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 topic for the IALLT Webinar presented in early March was Project-Based Learning (PBL). This is a very important topic to consider for everyone who plans to integrate 21st Century Skills. PBL is ideally suited for developing skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. PBL also addresses 21st Century Themes, such as global awareness, environmental literacy, and entrepreneurial literacy. Christina Liu, the presenter of the March webinar, provided background information for project-based, differentiated instruction. In addition, she presented sample rubrics, and showed multiple examples for projects created by her students as part of their Chinese language classes. IALLT members can access the recording of this excellent presentation by logging into the conference section of the IALLT website at http://www.iallt.org/conferences/webinars. The access to the archived webinars is a membership benefit.
As educators, we are continuously challenged to rethink the way we teach. This is particularly true in the 21st Century in a time of renewed focus on student learning in order to make students in the United States more competitive on a global scale. Many of the US States have adopted the Common Core Standards (http://www.corestandards.org). Another organization, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (http://p21.org) has developed a framework for K-12 institutions in order to better prepare the students to successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce. These 21st Century Skills have been adopted as part of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in many states. An alignment with the CCSS is therefore critical to help the students who have been taught with these new standards succeed in higher education.
As always in January, I am starting the New Year with great anticipation. This time, I am particularly excited about the IALLT 2013 conference, which will be held from June 11-15, 2013 at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 2013 conference will be unique in many ways: it will be co-hosted by two different institutions, i.e. a university and a K-12 school, it will feature ACTFL’s Teacher of the Year 2012, and, most importantly, it will provide opportunities for language instructors and language technology professionals to explore different types of learning spaces.
When accepting a new position at a university, community college, or K-12 school, you may be asked to do more than teach a language. If you are an IALLT member or a person looking up information on the IALLT webpage – chances are that you are a language technology professional or a language instructor who has been tasked with designing or redesigning a Language Learning Center (LLC).
Designing or completely remodeling a LLC can be a daunting task. It is certainly a task that nobody should (have to) tackle alone. When first exploring the issue of (re)designing a center, it is crucial to determine your department’s or school’s needs for this new LLC. And, while exploring new technologies, it is also important to determine what kind of learning spaces you will need.
In the recent years, the term professional development has become a big buzzword in academic circles. As a result, Teaching and Learning Centers have been created in many institutions – to include my own. Yet, as fashionable as this term may be, professional development is nothing new. Indeed, professional development and IALLT have been synonymous for me.
IALLT has had a very important place in my professional life since my first days as Language Learning Center director who was charged with converting an old outdated lab into a new state-of-the art Language Learning Center (LLC). While developing a proposal for the new LLC, I visited the LLCs of several IALLT members who spent entire days with me, showing me their LLCs, discussing my preliminary proposal with me, giving me food for thought – in short: providing individualized professional development sessions. Without these sessions, I could not have completed a successful proposal in such a timely fashion.