room 🙂
Hanaa Khamis : Hi Phil
Hanaa Khamis : Wonderful to catch u jst in time
MikeのiPad : Other countries Language teaching markets seem so much more dynamic than Japan.
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : MUVE = Multi-User Virtual Environment
Hanaa Khamis : Hi Vance
Hanaa Khamis : Always wonderful to work w u
Hanaa Khamis : Learning experience watching u in a tion
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Great to collaborate 🙂
Hanaa Khamis : *action
20:22:26 Barb : When I first got online (thanks to Webheads) I remember other newbies like me would ‘discover’ something amazing about learning and teaching online…and it would turn out that Vance had written about the same thing years earlier lol. Ahead of his time.
Barb : And really gracious about us discovering stuff that was old news for him 🙂
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Here’s the Learning2Gether:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) :
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : EVO = Electronic Village Online
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) :
Barb :
Barb : beat me 🙂
Barb : That’s the first online course I took! Becoming a Webhead
Barb : 2009 🙂
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : World Bridges:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Learning2gether is also on Facebook for anyone interested:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Webheads in Action:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : MOOCs = massive open online courses
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Connectivist MOOCs
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Stephen Downes – Connectivism, MOOCs and Innovation:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Missions for EVO MC:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : *Authentic interaction
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Chaos involve disorientation and perhaps different learners’ ambiguity tolerance is a key factor in determining whether they like the approach you mentioned
Hanaa Khamis : I did some work on concordancing in 2000
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Tom Cobb – Compleat Lexical Tutor:
Barb : So cool to have a chance to hear Vance talking about himself! Usually he’s encouraging others to be in the spotlight 🙂
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Welcome to The Teachers’ Room, Iman Elbahay
Barb : It’s hard. Things are changing, but teachers still expect to get things for free online
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Welcome to The Teachers’ Room, Jane Chien
Barb : Different mission and goals, I suspect
Jane Chien : Thanks 🙂 Hi from Taipei!
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : #JALT2019 Plenary Sessions will be live streamed! See for complete details.

Two sessions on Saturday, November 2nd, and two sessions on Sunday, November 3rd:

David Barker
Sponsored by
Plenary Session: Exploring Teacher Efficacy in Japan
Saturday, Nov 2, 09:45- 10:45 JST

Donna M. Brinton
Sponsored by Soka University and JALT
Plenary Session: Learner Agency, Then and Now
Saturday, Nov 2, 14:00- 15:00 JST

Oussouby Sacko
Sponsored by JALT
Plenary Session: Diverse Leaders in Japanese Education
Sunday, Nov 3, 10:30-11:30 JST

Mari Nakamura
Sponsored by JALT Junior
Plenary Session: Collaboration Across Borders Is “Nothing?”
Sunday, Nov 3, 14:10- 3:10 JST
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : We’ll share the recording next Tue via our iTDi Facebook page:
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : And this will be up on Learning2Together courtesy of Vance 🙂
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : *Learning2gether
Jane Chien : Thanks for the info! This is great!
iman elbahay : Great
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Please note, everyone, that you can save this chat by clicking on the 3-dot menu in the top-write of the textbook here
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Hi Rhett!
Rhett Burton : I give a month at a time.
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Welcome to The Teachers’ Room, SS 🙂
Rhett Burton : YouTube rocks
Vance Stevens : thank you, haven’t been following the chat that much but appreciate your all being here
Hanaa Khamis : I’m interested in d leadership seminar
MikeのiPad : Awesome talk.
Rhett Burton : I try to be a leader of 1(me).
Hanaa Khamis : Can we plan a mini-workshop on d?
Jane Chien to Vance Stevens(Privately) : Came in late but enjoyed last part of discussion! Thanks!
Jane Chien : Came in late but enjoyed last part of discussion! Thanks!
MikeのiPad : Do you have a favorite face to face conference.
Vance Stevens to Jane Chien(Privately) : thanks Mike, any questions fire away
MikeのiPad : ?
Hanaa Khamis : I prefer IATEFL
iman elbahay : It would be a great idea if we could have such conferences in the evening. I am actually in the kitchen and can’t enjoy the talk while I am interested 😁
Hanaa Khamis : Thailand was also interesting
Hanaa Khamis : France TESOL n TESOL Greece
Rhett Burton : korea
MikeのiPad : Thank you
Hanaa Khamis : Eman n I: Egypt
Hanaa Khamis : I’d rather not
Hanaa Khamis : Multi lingual
Rhett Burton : they are very strategic
Rhett Burton : teachers are good for double checking their work.
Hanaa Khamis : I assume their experience is more immersive
Hanaa Khamis : They sort of pick up language
Hanaa Khamis : Rather than learn it
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) :
Hanaa Khamis : I believe they must be young before puberty when they have had exposure to languages
Hanaa Khamis : Wts yr take on homeschooling?
Rhett Burton : I saw Andrew Cohen. he talked about his process for learning.
Hanaa Khamis : I’m prepping for a debate in two days
Hanaa Khamis : We should abolish schools n universities n study from home
Hanaa Khamis : painfully a d word
Hanaa Khamis : That’s it
Hanaa Khamis : I’m taking this segment
Hanaa Khamis : to share w my Ss
Hanaa Khamis : Do u mind
Hanaa Khamis : statement s in debates need to be strong
Hanaa Khamis : Thx all
MikeのiPad : Thank you!
iman elbahay : Thx 👍
Hanaa Khamis : wish I could join JALT one day
Phil Brown (iTDi TESOL) : Indeed!
Vance Stevens :

Other postings organizing and responding to this event



From Philip Shigeo Brown’s post on LinkedIn

Join us in The Teachers’ Room for an interview with the illustrious lifelong teacher/learner, Vance Stevens, hosted by Steven Herder Herder:

Vance started teaching #ESL #EFL #ESOL in 1976, and has over 40 years experience in #CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning). As Founder and Coordinator of #Learning2gether, he is forever sharing and supporting fellow #ELT professionals. He has recognised expertise in #edtech, #leadership in #online #CommunitiesOfPractice, teacher training, and instructional technology; plus extensive publications and presentations both online and as an invited speaker at international conferences.

You can find more about Vance’s extensive experience and career here:

and follow Vance on twitter:

Find out more about #TheTeachersRoom, including FREE trial sign-ups, links to the room, and our FREE student offer:

International Teacher Development Institute #TESOL #TEFL #TESL #TeacherDevelopment #TeachingEnglish #ProfessionalDevelopment #Lifelong #iTDi

Similar posts on Facebook

More about the Teachers’ Room

iTDi recently posted this on Facebook 🙂

International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi)
September 25 at 3:00 PM
For upcoming online professional development opportunities and community of practice, check out Learning2gether: is an umbrella project of Webheads in Action ( and a weekly extension of WiAOC 2005, 2007, and 2009: is an “Online Community of Practice of Teachers and Educators Practicing Peace and Professional Development through Web 2.0 and Computer Mediated Communication”- with special thanks to Vance Stevens

Announcements on other Facebook Groups


Earlier events

Mon Oct 7 1159 UTC – VSTE Minecraft Mondays

Oct 8-12 – the 2019 annual Online Facilitation Unconference

From an email received at 9 am in Malaysia Oct 28:

This year’s Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) kicked off at midnight last night.

We have 125+ people registered from 30+ countries from around the globe.

Our first two welcome sessions took place earlier today. Session planning has gotten under way, and most unconference sessions are expected to take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.

New this year, we’re offering a “trainer track” of four pre-scheduled sessions with virtual facilitation trainers.

We also have a brand new online venue where you’ll be able to meet your fellow participants, brainstorm session topics, and schedule sessions.

It’s not too late to join! Use discount code “oldschool” (exclusive to this very special Yahoo! list of early adopters and innovators in this space) for a special discount, (and through the wonders of copy/paste, now extended to followers of Learning2gether)

Last but not least, OFU is a not-for-profit endeavor. We have low/no income options available. Around 15% of our registrants have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and we encourage everyone who might need it to do the same. Anyone interested in the exciting world of facilitating in the virtual – we really want to have them attend and contribute their experience and insights!

Oct 8 Braz-TESOL webinar

This information arrived in my email unfortunately after the event.

The registration asked if I was a Braz-TESOL member but the checkout cost was RS 0.00

But, for the record …

Wed Oct 9 1400 ET – EnglishUSA Associates free webinar on Assessment Providers & Services Part 2

The following was posted on myTESOL Lounge on Sept 17, 2019. If you can access that list you can find the thread here:

Cheryl Delk-Le Good

ESL Assessment Providers (Part 2)
This is the second of two complimentary webinars on assessment. Expecting further information to be posted before the event

Presenters (October 9)
-Marian Crandall, ETS/TOEFL
-Misty Wilson, IELTS

Cheryl Delk-Le Good, Executive Director, EnglishUSA

Click here to register (complimentary for everyone!)

Alternatively scroll down on the page you are directed to and at the bottom of the left side there is a direct registration link for this webinar

No need to sign in, register with, or pay due to EnglishUSA

Oct 9 – 6 principles for paraeducators webinar

Also posted on myTESOL Lounge

The 6 Principles for Paraeducators webinar will take place on October 9th from 10:30 am – noon eastern time. The webinar will discuss professional development for this important group of educators who work closely with our English learners and will expand on the 6Ps Paraeducators Quick Guide that TESOL published last March.

If you work with teaching assistants, aides, volunteers, and other paraprofessionals, sign up for the webinar and learn PD strategies and instructional techniques from presenter Beth Amaral! Registration is free for TESOL members ($50 for non-members), and if you can’t attend live, you can review an archived version a few days later at your leisure. The deadline to sign up is October 7. Here’s a direct link:

This event carries a $50 charge for non-TESOL members

The event was recorded

If you registered for TESOL Virtual Seminar, the recording titled “The 6 Principles® for Paraeducators” is available here. Their email sent to registered participants says you have to log in to get it (but try and see 🙂

Learning2gether with VSTE Minecraft Mondays and East Coast Miners and IATEFL World Teachers’ Day

Learning2gether episode 425

Skip down to Earlier Events

This post covers two events, the first one on Saturday Oct 5
Skip down to IATEFL World Teachers’ Day Web Conference

The second event, which I was more personally involved in and had set up to be L2g episode 425, occurred on Monday, Oct 7, 2019 at 8 pm in Maine. This was the October rendition of VSTE Minecraft Mondays. The time of the event in Maine is always midnight Tuesday in Europe and in countries to the east, so for much of the world this event took place on Tue Oct 8 midnight UTC.

The event on this day was scheduled on the East Coast Miners’ server. Because that server is populated by students, I was asked not to stream the event, though I’ll try to stream a Minecraft Monday event one of these days, if participants will permit that.

Here is how today’s event was announced:


October 7th 8 PM Eastern (World time -5)

What will happen?

VSTE VE PLN members are invited to tour the East Coast Miners Minecraft server
Server address:


  • Space rocket collection, created to scale
  • World Trade Center, created to 1/3 scale
  • Creative builds by kids at spawn, Halloween 2019, and in the ECM City
  • Dark’s mysterious waterlogged journal page recovery program
  • Nazi Concentration Camp recreation for school credit

The East Coast Miners server is locked to a whitelist but was opened for an hour Monday night, so that VSTE and Learning2gether, and EVO Minecraft MOOC miners could attend as well.


Here’s what actually happened:

During the hour, I made 68 screenshots and added the best ones, the big ones below, to the VSTE Discord channel

From there they pasted in rather nicely into the space here on this post. Then to further decorate this post I brought additional pictures in from my .Minecraft screenshot folder, and interleaved those with the large pics to enhance the presentation of what follows.

Our spawn point for the day was set underwater in the Coral Garden. Since we were in creative mode we had no issues wandering around in water to look around, and we hit the space bar to surface and begin today’s East Coast Miners magical mystery tour

Here’s what it looked like up on dry land


We followed the crowd over to nearby EMCCity

By now Cats_4_change had joined us. Cats was a student who had executed a faithful replica of a German WWII concentration camp. To create the build she had to research the topic and view photos taken of inmates and the conditions they lived in. One difference was that her camp was patrolled by giant spiders.


From the concentration camp we flew over to an area where pixel art had been created by kids. The teachers involved explained how the kids had made their creations collaboratively without any arguments over creative issues; they just worked spontaneously, had fun, and left an interesting build for us to tour.


Our next stop was a house where ancient scrolls were stored in chests. The kids had to retrieve the pieces of the scrolls and mount them on the walls and then re-order them and orient them so that their messages emerged. The pieces stored in separate chests were all parts of a larger story. Cats_4_change showed us how quickly she was able to work with the puzzle pieces, and it was also apparent how focused she was on the task.

Reconstructing and deciphering ancient texts


What does it say?

Someone had constructed a giant roller coaster ride on the premises. The ride took several minutes and went in and out of underground tunnels. To start the ride we were given minecarts and then we just had to move forward and let the redstone take over to propel us through the course. At one point the track ran out and dropped us into a deep hole, where the cart came out upright on track at the bottom of the hole, and the ride continued.

This was fun


By far the most interesting presentation on this day was the build created, if I recall correctly, by The18thDoctor. Being a space case, he spaced on the time as well and came to the event just as we were all leaving, thinking that 9 pm, where he was, was the start time. I was ready to leave as well so I switched off my Discord mic but listened in as he explained the set of rockets he had constructed there.

His attention to detail was phenomenal. That detail was not only to the outer surfaces, which were to scale, but to the interiors too. Someone helped me enter ‘spectator’ mode, a game mode setting in creative mode in Minecraft, that allows the player to pass through textures as if they were, well, pixels on a computer screen. In this mode you can just beeline through objects and come out the other side.


The student explained the rockets he had constructed and how they had evolved over time, from the earliest NASA rockets to some of the later models. One of the rockets on display was the Redstone, which is described on p.7 of this document, I remember the student saying that the Redstone was a one-stage rocket that was not able to put objects in orbit, and I recall from my childhood when in 1961 Alan Shepherd became the first American in space, having been shot in the air on a trajectory that brought him back to earth to an ocean splashdown after a 15 min. ride.

I asked if the student had done this as a class project. The answer was no, he had just done it as an obsession. It’s these obsessions, empowered by tools as creative as Minecraft, that enable students to follow their passions down paths of true learning that mark the difference between following a curriculum and just getting through school vs. finding one’s own learning pathway that leads to achieving brilliance while there.

While we were in the area, Dak had a special request. He wanted someone to take his picture standing next to his namesake.

I had never realized before that the Redstone rocket was named after an essential element in Minecraft


Time for the requisite selfie: Gang’s all here
In case we don’t see you till November, Happy Halloween

I was told in Discord that I was welcome to use the pictures that K4sons and Mainecakes had posted there. They copy / paste so easily from there to here … tempted … oh, go on! why not?



Basic directions to join VSTE Place, VSTE’s Minecraft world

You must have a computer Minecraft account from to join. There is a one time fee of $26.95. Download and install the software. Choose multiplayer and add a server: Name VSTE Place IP Our server is protected. You will need to be whitelisted to enter. Email Kim Harrison at from an educational email address with your real name and Minecraft account name.


Discord is a voice and screen sharing application that will run on your computer or mobile device. Download and install it for free. Create an account. Many of us use the same name for our Discord account as our Minecraft account to keep things simple. Our channel is . It helps us to be able to play Minecraft in one screen and listen via Discord with earbuds or headphones.

Sat Oct 5 from 0900 to 2045 UTC – IATEFL World Teachers’ Day Web Conference

I learned about it on Twitter, hash tag #wtdconference2019 (also #cpd and #webconference)

The link takes us here,

Where we find this information, copy/pasted from the website. It’s pretty succinct.

Join us for the World Teachers’ Day ELT Web Conference

Join IATEFL and British Council on Saturday October 5 to celebrate World Teachers’ Day with a one-day web conference, featuring 16 separate sessions on a wide range of themes and issues, including inclusive education and materials development, life skills, learning technologies, classroom tips and advice and many more.

  • Plenary talks
  • Practical workshops
  • Discussion forums on key topics
  • Q&A sessions with plenary speakers

Starting at 10.00 am UK time and running through until the evening, the web conference will provide useful and practical advice that you can apply to your own context, whether you are a teacher or a teacher educator. Attendance of the web conference is free and open to all. Sessions will also be recorded and made available after the event.

     • View our programme of sessions and plan your day of professional development
• Register for free
 for this event

Important note:

The conference runs from 10 am UK time and the last session ends at 21:45 UK time. UTC is one hour behind UK time.

Missed it? The recordings are here:

I missed most of it but I attended the following events

10.00 – 11.00
Plenary 1 – Seminar Room 1
Antonia Clare – Taking Flight from the Intermediate Plateau
Many learners encounter problems when moving from Intermediate (B1) to Upper Intermediate (B2).  They struggle to perceive their language progress and often feel frustrated.  This webinar looks at why this happens and offers strategies to help your learners take off from the Intermediate plateau.

This was an interesting presentation with many practical ideas. Several interesting web sites were introduced. Two that captured my attention were

  • Answer garden, where on this page you can read this succinct description: “AnswerGarden is for anyone interested in using an easy and powerful way to get brief feedback from a group. AnswerGarden is used by teachers to establish the knowledge level of a class on a certain topic. It is used at conferences and workshops to break the ice with the audience in a fun and interactive fashion. AnswerGarden is used by creative teams for digital brainstorming sessions. People who maintain websites and blogs use it to poll their visitors in a brief and to-the-point matter.” You can see screen shots on that page.
  • Just the word, Visit the site and type in a word to see some collocations from its data source(s). Click here to see some possibilities,

Googling some of them I found the complete slide deck online here:









Chunky dictation was an interesting idea. You read sentences to your students but where there is a blank you insert a sound (the bell perhaps). The students have to write down the word that is missing. But then the follow up is, when the students have written down the words, then get them to recall the sentences.


Florence Muluh – Challenges to teacher professional development in low resource contexts
This talk aims to explore some of the challenges that teachers in low resource contexts face regarding professional development. This concern has emerged from my interaction with teachers of varying levels of experience within the framework of my local teachers association and a survey I carried out in 2016 which revealed that in service training, skills up grading, and acquisition of new knowledge wasn’t on the agenda of most respondents. This is the fate of most teachers in low resource contexts who are often limited in their attempts to achieve this goal. Underlying factors to be discussed are demotivating working conditions, systematic challenges and poorly designed professional development programmes, limited teacher autonomy, among others. These often lead to frustration and burnout, leaving teachers with no zeal to improve on their performance. However, this situation could be improved through a number of policy and practical changes.


 13.15 – 14.15
Plenary 2 – Seminar Room 1
Konstantina Ntomprou – Life Skills: Lessons taught; lessons learnt
21st Century Skills, Life Skills, Soft Skills are all popular concepts, but how far are we from fully implementing them in our teaching? Are these enough to equip learners for success in their future endeavours? We will explore how concepts like motivation, positive thinking, stress management and personal values fit in a language learning environment. I will be sharing my experience from delivering a series of skills workshops to young graduates and entrepreneurs for the British Council in Athens. We will discuss how ideas can be adapted for various contexts, for teachers and learners.




Here is the program for the day copied out for convenience

(to me, so I can fix this event chronologically with others taking place at around the same time)

Programme Overview with time frames linked to YOUR time when each event occurs

(UK time)
Seminar Room 1 Seminar Room 2 Breakout Room
Join on the day: > Click here to enter the
Seminar Room 1 on the day
> Click here to enter the
Seminar Room 2 on the day
> Click here to enter the
Breakout Room on the day
10.00-11.00 Plenary 1: Taking Flight from the Intermediate Plateau
11.15-12.00 Assessment training for language teachers Developmental practice through evidence-based observations Plenary 1 Q&A session
12.15-13.00 The LearnEnglish Team – The LearnEnglish team’s top ten tips Challenges to teacher professional development in low resource contexts Staff Room chat
13.15-14.15 Plenary 2: Life Skills: Lessons taught; lessons learnt
14.45-15.30 Making the transition from teacher to teacher educator Learning and teaching through English as an additional language in South Africa Plenary 2 Q&A session
15.45-16.30 Teaching for success: Establishing a culture of CPD Short mystery games to teach critical thinking skills Staff Room chat
16.45-17.45 Plenary 3: Tick boxes don’t matter, representation does
18.15-19.00 Celebrating Diversity in YL Literature My journey teaching SDGs and why you should start yours Plenary 3 Q&A session
19.15-20.00 Leveraging Communities of Practice for Continuous Professional Development Projects to spark language use, creativity and engagement
20.15-21.45 Plenary 4: Panel and Q&A: Exploring our ELT Footprint

A 10:00 am start in UK is 9 am UTC and 17:00 in Malaysia. Again for convenience I’m linking each of the times given to the worldclock for that time. So you can explore the topics in the table above and if you find one you like, you can click on its time in the leftmost column and see when that event happens where you are.

Need to paste a link into a mobile device? Copy this one for Room 1

And for room 2,


Earlier events


Sun Sept 29 1200 UTC – Learning2gether 424 with Nile TESOL LTSIG Webinar – Hanaa Khamis interviews Georgios Chatzis

Sat Sept 28 1200 UTC – Learning2gether 423 with Nile TESOL LTSIG Webinar – Hanaa Khamis interviews Lilika Couri

Thu Oct 3 thru Sat Oct 5 – Connected Learning Summit Livestream

According to what it says in the graphic above, and to this link

Certain panels and keynotes from the Connected Learning Summit being held onsite in Irvine, California are being livestreamed. And indeed, a follow up email links to a blog post where there are


Here is the schedule posted at the link above:

Thursday, October 3 – Day 1

  • 9:00AM PT – Fireside Chat with Henry Jenkins
  • 10:15AM PT – Digital Diversity: How Social, Cultural and Real Life Circumstances Shape Youth Digital Media Practices
  • 5:00PM PT – Ignite Talks – Round 1

Friday, October 4 – Day 2

Saturday, October 5 – Day 3

There is a play button in the video embed at the link above. Click on it and see 🙂

AND it seems to be generating a playlist here:

Mon Oct 7 1700 UTC – TESOL ANPC Oct Webinar with Gabriela Kleckova and Denise Murray

The link for this was posted a bit late to the TESOL forums

Please find the link for the webinar hosted today by the ANPC:

Here is the recording:

Creative Commons copyright notice; some rights reserved

cc40cc-by-sa  cc 4.0 by-sa
You are free to use material posted here as long as you
attribute its source (Vance Stevens) and share-alike