A network to showcase OER for language learning

A network to showcase OER for language learning

Editors note: This post was originally published on the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources blog

The Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) just launched the Language OER Network (LOERN), a page on our website to list language educators who are creating, using, or promoting open educational resources (OER). Every person featured on the page receives an open digital badge from COERLL. In this effort to acknowledge, validate, inspire, and connect open practitioners, we have already distributed badges to 41 teachers, librarians, and administrators.

We built the Language OER Network because we realized that more people than ever have started to understand what we do and are interested in getting involved in their own open projects. We are always thankful to hear from K-12 teachers and community college and university faculty who spend the extra time and energy to find the right open materials to support their students’ language proficiency. The Language OER Network exists to acknowledge this work.

Even though the open movement is gaining momentum, a large number of teachers and administrators either don’t know or misunderstand what OER is. Teachers who do advocate for openness often report that they are doing it alone. Badges provide teachers with proof of their accomplishments, to validate to their colleagues and employers that using and making OER is scholarly, creative work.

Language teachers (plus other staff, administrators, or students involved in OER for languages) can earn as many as six badges on the Language OER Network, for being either an OER Teacher, OER Master Teacher, OER Creator, OER Master Creator, OER Reviewer, or OER Ambassador. From what we’ve seen, this follows the natural progression that many people take, from the basic use of supplementary OER, to the full involvement of sharing the benefits of OER with others. We hope that this set of badges will inspire people to keep opening up, eventually earning all six badges.

We would also love if people embarking on new open projects could look at this page and find others who have similar ideas, to connect with them and potentially collaborate. With the number of people pursuing OER right now, it’s likely that many of them are doing similar projects and could benefit from sharing ideas and resources.

Even though we are publishing the Language OER Network to benefit teachers, it benefits COERLL as well. LOERN will be a tapestry of open language education that will help us demonstrate what this multifaceted movement is all about. Since launching the page in the past month, we are excited to have already learned about new people and projects from across the country. We look forward to hearing from more open educators, and also hope that in the future we can find a way to acknowledge more types of open educational practices, which are just as important as open resources, but harder to quantify.

Read about your colleagues and their open projects, and join the community! https://community.coerll.utexas.edu/

Department of Education proposes OER initiatives to directly impact teachers

Department of Education proposes OER initiatives to directly impact teachers

Photo credit: flickr user opensource.com Creative Commons License

We at the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) could not be happier about two new Department of Education initiatives that not only reinforce the work we do to create and disseminate high quality open instructional materials for language learning but also expand government support for Open Educational Resources (OER) across disciplines.

At the end of October 2015, officials at the Department of Education and in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy welcomed school superintendents, educators, technology representatives, and non-profit leaders to an Open Education Symposium in Washington DC. At that meeting, the Department of Education announced the launch of a new #GoOpen Challenge campaign aimed at encouraging the use of openly licensed educational materials and also proposed a new policy regulation that would require all copyrighted intellectual property created with the support of Department of Education grant funds to carry an open license. In a distinct move away from traditional textbooks, the Department of Education asserted the need for all students to have access to high quality open learning resources.

Added to the recent appointment of the first Open Education Advisor, Andrew Marcinek, the new Department of Education pledge demonstrates that the government is serious about raising OER awareness. This aligns with COERLL’s mission to offer open materials for language learning at low-to-no cost. Unlike traditional course materials, OER may be adjusted and improved to meet the needs of students of all backgrounds in all districts, even the most underfunded ones.

Not surprisingly, some are wondering what the impact of #GoOpen and its support of next generation materials will be for classroom teachers. Importantly, participating districts will save money by adopting low cost OER in place of expensive traditional textbooks. Additionally, teachers will no longer have to worry that they might be breaking the law by inadvertently using copyrighted educational resources in the wrong way. Certainly, as more educators participate in OER creation and dissemination, the sharing of innovative materials and ideas will increase. Teachers will also learn more about best practices and, as they contribute their own materials, gain greater visibility and professional recognition.

If you would like to express your views on the new Department of Education OER policy proposals, you can do so here until December 18. We’d also be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.