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Get set, ready and GO! ELT Blogathon 2012

For the first time in history, February 2011 marked the start of a challenging marathon for English language teachers in Turkey. Teachers of English from all around Turkeywere invited by the British Council to take part in the ELT Blogathon on the TeachingEnglish website between 1 February and 1 March 2011. The ELT Blogathon, as suggested by its name, was a blogging marathon. It was an online activity to help English teachers share best practice, ideas and classroom activities in the area of English language teaching with the whole world.

Enjoy the Blogathon…the process is more important than the end. This Blogathon brought dedicated teachers together like nothing else. Wonderful people I have met here. They kept and motivated me to write more than the prizes. I’ll remember fellow Blogathon runners who, along with my students, were a great source of inspiration for me. Before this contest I didn’t know there are a lot of good teachers. Now I know them and their successful lessons.
Blogathon runner

The inspiration for the ELT Blogathon was the Asia – Europe marathon that runs every year between the two continents in Istanbul. A total of 135 teachers of English from across Turkey applied for the race. During the race, 30 teachers actively kept a blog and posted over 450 blog entries. The two runners who made the most professional posts and comments throughout the race earned the privilege to participate in the IATEFL Conference organised in the UK on 15-19 April, on behalf of the British Council.

Significant work was invested into the structure of the competition by the British Council, including the the application process, setting up the platform, and explaining the rules and the marking criteria. A list of independent judges from the world of learning technologies and blogging was assembled. At various stages of the run, the ELT teachers were accompanied by professional guests from the ELT field, who gave them some tips on blogging.

The teachers blogged about their experiences in the classroom and shared teaching ideas. Not only were the teachers able to network with English teachers from around the world, they also had the chance to update their professional and digital skills. What made it harder for our ELT Blogathon runners to win the race was the challenge of keeping a regular and proper blog in line with the rules of the marathon. Although the runners did not physically have to spend thousands of calories during the marathon, the quality of the posted blogs was so high that all the contestants said the run was mentally tiring though equally fun.

Since the competition was spread over a month, watching it was also fun. The most surprising part of the event was the participation of many ELT teachers from various provinces of Turkey who had no previous experience of writing a blog. After the event, many of the participating teachers set up their own teaching blogs and wanted to continue blogging with their own students.

This is my first experience for having a blog. I am very excited for this.
I have always loved searching and sharing new ideas on sites,
so it will be enjoyable.  I wish everyone good luck.
Blogathon runner

Another benefit of the event was that it gave teachers an opportunity for career-development and networking with colleagues. ELT teachers who had difficulties blogging were supported online by their colleagues. There were so many comments posted by ELT teachers to each other that the online socialisation was merely fascinating.

I would like to thank British Council for this great competition idea and I hope to see many more ELT bloggers from Turkey… There are great people in the ELT blogosphere. Becoming a blogger is like becoming neighbours with them.  You will be amazed to see how warm and friendly they are.
Blogathon runner

The most exhausting moment of the marathon was when the successful bloggers made it to the finish line. It was difficult for the judging panel to choose the most outstanding bloggers. In line with the evaluation criteria shared with participants at the start of the Marathon, the panel finally chose the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners. The winners can be viewed at http://www.britishcouncil.org/turkey-english-teaching-elt-blogathon.htm.

There are a lot of endings. Happy endings, sad endings, twist endings, ruined endings, surprised endings and so on. Blogathon has been a marathon start for me. I learnt many things from all of you, shared my ideas, asked and gave advices. I felt the joy in my heart and the spirit of shared knowledge surrounded my mind.
Blogathon runner

The Marathon, which is one of the oldest sports in the world, remains one of the most challenging and most important sports events today. In 2012, theUKwill welcome millions of people for an unforgettable experience at the London Olympics. In January 2012, the ELT Blogathon is going to be launched as an international tournament on a larger scale so as to enable ELT teachers to learn a new skill in the New Year and break their own records for online learning, self-development and social networking.

Dear Future Bloggers,

I wish you good luck in advance. Keep in your mind that this is an enjoyable activity although we call it marathon. First of all; do not worry for that fact that it is your first time in blogging. It was my first experience, too. Start reading and writing from the very first day. As you read you will learn how to write implicitly and the things you read will give you inspiration and in turn you will raise interesting issues in the Blogathon. There is no reason to hesitate to express your ideas and share your experiences. Everyone has similar problems and you will see that you can find solution to some of these. Enjoy blogging!
Blogathon runner

Are you up for this challenge for your country? Let’s start blogging! For further information, please feel free to contact Sirin Soyoz at Sirin.Soyoz@britishcouncil.org.tr.

Şirin Soyöz
ELT E-Learning Projects Coordinator
British Council

Sirin.Soyoz@britishcouncil.org.tr

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

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