New Dawn: the PSA symposium, Madrid 2011

New Dawn: the PSA symposium, Madrid

Rewind to May 19th, the date of the first PSA mini-summit, held in Madrid. The event, designed to explore some of the issues around the increasing use of technology in language teaching, was made possible by the co-operation of the UK Department of Trade and Industry. The team there were instrumental in contacting decision makers at ministry level and key teachers at university & state language institutions. We at PSA were delighted that the event was sponsored by Cambridge-Hitachi aTorre d'Espaciond Macmillan Education.

The venue itself was quite literally breathtaking. The British Embassy in Madrid is on the 41st floor of the spectacular Torre d’Espacio.

The day started with an introductory talk by Martyn Warr, the Director of UK Trade and Investment, Spain. In his speech, Martyn asked me the time; I looked at my watch. He then asked Olga, one of his team and considerably younger than me; she checked her mobile phone! This effectively highlighted the generational difference which carries through to education and the use of new technologies.

Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age

My keynote presentation was delivered in Spanish! I had to check if a word was masculine or feminine (is it un wiki or una wiki?), decide which accent goes where on a word and on whether the audience will understand acronyms like EVA (Spanish for VLE). During the presentation, I accidentally changed from Spanish into English without realising it. Talk about code-switching!

Pete Sharma presentation

The Impact of Interactive Whiteboards

In her excellent presentation, Michele Conway of Cambridge-Hitachi revealed how the introduction of IWBs in the UK state system had not always been smooth. What lessons can be learned? Certainly, recognising the importance of teacher training, a sentiment which chimes in well with PSA’s viewpoint.

Michele Conway from Cambridge-Hitachi

The E-School Project

The next presentation by Rick Shepherd from Macmillan Spain showed that the current generation of web-based materials provides students with the opportunity to communicate with their teacher outside the four walls of the classroom. The teacher has the opportunity to personalise the feedback given across the learning platform.

Rick Shepherd from Macmillan


Toni Ramos from the Spanish Association of e-learning (APeL) was fascinating. How far away is distance learning (pun intended) from classroom teaching? A classroom teacher may have never heard of Moodle, yet do a DL course and of necessity you need to work across a VLE. Toni’s talk gave a twist to the day in that it reminded us that many courses today are done in a wholly different medium: online.

Toni Ramos ApeL

The Panel Discussion was a rich exchange of questions and ideas What better place for informal networking than Spain with its aperitifs and wonderful tapas. We are most keen to replicate the success of this event in other parts of Spain. Keep your eye on our blog for further details.

Pete and Kevin networking Pete networking Pete, Martyn Warr and James Hoyle


All photographs by Olga Guerrero except Torre d’Espacio by Jade Sharma Sacristan

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