17 January 2022
As we all know by now, 2021 turned out to be yet another year of global challenges and widespread suffering due to the evolving situation with COVID-19. Nevertheless, we were able to build on a number of the lessons learned in 2020, engaging in some creative forms of online, hybrid and hyflex teaching, as well as learning from colleagues at well-organised, primarily online conferences and other professional development events. Clearly, problems of access and accessibility remain around much of the world, often tied to a lack of hardware, software and/or connectivity, but at the same time online events open up new possibilities of participation for many.
I was honoured to be invited to give keynotes for ALLT in Taiwan, and for GloCALL in Malaysia, where I reflected on the growing importance of mobile devices in learning languages, and the growing possibilities both for widening participation (mostly, though certainly not exclusively, in the Global South) and for increasing innovation (mostly, though again far from exclusively, in the Global North). In these presentations, I spoke about how mobile and other digital devices might play a role in catering to ever more diverse cohorts of learners – hence my reflections on superdiversity, as seen in my presentation slide in this blog entry – and suggested that there is simultaneously a need to help learners develop a greater array of digital literacies.
In a year when physical travel was still very constrained, I felt lucky to be able to stay seated at my desk in my home office while conversing and debating with colleagues from around the world. The downside of participating in conferences or PD events from home is that we lack the bracketed time for teaching, learning and reflecting which we have at physical conferences, and we’re often drawn away from the conference or PD schedule by ongoing day-to-day work commitments in our local environment. But the upside is the relative ease and affordability of attending these globally networked events. Even if face-to-face conference attendance becomes more common again in the future, I’d certainly hope that we see many, if not most, conferences operating in hybrid mode, giving more diverse educators a chance to attend, and attendees a chance to regularly encounter more diverse voices. In an increasingly superdiverse world, recognising and promoting and interacting with all forms of diversity should be fundamental to education and to the PD of educators.