A report from Andrew Green (current MA onsite student) who attended the OER session in Preston
On Friday 1st June, I attended a very interesting workshop in Preston at the University of Central Lancashire. The workshop was on Open Educational Resources in Languages. Before the summary, there are some other events coming up in different parts of the UK which Fil Nereo, a Manchester graduate working with Higher Education Academy, talked about in his introduction. These include the HEA Annual Conference in Manchester 3rd and 4th of July; Engaging Alumni to Support Languages and Internationalisation York 9th July; and the Role of Corpora in LSP Learning and Teaching 23rd July in Leeds. More details and other events at www.heacademy.ac.uk
Michael Thomas, Manchester MA TESOL alumni, was the workshop organiser. There were four presenters. The first was Jonathan Darby from the Open University, director of the SCOPE project, supporting OERs in education. He gave a useful definition of OER: “Digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research”. (Giving Knowledge for Free: The emergence of Open Educational Resources, OECD 2007).
David Wiley and other leaders in the field use the four ‘Rs’ of using materials created by others and shared
Re-use – use the resource as found
Rework – change the resource to better meet your/ your students need
Re-mix – combine more than one resource (as found or altered)
Redistribute – share the resource (again) for others
- Learners; resources are free and findable and can be used/ shared synchronously and asynchronously
- Teachers; resources provide inspiration, a basis to build on, potential involvement in communities of practice
- Institutions; can be showcased to widen the pool of applications for courses and programmes which can cut recruitment costs. Collaboration with public and commercial organisations
- Governments and agencies; Jonathan gave the example of Indonesia where the government rates more highly universities who share lots of resources as they try to transform Higher Education
Whilst OERs are free, they are still subject to licence. The Creative Commons is a way to share your work and allow others to use it, but you must be attributed as the owner of the work. In addition, the sharing can be on the basis of no changes to your original work which would mean it could only be used in the same form under the terms of the licence.
For searching, examples include Google, Flickr and Xpert. Set the advanced search options to find ‘Creative Commons’ resources such as images and music.
If you want to share your own resources, make sure content is accessible, in a widely available format. If you wish to allow others to change your work, Word is easier to modify than PDF. Select and attach a ‘Creative Commons’ licence.
The second speaker was Kate Borthwick from Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton. She spoke about Humbox (see link above), a repository for teaching and learning resources. Here, registered users can upload a profile so those with similar interests can interact and e-mail communication is possible. The number of downloads for a resource can be seen to gauge its popularity.
For professional development:
- You can demonstrate skills in content/ pedagogy/ technology
- You can demonstrate excellence and good practice
- Good for future employability, especially if your resource has been downloaded
- You can reflect on your own practice
Kate also mentioned a project for part-time, hourly paid university language tutors who, research suggests, can feel undervalued and unrecognised in teaching only contracts in language centres separate from the main university academics. The project is funded by JISC and is called FAVOR- Finding a Voice through Open Resources. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/ukoer3/favor.aspx
The third session was presented by Miguel Arrebola, Senior lecturer and Spanish Language Co-ordinator at the University of Portsmouth. His session focussed on the notion of student as producer. He showed a very interesting project where University students of Spanish were engaged in producing an L2 magazine, preparing questions and talking about the experience in L2. He proposed learners as being more than consumers of knowledge. With adequate supervision, they can be enhance learning that has taken place by making materials which demonstrate this knowledge and which can then be used as an input resource for next year’s students. Students as producers develop generic skills too, such as interview skills, content production and editing.
Where students are sourcing and creating work, for teachers it is important to:
Check for copyright materials and plagiarism
Correct factual errors
Discuss with students the ethics of interviewing other people
The final presentation was by Tita Beavan from the Open University and reinforced many of the benefits of OER already mentioned. In addition, she spoke about LORO and about feedback and quality. Research participants reported that feedback was a good idea, but very few posted comments on resources they had used. Institutions can be seen as a brand where they are trusted (or not) as producing good resources. There may be some variability but the key thing is making sure they are suitable for your context, adapting where necessary, within the terms of the licence.
Speaking about the associated Wiki https://oersynth.pbworks.com Tita suggested aspects of quality include legality, accessibility, metadata/ discoverability and accompanying information such as pedagogy, how the original resource was used.
In summary OER can be shared and downloaded or just browsed and downloaded to enhance teaching and learning. Being involved in communities and sharing can lead to enhanced individual practice and collaboration with others, including potential for funded projects such as some examples (above) already seen. The potential at local and international level is increasing.
Andrew Green 2/6/12