Brighton is a place that is close to my heart. I had my first British ELT job in
Brighton at the Regent School of English between 1987 and 1989. I started an English through pop music option in the afternoon, took the students to see The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, the House of Love, the Pixies, My Bloody Valentine and many others at the Escape Club, the Zap Club and the Brighton Centre itself where this year’s IATEFL concert is taking place and I bought my first ever flat in Regency Square overlooking the sea on the top floor of the closest Regency building to the sea on the left in Landseer House (65/66 Regency Square).
After following ISTEK in Istanbul online last year and IATEFL Harrogate online on my own last year, albeit in the company of many tweeters round the world, I thought that this year we should do an event in Budapest where we actually watched bits of Brighton online in the company of other IATEFL Hungary members.
We talked about it at one of our meetings in the autumn and we found out that there was another big ELT conference on the same day as the Saturday of the IATEFL conference in Brighton, the annual NYESZE/OUP language schools conference. We decided to try and combine the two events.
You can see the programme here of the whole conference. We ended up with a one hour 50 minute slot in the afternoon and both the British Council Hungary and IATEFL Hungary promoted and advertised the event.
People could drop in and out and at any time and altogether we probably had an audience of about 40 throughout the afternoon.
We showed one recorded interview with Gavin Dudeney and two live interviews with Luke Meddings and Peter Grundy. I had been tweeting with Luke throughout the morning to see if he could organise an interview at the time that we had our session in Budapest and I was very happy that it all worked out and I’m very grateful to Luke for his part in this.
We had hoped to have a live link up through skype with our IATEFL Hungary representative at the conference, Németh Nóra, but her phone died on her just when we wanted to speak.
“The wifi just died in the middle of my skype chat with Tamas :(” This however didn’t detract from the overall spirit of the event.
On the whole, we tried to give a flavour of the atmosphere of Brighton, show the possibilities of teacher development through hooking up to events like this, and to communicate a positive attitude to online interaction in general through twitter and blogs.
Lőrincz Tamás, Csíky Anna (IATEFL-H committee members), Gergely Zita (British Council) and myself (IATEFL-H Culture and Literature SIG co-ordinator) moderated the event, the Director of the
BritishCouncil, Simon Ingram-Hill and his wife Ann Rossiter attended along with IATEFL- Hungary President Lindner Zsuzsa. Everybody contributed in different ways to the success of the event, we had snacks, drinks and a nicely decorated room and IATEFL Hungary members , if they wanted to, could just come to this part of the whole conference free of charge.
Feedback from three teachers who were there
These were the views of three of the teachers who came to our event:
“It’s remarkable to be part of what must now be a global audience for an international ELT conference. During our two hours at the IBS, we saw three great live interviews with leading figures from the world of teaching methodology, and were able to interact in real-time with conference participants via Twitter. It was also great to see so many familiar faces (as well as a few new ones) at the IBS. It was a shame we couldn’t speak to Nóra while she was at the event.” Philip Saxon
“To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from the session. I’d already been familiar with Brightonline, Twitter, #eltchat, using social media, PLN, etc. The new thing for me was how others, you, Anna, Tamás, Elek and others use all the things available through the Internet in terms of professional development. Probably it was your enthusiasm that added quite a lot to the experience. It was like how watching a football game at home is different from watching it with your buddies at the bar. I live in a small town, I’m not sure but I guess I am the only one around here with such “symptoms” (having a PLN), isolated though, boohoo :'(, it was definitely inspiring to meet like-minded people.
I’m constantly thinking about how similar sessions could be carried out in the future. It was amazing, your enthusiasm is just contagious!” Barbara Bujtás
“It was a fantastic experience to follow Brighton Online at the NYESZE conference, it was great to see how online tools can be used and not only talked or read about. The British Council and IATEFL Hungary provided not only the technical background but a cozy atmosphere for this event. With the help of Mark and Tamás ‘we’ commented on the online inteviews, it was a real interactive event. Mark’s excitement was sooooo powerful that all of us got enthusiastic too. I would like to take part in such an event next year again and will encourage others to attend it as well!” Agnes Bach
Thoughts for the future
For me this was one of the most exciting events I have been involved in in my 15 year involvement with IATEFL
Hungary. I think that doing a beam back from the big IATEFL conference and watching it should be a regular feature in the calendar of all teacher associations . It doesn’t cost much money but it does require enthusiasm and commitment. It could happen anywhere and it is a fantastic opportunity to come together with a group of teachers and experience the biggest ELT event in Europe.
Beth Cagnol, President of TESOL France tweeted this yesterday
“My colleagues at #TESOLFR had better be watching #IATEFL online. http://t.co/StOqz6V That’s a presidential order!! :-)”
There are two more days to go, I will be watching on my own from now, with fellow tweeters worldwide, but on Saturday afternoon the feeling of watching it with up to 40 other teachers in a pleasant environment with drinks and snacks was wonderful!
We are natural villagers
My overall feeling of our event in the words of Douglas Adams is this:
“We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.
Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them.”
Yesterday we tasted a bit of Brighton, not the fish and chips, not the sea air or the squarks of the seagulls but in a way we were there.
20th century Fox presents
Finally, at the beginning of our afternoon session, to warm everybody up, we showed Lindsay Clandfield’s video of IATEFLFenia. The lengendary British band of the sixties made a film in Brighton called Quadrophenia and this was Lindsay’s clever take on it.
Thanks for this account of the event – my excitement still lingers on. Also, congratulations on setting an inspiring model for this new genre of facilitation… quite a task!
was great doing something together again Zita. I love joint IATEFL/British Council events and I think there is a future in these kinds of online things. I honestly don’t think we’ve done anything like this before but may it be the first of many. Thanks ever so much for making the room so attractive!
Thanks for this account of the event, Mark. As you were saying just before we started, this was to be a major step in our process of sharing, collabaration and communication.
It was amazing to see that people would peek in and have a look at what was going on in the BrightOnline room. It was also heart-warming that people who said they would just stay for a few minutes were so engrossed that they ended up staying until the end of the event. It was terrific to be able to share our stories, experiences, love of learning with so many like-minded educators.
Thanks for your relentless optimism, good humour and enthusiasm which is like a source of energy for all of us perhaps a bit easier to get discouraged.
This was an amazing initiative and a fantastic experience; now let us start planning the next one….
was great working with you Tamás. And it was great that many people stayed for the whole two hours. I really enjoyed working with you and let’s make sure we do this kind of event more often. I really think this should be part of the calendar of every teacher association and all it takes is enthusiasm, co-operation and a few like-minded people. I love being part of and contributing to the ELT community here in Hungary.
Hi, Mark – what a great idea, many congratulations to you and your team. I love the idea of the online coverage of IATEFL forming part of conferences elsewhere, and delegates participating in IATEFL via Twitter. I was thinking about the experience you all had and wondering whether it could actually become a part of a school’s CPD programme? A school could set aside an hour or so to tap into the online conference and invite teachers to attend, perhaps. Or, maybe 2 or 3 schools in a particular area could set aside different conference days, and then attendees could meet [in real life or virtually] to ‘cascade’ what they had learned and the practical implications for them in their teaching context. Would that work, do you think? I know it’s quite a lot to organise, but it would enrich IATEFLfor those delegates attending there, and hopefully those delegates attending virtually too. I love the idea of teachers sitting together watching presentations and learning collectively. Reminds me of this song, which I always like: http://tiny.cc/pfx0r !
Many thanks – on behalf of the British Council Brighton Online Team – for reporting your event.
We’ve been promoting and supporting ways that teacher groups can hook up with our live IATEFL Online conference coverage for some years and it’s great to see examples of this.
Last year a British Coucil colleage in DRC rented out cyber cafes in Kinshasa and invited teachers to come and view our online coverage; the results and feedback were really impressive. Some teachers were walking 4 hrs to get to the cafes!
We hope that teachers continue to make use of all the content from Brighton Online over the next 12 months.
Many thanks once again
British Council Brighton Online Project Manager
This is something that can grow and grow… It really looks like IATEFL is becoming an ELT TED – a great source for professional development – maybe the next step is to beam sessions into the conference from around the world…. I always wonder why such an international event is always held in the UK.
It sounds like you all had a great time enjoying your ‘taste of Brighton’. For all the talk of how great it is to sit at home watching in your pyjamas, I think you’re really onto something here. This would be a great way to get those who have never experienced online coverage of a conference, or indeed a virtual conference, hooked on the concept.
Now, if we cold just have some fish n’ chips to go with it…