On its second year, the Realize!15 National Online Forum for ESL/EAL practitioners will be held on January 23-24, 2015. Around 800 educators from all over Canada are expected to participate in the event, discussing best practices, and the latest tools and resources for ESL/EAL learning and teaching. The online forum will continue to have the same goals as last year: create diversity of content and participants, represent local and smaller communities, explore topics in-depth, produce lasting resources, provide ongoing educational technology training and demonstrate a sustainable PD model for the EAL/ESL industry. But count on bigger and better things as this year’s forum builds on the challenges and experiences of last year, and most importantly, the comments and suggestions from the participants of Realize14.
First off, this year’s forum schedule has been extended to two days to offer more content to accommodate cutting-edge and relevant developments in the field. This translates to more value for the participants, as they have more choices and access to more resources by the forum’s end. Featured speakers are educators, curriculum developers and newcomer integration experts, who will share best techniques and practices for online and classroom instruction. Topics range from the effective use of online tools and digital media to issues on intercultural communication and ethnocentrism in English language instruction.
Also, the participants can expect more interaction this year to allow them to heighten their networking activities with their colleagues in the industry. They can connect through open chat rooms, Twitter, blogs and the Realize forum group on Tutela, an online community for ESL professionals in Canada. Another addition to the Realize!15 forum is the Contributor’s badge in addition to the Presenter’s, Moderator’s, and Participant’s badges. The Contributor’s badge will be introduced to better reflect and acknowledge the participants’ degree of involvement and collaboration in the forum. The badges are a good addition to any social media profile, website, blogs, professional networks, to show professional development and online learning.
A major consideration in the planning of the forum was to ensure the technical soundness of the whole operation. The Realize!15 team had been busy coming up with clear, step-by-step instructions, setting up alternatives and a contingency plan to ensure that the sessions will go on smoothly for all participants. Testing and re-testing of all systems have been done and hopefully, we will have no technical problems this year.
In a few hours, Realize!15 will be open and the sessions will start. Briar Jamieson, Executive Director of English Online and a member of the National Language Advisory Committee hopes that all participants will find the forum an important venue for meaningful discussion and networking, as well as an important part of their continuous professional development. “Through the chat rooms and social media, participants will have an opportunity to start lasting connections with their fellow EAL practitioners,” she said.
English Online Inc.
Picture by Mad House Photography