Online Professional Development
Tapped In: Writing for Webheads

Susan Connell
Summer 2003

Purpose of Chat:

The purpose of the chat was ostensibly to offer a forum for non-native English speakers to practice their English writing skills.


Most of the 14-16 attendees for this Saturday morning chat were fellow ET570 students who, like myself, had procrastinated about this assignment. However, the moderator was a Business English trainer residing near Frankfurt, Germany and she was assisted by an art teacher from Pennsylvania. One of the founders of the Webheads forum joined briefly from Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Discussion Summary:

After the introductions, a rambling exchange ensued (is there any other type of exchange in this medium?). Topics mostly centered on various aspects of teaching: credential requirements, the relative value placed on teachers in various cultures, difficulties with the “No Child Left Behind” and “Blueprint for Success” initiatives and new standards-based curricula that often result in teachers “teaching the test,” musings on whether George Bush could pass the standards-based tests, job markets for teachers and issues of that nature.


The founding member of the forum provided links that offered background information and other details about various Webheads activities.


Most of the other attendees were teachers or soon-to-be teachers of one sort or another. Although I don’t fall into that category, it was interesting to get their perspectives on why they are or want to be teachers. As someone with step-kids in public high school, college and university, it is sad to see how many academic and bureaucratic hoops these people must jump through for a profession that sometimes seems to be valued so little in this country.

The chat medium is probably a good one for the forum’s ESL purpose, but it’s also a nice venue for people with various common interests to exchange ideas on a regular basis without the expense of going to a conference or seminar. Maybe because I’m old, but I sometimes have trouble keeping up with the discussion and I don’t think it will ever completely replace face-to-face meetings, but it is certainly a nice complement.