March 2016
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MAKING CONNECTIONS
Suzan Stamper, Yew Chung Community College, Hong Kong

For each newsletter, I invite members to answer a set of questions:

  • What is your favorite platform?
  • What is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
  • What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
  • What was your favorite CALL creation?
  • What are you working on now?
  • What area would you like to see developed/researched?
  • What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
  • What is your funniest CALL-related incident?

I hope you enjoy this space to compare experiences, share advice, nurture inspiration, and make connections within our community.

Please e-mail me if you have suggestions or contributions to "Making Connections."

Christel Broady

Christel Broady, an award-winning teacher, teacher trainer, internationally known keynote speaker, and author/coauthor of books, articles, and social media, has been serving the ELT profession, TESOL, and CALL in many capacities. Christel runs an ELT Professional Learning Community (PLC), which can be found on Facebook (Broadyesl), on her blog, LinkedIn (Christel Broady), and Twitter. The PLC is free for anyone who would like to join members of 179 countries.

Affiliation: Georgetown College

Years in the CALL-IS: More than 5

Q: What is your favorite platform?
A: I LOVE Google for just about everything!!! For online teaching, Canvas. For Blogs, Wordpress.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: Google, hands down.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: Colleagues from all over the world.

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: ELT Professional Learning Community…It is a resource and place of sharing for ELT professionals worldwide, ESL and EFL alike.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am a TESOL columnist for CALL topics [EdTech in ELT, which appears bimonthly in TESOL Connections].

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: To be developed: Putting together international members in sharing so that nobody will "reinvent the wheel" but instead build on each other's work more effectively. Also, to be more pointed in resources—to clearly distinguish between ESL, EFL, or both—so that professionals can find resources for their own areas easier. To be researched: Technology use’s effect on the brain and neuroplasticity.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: 1)Hang out at the Electronic Village as much as possible; 2) get to know others there and build a network; 3) attend hot CALL sessions to see who in the field shares your interests, and connect with them; and 4) share your name as a volunteer for the next convention.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: The incident I remember most was not as much funny (at least for me) as it is memorable: I was supposed to present at one of CALL's academic sessions when I had to accept an award at the same time. The CALL academic session panel worked around my absence while I ran a LONG distance to the award location, accepting and running right back to the session. I was totally out of breath and barely made it back on stage. In the end it worked out and all was good.

Vance Stevens

Vance has worn many hats in his career as an instructor of ESOL, ranging from being a teacher to full- and part-time CALL coordinator, consultant, and software developer. He has been practicing CALL since 1979 and researched an aspect of it for his MA thesis in 1983, and he has since then published well over a hundred articles, reviews, and book chapters on CALL. He has nurtured many CALL-related projects and communities of practice, most notably as cofounder of the CALL Interest Section in 1984, but more recently as cofounder of Webheads in 1998, moderator of the first Webheads in Action EVO session, coordinator of EVO and editor of the TESL-EJ On the Internet section since 2002, founder and host of the podcast series Learning2gether since 2010, and chief organizer of several EVO communities such as Multiliteracies/MultiMOOC for about 10 years, and the EVO Minecraft MOOC, now in its second year.


Affiliation: English Faculty, Higher Colleges of Technology, CERT, KBZAC, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Years in the CALL-IS: 32

Q: Favorite platform?
A: For serious work, PC. I like iPad for certain functionalities.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: Google Docs followed closely by PBWorks.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: Google was quite unexpected at the time, but it has become the source of all information. Facebook and Twitter also, and in that order.

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: That I helped create? Traci Talk.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: Learning2gether has laid down almost 320 podcasts now. EVO Minecraft MOOC is in its second year, but this is turning out to be my new passion.

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: Something to emulate what Technorati did in its early days, and that is, a tool where you can type in a tag and get content associated with that tag across the web, including tagged blog posts created by novice bloggers (i.e., your students) and have it effectively filter for spam.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: Long, long ago we used to debate the extent to which computers could facilitate learning, as in CALL, and it turned out it wasn't the computers per se but the uses to which they were put, some appropriate and insightful, but some simply replicating educational paradigms that had gone before and were no longer relevant.

I would advise the newbie to get beyond CALL. Almost everything contains a computer these days, to the point that the notion of CALL is meaningless. We have to think about how these computers in so many devices can best serve the interests of education at the highest levels of simulation and critical thinking. One direction I've suggested is SMALL (social media–assisted language learning) but others are MALL (mobile-assisted) and so on. My advice is to break with CALL and pursue the next meaningful acronym that refines what aspects of CALL are most useful for discrete purposes, the purpose most relevant to the newbie.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: I'll have to think about it. I have to be careful not to implicate long-time colleagues.

Suzan Stamper

Suzan is a senior lecturer and English language team leader at Yew Chung Community College in Hong Kong. She has been an active member of CALL-IS since 1995 and has served the interest section in various roles: two elected 3-year terms as chair/chair-elect/past chair (2001–2004 & 2009–2012), newsletter editor, columnist, community manager, listserv manager, Internet Fair coordinator, and presenter.

Affiliation: Yew Chung Community College, Hong Kong

Years in the CALL-IS: 21

Q: Favorite platform?
A: Mac.

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?
A: It's hard to choose—anything Google or my iPhone.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?
A: I get a lot of inspiration from Facebook—from friends posting about their interests, news articles, or educational sources (e.g., Free Technology for Teachers).

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?
A: In the mid-1990s, I worked in a CALL lab at the University of Kansas and started making simple webpages that were mainly lists of links. At the time, I felt quite isolated in my interests and enjoyed the community of electronic listservs like NETEACH. I remember posting URLs for some holiday webpages on NETEACH and getting quite a few positive responses from teachers in different countries. That inspired me to make more and more webpages. Looking back, those pages weren't my best creations, but they encouraged me to learn more.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: Mostly classroom applications of what interests me. I would like to be involved again in a local community of practice. At Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, I was in two communities. My first was podcasting (2008–2009) and that was followed by an interdisciplinary iPad group (2010–2012). In Hong Kong, I have been involved with two communities: a community of practice with mobile technologies group and a BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, group (2013–2014).

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?
A: It's difficult to think of just one area. I will say that I like to attend two to three technology conferences a year to hear more about what others are doing and researching.

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?
A: Volunteer! Volunteer to do something with the CALL Interest Section! Volunteer for an Electronic Village event! Volunteer to run for the Steering Committee or write an article for the newsletter or post something on our listserv. Come to the CALL open meeting in Baltimore to see how you can get more involved. One of the first things I did was volunteer in the Electronic Village and attend a CALL Interest Section meeting. That year (1995), I made quite a few TESOL acquaintances, many of whom are now friends, advisors, and collaborators. Over the years, I have greatly benefited from my time in our CALL community, which is one reason that I enjoy writing this column.

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?
A: This wasn't funny at the time, but it makes me smile now. I remember the very first time I saw a webpage loading. It might have been the fall of 1991. I was in a graduate Educational Communications class at the University of Kansas. The professor clicked on the mouse of one of those old square gray Macintosh Classic computers. As we stood around the computer waiting for the page to slowly load, the professor told us that the information was coming from Japan. It was amazing—the other side of the world!


 Suzan is a senior lecturer and English language team leader at Yew Chung Community College in Hong Kong. She has been a CALL-IS member since 1995.

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