Darren Brookes
Connecting Digitally: Engaging ASEAN researchers with online learning spaces and social media

The 2014, 2015 and 2016 Cambodia TESOL Regional Research Grant programs have attracted a wide variety of regional researchers eager to showcase their research in the form of a presentation and paper for the Regional Research Symposium held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia each year. Research grant recipients from a wide range of ASEAN member countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and The Philippines, have been involved over the last three years. Research interests included a diverse array of topics including: ESP, motivation in young learners, writing for technical students, primary teachers' attitudes, the adoption of technology, collaborative learning, and the effect of drama techniques on spoken production. In this session, the UECA project coordinator will present on the various online strategies and social media used to engage this diverse group of researchers across the vast region of South-East Asia. UECA also engaged local mentors from UECA member centres to work one-on-one with research grant recipients to make sure that papers were of a suitable standard not only for presentation, but also for consideration for publication in the Language Education in Asia (LEIA) journal. Some of the researchers were first time writers and presenters and were unable to complete their papers and presentations. So as to not discourage researchers, it was necessary to broaden the definition of success to maintain their involvement in the project and engage more first time presenters. This broadened definition of success enabled the project to be more inclusive and to allow for first time researchers to participate in a supportive environment.

Darren Brookes is the UECA project coordinator for the 2016-2017 Cambodia TESOL ASEAN Regional Research Grant Recipient Mentor program. Darren has led this project since 2013. In the last two renditions of the project, Darren has coordinated a team of local mentors, selected from UECA member centers to work one on one with research grant recipients. Darren holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Queensland. His special interests are Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL). In the regional research grant mentor project, Darren has investigated ways in which to effect online communities of practice for both mentors and researchers using online learning spaces and various social media. Darren is currently running his own educational consultancy in Melbourne (Torrington eLearning Services).