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Barb's Bits and Bytes

Web 2.0 for learning and teaching - the continuing online adventures of a not-so-techie teacher

April 20, 2012

The Virtual Round Table -- A free online conference for language teachers

The Virtual Round Table is a free professional development opportunity that begins on Friday, April 20th and runs through Sunday, April 21st. It's an online conference about language learning and technology, and if you're interested in seeing what a virtual conference feels like, this is a great chance to check one out!

The conference is a mixture of keynotes, panel discussions, and webinars on technology as it relates to teaching, learning, and presenting. The presentation topics cover a wide range of interests:

Holistic teaching
Digital literacies
Mobile Learning
Online presentation techniques
Games for language learning
Using images and music
Teaching young learners
The effects of texting on language change
Online testing tools
Using and creating video
Teaching in Asia
Online resources

You can see the complete program here: VRT Conference Program

If you've attended conferences in Asia, you'll notice some familiar names in the program. I'll be doing a webinar on teaching writing, Chuck Sandy and Vladimira Michalkova will be talking about Supr@ise, Shelly Terrell will be talking about mobile learning, Nicky Hockly will be talking about digital literacies, and Steven Herder will be talking about innovating EFL teaching in Asia. (Steven and Shelly are also two of the conference organizers.)

The beauty of virtual conferences like this is that you can also see presenters who don't often have a chance to come to Asia. For example, in my session I'll be sharing a room with Patrick Jackson in Ireland, and Ayat Tawel in Egypt. Our session begins at 10:30 pm GMT on Saturday, which means that it will be very late Saturday night for Patrick and Ayat, and early Sunday morning for me in Japan. Virtual conferences are the only way that presenters and participants from different countries around the world can share the same room at the same time without having to travel to do so. I think that's very cool.

The other thing I love about virtual conferences is that everything is recorded. If two presentations you want to see happen at the same time, or if a presentation happens while you are usually asleep, you can always watch the recording later. Recordings from all of the VRT conferences are archived, and presentations from this VRT will also be available long after the conference has ended. (For convenience, I keep links to online conference archives on my wiki.)

Registration and participation is free. You can sign up at:

Sessions will take place in Adobe Connect Pro. If you enter the Adobe room, you will be able to interact with the presenters (just like you do at face-to-face conferences). The links to the various Adobe rooms are listed in the session descriptions on the Events page of the VRT website. If you have problems with Adobe (or don't want to bother with it) the sessions will also be livestreamed (like watching the session on TV).

Here's the complete schedule: Virtual Round Table Conference Program

The times are all listed in GMT, although Tokyo time is also included. If you're in Japan, just add 9 hours to the listed GMT times. You can also use the calculator at to figure out what time GMT is for you.

Hope you can join some of the presentations. Virtual Round Table is a great introduction to online conferences, and a great way to learn about technology in language teaching. Plus, you can attend sessions in your pajamas!

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