Jump to content


David Wilson

Member Since 02 May 2004
Offline Last Active Aug 13 2008 07:21 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: VLE/Moodle

11 October 2006 - 06:01 AM


Have you done an online search with MFL and Moodle as search terms? I've just done one and several schools and courses were flagged up:


When I've researched the use of ICT in MFL, I've always started with the problem - the teaching point within MFL I wanted to impart - before proceeding to the solution, which may or may not involve ICT. Choosing the solution before defining the problem seems like putting the cart before the horse. And MFL teachers are likelier to adopt new technologies such as VLEs if they begin with what they know - the MFL teaching tasks they have to be perform - before casting round for imaginative and effective ways of delivering them. I've attended too many INSET sessions when a new technology was demonstrated and the only impact was to dazzle the multidisciplinary audience. There was little follow-up and little take=up, because no spadework had been done on finding out what the real underlying educational issues were. Pedagogy must come before technology.

In Topic: Teacher Nightmares

04 September 2006 - 07:47 PM

What teaching dreams do you have?

The teaching dream I used to have regularly was one about the A-level German Literature exam. I would go into the exam room to have a look at the paper, only to find that it had no questions about any of the set books I had taught my students. I had taught them the wrong set books, those prescribed either for the previous year's exam session or the following year's. I could barely look my students in the eye and they glared accusingly back at me from their desks. This never happened to me in real life, but I still occasionally dream the same nightmare even though I last taught A-level back in 1990.

David Wilson

In Topic: Foreign Languages at GCSE

29 August 2006 - 06:28 PM

Take-up of foreign languages at GCSE is declining so fast it has "reached the point of no return", a head teachers' union leader has warned.

I'm glad I moved from MFL into Special Educational Needs in the mid-1990s. When my school was 11-18, it used to be a worry getting enough "bums on seats" to run a one-class (Upper and Lower Sixth together) A-level German course. Now the problem is affecting KS4 MFL.

Surely the government must have seen this coming when they decided to make MFL study voluntary after key stage 3. The oft-vaunted rejoinder that primary MFL will compensate for the drop in pupil numbers doesn't give me any satisfaction. I lived through the first, Nuffield, primary MFL initiative back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which produced magnificent linguists but fizzled out because of a shortage of suitably qualified teachers. I hope the latest initiative doesn't go the same way and we are left with just three years of "MFL for all".

I subscribe to the language teachers' forum Linguanet and yesterday I posted a message on that discussion group about an Ofsted document of 2005 entitled "'You don't know at the time how useful they'll be.': Implementing modern foreign languages entitlement in Key Stage 4" and downloadable from


The publication interests me professionally because it highlights good practice in making MFL less élitist and more inclusive at key stage 4. I don't want MFL to return to the status it occupied when I began studying it back in the early 1960s and it was a subject for the select few. I've had no response to my message so far on Linguanet. I wonder whether I will have better luck here?

David Wilson

In Topic: Learning Management Systems under patent threat

17 August 2006 - 02:04 PM

I agree with Graham. I check into the forum regularly, always clicking the "View New Posts" button, and I'm always disappointed when the JFK thread is the only one to be active. These days, I spend most of my "online forum time" with the TES Forum, which has very active modern languages and special needs sections, the two areas that interest me professionally. The TES Forum has the advantage of a "critical mass" of primary and secondary school teachers who are prepared to read messages and respond with advice and opinion. The forum has an excellent resource bank to which I have contributed - schoolteachers do like to share and borrow classroom resources! On the downside, there can be aggressive trolling and personal abuse on certain TES forum threads which goes far beyond what is acceptable. So all forums have their good and bad points.

What I appreciate on The Education Forum is the thoughtful, courteous correspondence that invariably ensues when an educational topic exercises the minds of a sizeable body of the membership. When this happens, intelligent people drawn from a multidisciplinary background share their ideas, views, problem-solving strategies. More light than heat is generated and everyone comes away feeling that they have been listened to and valued. This is The Education Forum at its best. I'm just saddened that when I do make a solitary contribution to the modern languages section, there is so little response other than Graham's, and when I contribute to the special needs section there may be no response at all.

David Wilson

In Topic: Using Macromedia Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful?

08 July 2006 - 12:24 PM

My main concern is that starting with a computer program - Flash - instead of a particular teaching point/activity/lesson, which any teacher would recognise - is putting the cart before the horse. There will always be a technological divide among teachers so long as the ICT-adept talk about a "new way of thinking" without anchoring it to at least a few curriculum-based examples which would be familiar to all teachers.

The problem with Flash - and that goes for Interactive Whiteboards, Blogs and Podcasts for that matter, is that I'm hearing a lot of talk about the medium but very little about the educational content, which is what interests me.


This is an interesting viewpoint and very logical. However, it leaves one very vital step out of the equation. New tools and technologies are not created by teachers and are not developed with teachers as their core audience. Flash, for example, was put together to assist web designers in their work. Therefore, it is up to teachers to spot the potential in these applications and exploit them for their own ends.

In the grand scheme of things, Flash is new and we are just starting to unlock its potential. It will only be when usage among teachers increases that we can say with exactly what Flash can do.

I have seen some fantastic categorisation activities and source analysis work done with Flash, but I know that is capable of much more. I am currently trying to develop a thinking skills activity that has visual outcomes for looking at change and continuity over time. I know what I want to do, but I am not sure if I can achieve it.

We need to experiment in order to find out what is possible. Someone needs to pioneer this - but the more pioneers we have the better.

Thanks for responding, Neal. Yes, my understanding too is that Flash is a general web technology, not a teaching-specific tool. I also commend those teachers who recognise pedagogical potential in such general technologies. My fear is, however, that such pioneering teachers sometimes lose touch with the language and thinking of their less adept classroom practitioner colleagues as they explore all the possibilities that the new technology has to offer. You mention categorisation and thinking skills activities that can be implemented using Flash. Don't we need to list all such educational activities made possible or better via Flash first to get our less ICT-savvy colleagues on board? I'd like to see more presentations on Flash with titles such as "Using Flash to develop Thinking Skills" to get people started. Most teachers will understand the value of Thinking Skills and may then be prepared to countenance and embrace new ICT tools such as Flash if they are introduced in the context of a recognisable lesson activity. I'm all for teachers experimenting with new technologies and identifying new applications for them, but let's put the latter ahead of the former. If we do so, and demonstrate the pedagogical value of what we are doing, our beginners in Flash may well follow the experimental route too and come up with interesting educational applications of their own to throw into the common "pot".

David Wilson