October 12, 2006

Community required – please enquire within

I’ve just been in Liverpool for the first time ever and had an absolute blast. Next time I have to spend more than 14 hours there. Last night I got in at about ten, before heading out with my sis-in-law, Gaelle, to do the Liverpool-in-an-hour thing. Straight off to Mathew Street and the home of the Beatles, down to the Cavern Pub where a superb if slightly David Brentesque rock band strutted their stuff.

Photo_5 Joe Dale managed to find us and brought my two new Live Web chums, Steph (pictured right marvelling my mini MacBook Pro webcam) and Alex (just pictured being Alex, below). These are two languages teachers from dan saff who are beginning to release the potential of new technologies for their students and, importantly, their colleagues.

Steph was on good form and revealed her podcast toolkit which is due for release in November. The idea is that with the tools and advice in one place anyone can get into podcasting with their Modern Languages class. Another attempt to bring things together under one roof which might just convince some of those lagging to get into gear.

Photo_7 Mr McIntosh Goes To School – the naked conversation
Joe and I eventually delivered our own ‘naked conversation’ to the delegates, in my latest mishmash of principles for Live Web teaching and learning – I’ve managed to get it down from 10 to 3. I enjoyed the challenges of keeping to the clock, keeping to the line of enquiry in the presentation and having a proper conversation with Joe in front of the crowd. He was able to play devil’s advocate and make me s-l-o-w down to explain some of the points the audience might have needed expanding. The result was smiles and gushes – and hopefully some new teaching and learning in the coming months.

Community is so important
What has become apparent, though, in putting together this presentation is how much less of a community exists in England and Wales. Those pioneering are not finding their soul mates as quickly as I did in my journey north of the border. Is this down to the size of Scotland or is there something deeper, lying in the sheer weight of the national curriculum with its high stakes testing.

Another aspect I’ve found interesting is the blatant enthusiasm from these language college teachers countered by a strong feeling that school management will just not “get it” and block it all. There are two things here I would suggest.

First – do it, try things out, play and find the holes that need filling before the management do (that might mean not telling them, although its best to get their support from the start in case things do go awry).

Second – get hold of some of the videos on the East Lothian Glow page. The one, two, three videos from the Head of Education there, Don Ledingham, will provide ample targeted ammunition to speak on their terms with their interests at heart, with a horse’s mouth who is there doing it now.

The links for the talk can be found in a post I made a day or so ago.


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Hi, I was at the Liverpool conference and am now trialing a blog and some podcasts with a few of my MFL groups. Thanks for the info and giving me the courage to take the plunge! Nic Pearson, Seven Kings, Ilford.

Nic - have you got an address for the blog so I can have a look?

Ewan - it was great to meet you, and a nice way to enjoy the abridged delights of Liverpool, but I'm not sure on the choice of photo!

In response to the enthusiastic teachers you write about let me pass on a mantra that has worked for me "Don't ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness." Just do it - or u never will. This may of course be totally irresponsible in some cases but fortunately i haven't really had to ask for forgiveness yet... ok well maybe i have on the odd occaision but not for anything too major ;-)

I shall remember that one the next time ;-) You're right, though, that there is more to be gained from this than the potential risks could counter.

'Mr McIntosh goes to school' is now available to listen to on my blog at the following address:


I lost the last couple of minutes because my laptop ran out of juice, I think. Anyway there's still 40 minutes worth of conversation to get your teeth into.

The recording of my session 'The wonderful thing about triggers is triggers are wonderful things!' is also now available on my blog, plus show notes, video tutorials and other supporting material. Here is the link:

In addition to this, I recorded two separate interviews with Alex Blagona and Ewan McIntosh at the conference which I will upload this weekend.

Great to meet up with you Ewan and the English MFL bloggers (Alex and Steph). This could be the start of something beautiful.

Best wishes


Hi Ewan,

Here is the link to our chat on MFL blogging and podcasting in England from the SSAT conference. Enjoy!


Best wishes


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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