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Background and Planning Archive

Back to Workshops presented by Vance Stevens
July 19 - 31, 2004, in Mahdia, Tunisia

Nadia (looking away, and her sister Samia) and Mongi and Adel

This year's workshops | Workshop rationale | Workshop activities | Online collaboration | Bibliography | Pictures

These workshops were intended to combine lectures and demonstrations with hands-on workshops and activities involving participants with a view to giving participants ideas, methods and materials they will be able to put to immediate use in their own classrooms. The course objectives are to introduce concepts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects in preparatory and secondary schools, digital content, production and exploitation, online tutoring, management and optimization of ICT spaces and networks and ICT quality control.

This was at least the original mandate. The focus for the workshops has changed to "basically hands-on sessions with a simulation of tutoring based on the TVS material - which you will see when in Mahdia ... You could use the TVS portal or any other web resources - provided the participants get trained in giving feedback to learners when they access the online material. "


The Tunisian Ministry of education started the tradition of holding Summer Institutes more than 10 years ago. Dozens of training seminars are held every summer and thousands of elementary and secondary school teachers are invited to join various seminars according to their needs and career promotion requirements. There are approximately 4500 Secondary school teachers of English, supervised by 26 senior trainers called inspectors, who determine the training needs and hold workshops accordingly throughout the year.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has had a Virtual School,, and assigned one inspector (Ms. Hela Bargaoui) as national coordinator. All +550 secondary schools are equipped with some form of computer labs and Internet connections. Despite some seminars and workshops having been held on the integration of ICT in language teaching, more time is needed for these to realize their full potential.

Last year's Summer Institute trainers were Martha Clark Cummings, and Ingrid Bowman, who worked extensively with Nicenet, as well as with other sites, which are recorded in our workshop blog at, and in the listing below of links from Ingrid's class:

This year's workshops:

The seminar will be hosted in a modern Institute with rooms equipped with ten computers each, all connected to the Internet. Classrooms may remain open all day long in case of exercises or personal projects.

The idea is to gather two groups of 15 secondary school teachers, already acquainted with computers, CALL and the Internet, to train them further in "On-line tutoring" so that they act later as relays with other teachers. There will be one group of 15 per week.Workshops/sessions start with breakfast at 8 AM and finish at 1 PM with a 30 mn break around 11 AM. I am working with Ms. Dalel Mokni, an English teacher with ICT portfolio seconded to the INBMI.

Prior to arrival I was told: Students have an official syllabus and a textbook which the teacher uses in regular classes (within walls of a classroom). These are different from what the students find online through the TVS. Material available is a series of interactive activities that supplement the textbook and the classical, formal instruction.

The site of the TVS is: (evt is the French for TVS). To have a look at the activities suggested by the tutors.

My comments: At the first URL I was able to browse around the site and examine the exercises but could not see how the students submitted their work or how the tutors would respond to it. This is why I asked how the tutors responded to the students. In answer I was directed to but this appears to be a portal site for Tunisia Internet and I was not able to discern how this site would be used between tutors and students.

I was told this would be explained when I arrive, so I plan to spend much of the first day getting the participants to create blogs and register them at a Yahoo Group we'll start and then document for me what principles they think especially apply to what they are doing.

This is the interaction I envisaged prior to arrival, based on the foregoing information

Time/Day Monday
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 24
8:00-9:30 Meet and discuss expectations of tutor/student relationship according to MOE in Tunisia Make sure everyone is registered on YahooGroup and has a blog with links. Start discussion of principles of tutoring based on presentation of blogs.

Other topics might include:

  • Asynchronous feedback
  • Synchronous feedback

Other topics might include:

  • Create our own web spaces using free host providers
:9:30-11:00 Principles of tutoring online, which apply? - In groups, explore sites and compile lists of applicable principles, record URLs and other notes in a text editor Not sure how it will go here. Much depends on the participants' assessment of their expectations being met, and our adjustments to ensure that they are.
  • Use of voice feedback
  • Use of web cams
  • Put pictures up at our free web spaces
11:00 break       Webheads presentatoin at Online workshop with teacher trainers in Maracaibo    
11:30-13:00 Introduction to Yahoo Groups and blogs

Other topics might include:

  • Student tutor simulations
  • By now we should be taking pictures, so we can put some up at Ofoto
  • Create online materials that link to those pictures
13:00-14:00 Everyone starts a blog. Transfer computer-based notes to your blogs for presentation to others (in class and around the world)
  • Start decorating our blogs
  • Learn just enough HTML to make links and embed pictures in blogs
  • Communities involved in global online tearcher professional development
  • Discuss what we're doing using synchronous text, voice, and video tools and chat spaces
Devoirs Register for the class Yahoo Group and put a link to your personal blog in the Links section of that group. Add any other links there that you think others in the class should particularly have a look at. Experiment with 'dressing up' blogs with a smattering of HTML coded links, pics, whatnot (my own students go overboard with javascripts! :-) Compile a list of e-Learning resources you think particularly applicable to the student/tutor setting here in Tunisia
  • Concordancing as tutorial feedback
Special online collaborative activities Online workshop with teacher trainers in Maracaibo begins today Online workshop with teacher trainers in Maracaibo, will check for activities scheduled 15:45 - Tapped In summer festival (all night long)      

Opportunities for online collaborations

There were numerous online events with global participants scheduled during the Workshops in Tunisia. It was hoped that computer labs could be made available to participants at some of these times (times are GMT, so one hour later for Mahdia). On arrival I found that (1) browsers were not Java enabled; Java could be downloaded and could have been requested, but overcoming this obstacle, we'd still have been left with (2) the fact that the firewall blocked interaction with Tapped In, where most of these activities were due to take place; (3) the LAN was not robust enough to support Yahoo messenger during peak times (it worked in off periods) so voice and web cam chat did not seem feasible; (4) the labs were opened and closed on strict timetable and it was not feasible to hold them open in the evenings for example. Here is a listing of activities that were consequently missed:

Wed July 21st 14:50 GMT, participate in a workshop for first time CMC-using teachers, at Tapped In,

Wednesday, July 21, 2004 from 15:00 to 03:00 a.m GMT on that date. - The Tapped In Summer Festival is a 12-plus hour event! See the schedule at The Webheads event (below) is the last item on the schedule. Certificates of Participation will be offered for members and guests who register for three hours of events. (Continuing Education Credits for the certificates are determined by individual educational institutions.). The other events are (all times GMT):

2:00 AM GMT Wednesday, July 21 is the time of the Webheads presentation at the 2004 TI Festival. Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith is coordinating the Webheads presentation. The Webheads event is in The On Tap Cafe. To enter, type /join ElizabethH or /enter TapCafe Add the On Tap Cafe to your Favorite Places for a fast entry! Here is her proposal:

Communities of practice online: Reflection through experience and experiment with the Webheads community of language learners and practitioners

Abstract: A community of practice forms when participants in an online community evolve a working relationship that leads them to focus spontaneously on shared tasks and problems. In such communities it is important that individual zones of proximal development be established and that conditions for scaffolding be enhanced through interpersonal relationships among the participants. What conditions are necessary to catalyzing an online community? What benefits accrue to its members, and what lessons can be applied to the common goal of its members: optimal facilitation of language learning? We invite you to explore these questions with members of our CoP, Webheads in Action.

Thursday, July 22, 14:00 GMT, or 10:00 a.m. in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Webheads have been invited to participate in the multimedia online event described at The sessions are part of a 20 hour course on CMC and Efl teaching. Computer- Mediated Communication: On line Tools Tutor: Msc. Doris de Martins. The sessions are held Monday through Friday, July 19 - 23, 2004 8:00 am - 11:40 am, local time, at the Universidad Dr. Rafael Belloso Chacín , Maracaibo, Venezuela. The abstract for the event sounds very much like Webheads: "Participants in this 20-hour course will experience hands-on use of CMC tools (on line communities and chat: text only, voice and webcam enhanced, web sites, and on line conference) in safe, educator-friendly online environments. This course will combine face-to-face training and on-line activities. Here participants will review basic on-line teaching and learning principles and will reflect on how to use them in their own classes. Participants will receive information on free software, explore techniques and resources for community-building, and learn the most appropriate uses of synchronous communication resources for language learning. " More at the website.

Saturday, July 24, 2004 Writing for Webheads: World friendship thru language learning is held each Saturday 16:00-17:00 GMT (9:00-10:00am PDT/12:00-1:00pm EDT) at or Longtime Webheads facilitator Maggi Doty would particularly like to meet ESL students at this time. (this link was working March 21, 2004)

Sunday, July 25, 2004* Webheads in Action/Writing for Webheads: World friendship thru lang. learning 5:00-7:00am PDT/8:00-10:00am EDT/12:00-14:00 GMT ; meet at and go from there. See to fathom possibilities inherent in 'go from there'. (this link was working March 21, 2004)

Online voice interview of Vance Stevens, founder of Webheads, by Bronwyn Stuckey, for her dissertation research, timing to be arranged. (I had to postpone this till after my return to UAE)

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Last Updated: July 23, 2004

Copyright 2004 by Vance Stevens