Interview with Kieran Donaghy


Kieran Donaghy is an award-winning writer, teacher
and trainer with a special interest in the use of film in
education. His website on the use of film in language
teaching Film English http://film-english.com/ has
won a British Council ELTons Award for Innovation in
Teacher Resources, the most prestigious European
media in education prize the MEDEA Award for User Generated
Media, and an English Speaking Union Award. He is the author of the methodology book on the use of film in language teaching Film in Action (DELTA Publishing). You can find out more about Kieran and his work at his website http://kierandonaghy.com/ 


(This interview was first published on the ELTA Serbia newsletter July-August 2016 issue )


Vicky: First of all, Kieran, I would like to say that it is a pleasure to have you with us.

Kieran Donaghy: Thank you very much for inviting me.

Vicky: Your last book, ‘Film in Action’ has been out for some time now and has truly
made an impact. This is the first one actually you are not co-authoring. What are the
challenges of writing a book on your own, without sharing the ‘load’ with someone

Kieran Donaghy: ‘Film in Action’ has been out for just over a year now, and it has a
lot of very positive reviews. My publisher, Delta Publishing, are very happy as sales
are very high for a methodology book. Writing a methodology book on my own was a
real challenge; I’d previously co-authored books and this has lots of advantages –
you share the workload, you can bounce ideas off each other, and you can help to
motivate each other when things get tough. When you write a book on your own it
can be a very solitary experience. However, I had the great fortune of having a truly
wonderful editor, Mike Burghal, who put his heart and soul into the project, and in
many ways it was as if I had a co-author in Mike as he helped guide me and motivate
me throughout the writing process. If the book is any good, at least half of the credit
has to go to Mike for the fantastic work he did on it.

Vicky: You are a fervent believer that films can play an important role in education.
What will this role be?

Kieran Donaghy: This is an excellent question which requires quite a detailed
answer. Firstly, we need to examine the role of film in society. Today, we acquire the
majority of our information through moving image media: the cinema, the television,
the internet, and the screens that surround us where we work, shop, travel, socialise,
and learn. Film is very much at the heart of these moving image media which are an
important and valuable part of our culture. Technological developments, such as the
advent of the internet and the digital revolution, the proliferation of mobile devices
which allow us to capture moving images easily, the introduction of cheap and
accessible video editing tools and the emergence of video-sharing sites such as
YouTube and Vimeo, have changed for ever the way moving images relate to
society. In his excellent book The Age of the Image, which I think is required reading
for any educator, Stephen Apkon argues: ‘What we are now seeing is the gradual
ascendance of the moving image as the primary mode of communication around the
world: one that transcends languages, cultures and borders. And what makes this
new era different from the dawn of television is that the means of production – once
in the hands of big-time broadcasting companies with their large budgets – is now
available to anyone with a camera, a computer and the will.’
The fact that children and young people now have access to technology which allows
them to become media producers in their own right has important consequences for
our society and educational system.
It would seem, therefore, to make sense for schools to focus on the moving image
and capitalise on students’ knowledge and enthusiasm. However, many teachers
believe that a focus on core issues in the curriculum does not allow time for films and
television. Furthermore, there is a tendency in society to assume that moving image
media are bad for children and could detract from ‘real’ education. On the whole, our
educational systems have been very slow to respond to the new visual technologies
and the ascendance of the moving image in our society.
In English Teaching and the Moving Image, Andrew Goodwyn comments on the
failure of our educational systems to embrace the moving image effectively: ‘Given
the prominence of the moving image in twentieth century culture, and the current
evidence that it seems to be even more dominant in the twenty-first, it may seem
more peculiar that its study is not at the heart of a postmodern education.’
To better understand this slow reaction of our educational systems to the new visual
technology and the dominance of the moving image, it is necessary to explore the
concept of literacy which is currently undergoing a radical change and its impact on
our educational systems.
Literacy has been traditionally linked to an alphabet or a language code – that is,
through reading and writing – and linked with print media. There has been a strong
dependence on linguistic theories to define literacy. Consequently, education has
been dominated for centuries by written language and by print in particular. For a
long period, the book was the dominant medium of communication. However, with
the challenge of a technologically evolving landscape and the ascendance of the
image, particularly the moving image, the screen has taken that place. The fact that
the book has now been superseded by the screen in the role of dominant medium of
communication means the definition of literacy as decoding print is now outdated and
deficient, we must combine language-based theory with semiotics (the study of signs
and symbols and how they are used) and other visual theories, to provide an
appropriate meaning to the term ‘literacy’ in the twenty-first century.
As literacy, in its broadest sense, now reflects a wider cultural competence, the
hugely important role of film in our culture and society should be sufficient
justification for ensuring their integration in our educational systems. The importance
of visual literacy in education is widely acknowledged. It is generally agreed that
education needs to develop students’ skills and ability to interpret image and to
communicate visually, and in schools there is a very gradual move away from a
reliance on print as the primary medium of dissemination and instruction towards
visual media and the screen. However, visual literacy and, more particularly, film
literacy are still absent from, or on the margins of, national and international policy
agendas. While the ‘traditional’ arts such as music, art and literature have long been
established as core elements of national curricula in many countries, film education
has typically been ignored. There is a lack of understanding by policy makers about
the importance of film in children’s lives and, as a consequence, in our educational
systems. There is also a lack of a structured, systematic opportunity for students to
watch, analyse, interpret and understand films, and even less opportunity for
students to make their own films as part of their overall preparation for adult life.
If students are to successfully meet the social, cultural, political and economic
demands of their futures, they need to be able to read and write in all forms of
communication. The film director George Lucas asks the pertinent question: ‘If
learners aren’t taught this new language of sound and images shouldn’t they be
considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read and write?’
Educating children and young people to be film literate is about democratic
entitlement and civic participation. The skills needed for the modern day workplace
are quite different from what they were even twenty years ago, yet our educational
systems seem to be caught in a time trap. In our schools, we urgently need the
introduction of structured, systematic opportunities for students to watch, analyse,
interpret and understand films, and opportunities for students to make their own films
as part of their overall preparation for life.
Educational programmes should make use of visual and digital media, and show
students how to make their own visual texts, which better prepare students for their
futures in a rapidly-changing world because, film-making develops many of the life
skills – such as communication, creativity, collaboration, innovation, conflict
management and decision making – that are increasingly valued in the modern-day
I’m sorry that my response has been so lengthy, but I hope it answers your question.

Vicky: Is there a visual language analogous to written language? How easy is it for
us teachers to teach our learners how to critically think about it?

Kieran Donaghy: Yes, there is undoubtedly a visual language which is analogous to
written language, but to comprehend this visual language we need to explore the
terms ‘text’, ‘to read’, and ‘to write’. Text has traditionally referred to a book or other
written or printed work. However, we can also use the terms ‘visual text’ to refer to
photos and paintings, and ‘moving image text’ to refer to feature films, clips, short
films and videos, as well as learner-generated content. They are texts, in the same
way that books are texts – in the sense that they can be read (analysed and
interpreted) and written (created). To read has been used for centuries to refer to the
action of decoding and understanding written or printed texts, and to write has
conventionally referred to the ability to communicate in writing or print.However, we
can also use the term ‘read the screen’ to mean to analyse and interpret moving
image texts, and the term ‘write the screen’ to mean to make moving image texts.
So it’s necessary not just to think of texts as only books, reports, books etc, but also
photos, paintings, videos, films, etc. When we understand that photos, painting,
videos and films are visual texts we see that we can analyse and interpret them.
Indeed print and moving image texts share many common textual strategies. Both
print and moving image texts:
• tell stories;
• differentiate between fact and fiction;
• present characters;
• convey a sense of place and context;
• include generic features that help us to recognise certain types of stories.
Research also shows there are many connections between the processes involved in
reading print texts and moving image texts. Children who are able to draw on these
connections and parallels between moving image texts and print texts are more likely
to become confident and critical readers across different media, including print.
The concept of narrative is fundamental in linking print and moving image media. By
exploring how a moving image text ‘tells a story’, children use the concrete examples
of the visual to develop their comprehension of the more abstract nature of written
Children’s understanding of narrative structure, and their ability to develop
understanding of characterisation and plot, are similar for both print and moving
image texts. Thus, print literacy and moving image literacy are not mutually
exclusive, but can be developed alongside each other to mutual benefit to enhance
learners’ understanding of all texts.
To answer the question about how easy is it for us teachers to teach our learners
how to critically think about it, I would say it can be very difficult as the vast majority
of teachers have received no specific training in visual literacy or media production. I
feel strongly that training in visual literacy and media production should become a
standard requirement for all teacher teaching training programmes so that teachers
can learn to teach communication in all its forms and build systematic opportunities
for their students to watch, analyse, interpret and understand moving images texts.
Sooner or later ELT has to deal with the issue of visual literacy, but seems very
reluctant to do so.

Vicky: Your very successful blog site, Film English, is now known and used by the
majority of ESL teachers worldwide. Updating such a blog regularly, like you have
been doing for years, with new lesson plans may, at some point, become a routine.
How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high with this project?
Kieran Donaghy: I’ve been writing lesson plans designed around short films for Film
English for the last 6 years. The site has been more successful than I ever imagined
even in my wildest dreams; there are about 35,000 subscribers and it gets about
10,000 page views a day. However, it’s very difficult to find the time to maintain it
regularly as I have full-time teaching schedule, do teacher training, speak at
conferences, write books and articles, as well as having a family. I used to add a new
lesson plan every week but that’s impossible now; I try to add new materials every 2
or 3 weeks now, but as I don’t charge anything for the materials and as I get more
requests to do writing projects which pay, and I need to pay my rent, it’s more difficult
to update the site regularly. Having said that, the positive feedback I get from
teachers around the world does help to maintain my enthusiasm and motivation. In
addition, Film English has always been a labour of love for me and I put a lot of
myself into the materials, so that also keeps me motivated.

Vicky: Where/how do you find the films you use in your lesson plans? How time consuming a process is it?

Kieran Donaghy: I find nearly all the short films I use on Film English on Vimeo
which is a video sharing site. What makes Vimeo different from YouTube is that it is
a relatively small community of film-makers who share their short films on the site;
you don’t get the overwhelming quantity of videos you get on YouTube, and the
quality of the short films is much higher; so it’s much easier to find high-quality,
artistic short films on Vimeo than it is on YouTube. On Vimeo I only watch films which
are on the Staff picks channel, which, as its name suggest, is a channel where the
people who work at Vimeo select what they think are the best short films. When I first
started writing materials for Film English it took me an incredible amount of time to
find the sort of short films which are effective in the language classroom. However,
now after having watched literally thousands of short films, I’ve got almost a sixth
sense for the type of film which will work well with language students, and it doesn’t
take me so long. Nonetheless, it’s still a very time-consuming process to find just the
right film!

Vicky: Kieran, thank you for your time!

Kieran Donaghy: An absolute pleasure, Vicky!


Interview with Olja Milošević, President of ELTA Serbia



Olja Milosevic has been involved in second and foreign language teaching at all levels in primary, secondary and tertiary education. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and is primarily interested in second language acquisition and maintaining mother tongue. Olja is also interested in teacher training.

(This interview appeared first on the ELTA newsletter May – June 2017)

Today I am interviewing a wonderful lady from the ELT world who also happens to be president of ELTA Serbia. I think we all deserve to know her better.


Vicky : Dear Olja, I am so happy you have agreed to do this interview with me!  You are the President of ELTA Serbia and a lot of people know you. But I am also sure that you are quite a private person and do not share a lot of details about yourself. Can you tell us a few things about you so that everybody gets to know you a bit more?


Olja : I live in Belgrade and I teach English as an additional language in the International School of Belgrade. I teach grade 6, 7, 11 and 12 students. They come from many different countries and teaching them is a privilege. In my spare time, I love to hike and to spend time in nature.


Vicky : Would you like to share with us something that most people do not know about your life (an achievement, a quality of your character that is not easily discerned , etc.) ?


Olja : Most people do not know that I taught English to the elderly. That was 65+ club, but many of them were well over 80. Teaching them was a great experience.


Vicky : You are a member of the C Group, among other things. In your bio for the C Group (Creativity Group) website, I read about you: She believes that only creative teachers could stay sane. Can you explain more about what you mean with this statement?


Olja : Teaching is a wonderful profession, but also a very stressful one. Including creative elements in my lessons helps me to ‘destress’ students and when they feel well, I feel well. Also, for me, being creative means doing things differently so you are not bored, and when I enjoy the class, there are better chances that my students will, too.


Vicky : What is your motto? What is the main belief that you follow in your life and guides you?


Olja : One of my teachers told us once that you may compare your life to a piece of writing. One of his rules was that each essay we write should have a margin. The margin makes writing easy to read and pleasing to the eye. To have a successful life you need to draw a margin (a line)  and have a life outside of work / school / university. I love my job, but there are so many other things that are important and not related to it.


Vicky: We were only introduced last year for the first time but I was pleasantly surprised by you because, most of the times, women in leadership positions, have frequently be described as unapproachable, dominant and/or  aggressive. You, on the other hand, are a very warm and kind person. Theorists argue that this has been the case with women because in trying to attain these power positions they  have to assume a more male role in order for them to be identified as ‘leaders’ themselves. Do you think that strong women today can balance between power  embracing their femininity more successfully, when they are in leadership positions?


Olja : I am not sure if I could act any other way. Part of it is my Balkan background. When we have guests, our sole aim is to make them feel happy and you were our dear guest, Vicky.
As for leadership, there are different leadership styles and I just happen to be comfortable with being approachable.


Vicky: What makes you such a successful President in ELTA Serbia? What are the main difficulties that you have to overcome every day?


Olja : Thank you so much for your words of praise. However, the words of praise should go to the whole team. And I guess that the success comes because we all work hard on different aspects to promote and develop our association.  My biggest difficulty would be the lack of time.


Vicky : What are your plans for the future?


Olja : We are trying to develop a self sustained project for teachers. That will be my big project for the next academic year.


Vicky :  Thank you so much for your time and for answering my questions. It has been an honour!


Did I tell you I worked in tobacco fields? by Vicky Papageorgiou




I had a wonderful childhood. I come from a middle class family, in some ways typical, in some other ways quite unconventional. My brother and I grew up surrounded with love. We lived in a small pack. Our grandma raised us since she lived with us. My parents worked hard. Every summer, and after  schools closed, we would spend our holidays somewhere near the sea. Every August though, we did something different. Totally different for two city children.

In Western Greece, there is a small village up on the mountains very close to the borders with Albania. It is called Oinoi. Pontic Greeks live there, immigrants who moved back to Greece  from Asia Minor in the beginning of the century. Ionians. Very tough and rough people. But generous.

I have family there, not related to them by blood but still family. From the age of 8 and until I was 15, my parents would send me, my brother and my grandma there for about a month. Or less. Every year! Why? To help them out with farming. They needed hands. Working hands. And they could not afford to pay for them.

The mother and the father of that family would wake up every day at 4 o’clock in the morning to go to the fields. Did I tell you what they cultivated? Tobacco! A lot of acres. They would return home at around midday, with their baskets filled with tobacco leaves and  all of us the children (5 in total) would follow them and go under a poorly set up shed, would sit on the ground, cross our legs, and would start work. We had to lay the tobacco leaves in a certain position and ‘sew’ them together. Afterwards, hung on tiers we would let them wilt in the large barn . Until the merchants would come to buy them. And that would mean that then the family could make it through the winter.

We used large needles to ‘sew’ the leaves. For years that family could not even afford machines which would do that. We had to do it by hand. Also, for years they did not even have electricity out in the shed. Only in the house. We normally had to stay up until 8-9 p.m. in the shed to finish working on the day’s harvest and hang everything in the barn. And we used gas lamps for light late in the evening.

My grandma would spend the day cleaning up their two-storey house, kitchen, yard, etc. And she would also cook for all of us. Every day a different dish. Because the family that hosted us normally fed on freshly baked bread, feta cheese, tomato and olives. They rarely cooked. They did not have time to cook. Nor had they ever had the luxury to learn how to. They were rough mountain people. The women did not know how to cook the complex dishes that my grandma prepared (I come from a family of cooks and restaurant owners – but that’s another story in itself).

So, anyway, in this way the rest of us could concentrate on working hard with the tobacco harvest. Have you ever touched tobacco leaves, by the way? They stick on your hands! So much so that your hands get seriously rough in the end that no hand cream can soften.

I could talk for hours or could write whole pages about these summers I spent there. Working hard daily (weekends included) but having fun, incredible fun every day. We worked for hours, never complained and learned how to live in the countryside and appreciate it as well.

Did I mention we were never paid? There was never a matter of payment . Because they were family. Though no blood related. And because our parents wanted to teach us a few valuable lessons. Volunteering being the biggest one. Giving without necessarily asking to receive back.

Why am I telling you this story? I am a strong advocate of volunteerism. I have been working pro bono since I started working, after the age of 18. In multiple ways. And I did it consciously, it did not just happen because I needed to acquire certain skills, I needed to train. Ever since I remember myself, I felt the need to give back to the community and so I contributed in various ways. I made sure I worked and earned enough money to pay my bills and survive and then I did pro bono work, too. The people who know me also know I am a hard worker. And a dedicated one. I also like to believe I have a strong work ethic and so I  do not differentiate between pro bono and paid work. Both of them are done with the same diligence.

I believe that volunteering can help people develop skills, but it also promotes goodness and it can also improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. It is an altruistic activity and there is nothing superior to being able to give to others without the expectation of gaining anything back (UN volunteers, 2006). Not because it makes you ‘feel’ superior! But because it makes you feel humble.  Because a true volunteer is someone who put themselves in someone’s shoes. Not someone who looks at them from above!

Now, what triggered all this? I work in education. You already know that. What I am sure you also must know is how much I value open education, open access, open data. ‘A lack of access to information hinders learning, stifles innovation and slows scientific progress’, says Erin McKiernan (McKiernan, 2014). Today more than ever we need open educational resources. They are important for developing countries, for students who may not be able to afford textbooks, where access to classrooms may be limited, and where teacher-training programs may be lacking. They are also important for young or older researchers who cannot afford the publications which are under a pay wall. Also, OERs are to their greatest degree digitized and so they represent an opportunity to have one’s own materials enhanced (Anyangwe, 2011).. The material can be modified, transformed by other faculty around the world, so the modifications and additions can be countless and can lead to a work stronger than the original. The possibilities are utterly immense.

imagesBesides their increasing importance for developing countries, they are also important in wealthy industrialized countries, where they can offer significant cost savings. Cost savings are directly linked to open data and OER generally (Salomon, 2008). For these resources to keep the cost low though, they largely depend on volunteers (Eve, 2004). Volunteers who will write, select, edit materials, curate the websites, etc. And this is exactly the point I am trying to make.

I am one only of a great number of people who work tirelessly (dedicating their non-existent free time a lot of times!) and without payment trying to provide free education and open educational resources within the ESL world. In hard times like the ones we are living in, keeping education and educational resources open benefits teachers, research and  students worldwide. By doing so, we serve a not elitist and cost free education and training for thousands of citizens. Besides the downsides of such a venture (quality of materials, quality of peer review, etc.), the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and this is why OER should remain open.

However, what is free tends to be considered of lower quality as well. While in some cases it is true that quality is not optimal yet at all instances, we need to keep in mind that the movement of keeping educational resources open is still in its beginning, relatively  anyway, and has a long way ahead of it. Yet, one more thing to consider is that we should shift the focus on the openness of the resources and services and not on the fact that they are offered for free. The fact that they are available to everybody so that education is not limited to the few. We are building a more democratic society in this way as well as a more inclusive one. Even with all the downsides this might entail, I would still stand up for it and I am!

This text serves as my response to people who recently seem to not have respected or appreciated our work as volunteers in this sector.


· Anyangwe, E. (2011, October 25). Exploring open access in higher education. The Guardian.  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2011/oct/25/open-access-higher-education
·         Eve, M.P. (2004). Open access and the humanities. Available from : https://books.google.gr/books?id=O7UkBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=do+open+access+journals+depend+on+volunteering&source=bl&ots=0rNKuP8qE7&sig=OUufnMolsMYP0ESXPj3nvUL2BEY&hl=el&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjZytjNlL_WAhWqK5oKHU-4Ato4FBDoAQglMAA#v=onepage&q=do%20open%20access%20journals%20depend%20on%20volunteering&f=false
·         McKiernan, E. (2014, August 22). University research: if you believe in openness, stand up for it. The Guardian.  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/aug/22/university-research-publish-open-access-journal
·         Salomon, D. (2008). Developing Open Access Journals: A Practical Guide. Available from https://books.google.gr/books?id=CLSoAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA53&lpg=PA53&dq=do+open+access+journals+depend+on+volunteering&source=bl&ots=N4EpPhhVp1&sig=dRpdlcSwJd08u8T_L7fGuyIPa44&hl=el&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjq4PT9kr_WAhWKO5oKHXDBA9sQ6AEIbDAJ#v=onepage&q=do%20open%20access%20journals%20depend%20on%20volunteering&f=false
·         UN volunteers. (2006, September  5). The power of volunteerism. [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.unv.org/volunteerism/power-volunteerism


«Creativity in the Twenty-First Century Book Series»

Interested in creativity research? submit your book proposal to this series, Creativity in the Twenty First Century http://www.springer.com/series/13859
«Creativity in the Twenty-First Century Book Series» repositions «creativity» as a boundary-crossing discipline that is essential to learning and teaching, social-economic dialogues, academic discourses and cultural practices, as well as technological and digital communications. The series serves as a timely platform, bringing together like-minded scientists and researchers around the world to share their diverse perspectives on creativity and to engage in open and productive inquiries into promoting creativity for a more peaceful and harmonious world. Researchers and practitioners from all continents are invited to share their discipline-specific insights, research orientations and cultural practices, as well as to pose new questions on what creativity is, how to promote it, which directions to pursue, who should participate, and so on.

The book series is led by emerging eminent and senior scientists, researchers, and educators in the fields of creativity, psychology, the cultural sciences and education studies. They create networks of sharing and spread innovative publishing opportunities within the communities of practice. They invest considerable time and effort in deepening creativity expertise, structuring creativity programs, and organizing creativity activities for the communities of interest. The book series aims not only to «glue together» like-minded scientists (community of practice) to share benefits of creativity theorizing, research and practice, but also to encourage non-experts (community of interest) in all societies to become supporters and spokespersons of positive engagement in creative learning, teaching and dialogues.

Book proposals for this series may be submitted to the Publishing Editor: Lawrence Liu
Email: Lawrence.Liu@springer.com

Interview with Shelly Terrell

For over a year now, I have started interviewing several people of the ELT world for the ELTA Serbia newsletter and I am now going to share these interviews on my blog. I hope you find them interesting. My first interview was with the lovely Shelly Terrell. Here it goes.

Interview with Shelly Sanchez Terrell

by Vicky Papageorgiou

(This interview appeared first on the ELTA March-April 2016 issue )



Shelly Sanchez Terrell is an international speaker, teacher trainer, elearning specialist, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert and has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times,  NPR, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the Big 10: Most Influential People Transforming EdTech by Tech & Learning (2015). In 2015, she founded Edspeakers to help spread diverse voices at education conferences worldwide.


Url- http://ShellyTerrell.com

Twitter handle- @ShellTerrell


Vicky : Hi! First of all, I would like to say that it is a pleasure to have you as a guest.

Shelly : It’s my pleasure. Whenever I can meet up with friends, even virtually, I try to make the time.

Vicky : I know that you are extremely busy every day trying to juggle an amazing number of tasks successfully so I‘d like to ask you to describe a typical day of yours.

Shelly : I have two types of typical days. If I’m not traveling, my day consists of at 1 to 3 virtual trainings with teachers either via a webinar or learning management system (LMS), grading, updating websites, phone call meetings for consultations or projects, conducting interviews, and hours on social media (Twitter, FB, Instagram, Voxer, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, my blog, etc.) for my various passion projects and as one of the social media managers for American TESOL. Most of my day is spent creating and designing content. Typically, I write at least one blog post or article a day, create a lesson plan, and do some graphic design. I also help at least one or more teachers find resources.

I travel at least 100 days a year and usually more. When I travel, I do most of the rest above in addition to giving keynotes and workshops in countries worldwide.

Vicky : Can you tell us where you are teaching/working currently?

Shelly : Currently, I work for American TESOL as an instructional designer, social media specialist, and instructor for the course I designed, ESLTEC.com. I also work as an ESL Specialist for the U.S. Embassy and Georgetown University. I also manage the various projects I’ve founded, which include The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers (30Goals.com) and Edspeakers.com.

Vicky : You initiated the movement called ‘30EduGoals’ and hundreds  of teachers followed you and started writing, reflecting on their practice and blogging because of you. How does it feel really to be able to have an impact on so many people from different cultural backgrounds and different countries?

Shelly : I feel really blessed to be able to inspire and help teachers worldwide. Teachers are what help shape the world. I still pinch myself and am in awe that teachers complete the goals and share their passion with me daily.

Vicky : Your book is already a big hit. Do you have any future plans for a new book?

Shelly : I also published Learning to Go with The Round. I’m working on a few projects including a digital citizenship book, Byte-Sized Potential in a Digital World of Possibilities. This one involves lessons to help students learn science, math, and English, but also impact their world through social media. I’ve already tested out some activities with teachers worldwide and give some free templates on my blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, such as the student epic selfie adventure and creating hashtag movements. I am working on a lesson book based on the use of emoticons and emojis for writing and literacy. I also do creative writing and am working on finishing my second novel.

Vicky : I also know you are a visiting lecturer in Venezuela (or is this a permanent position? – You have to enlighten me here). How easy is it to teach in another country? What can be the possible problems?

Shelly : I love the teachers in Venezuela. I have many close friendships there now. VENTESOL has adopted me into their family and I’m thankful especially to VENTESOL President, Mary Allegra, who has created the many projects to have me visit and work with such a dedicated group. I am fortunate the U.S. Embassy and VENTESOL have continued to bring me back to help them develop and design online courses at the universities, train teachers on how to integrate technology and mobile learning, and help institutions develop their own textbooks.

Vicky : When DO you find some free time for your private life with such a busy schedule?

Shelly : I have to make time and will often send myself Google calendar reminders to take time off. I’ve learned to let go of perfection in my work and be satisfied with great work but having a life. When I travel to other countries, I take time to visit with friends and go on adventures. When I’m with friends, family, or loved ones, I put down my phone and other digital devices so I can give the moments the attention they deserve. Of course, this is a learning process and in the beginning I wasn’t so great at taking time for myself. I’ve realized it is really important so I keep up with my health, spirit, and passion.

Vicky : Thank you so much for your time!


Conference on Creativity in Language Learning and Teaching Research

The Conference will be held on 23 September 2016(The Open University, Milton Keynes).

Proposals – which should be a maximum of 250 words long and accompanied by a short title and a 100-word bio note – should be emailed to creativity.research.llt@gmail.com by Friday 6 May 2016.

You can find more details here : Conference on Creativity in Language Learning and Teaching Research

CALL for Special Issue on: Deploying Creative, Disruptive and Gamified Interventions for Lifelong learning

From now on, I will occasionally share some calls for papers for various issues, journals, all of them related  to creativity, Art in ESL, etc.

The first one is a CALL for a Special Issue on: Deploying Creative, Disruptive and Gamified Interventions for Lifelong learning. You can find the actual call here : http://globaloperationsdivision.net/capitalising-creativity/


International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning

Special Issue on: Deploying Creative, Disruptive and Gamified Interventions for Lifelong learning

Possible (sub)topics are:

  1. Fostering Creative mindsets through Serious Games and Gamification strategies
  2. Capitalising Creativity
  3. Fun and positive mood as the common elements in Creativity, Games and Learning from a Lifelong Learning perspective.
  4. An Analyst, an Insightful or both?
  5. Context-aware real time creativity and disruptive innovation in Lifelong Learning
  6. Collaborative Creativity in Education
  7. Collaborative Global Dual Ecosystems for Open Work/Learning Flow Competencies
  8. Designing, developing, sharing and repurposing games as a creative process
  9. Assessment and Feedback Progress Indicators as metrics for creative learning analytics
  10. The role of emotional intelligence in creative thinking
  11. Incidental creative learning in games / gamification
  12. Game Authoring Environments for creating, sharing and repurposing games
  13. Mapping creativity-related learning attributes to game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics.

 Deadlines for submission

 Submission open: November 1 2015

Submission deadline: February 1 2016

Final feedback and acceptance: May 2016

Expected publication: September 2016


Authors are not restricted to these topics but submissions must provide relevant related topics within the remit this special issue.

Authors should prepare their manuscript according to the Instructions for Authors available from the online submission page of the International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning. All the papers will be peer-reviewed following the IJCEEL procedures.

Any specific instructions for submissions

Papers will be submitted directly to the Guest Editors. To submit a paper, you can send one copy in the form of an MS Word or PDF file attached to an e-mail to the Guest Editors (their names and contact details can be found in the actual call – the link is provided in the beginning).

Please contact Dr. Piet Kommers (Kommers@edte.utwente.nl) with any queries concerning this special issue.

[EdTech Insights] How to Choose the Right MOOC

A new post I wrote is among the Top Stories today on the EdTech Review India , so I am sharing it with you. You can find it here : http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/2101-choosing-massively-open-online-courses?utm_source=EdTechReview%E2%84%A2+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b6b5cb0c6e-Newsletter_2015_September_1_9_4_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_94aed71205-b6b5cb0c6e-105661749


When choosing the right MOOC to attend, the main points to consider are:

  • The course length and estimated weekly workload  – You can check this out before the course begins.
  • Who the instructors are – there is often a short biography of the course instructors. Knowing who your teachers are and their academic background is important. It might also a great motivation to choose a course, especially if it involves popular online teachers! More important is perhaps to check if they are experienced in online teaching or if this is the first time they are putting together a MOOC. This might give you an idea of how well organized and planned the course will be.
  • The course syllabus – You want to make sure this is what you are really looking for before you begin a course.
  • The course format – will it be delivered by video, audio, written text etc? Although, sometimes it finally proves not so terribly important, a lot of people are attracted to the variety of ways a course is delivered.
  • Don’t judge a course by its videos. Some online courses are amazing with their graphics and animations and artfully shot sequences, while others just show a professor in front of a camera. Test out a class for a couple of weeks to be able to evaluate the instructor’s commitment and knowledge. Just because an online course environment is not very hi-tech, it does not mean that the instructor(s) are not going to make it worth  to attend it.
  • Course Schedule (Scheduled MOOC versus Self-Paced MOOC) – Some courses allow you to join the course anytime that you want to, while  others need you to follow the university semester program. Keep into consideration any other commitments that you have and try to decide wisely between the two types.
  • Determine the amount of time you have to devote to a course – Even though courses allow you to generally work at your own pace, there are still requirements that have to be met in order to successfully complete the course. Especially if you are seriously considering to complete all the assignments offered so that you can claim a certificate at the end of the course. Think about how engaged you can be and then determine how much time you’ll have to spend on the course each week. Most courses today give you an estimated amount of time needed to devote each week. Check that out before you join.
  • Tangible portfolio – In other words, keep in mind you need to prepare a collection of materials that validate your skills and reputation. So, go with a portfolio that will let you increase your chances of getting hired in the future. Choose a course or a series of courses that will help you create a project in the end that showcases what you learn to a prospective employer.
  • Remember: there is no consistency between classes. The various platforms hosting the courses might set the framework and provide support but  it’s the professors and schools behind each course design the curriculum, create the content and set the class requirements. Make sure you pay attention to its assignment policies, once you’ve registered for a class. Different Universities, different instructors, different planning. Some courses do not ask you to submit anything until the very end. For others, you might be asked to engage to submit some work even in the end of the second week. Not to mention the professors who are trying out classes for the first time, so the result is that policies may change  as the professors learn what works.

Remember though! Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy the trip!

Be Creative! – An Interview with Vicky Papageorgiou (@vpapage)

My interview to Vicky Loras!

Vicky Loras's Blog

Vicky Papageorgiou Vicky Papageorgiou

Our February interview is HERE! This time, with a great educator from Thessaloniki, Greece – Vicky Papageorgiou! Vicky and I met in person last year for the first time and she is the amazing generous person you can see on social media, engaging every day and sharing great content.

Vicky Papageorgiou is a foreign language teacher (English, Italian, Greek) with approximately 20 years of experience with mainly adult learners. For over 15 years she has been preparing students for English language exams of various exam boards. She holds an MA in Education (Open Univ. of Cyprus) and an MA in Art (Goldsmiths College, UK) and she is currently studying at University of Wales Trinity Saint David for her PGCE in Technology Enhanced Learning. She studied in Greece, Italy and the UK but also participated in an international project for the McLuhan program in Culture and Technology for the University of Toronto, Canada. Her fields of interest are Inquiry-Based Learning, ESL and Art, translation, use of video. She is currently based…

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