Personal and Professional Management Development in English, in France.

Posts by tjolley

Le Tourisme, Les Nouvelles Technologies et l’Alsace

By on Jun 25, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

[A draft article I wrote  for the British Tourism Society focusing upon the point that it is the contexts and cultures in which ICT is to be embedded which determines how it looks, feels, is used and the degree to which it is successful rather than the technology itself.] Le Tourisme et les Nouvelles Technologies: TNT – just about says it all, really – it has considerable explosive potential.  However, as ever, it is not technology that is the important issue here, so much as the context in which it is employed; a realisation that dawned upon me most emphatically on the evening of my 17th birthday on the old Homesley Aerodrome in the New Forest some thirty-odd years ago when my Dad set me behind the wheel of the car for my first unofficial driving lesson with the words: “This is the first time you’ve had a loaded weapon in your hand – you can kill someone with this if you are not careful”.  The car is not the issue so much as the driver.  In information and communication technology (ICT) terms it is very much the same: it’s not what it is, so much as what you do with it that counts. In 2003, whilst still teaching Tourism at Bournemouth University, as part of the role of my Learning and Teaching Fellowship, I was engaged in talking to other universities about the potential involved in the use of the internet as a support tool for learning in a university ‘attendance’ (rather than distance learning) mode.  As part of this endeavour I was invited to the Université d’Haute Alsace (Mulhouse, France) to address and work with a faculty upon the development of a vision and a strategy for the application of ICT in learning and teaching. Certain things became immediately apparent: the degree of Faculty and individual lecturer autonomy (sovereignty, even) were very much stronger than in England in the light of such independence, the University ‘centre’ found it difficult either to lead or to impose new ICT initiatives and was looking for something to emerge from the faculties themselves. the largely collegiate nature of operation within Faculties and their Departments made it ‘difficult’ for coherent ICT initiatives...

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‘Speed is Everything’ and ‘Small is Beautiful’

By on Jun 24, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

Well it is!  The Tonyversity site had been woefully slow for a while and I couldn’t work out why – neither dared I launch it in such circumstances.  However, my good friend and all-round technological genius, Haider, had a good rummage about in the ICT undergrowth and tweaked the necessary buttons (no doubt taking out any coding mistakes I made and being too nice to tell me!), such that things should be working considerably faster now with a five second load for the front page and three or four for subsequent pages.    Although I’d like to shave a bit off even that, I don’t want to take out the pictures and interactive elements that give it some ‘style’… so the only alternative seems to be a more costly subscription to a much faster server – and that will come with a little time. I have tried the site with different browsers: Firefox, Explorer and the new Google Chrome.  The latter seems by far the faster.  Firefox seems to have a small ‘bug’ somewhere and doesn’t like something called ‘’ on my page /tab: ‘About’. Not quite sure why this is… but there it is!   Will endeavour to find a fix.  Probably the problem will evaporate anyway with the next Firefox update. Hope so. Well, I am about to launch the site and cross my fingers.  Wish me luck!...

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An Illustration of a Tonyversity Learning Programme

By on Jun 10, 2009 in Featured, What we do | 0 comments

A Typical Tonyversity Learning Programme Nature of Enquiry. Contacted by a Senior Manager / Account-Handler of an online marketing consultancy. Request for a relatively intensive programme of higher-level, Business English to be delivered over two months to a key, junior manager / technical specialist in web-design who was being groomed for a promotion to Account Handler. Already I was beginning to see a need for something rather more than the delivery of English teaching, as the leap from technical specialist to presenter, negotiator and relationship-builder would require the development and enhancement of a range of different capabilities (even if English would be the primary language through which these skills would be demonstrated. Initial Meeting with Potential Learner. (Free of charge) I consider that a good relationship between tutor and learner is of critical importance: the better the relationship, the faster and the more enjoyable and productive the learning experience. Accordingly I invited the junior manager to come to meet me and spend some time in English discussing his job, his career aspirations and his specific needs and targets for learning and those of his employer. The meeting was carried out in an informal atmosphere, after work and away from the office, over an apéro. There were no ‘tests’, just relaxed conversation wich developed into drawing together a programme outline that fit both learner and employer targets within the broad resource ‘envelope’ available. Speaking and discussing a little in English also enabled me to establish the existing degree of language confidence and capability. This process took some two hours. In this case (and every case is necessarily different: a Tonyversity programme is tailored to the learner’s individual and distinctive needs & constraints), a programme of 21 hours of face-to-face learning was determined on the basis of 7 weekly sessions of 3 hours duration, timed to complete prior to his Account Handler interview. These sessions took place in the evening at Tonyversity in Bruebach (just South of Mulhouse). In the event, some sessions lasted over 4 hours and some only 2 given the energy level of the learner after a hard day at work. This programme outline (see below), was then costed and submitted with an estimate to the company for...

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Client Review of a Tonyversity Learning Programme

By on Jun 9, 2009 in What we've done | 0 comments

Background Tonyversity recently developed and delivered a bespoke learning programme for a rapidly-rising, young French manager working for a company with a global client base and a requirement for excellence and confidence in English to support client contact, relationship development, contract negotiation etc. The task was therefore to sharpen and apply his English language fluency in all forms and contexts whilst also developing and honing presentation and negotiation technique. The programme lasted 21 hours spread over some seven weeks. The principal (but by no means the only outcomes) were: the raising of his TOEIC score by approaching 200 points, putting him in the ‘gold’ or ‘excellent’ category greater day to day confidence working with clients in English such that he has now received significantly extended management responsibilities and feels well prepared for interview for promotion (also in English). Tonyversity posed him some basic questions upon programme completion, and his ‘open’ responses are as follows: Tonyversity: from our initial meeting – how did you feel the relationship developed? Did we manage to ‘hit it off’ together and did you leave with some confidence that you would be getting what you wanted?    Response: yes for sure! The first meeting gave me the feeling that I can reach my objective because you understood my needs and provided me with a roadmap to meet them. Tonyversity: how did you feel about the idea of being able to discuss and agree together your targets and work on them flexibly? Response: that worked because I didn’t feel like a student… your key to success is definitely your flexibility to follow the needs of your client… Tonyversity: how did the idea of us working together on your own workplace materials and projects work for you? Response: It’s good to work in an environment I already know well, so I prefer to work on materials I’m used to seeing every day (like Powerpoint presentations…). Tonyversity: how was the support between timetabled sessions?   Response: Sure that’s been a help and gave me the confidence that if I’m not sure, I can ask you to help me! Tonyversity: how did the atmosphere here help relax you into learning?    Response: Yeaaah, you know my feeling, it’s more than a relaxed...

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French Universities and Strikes

By on May 15, 2009 in Tonyversity View | 0 comments

I’d better put my neck ‘on the block’ I suppose… I don’t like strikes. They strike me as a failure in the system of managing change. But how else can one express a strongly-held view when the other party is not listening, has little or no intention of moderating its stance and is evidently trying force through ill thought-through, half-baked ideas? In the early 90s, new to university lecturing, I resisted being called out on strike (I wasn’t a union member then anyway), because I had been very strong on making a ‘professional’ contract with my students: I would invest in instant feedback, availability for consultation and support between classes, swift return of work if, for their part, the students would attend, participate, work professionally and meet deadlines. I felt that if I then instantly threw all that up in the air I would never regain my credibility with my students. I felt I was right at the time – and I was, in principle, but I don’t think I had fully appreciated the changes the British government was about to impose on the Higher Education sector and the consequences that would produce in terms of poorer staff-student ratios, less class contact time, massively overworked students trying to invest fully in a degree whilst holding down a significant part-time job to be able to pay the dramatically increased fees and claw back against the inevitable student loan (after the withdrawl of grants). Neither had I foreseen what the pressure for universities to generate their own income would do in marginalising teaching: the ‘gods’ became revenue-earning (consultancy / applied research) and pure research to up the research rating of the University and teaching appeared to be fast becoming a tertiary activity. I should have seen that that was worth manning the barricades for. Some 20 years on and the fiercely independent and collegiate academics in French Universities find themselves on the cusp of the same agenda. Those who are research-focused don’t seem to mind the prospect, but I doubt they have seen all the picture. The Universities remain state-funded but now, under a law from 2008 have a significantly greater measure of autonomy. Naively the Vice-Chancellors felt that this much...

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