MOOCs and Professional Development: An afternoon with ALT Training Online founder, Nathaniel Reed.
Our young learners deserve quality teachers. Language education in Japan has been called, amongst other things: rigid, immobilized and outdated. As Courses of Study consistently ramp up goals, there is almost no evidence of them being met. One aspect of language policy that has huge potential for change and meeting MEXT targets that has been unrecognized 3 decades is ALTs.
There are around 14,000 ALTs working in elementary, junior and high schools and by 2020 there will be 20,000. Their job descriptions, roles and duties however have never been specified, and the level of training they receive ranges from none, to 5 day pre-position workshops with periodic on the job workshops. Almost no existing training is done with both team teaching partners – as the work context dictates. We are seeing the complexity of the working relationship develop, teachers’ voices getting louder, MEXT targets increasing, contract issues getting more obscured and the number of agencies hiring ALTs going up – and something needs to give.
Presented here is an initiative to support language teachers and ultimately support the futures of our learners’. Since 2015 the presenter has been steadily putting together an open access teacher training MOOC for ALTs. He will talk about the reasons why the MOOC exists, its goals and how it is being put together. Following this informative talk the floor will be open for questions about the MOOC, so please take a little time to explore the site www.alttrainingonline.com – your ideas, thoughts and queries are actively encouraged.
Nathaniel Reed has been working in education, in various contexts, for 17 years. He came to Japan in 2009 and has worked as a school manager, curriculum developer and a teacher in eikaiwas, university and currently as an ALT. He completed a distance MA with Birmingham University in 2014 writing his dissertation on the contemporary roles of ALTs. He has presented the ALT training MOOC at the 2015 and 2016 JALT international conferences and will also present in 2017 conference in Tsukuba. His paper on this can be found in the post conference proceedings 2016, and interview in The Language Teacher March 2017 issue 41.2.