Once again, the British Embassy, Madrid played host to this, the second PSA symposium on digital technologies. This year, we ran a second symposium in Barcelona. Thought-provoking and inspiring, both events were successful.
Pete Sharma began the morning, backgrounding the field with a picture of how much digital is changing the face of education. His session touched on some of the more exciting innovations in language teaching including the inexorable rise of the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), award-winning software, the prevalence of m-learning and the ubiquitous ‘app’.
Jim Dunne’s presentation title and blurb paid homage to Charles Dickens in the title: “A tale of two systems”. Jim eloquently drew the parallel – digital! It’s the best of times, the worst of times….. Speaking on behalf of Language Training Services, he explained why Macmillan is promoting e-learning alongside its face-to-face methodology courses.
It was wonderful to explore the IWB with an IWB in the room, kindly provided by Promethean in Madrid, and by tech re-sellers Audiocerver in Barcelona. In Madrid we were able to have a hands-on with the Promethean Learner Voting devices. In Barcelona, Pete waved the latest IWB book around, mentioning its alternative title of ‘400 ideas for teaching in the digital classroom with (or without) an interactive whiteboard’. A bit too much of a mouthful to catch on, maybe, and certainly not quite as snappy as ‘400 ideas for the IWB‘!
The morning was rounded off beautifully with the session from Trinity on the challenges and opportunities of digital media within English language assessment. This superbly brought into focus the bizarre spectacle of students (having grown up in the digital world) dumbing down for a test where they pick up a pen – ouch. Huge issues were raised in a superb PowerPoint showing not only the range of digital media being used today, but also the many skills used by successful language students in communication, and raised the central questions: what are we testing and how do we do it?
As a company, we at PSA are now keener than ever to organise successful follow-ups to the events. Pete is back in Barcelona in May to meet with attendees at the same venue, the British Consulate on Diagonal. Byron Russell and Pete are back in Madrid in June to enter discussions with schools, universities language training providers to discuss a range of services including teacher training in ICT, consultancy and bespoke materials creation.
Many thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Macmillan and Trinity, the superb support of the UK Government’s Department of Trade and Industry in both cities and to everyone who came along to join us in this essential debate.