By Shannon Donnally Quinn, Michigan State University and Betsy Lavolette, Kyoto Sangyo University
When it became clear that the biennial IALLT conference that was supposed to take place in New Orleans in 2021 could not go on as planned, the conference committee resolved to host the conference online. They took this as an opportunity for many people to attend the conference who might not normally, including more international participants, as well as a chance to try out a variety of new formats for an online conference. And, led by Julie Evershed, the Program Chair, and Stacey Powell, the Conference Coordinator, the committee succeeded!
The conference took place within the Crowd Compass app, which included the schedule, asynchronous videos, information on exhibitors, presenters, and attendees, links to outside resources, an app game, and an activity feed.
The program included a variety of formats: around 70 asynchronous 15-minute presentations followed by Q&A sessions, approximately 20 synchronous panels, and around 15 digital poster presentations. The topics of these sessions were extremely varied, and one key affordance of this conference format is that both the asynchronous videos and recordings of some of the events that took place synchronously are still available via the conference app. There will also be a playlist available to IALLT members through the members section of the IALLT website. The conference content will be available until December 31, 2021.
The plenaries each day, which reunited webinar presenters from early in the pandemic, reflected on our experiences from the past year and looked forward to the future once we move past the pandemic. The keynote address was given by Jo Mynard from Kanda University of International Studies, who reflected on supporting language learners beyond the classroom.
The keynote address reflected another advantage of the online conference as Jo presented from Japan – the conference was much more reflective of the “I” in IALLT as we had a relatively large number of presenters from Japan and some from other countries as well, many of whom would likely have not been able to participate in the conference in New Orleans. Of course, holding a conference online is not enough to support international attendees. The conference committee also planned for and encouraged international attendance by scheduling sessions that were convenient for their time zones. The tricky part is to schedule sessions that both US and international participants could attend, so that the conference does not end up as separate sessions for each group. IALLT was quite successful in this regard, even including sessions that were moderated by international participants. There was also a closing social event hosted by the Japan Association for Self-Access Learning, one of our international partners, that was attended by both US-based and international participants.
An additional advantage of the online format is that presenting and participating from the comfort of home is more accessible to many. That said, many of us are certainly looking forward to 2023 in New Orleans when we can fill up on the famous IALLT hugs.
One recurring theme of the conference was gaming. There were several sessions devoted to games, where participants could try games designed for language learning and fun. We may be hosting some encore performances of these gaming sessions in the upcoming year, so keep your eye out for those.
Unlike many other online conferences, IALLT 2021 did not skimp on opportunities to socialize and networking events. In addition to the closing social event (hosted on Wonder), the conference included a special platform – The IALLT Lounge – which hosted several social events like the coffee with the board, some group meetups, and any impromptu meetings which are always some of the most productive times at IALLT conferences.
The IALLT Lounge was hosted in a networking app called Nooks and featured a variety of fun backgrounds, several ways for participants to interact, and ambiance like music in the Disco or sound effects in the woods.
There were also events that were following in the tradition of evening events at IALLT in-person conferences. One evening featured the cuisine of New Orleans in a cooking class by Chef Christy, and another was hosted in a bar featuring cocktails from New Orleans in place of the IALLT Pub Crawl. These fun events certainly whet our appetite for when we will meet in person in New Orleans in 2023.
Another notable event was the Friday afternoon session called “Old Coots Giving Advice” that featured retired IALLT members reminiscing about IALLT’s years past and giving free advice. IALLT would like to encourage all retired members to come and join the retiree peanut gallery in 2023 in New Orleans.
The IALLT Board also hosted the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony. President Andrew Ross talked about how IALLT stepped up to help when the COVID-19 pandemic forced language teachers to begin teaching remotely and reflected on IALLT’s future.
Many people were honored, including the following:
The Ruth Trometer Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Soneson, Paul Aoki
The Sheppard Memorial Award: Florencia Henshaw
The Henderson Memorial Award: Molly Godwin-Jones
The Harold H. Hendricks Award for Sustained Leadership: Trish Nolde
The President’s Award: Shannon Donnally Quinn (Spasova)
The Board also honored those who were given conference/membership grants, some of which were funded by Duolingo. Avant Assessments also honored Jeff Magoto’s many contributions to our field by funding several teacher registrations.
Thanks again to all of the conference sponsors and exhibitors, who helped make the IALLT 2021 conference possible:
Avant Assessment: https://avantassessment.com/
Mango Languages: https://mangolanguages.com/education
Wayside Publishing: https://www.waysidepublishing.com/
The business meeting ended as IALLT’s new board took over with a symbolic virtual passing of the gavel.
Outgoing members of the board included:
Past President: Felix Kronenberg
Programs Director: Betsy Lavolette
Secretary: Shannon Donnally Quinn
The new board is:
President: Angelika Kraemer
President-Elect: Dan Nickolai
Treasurer: Stacey Powell
Programs Director: Trish Nolde
Secretary: Amanda Romjue
Andrew Ross will continue advising the board in the role of Past President.
Good luck to the new board and we thank you for your service to IALLT and to the language teaching and technology field!
Some important announcements were made about future IALLT initiatives. The newest volume from IALLT – The Language Center Handbook 2021 – is now available. You can find more information about the handbook on the IALLT website.
IALLT will be welcoming its next cohort of the “Scenic Route” mentorship program soon. You can find more information on the mentorship program on the IALLT website.
The FLTMAG announced two new awards that will be given for the first time at the next IALLT conference – for best contribution to the FLTMAG by a K-12 teacher and best contribution to the FLTMAG by a graduate student. Watch for details on these awards in the coming months.
While we missed meeting each other in person, the 2021 online IALLT conference certainly offered a lot of interesting sessions and some fun.
Please reserve on your calendar the time and place for our next in-person IALLT conference: June 13-17, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana!