MOCA (Meeting of Change Agents) by Ege University School of Foreign Languages June 6, 2017
Conference Highlights by Şila Yosulçay and Hakan Çalışır (SL Student)
The MOCA event was initiated by Ege University, School of Foreign Languages upon the belief that learner voice has the potential to create change and provide improvement on a wide scale. Having been motivated by this belief, they aimed to challenge long-held assumptions about learner and teacher roles and explore new possibilities and opportunities for both parties by having teachers and learners from different institutions discuss issues regarding learning, teaching, curriculum, assessment, technology use and autonomy. To be able to do this efficiently, the oganizers sent us some questions to brainstorm prior to the conference. Before we went to the conference, my student Hakan Çalışır and I sat down and discussed the answers of those questions based on Sabancı University’s vision and mission statement.
On the day of the conference, we were welcomed by Ege University School of Foreign Language students and were given a brief introduction about the campus and as to which venue we were supposed to be in to collaborate with our focus groups. Teachers and students were separated into different focus groups so that both parties could express themselves as accurately as possible. After the welcoming speeches, Hakan joined a group of students coming from different universities and my group was comprised of teachers from different universities. The questions we were supposed to discuss were the same though.
The questions were:
1. How do you define yourself as a learner/teacher?
2. What new roles and responsibilities do you think the 21st century will bring for you as a learner/teacher?
3. What is missing in our classrooms?
4. How can teachers and learners collaborate to make the learning and teaching practice more effective?
While the teachers and students were discussing the questions, the moderators took notes. After lunch, we got together with our focus groups and prepared our power point slides using the notes taken by the moderator. Each group was asked to choose a volunteer to present the ideas discussed by the whole group. When all the groups were finished with their presentations, all teachers and students gathered again and the volunteers presented the ideas discussed in their groups. Hakan was the volunteer for his focus group and did a very good job at explaining his groups’ ideas to the audience. Then there was a panel discussion and people asked their questions to the presenters.
The way MOCA was organized was very similar to FOCI and FOTECH. I think we need to involve more of our students in conferences. I’ve attended many conferences but this was different as students’ voices were valued and listened to. When we make our students a part of the decision making process, I believe we will be able to build stronger bridges as we will be able to better understand and emphatize with each other.