December 23rd, 2010

English360 nominated for ELTon Award for Innovation

English360 nominated for an ELTon 2011 AwardWe very excited to be an ELTon 2011 nominee for the UK Award for Innovation by the British Council. We’ll have to wait until February 23rd to hear if we are the lucky winner of this most prestiguous of awards in ELT.

But first, here’s some background to why we think English360 is a worthy candidate….

English360 is not a new course or a new product; it is a new approach to ELT, one that harnesses web technology and delivers it into the hands of teachers worldwide. English360 aims to resolve three critical issues for ELT professionals today:

  • The need for a quick, easy way for teachers and schools to deliver blended and online learning
  • The move towards personalization, to improve relevance, authenticity, and learning outcomes by going beyond generic, one-size-fits-all courses and lessons
  • The opportunity of enhanced social learning and collaborative approaches to language learning, teaching, and materials development

By using user-centered Web 2.0 technologies in an open ELT platform, English360 provides teachers with a solution to these three needs, by way of a variety of tools:

Blended and online learning: Teachers and schools can set up their own branded online learning space in a matter of hours. Teachers can collaborate on lesson planning and materials design; class schedules can be managed; and student progress can be measured and reported. Most importantly, online and blended learning can be delivered to students in an easy-to-use social learning environment that meets the expectations of today’s students.

Personalization: The limitations of generic coursebooks is a contentious topic in ELT today. English360 believes that the answer to this debate is always context-specific. There are contexts where coursebooks are appropriate, contexts where heavy supplementation is best, and contexts where materials should emerge from the student, teacher, and school. The English360 platform is specifically designed to give teachers the flexibility to address all contexts across this continuum:

  • When a coursebook is appropriate, there are 45 courses from Cambridge University Press in the platform that can be delivered in class or online (new courses from Cambridge University Press are added monthly, and, as English360 is an open platform, we are publisher-agnostic: any publisher can upload their courses).
  • When supplementation or emergent materials are appropriate, English360 provides two tools. First, there is a powerful suite of authoring and course design tools for teacher-driven materials development, and, second, mix-and-match capability for all titles in the system: teachers can take units, sections and even individual tasks from any title and re-arrange into custom sequences (“playlists”), together with their own authored content.

In short, English360 sees teachers as true partners in course design; teacher understanding into each individual student’s learning and cultural needs is something no publisher can ever have, and by providing the digital tools to enable materials co-development, English360 sees itself as a first step to “the coursebook of the future”, where each student’s course is, as much as possible, personalised exactly to them.

Social and collaborative approaches: Social software acts as a foundation to the tools above. Forums and messaging, page comments and teacher feedback, collaborative workspaces for both teachers and students, shared spaces and Creative Commons … all are essential to a social constructivist pedagogy, and this level of social interaction is not only intrinsically powerful but is an expectation of today’s tech-savvy students.

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