As we are gearing up for the IALLT 2013, many of us involved in the IALLT Board and Council have spent an increasing amount of time exchanging E-Mails and in virtual meetings. Planning a conference is a lot of work, but it is also exciting. As I am musing on the theme of the conference—Sunshine and Cloud Apps: The Next Generation in Language Learning Technology—I just can’t help thinking about the importance of a good climate. Thinking back of our Summer Leadership Meeting in 2012, we had both nice sunshine, and a positive work climate. Since the Board and Council meeting last summer, I have spent countless hours in meetings with the Board, with the Conference Planning Team, with the IALLT Webinar Team, with the IALLT Survey team, and in a multitude of ad hoc meetings with different IALLT Council members. When reflecting on these meetings, I see a common thread: although none of us is paid, and although we are all contributing to our professional organization as volunteers, our meeting time is marked by positive collaboration, hard work, dedication, willingness to serve, and a willingness to go the extra mile to get the work done. I can truly say that we are working together as an IALLT family—despite the difference in geographic location, the great variance in position and rank within our respective institutions, and the differences in type of institution.
The big question is: what motivates us to spend countless volunteer hours for our professional organization in addition to our full-time work? During her candidacy for the President-Elect position, Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan shared her thoughts about the organization: “IALLT has played a strong role in shaping my professional identity by offering a venue for informed conversations about innovative technology uses in instruction, the nature of our work, and the future of our field. At the IALLT conferences I have also enjoyed the sense of community created by not only the formal presentations but also the evening outings, bus rides, and the infamous pub crawls.” Audrey Sartiaux stated the following: “In addition to insightful presentations, I really enjoyed the convivial atmosphere and the opportunity to network with colleagues who were often, like me, the only ones to do what they were doing on their campuses. I made lasting connections and build new ones every time I attend IALLT. To me this is what makes IALLT so much more special than other large conferences.”
Both candidates’ statements are representative of the reasons for others to serve the organization. The candidates both stress the importance of a positive collaborative environment and a sense of community. In addition, both statements show the authors’ intrinsic motivation for serving the organization (money is clearly not a motivating factor, as none of the positions are paid). One of the books I read during the recent months, Daniel Pink’s Drive, shows that people will complete a project or work that challenging in a positive way better if driven by intrinsic motivation rather than by extrinsic motivation. A brief summary of the author’s observations on motivation can be found on the following YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
Besides the positive climate, the work IALLT also helped me hone my leadership skills. During my years of service to the organization in various roles, I learned the importance of collaboration, of appreciating a diversity of backgrounds and opinions, of creating a positive environment, and of developing new leaders. Here are some books on leadership that I found to be helpful: Lee Boleman’s book entitled Reframing Academic Leadership, John C. Maxwell’s book on Developing the Leaders Around You.
Those who are on the tenure track will be less interested in IALLT as an organization that can develop their leadership skills. For them, the ability to present their research is of much greater value. For K-12 instructors, IALLT will provide valuable professional development opportunities in form of Pre-Conference workshops. The IALLT 2013 Conference features pre-conference workshops that are ideally suited for language educators and language technology professionals from K-12 institutions and universities. Workshop topics include learning center design and management, using mobile devices in the world language classroom, storytelling, eLearning, using graphic novels for language instruction, and a walking-tour through 21st century learning spaces. Regardless of the fact whether we are working in Higher Education or in K-12 schools, we share the common goal of finding new ways to improve student learning. The keynote speaker for the IALLT 2013 conference will be Yo Azama, the 2012 ACTFL Teacher of the Year. Yo Azama is a strong advocate for using innovative technologies and media as ways to make language learning more relevant and engaging to students. An interview with Yo Azama can be found in the ACTFL publication The Language Educator http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/TLE_Feb12_TOYarticle.pdf.
Save the date for IALLT 2013 (June 11-15, 2013)! The registration for the IALLT conference is available online at http://2013.iallt.org. Early Bird full conference rates are available until May 10th. I hope to see you this summer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida!
Ute S. Lahaie, Ph.D.
IALLT President, 2011-2013