Tag games: Vance Stevens revisits practicing blended learning in communities of practice for the ELC PD Committee at UTAS, Ibri, Oman

Learning2gether Episode 519


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On Thursday, May 27, 2021, I was invited to give a 35 minute talk plus 10 to 15 minutes for Q & A as a free webinar hosted by the ELC PD Committee at University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Ibri, Oman. The talk was recorded and posted on YouTube: https://youtu.be/J2zFcRHDfG4

Revisiting learning about blended & hybrid eLearning through engagement in communities of practice

Participation in CoPs is critical for ongoing teacher professional development. Drawing from experience coordinating teachers’ CoPs for the past 20 years, the presenter illustrates the evolution of groups into CoPs, as well as how CoPs interact in distributed personal learning networks, continually leveraging their participants’ PD and modeling ways to be applied later in teaching practices. This strongly suggests that teachers must be trained not only in the use of social media, but through its use.

I had been originally asked to speak on Blended learning and communities of practice, specifically to repeat my talk given earlier, blogged here:


I had since augmented that post with further thoughts at http://bit.ly/vance2021blue

I was going to have to alter my remarks anyway to adjust to the specified time-frame, so I crafted an original presentation on approximately the same theme, except that I broadened the topic to teachers learning virtually anything through their participation in communities of practice, and in turn modeling their way of learning to their students to help effect a break from pre-digital learning paradigms.

More information about the PD workshops in Ibri

Tag Games

I suggested during my presentation that settling on a consistent webinar tag would help to improve use of Twitter as a means for locating information about the UTAS series of webinars. I modeled this by posting my announcement of my presentation on the Twitter tag #utaswebinar and then showing how anything I posted to Twitter with that tag would appear in a search on that tag in Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=utaswebinar&src=recent_search_click&f=live .

I invited the audience to join me in a “tag game” and post about the webinar on the same tag and we would see their related posts appear at that link in real time. No one took me up on that while I was giving the webinar, but of course the game is still open and anyone can test the technique at any time using that tag and that search link, or since this is folksonomic classification, create their own tag and try to get tweets from many people to ‘aggregate’ around that tag on Twitter.

I was asked how this could be used practically in the classroom. I found it hard to answer that question, since the answer depends on the inventiveness of the teacher who sees an opportunity for collecting student feedback in the context of a particular learning situation. So I gave an example of tag games I’d played with students in recent workshops; I showed them the results of a tag game I had played with participants at a workshop on January 20, 2019 at Rangsit University in Thailand on the tag I had created for that group #jan20reli. That search is still viable over a year later, and can still be found here: https://twitter.com/hashtag/jan20reli?src=hashtag_click&f=live

All of the tag games I played with all the pre-service (student) and in-service teachers who attended my two weeks of workshops in Thailand in January, 2020, can be found at in the sidebar of the wiki I created for the event here: http://workshops2020.pbworks.com/

Here are the aggregations from all the workshop groupings copied from that sidebar:

Archived aggregations from all the workshops

The thrust of my message to attendees at this workshop was that teachers learn about such techniques through interaction with teaching peers in webinars like this one, which are offshoots of networked communities of practice. And also that the knowledge to be gained is often ineffable, which means that it must be experienced in order to be understood. So it’s hard to answer the question that prompted this reflection with an example off the top of my head, except to say “Try it,” and then you’ll see 🙂

And finally, I aimed in my webinar to point out the importance of modeling in teaching. For example, I did not specifically address the issue of blended learning per se in my talk, but the wiki I created for my workshops in Thailand was a perfect example of blended learning (by some considered to be a mode of teaching where online components are blended with face-to-face ones). In that wiki, I set out a document where anyone, and in particular my participants in Thailand, could see in retrospect what I was trying to model for them, and theoretically review the material and how we played our tag games and what the results were. So in teaching, I was modeling and demonstrating how blended learning works (being physically with them, but leaving them a live document tailored for each of their experiences with the workshop).

In learning through this blended approach, my workshop participants were left with something they could reflect on and also practice, just as any participant in the webinar I am writing about today could review what I have written here, and after reflection, decide to go ahead and try the tag game. That act of trying would be their practice.

If they feel they have learned something, having experienced the technique, they might then relate this to something they are trying to teach, and thereby model and demonstrate it to their students, who might in turn practice it, and on reflection perhaps feel they want to experiment with it in their own classrooms. From that point, the knowledge would be transferred (via me, having demonstrated the original model) on to a whole series of teacher to student relationships, and develop the concept the way memes form, as described by Richard Dawkins in his seminal work, The Selfish Gene (where he coined the word ‘meme’ in 1976).

I ended by pointing out that communities of practice encourage autonomous learning, and that in order to nurture autonomy in our learners, teachers need to themselves practice autonomous learning. I brought these threads to a conclusion borrowing slides from a talk I gave at the IATEFL conference in Exeter in 2008 https://www.slideshare.net/vances/lets-start-with-teacher-autonomy-multiliteracies-and-lifelong-learning/ . The slides were based on my article, Stevens 2007, which I had in turn been invited to Exeter to discuss as part of a panel addressing learner autonomy.


Stevens, V. (2007). The Multiliterate Autonomous Learner: Teacher Attitudes and the Inculcation of Strategies for Lifelong Learning. Independence, Winter 2007 (Issue 42).

The presentation was carried out over Microsoft Teams, https://tinyurl.com/2ns32mhu

There was connectivity lost in the middle of it, and some of what I said at that juncture was lost, but you can refer to the write-up if you wish to know more about what I was saying. Here is the bookmark:


Announcements were posted to these Facebook groups

By Faisal on Facebook

On Twitter



Vance Stevens hosts the podcast series Learning2gether with over 515 episodes. He founded the CoP Webheads in Action in 2002 and has coordinated TESOL CALL-IS Electronic Village Online since 2003, He has been lead moderator of EVO Minecraft MOOC since 2015. He received the 2019 CALL Research Conference Lifetime Achievement Award.


This is one of the most complementary instances of feedback I’ve ever received from a webinar participant. The name of the sender is included with permission.


The Language Center at Ibri followed up with a report on the presentation on their university website ELC homepage

Feedback analysis

One interesting aspect of the follow-up on this webinar was that Faisal Al Shamali polled his listeners. He logged 231 respondents to his feedback form, which might mean there were that many in the webinar, or at least that many. The 229 respondents indicating where they were from listed 42 different countries. Not surprisingly, 40 were in Oman, where Ibri is, but an almost equivalent number, 38, were in India. After that, there were 14 participants from each of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, followed by 13 from Indonesia, 11 from Turkey, and 10 from Nepal.

In single digits, 9 participants came from Azerbaijan, 8 from Bangladesh, and 7 from Pakistan. Morocco and the Philippines both had 6 participants in the webinar, whereas Iraq, Malaysia, and Tunisia each had 4. Algeria, Ecuador, Palestine, and Ukraine each provided 3 participants, and there were 2 each from Bhutan, Jordan, Libya, México, Romania, and the United Arab Emirates. The remaining participants came one each from Armenia, Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Gaza, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Nigeria, South Africa, UK, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zambia.

It’s interesting to have such demographics and to realize how many people from developing nations are taking part in these webinars. There were many from southeast Asia, Iran, and the Arabian Gulf, and from Africa. Participants came from Turkey further east from countries in the old Ottoman empire, but only one other from farther north in Europe (UK). There was one participant from Australia, but none from the Americas apart from 3 from Ecuador

All but one participant answered yes to “I highly recommend this webinar to a friend or a colleague” (vs. a single ‘no’). Participants were asked to rate 6 aspects of the presentation on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Here were the average ratings followed by the question.

4.6 – The event was well-organized.
4.6 – The event was very useful to me.
4.6 – The concepts and ideas were presented clearly and effectively
4.6 – The event was informative and practical to me.
4.7 – The guest speaker was knowledgeable on his topic.
4.7 – Personal approach and attitude of the guest speaker in explaining and answering questions was good.

This appeared to be a gratifyingly appreciative audience. Overall they rated the presentation highly. I’m not sure what the all choices were, but I received 3 categories of response in answer to the prompt for Overall webinar evaluation:

7  – fair
87 – very good
138 – excellent

The most interesting feedback was where participants were asked to offer any further comments or suggestions. Some of these related to webinar timing, audio quality, and two complaints about not using Zoom (Faisal told me this was an institutional decision; out of his control). Some expressed a desire to have the slides and recordings shared with them. One respondent said “Keep on organizing webinars!”

Some adjectives used to describe my presentation were  ‘awesome’ (2 respondents :-), 1 ‘perfect’, 1 ‘unforgettable’, 4 ‘wonderful’, and varying degrees of good, such as ‘excellent’ (17 tokens), ‘great’ or ‘very good’ (10), milder praise such as ‘good’, ‘good work’, ‘all well’ (14), 2 instances of ‘fine’, 4 indicated ‘nice’, and 2 went as far as ‘ok’. Three said ‘I enjoyed it’.

Some commented on the utility of the session. Six used the word ‘fruitful’. Eight applied the adjective ‘informative’, one going so far as to extend that to ‘highly informative’. Two said it was ‘useful’ (e.g. “It helps me to my teaching career in the future”). Other adjective were ‘effective’, ‘insightful’, ‘relevant’, and apt (“the topic is very apt”).

Two respondents wrote “Congratulations!” One wrote “Succes” (sic). My favorite was “great learning experience.”

41 respondents wrote variations on ‘Thank you’; e.g.

  • Thank you for these valuable MOOCs, Vance!
  • Thank you for this event. I really liked it. 🙂
  • Thank you. More power! 👏💕👏💕👏💕

One participant suggested “Maybe making it more interesting and interactive so that we can follow without losing our attention.” Another said that “Technical issues became a problem but the speaker was excellent.”

The most loquacious response was “Great Session. The Event Was Well Organized & Useful To Me. The Concepts & Ideas Were Presented Clearly & Effectively. The Event Was Informative & Practical. The Hon’ble Speaker Was Knowledgeable. Personal Approach & Attitude Of The Hon’ble Speaker In Explaining Was Excellent. Such Great Points.”

Two respondents purported to speak for all, saying “We like more sessions of this type.” and “We look forward to having more webinars on Engaging students in learning.”


Earlier Events

Just this, from the day before

Wed 26 May 1300 UTC – TESOL CALL-IS webinar on EVO: 20 Years of Free Professional Development in Online Teaching/Learning for English Language Teachers Worldwide


This blog is written and maintained by Vance Stevens
You are free to share-alike and with attribution under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

The date of this update is January 4, 2022 01:30 UTC

One thought on “Tag games: Vance Stevens revisits practicing blended learning in communities of practice for the ELC PD Committee at UTAS, Ibri, Oman

  1. Pingback: Learning2gether with JALTCALL 2021 3-day annual online conference | Learning2gether

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