My first 'proper' website gets Commended
Last Thursday night my content editor star Annelie (on the right), Online Services manager Patricia (left) and I went to a glitzy night in London for the UK eLearning awards and ended up scooping a Commendation for the Modern Foreign Languages Environment.
The site was my first 'proper' website as Development Officer for the national education agency, Learning and Teaching Scotland, designed to support teachers in the teaching of languages. From the start, I had had a vision of it being a trial of co-creation (it was, on paper, a trial community for the national intranet Glow), that is, I didn't want to have a bunch of experts telling the rest of the profession how things "should be done", but rather get all the interesting stuff from the community of language teachers in Scotland and beyond and give it some public space. By teachers, for teachers.
Being a little wet behind the ears also meant that there was no temptation to draw on the old 'black book' of contacts and "old boys" for content - there was no black book.
The result was a site which unashamedly emphasised new technologies that allow people to share stuff themselves, without the need to even visit the site (a bit of reverse psychology that paid off), leading to one of the most burgeoning teacher blogger and podcaster communities in Europe (second now only to the eduBuzzers!) and a 'traditional website' that boasts some fantastic content based on some real highlights of teaching and learning practice. Despite only catering for one rather narrow area of the curriculum the MFLE has proven one of the organisation's most popular website, consistently in the top five, often in the top trio of websites visited (out of a huge Online Service.) This is, in large part, down the speed with which the Content and Technical teams have been able to turn around some pretty stretching stuff.
Most of the other eLearning awards winners were dealing with rather traditional notions of top-down training, or blended learning, but only one other (Royal Caribbean Cruises) was using social media to transmit this training and none, bar the MFLE, appeared to be using the learners as the principle source of education material.
It's a model that works, that is hugely sustainable in the long term and which has, as far as we can see, benefited the teaching and learning of languages in Scotland, and beyond, over the past two and a half years.
If you've not been to the MFLE yet, whether you're a linguist or not, then please do have a visit and let us know what you think. The site can only continue to improve with your help.