What You Need to Know about Creative Commons

What You Need to Know about Creative Commons

From the editor: As the Open Education Week online event continues around the world (March 11-15), we’re giving you this quick tutorial on open licensing.

The goal of Creative Commons licensing is to facilitate a wide distribution of work online. The creator retains some rights, but understands that letting go of his/her work and ideas is the best way to let them grow. (See Set Them Free: How to Share Your Materials by Georges Detiveaux.)

About Creative Commons

All Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow non-commercial educators to use the materials for free as long as they credit the licensor. Most also allow for the remixing and modification of these resources. In addition to providing educators a legal way of finding media for their lessons, students can benefit by producing their own digital projects for credit and then sharing their work online under a CC license.

For those new to creative commons, start at www.creativecommons.org.  If you’re looking for ways to share your work online, check out the Licenses drop-down menu at the top to learn about and choose the right license for you. If you’re looking for resources, go to the Explore box and click Find CC-licensed works to access a metasearch utility. You can search some of the largest sites for different types of media, and you can restrict search results to those available under a Creative Commons license.

And Much More …

In addition to the Creative Commons website, you can also search for resources on the internet by specific media. Most of the sites I list below allow you to narrow the results to those with CC licenses. Some of these sites are part of the Creative Commons metasearch mentioned above, although I have found that searching for resources on the individual sites lets you search with greater granularity. 

Audio

  • ccMixter  – Music collection, great for podcast introductions and video backgrounds.
  • freeSound – Sounds, especially background sounds for digital productions. For example, a digital story about Spain can include the sounds of the subway in Madrid.
  • Macaulay Library – Sounds of nature, note they have their own terms of use.

Video

  • Youtube – It isn’t obvious how to narrow your selection to Creative Commons videos. Do a general search first, and then choose Creative Commons by clicking on the Filters tool under the search field.
  • Vimeo – Similar to YouTube, you have to do a general search first, and then click the Show Advanced Filters button to select a Creative Commons license.

Images

  • Flickr – This photo sharing site was one of the original driving engines for the popularity of creative commons resources. Many government agencies and museums host their collections there, which makes it odd that you have to do a general search first then click the Advanced Search link before you can select the Creative Commons checkbox at the bottom.
  • 500px – A rival photo sharing site.  You search by specific Creative Commons licenses, which may be a positive or negative.
  • Realia Project – Their image collection is much smaller, but if you’re not looking for something specific it can be a good place for ideas. They don’t have a specific license, but allow non-commercial use to educators.

In addition, there are many public domain resources that are freely available for use, usually because the works were created by the government or their copyright has expired. Many public domain resources can be found at the Internet Archive.  (Even if you aren’t looking for anything specific, the Wayback Machine is worth a look.)

If you have other resources, please include them in the comments below.

ProfileToddBryantTodd Bryant (@MixxerSite or @bryantt) is a liaison to the foreign language departments for the Academic Technology group at Dickinson College and an adjunct German instructor. He created The Mixxer to help connect language students with native speakers. His interests include the immersive effect of games in service of foreign language learning, such as the use of World of Warcraft to teach German.

For more information on  searching Creative Commons, see COERLL’s infographic How to Search for Openly Licensed Educational Resources.

Open Up on Open Education Week

Open Up on Open Education Week

Are you new to the concept of open education? Do you need a crash course on the lingo, the collective mission, and what’s available out there for educators and learners? You’re in luck.

March 11-15 is Open Education Week. A week-long online festival where “more than 100 universities, colleges, schools and organizations from all over the world come together to showcase what they’re doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone.” The goal of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities.

Check out COERLL‘s contributions to the Resources section:

 

BOLDD: At the Speed of Language

BOLDD: At the Speed of Language

It’s the current speed and ubiquity of growth of online language learning at the beginning levels that has brought together an open community of designers, teachers, teacher trainers, and scholars, calling ourselves the BOLDD (Basic Online Language Design & Delivery) Collaboratory. We experiment and interact, sometimes face-to-face, but more often using the very social media and electronic tools of our emergent, open access economy.

On the top page of the BOLDD wiki you can see the who, what, where, for whom, how, and why of this collaboratory. Whoever has the link can view our work and any member can accord full editorial access and status to newcomers. We welcome lurking, but ask that visitors contribute to and share with the collective.

Some of us have designed whole programs for the institutions we teach at, for instance, I’ve created a four-course suite for beginning-intermediate French for VCU. Some have created a course or two, some are freelance, some focus on teacher preparation, some are in the planning stages.

How one collaborates and what one shares depend upon the individual. What individuals produce runs the gamut, from entirely open access to grant funded to institutional to proprietary materials and courses. Whatever BOLDD produces collaboratively, however, is OER and open to anyone.

Much of our collaboration thus far has been to identity and organize ourselves and to start sharing our knowledge and resources at regional and national conferences. In 2012 we presented at CALICO , FLAVA , ACTFL , and the University of Pennsylvania Symposium 2012. The Google Presentations we co-created for each venue are attached to the wiki.

Kathryn_workshopThis year, subgroups of our collective will hold workshops at NECTFL, SCOLT, CALICO, FLAVA and, hopefully, at ACTFL again. Subgroups are, likewise, beginning to work on a position paper for ACTFL on the adaptations of the ACTFL Standards for the entirely online environment that will underscore their foundational place, all the while accounting for the specificities (and range thereof) of the environment for learners, teachers, content and media.

The field is pretty much the Wild, Wild West — with the good, the bad, and the ugly and a bit of the fast and the furious thrown in. We look to thinkers like social media theorist Clay Shirky to contemplate the workings of collaborative social media for our learners as well as for ourselves and our institutions. (See Use Your Cognitive Surplus to Improve Foreign Language Education by Carl Blyth.)

The products, practices and perspectives for individual deliverables as well as what we create for BOLDD are part of a radical new economy that we don’t entirely have a handle on! The ‘value’ attributed to online learning circulates and has different, ofttimes conflicting, meaning for administrators, designers, teachers, learners and other stakeholders (communities, families, governments). Several of us, in fact, are checking out a Spanish MOOC, thanks to the suggestion of Marlene Johnshoy of CARLA. Marlene invited all BOLDD educators considering aspects of this learning platform to participate in the Spanish MOOC. She obtained permission from the instructor, Scott Rapp, asking if we “teacher-lurkers” could participate.  Then she set up a discussion board for us to chat about our experiences  “lurked.”

Questions we are asking ourselves and you:

  • What percentage of basic (first and second year) language classes do you see being delivered entirely online in 5 years? 10 years?  
  • Do you think it will affect the overall percentage of  foreign language students at the post secondary level (see: MLA 2009 survey that shows in 1965 16.5% of college students took a foreign language v. only 8.6% in 2009)? 

Please join the conversation and the ride!

KathrynKathryn Murphy-Judy, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University), teaches French and global media literacies and works in technology enhanced language learning (TELL). She has designed and delivered online French for first and second year and founded the BOLDD Collaboratory to share via social media good design and teaching practices in online language courses.

To read more about innovative collaboration in language education, check out ACTFL Innovates: Think Outside the Book by Tom Welch.

10 French Resources for Students Anywhere

10 French Resources for Students Anywhere

When I first started teaching French, I certainly could not have envisioned that all my classes would be held online, that my students might be in Hong Kong, deployed in Afghanistan, or figure-skating outside of Paris — all actively pursuing their Associate degrees from Northern Virginia Community College. But this is the case.

What my students have in common are their computers and tablets, microphones and mobile devices. Our landscape is radically different because we have Skype, our Learning Management System (LMS) with its discussion board and external links, and more recently, a free and open communication tool called Google Hangout! Now we can chat and share screens and assignments in real time or later on. For reference material, we start with Google and all kinds of Wikimedia, in addition to our college library website.

This is the open world I always hoped for — to bring education to the many and to make a dent in the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” And never in this world has it been more necessary.

Since 2000, I have been an editor of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT). A pioneer in the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement,  MERLOT constitutes a one-stop site for educators who need to design a robust learning environment for their students.

Today, I want to share a few of my top tools for studying French with MERLOT. My students use and like these resources. The materials are easy to find and free, as an OER should be:

Laura’s Top 10 French Resources (Les Incontournables)

To access the following sites, click on the links or go to www.merlot.org and enter the boldfaced titles in the search field.

  1. Francais interactifWhen my students need a concise example of language in context, Tex’s French Grammarjust one component of Francais Interactif, provides brief and humorous dialogues to illustrate structure points, bref. Complements what students learn in my course. Includes an excellently moderated Facebook page which my students visit for extra credit. Students from around the globe interact and share great video and music.
  2. LangMedia Foreign Language Media ArchiveDirect access to culture and language through short student-produced videos with target language transcripts, realia, and language by country index. Editor’s Choice Winner!
  3. COERLL: Interactive multimedia learning materials in a variety of languages including LCTLS, many with five-star peer reviews in MERLOT. User-friendly and impeccably designed.
  4. REALIA Project: Language faculty provide target language realia online for educational use by instructors and students. Every picture tells a story leading to target language instruction.
  5. Today’s Front Pages: Target language newspapers with a pdf to the front page and links to the online version. Great for all levels and languages.
  6. Lexiquefle: Quick and easy target language vocabulary modules from Thierry Perrot. Online students get to hear a different accent than mine!
  7. Forvo: The largest pronunciation guide in the world. Users verify the pronunciation of words they are learning.
  8. BonPatron: A grammar corrector that finds spelling errors and grammar mistakes in French.
    BonPatron
  9. ISL Collective Fiches FLE Gratuites: Quick access to French worksheets for students who like to learn that way.
  10. French Listening Resources: From Jennie Wagner, because you cannot get enough listening texts when you study online.

What kinds of resources do you think are essential to making your online class a more complete learning environment for your students? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

LauraLaura Franklin teaches French online at the Extended Learning Institute, Northern Virginia Community College. She is one of the original Co-Editors of MERLOT World Languages. For information on becoming a MERLOT World Languages Peer Reviewer, contact Laura at lfranklin@nvcc.edu.

To read more about teaching languages using free OER, see Why I Love and Hate My Spanish MOOC by Fernando Rubio.

Remix TED Resources to Teach English Around the World

Remix TED Resources to Teach English Around the World

A few days ago a friend of mine who also teaches in Italy asked me whether I could help her look for materials she could share with the foreign language teachers at the school. They wanted to remix the materials and turn them into Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) resources.

As a teacher of English as a foreign language to university students majoring in a variety of subjects, I find TED Talks extremely useful to provide authentic listening on a variety of topics ranging from technology, entertainment and design to economics, biology and the role of women in the world, to mention but a few. Now TED offers these other sites:

  • TEDyouth  Videos from the TEDyouth conferences could certainly be used with secondary school pupils.
  • TEDx  The advent of TEDx — independently organised TED-like events in the whole world — has also extended the languages of the talks beyond English. This is good news for teachers of other languages.
  • TED-Ed  A different but related source of materials that we looked at are the lessons included in the TED-Ed website. These are OER which are designed to teach a variety of subjects. Most are more suitable to secondary than tertiary education and, although they are not designed to teach English as a foreign language, they could easily be transformed into resources for CLIL). In any case, the exceptional opportunity provided within the website – “flipping” the lesson, in other words, adapting it to a different context – makes such adaptations to the foreign language classroom particularly easy to share. A key element in this is, of course, the Creative Commons Licence of the resources.

Here’s one TED-Ed lesson that my friend particularly liked: “How folding paper can get you to the Moon.”

Not only is this an intriguing math story, and a stimulating way to introduce the concept of exponential growth, but in terms of  language teaching, it offers authentic examples of  conditional sentences. The fact that the author, Adrian Paenza, is not a native English speaker makes this lesson particularly appropriate.

My friend and I welcome your help in recommending other open educational resources which are appropriate for CLIL, especially in languages other than English. Thanks!

Ana1Ana Beaven is a teacher of English as a foreign language at CILTA, the University of Bologna language Centre. In 2012 she organised the Eurocall CMC & Teacher Education SIGs Annual Workshop on the subject of “Learning through Sharing: Open Resources, Open Practices, Open Communication.” 

MOOCs + Learning Networks = The Mixxer

MOOCs + Learning Networks = The Mixxer

At first glance, a survey of the most popular MOOCs seems to offer little to those in the foreign languages.  The format most closely resembles a large university lecture course and seems to be a poor fit for language courses, which ideally are small to allow maximum production and feedback from the instructor as well as personal interaction with peers in the target language.

However,  you might not realize the original MOOC, now often called a cMOOC, created by George Siemens and Stephen Downes focused on having students create their own learning networks of practice and reflection.  As a result, the format of a cMOOC included a web of rss feeds from blogs, link aggregators, and Twitter created and consumed by the instructors and learners.

Instead of looking at what’s missing, let’s think of the possibilities.

What if language learning MOOCs offered ways to foster online learning networks? Think of the advantages in connecting language learners with native speakers for mutual exchanges. Language exchanges are well established in our discipline, and by combining these exchanges with the content and structure of a traditional course, we can provide our students with a richer experience. And informal learners familiar with learning networks but who don’t have access to traditional coursework could receive structured language education.

This is the goal for The Mixxer, a website I created for connecting language learners and teachers for exchanges via Skype. This semester I plan to add to the networking site two short MOOCs — English as a foreign language and Spanish. I’m working on creating lessons to address the core skills using open educational resources from COERLLConnexions, and BBC Languages. The lessons will include activities for learners to complete with their language partners that build upon the content. The Mixxer already has functions for learners to connect with a language partner, but to further facilitate this I’m adding regular open events whereby native English and Spanish speakers who signed up for either course will be matched and connected to each other via Skype.

I am just starting on the lessons and am anxious for links to more open content, preferably like those from COERLL that have a structured sequence of content and exercises.  If you know any other open resources or have ideas for EFL or Spanish lessons, I’d very much appreciate a comment below.

Todd Bryant (@MixxerSite or @bryantt) is the liaison to the foreign language departments for the Academic Technology group at Dickinson College and an adjunct instructor of German. Todd created The Mixxer to help connect language students with native speakers. His interests include the immersive effect of games in service of foreign language learning, such as the use of World of Warcraft to teach German.

Open Ed Isn’t Just about Free — It’s about Community

Open Ed Isn’t Just about Free — It’s about Community

Late last year, Pearson announced its plans to launch Project Blue Sky, a portal for building your own digital textbook by choosing from a menu of for-profit Pearson resources along with as a selection of open educational resources (OER). The announcement set off a firestorm of comments in the educational blogosphere about

  • whether companies should utilize free materials for profit,
  • the intentions of the publisher,
  • doubts on whether the resource will make a difference.

Here we’d like to focus our conversation on one aspect of open education which we see missing on the preview site: the facilitation of collaboration amongst end-users (teachers and students).

Particularly in language learning, educators acknowledge the powerful impact collaborative environments have on students. Technology offers new ways for this to happen. Ask any student who has created a video project to share on YouTube or recorded a podcast segment to post on a class blog site. When learners get connected to other learners, language improves. In the same way, when educators collaborate by sharing resources and teaching methods, both the resources and practices improve exponentially.

Finding free resources online is only the first step. In order for open resources to obtain the level of reliability and sophistication textbook publishers claim they lack, forums for collaboration are absolutely necessary. Purveyors of OER understand this is where quality control happens, along with standard peer-review processes.

Several non-profit open language portals (MERLOT, Connexions) offer the kind of modular, teacher-created resource that Project Blue Sky is presenting; however, they include the built-in system for end-users to easily collaborate, remix, and re-present resources for public use. All of this is in service of facilitating on-going improvements and modifications to make a resource best serve individual classroom needs.

So what are your thoughts on the topic: Why is it important for teachers (and students) to have hands-on, immediate, and on-going involvement in the creation of online language resources?