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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