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Meeting webheads at Online Educa 08 – part I

December 11th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

Going to Online Educa Berlin really came as a surprise. I had never been there before, and never thought I would go either. However, things changed and when Graham Attwell told me I could go with the rest of the Sounds of the Bazaar team I was just thrilled. It was another great chance to host sounds of the bazaar live at a physical venue. It was also a great opportunity to network and be part of this major European Event. What I never thought would happen is that I would get to meet some webheads. That actually made this experience even more special. I learned via twitter that @buthaina was coming all the way from Kuwait to attend the conference. I immediately tweeted her back telling her I was coming too. We would obviously meet. And we did. And like Vance Stevens so rightly says a webhead is a kinda of a hippie, you know when you see one. And that was exactly what happened once we saw each other. We had never met face to face before and I hadn’t seen many pictures of Buth, but somehow we knew who we were when we looked at each other.
Buthaina Al Othman has been an inspiration for many language teachers for all the support as a member of the webheads and also for all the learning opportunities she has provided her students with. Furthermore, Buth has been using what she has learned about ICT to enable others to learn English as a foreign language. Like many language teachers know and practise, the teaching and learning of a language has more to it than the acquisition of words, grammatical structures and/or fluency. Languages are anchored in cultural aspects, and learning a language is also about learning about the world in which such language is spoken… and beyond. It’s about learning about the people, their history, habits, traditions, customs…the way they naturally express themselves or address certain issues also conveys their world. Buthaina has always been concerned with this and provided us all with eye-opening collaborative learning approaches in which the learning of a language was only a small pretext to something bigger: to expose her students to something bigger – to a new world. And online this is possible.
Buth has also been involved in other projects as a Peace activist. She has been using the same kind of technology and approach to reach out to people. I think I can say Buth believes in the power of people coming together and learning with other informally. That’s when the bonds become stronger and the affections and appreciation by other people deepen. Many have joined her in her cause and we definitely have a lot to learn with/from this brave lady. iPeace is one of her latest projects. It’s worth having a lot at it.

In the video below, Buth talks about the webheads and informal learning. She also provides her opinion about Online Educa, and tell us about her latest online Peace project.

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2 Responses to “Meeting webheads at Online Educa 08 – part I”

  1. Heike Philp says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Buth in Berlin and I enjoyed her naturalness,
    her humor, her big smile, her warmth.

    It was almost as if she brought along a bit of Kuwaitan heat to cold Berlin.



  2. Brian Barker says:

    I’ve not met Buth, but I hope that I will be able to join the conversation. At least as language learning is concerned.

    As far as learning a second language is concerned, can I put in a word for Esperanto?

    Although it is a living language, it helps language learning as well. Four schools in Britain have introduced this neutral international language, in order to test its propaedeutic values.

    The pilot project is being monitored by the University of Manchester, and the initial results are very encouraging. These can be seen at,%20S2L%20Phase%201.pdf

    An interesting video can be seen at and a glimpse of Esperanto at

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    Open Educational Resources

    BYU researcher John Hilton has published a new study on OER, student efficacy, and user perceptions – a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Looking at sixteen efficacy and twenty perception studies involving over 120,000 students or faculty, the study’s results suggest that students achieve the same or better learning outcomes when using OER while saving a significant amount of money, and that the majority of faculty and students who’ve used OER had a positive experience and would do so again.

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

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