An Inside View of Nelta Choutari’s Work
Ganga Gautam, President, NELTA
31 December 2010
Dear valued NELTA members and colleagues,
If you have wondered how our NELTA colleagues involved with Nelta Choutari collaborate from across the world or would like to know about their vision for the promotion of professional communication in NELTA, let me share about a close view of their collaboration and inside discussion that I recently had. I have been greatly appreciative of the work done by this brilliant group of NELTA scholars, so I would like to share about a particular in-depth discussion of their mission in order to inspire other colleagues.
About a month prior to the meeting on December 13, 2010, I was invited to join a Skype-based international conference with the Nelta Choutari team*. For about two weeks before the meeting, a long list of possible agenda started to be discussed in a private Facebook Group discussion forum, and Mr. Kamal Poudel prepared and shared priority based list of agenda based on that discussion. Taking up the agenda one by one, the team deeply reflected on the mission of the Nelta Networking initiative where Nelta Choutari is a key component. We started by reflecting on the journey of the Choutari in the last two years. I do not have the space to describe the technical difficulties that came up during this international virtual conference, but let me tell you how the team was ready to overcome any challenges. For example, Shyam Sharma was recording the conference on his computer with an audio recording program, which he would share with everyone afterwards if necessary; he also took extensive notes, while also helping to technically coordinate the conference, which he uploaded to the team’s Web Document archive. When the call failed for individual members, another member dialed his phone to let the member who lost internet connection continue to listen. When a member’s sound input was not going through, we asked him to type responses in the chat area, including letting us know that he was listening to others. At times, almost everybody lost connection and we redialed the group and summarized the discussion on the preceding agenda, before moving to the next, set agenda. The group had asked me to keep the meeting focused on the predetermined agenda. As the notes below indicate, the meeting was amazingly effective in spite of the tremendous technical difficulties.
The meeting began with the sharing of our experiences on how this forum has contributed to the professional development of the NELTA members and the ELT community in Nepal and abroad. We looked at the facts and figures and the content of the discussion generated through the past issues of the Nelta Choutari. Shyamji has shed light on this aspect in his posting and I would like to focus on the specific agenda items that we discussed in the Skype meeting.
One of the issues that came in the discussion was that of time that members contribute to NELTA. NELTA as a voluntary organization, runs through the voluntary contributions of its members. In this context, allocation of specific time for NELTA activities remains a big challenge due to our insurmountable professional, social, personal and other commitments. Despite this fact, NELTA members have tried their best to find time to work for NELTA because they think that professional organization greatly contributes to their own professional development. So we agreed to continue Nelta Choutari initiative with new zeal and enthusiasm involving as many members as possible in professional conversations. Let me outline some of the points about how the team plans to achieve its key goal of promoting professional conversation among NELTA members.
1. Coordination and Roles of the Members:
Nelta Choutari team is a non-hierarchical professional team. We work on the specific tasks and members are engaged according to their professional interests and expertise. We want to keep this like this and members are responsible for the specific role they voluntarily choose. For now the division of the role among the members is like this:
As a Secretary of NELTA, Kamalji works as a liaise between the team and NELTA Executive Committee and he will be mainly responsible to circulate the information of Nelta Choutari to the NELTA network and vice versa. He along with other two members Prem and Sajan, will promote contributions and participation by members from the NELTA branches on the blog. Also, these three members will run workshops in the regional and branch level and encourage the NELTA members to participate in the blog discussion. There will be a Nelta Choutari presentation in the forthcoming International conference in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Similarly, Hemji will contact some of the experienced English teachers, the gurus and guruamas, interview them and post their experiences in the form of podcasts. This “oral history” project has the potential of archiving extremely useful scholarly material for future generations, especially considering that scholarship and research is gradually accepting multiple media. By doing this, our English teachers will be exposed to the world professional community and we will also learn from their experiences.
Shyamji is extremely good in the technical aspect of the blog and he will manage the overall blog in coordination with the other members. He will manage the resource pools and will also contribute to the blog by writing issue based posts. Balji will make online resources available for NELTA colleagues and students; he will also make thesis abstracts from universities abroad available to our blog readers through hyperlinks. Premji and Sajanji will write the issue-based materials and coordinate with Kamalji to post the branch activities on the blog.
2. Dissemination and Promotion of Nelta Choutari
The more members read the blog, the more meaningful it becomes. There is a great deal of resources available on the blog and online which otherwise are not easily accessible to many of our members. We need to make this forum as widely accessible as possible for the greater ELT community in Nepal. Thus, we decided to hold series of workshops in Kathmandu and NELTA branches so that our members are aware of the availability of these wonderful resources. The workshop organized on the 25th of December 2010 of December in the NELTA office coordinated by Kashi-ji is the first event of this series. Nelta Choutari team will organize many such events in NELTA branches during their future visits. In these workshops, we not only talk about what Nelta Choutari is and what it offers but also engage the participants in the use of the blog for sharing their knowledge, ELT best practices and grassroots level classroom experiences.
3. Sharing our local knowledge to the wider ELT Community
Teaching is full of innovations and excitement. Our members have rich and diverse experiences and they have a lot to offer to the global ELT community. In order to bring those innovations to the broader forum, we need to develop a simple mechanism to have access to the blog and post their materials. Nelta Choutari can offer an excellent platform for this. Let the NELTA members and English teachers know that just by clicking an email they can connect themselves to the global ELT community. Please do encourage teachers to write their experiences and send them to nelta firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the mail comes to this address, the material will be posted on the blog and anyone from anywhere in the world can read it and respond to it. Shyamji will manage the posting.
4. Make the Nelta Choutari resources available to the existing ELT network in Nepal
We have some established ELT networks in Nepal. To name the key ones, Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu University (KU) and NELTA are the major places where a lot of ELT activities take place and we have thousands of ELT practitioners associated with them. The thesis abstracts from TU and KU are the excellent at hand resources for literature review for our Masters students. The research students can be asked to read some articles and include them in the literature review while they submit the research proposals. Faculty members can also encourage the students to submit their thesis abstracts to the Nelta Choutari mail as soon as the thesis is approved by their respective departments. Premji, Kamalji and Sajanji will take the lead in this regard and they will coordinate with the respective chairs of the Subject Committee. I, on behalf of NELTA, have already written official letters of request to the Department Heads of TU campus and Mahendra Ratna Campus and similar request will be sent to the other campuses in the near future. I will also coordinate with the senior teachers of the universities to request them to share with us their valuable experiences.
Also, we have good professional network with the regional and global ELT network and our blog can be interesting for the members of those network. So Shyamji will set up some tools such as pingback, google search and blogrolls so that other educational bloggers can read and respond. I will use my current network to disseminate this in the international arena.
5. Publication of Nelta Choutari materials
In the context of Nepal, we still have problems of the power cut and access to the internet is still a big issue. In order to make the Nelta Choutari materials easily accessible, NELTA can publish these materials in the regular newsletters and branch newsletters. Also, a separate publication of the selected articles and posting will not only promote the blog but also contribute to validate the knowledge in the form of publication. NELTA Central Committee and the Branches could choose this option based on the resources available at hand.
6. Subscribing to auto-alert on Nelta Choutari
There is a very easy option available on Nelta Choutari home page which will automatically send the Nelta Choutari to the individual emails. Kamalji will coordinate with the NELTA office staff and branch colleagues to facilitate this process and encourage the NELTA members and training participants to subscribe the blog.
7. Nelta Choutari as classroom resource
We all need to encourage our students to read the blog for various ELT materials and we can do so by sharing what we have read and posted. We can also share the anecdotes with reference to the blog materials and ask the student to share theirs in the similar manner. Similarly, we can share part of the materials from the blog and encourage the students to read the details on the blog.
8. Review Meetings
We also agreed to hold similar skype (online) meeting among the team members on regular basis in every three months.
With these discussion points we committed ourselves to give Nelta Choutari a new dimension from the first issue of year three and we firmly believe that this can only be materialized if we all work together for our professional development. Let’s contribute to this blog either by posting or responding to the posts and learn from one another.
Thank you very much. I wish you all a very happy new year – 2011.
**Members of the Nelta Choutari team joined the meeting from separate places: Shyam Sharma from Louisville in Kentucky, USA; Bal Krishna Sharma from Hawaii, USA; Prem Phyak from Kathmandu; Kamal Poudel from a separate place in Kathmandu; Hem Kafle also from a separate place in Kathmandu; and Sajan Karn spoke from Birgunj.