Read the license!

Read the license!

Photo credit: flickr user Eden, Janine and Jim Creative Commons License

From the editor: COERLL advocates for the use of Creative Commons (CC) licenses over copyright wherever possible. But in either case, it is essential that users always look for the CC or the © on the work they use and distribute, and understand what those symbols mean about their rights. Martina Bex gives a teacher’s personal perspective why usage and distribution rights are important. 

A few weeks ago, I used Google to find the link to one of my products. I typed in “bex monstruo armario”, and there it was! Yes! The first link that popped up was a direct link to the product on TeachersPayTeachers.com. That should have been the end of the story, but unfortunately it was only just beginning.

My heart sank as I realized that the next two…four…seven links were all direct-download links to my powerpoint presentation that were stored on slide sharing websites and personal classroom pages. “Are you kidding me!?” I exclaimed out loud. I felt my stomach begin to tie itself in knots. As I clicked through link after link, I my heart start to pound harder and harder in my chest. I clenched my teeth and my ears started getting hot. WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?

Copyright infringement is something that publishers deal with constantly. For many, it has become such a frequent occurrence that they have hired personnel to identify and pursue violations. I am not a publisher; I’m a stay at home mom with a 5 year old, a 3.5 year old, a 2.5 year old, a 1 year old, and another baby on the way that oh-by-the-way-happens-to-write-lesson-plans. I don’t have the money to hire someone to make sure that no one is posting my materials online; nor do I have the time to regularly search for each of the hundreds of products that I sell to make sure that they haven’t been posted anywhere. I don’t have time to track down the contact information of violators; draft emails, letters, and submit takedown requests; and follow up to make sure that the files are removed. I especially don’t have the time or money to hire a lawyer that will pursue financial reparation. And yet, I don’t have a choice. When you’re wounded, you’ve got to stop the bleeding.

I realize that most of the time, teachers violate digital copyright law innocently. In an effort to connect classroom and home or to find easy solutions for the “I-teach-in-six-different-classrooms” problem, teachers upload PDFs of the materials that they use in class to their classroom websites or to slide sharing websites. It never occurs to them that the little link posted on their page would pop up in the first page of a Google search—even with general terms—for anyone in the world to be able to access and download.

I’m here today to tell you that the files on your public, non-password protected website do show up in a simple Google search, and that your careless mistake is hurting me. I’ll never know how much income I have lost due to copyright violations. Perhaps because I can’t possibly know the amount, loss of income doesn’t bother me much. What really infuriates me is watching my to-do list become completely derailed, week after week, as infringements are brought to my attention. Three hours spent dealing with copyright concerns means that I don’t have time to respond to the 10 emails that I received yesterday from teachers asking for advice. It means that even though I promised a group of teachers that a unit would be finished by the time they needed it this Friday, it won’t be. It means that the article that I wanted to write and share—FREE—for teachers to use to talk about the situation in Venezuela will never get written.

Somehow, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize!” doesn’t seem like enough.

Please, dear teachers, take the time to learn about how files can be used and shared, whether copyrighted or carrying a Creative Commons license. Take the time to educate your colleagues. And if you ever stumble upon a file that is being shared illegally online, please send the link to the copyright holder.

Martina Bex is a former Spanish teacher in Anchorage, Alaska with a passion for using comprehensible input to explore culture in the target language beginning in Novice classes.

OER: Flexible materials for flexible learners

OER: Flexible materials for flexible learners

Photo credit: flickr user Daniel Garcia Neto Creative Commons License

From the editor: We recently heard from Bret Chernoff, an independent learner who has been using various Portuguese learning products on COERLL’s Brazilpod portal. Bret shows how a flexible language learner can use open educational resources (OER) to fit their needs and their abilities. How a learner or a teacher uses educational materials is just as important as the materials themselves! Here’s what Bret shared with us.

Before Portuguese I had the classic “high school Spanish” experience, which taught grammar and test-taking well. I had two University of Washington (UW) quarters of Spanish and then began 8 years of Korean, beginning at the UW and then in South Korea. I am a C1 in Korean and a low A2 in Spanish.

I started Portuguese in April 2014 with popular language programs such as Michel Thomas, Living Language and Assimil. My experience with Spanish facilitated the initial learning of grammar, and a very close Brazilian friend of mine helped with actualizing the grammar in conversations.

In June I found Brazilpod – what a discovery! I jumped right into Tá Falado and beamed in on the pronunciation rules, first within the entire episode, and then isolating the dialogues and shadowing (more on shadowing) them in my car during my commute and on walks around my neighborhood, consciously focusing on the pronunciation highlighted in the episode. I then did the same with the Tá Falado grammar series.

Next was Conversa Brasileira, although it was above my level. It was so innovative I couldn’t resist. I watched each episode in the following manner:

1 – PT subtitles
2 – PT subtitles with notes
3 – PT subtitles
4 – EN subtitles
5 – PT subtitles

I achieved a Gestalt effect through this method, understanding the flow of the conversation without knowing every phrase or word by heart. By internalizing the melody and rhythm of how Brazilians speak I was able to have more spontaneous interactions with Brazilians I met in my daily life, because I was not thrown off by their cadence and intonation. This is a strong advantage of Brazilpod’s material – it is not hermetically sealed in a studio recording, but breathes with authenticity. I was also able to make inferences of meaning in conversations I would have without knowing all the words.

Soon after, Língua da gente became my go-to listening practice during my commute. The commentary on the grammar alone demands multiple listens, and the dialogues are good slices of real Portuguese. I shadowed these as well during my commute and while walking around my neighborhood. I created a playlist of all the dialogues from the elementary and intermediate episodes and shadowed them routinely until I started to memorize them. By doing this I was able to imitate more accurately intonation and pronunciation, and words started to truly sink in.

Nowadays I use ClicaBrasil to great effect, especially in tandem with a native speaker. Brazilpod has such a wealth of material and should be a true cornerstone of Portuguese self-study. That being said, study material can only take one so far, and the true magic of good study material shows itself with a native speaker. Friends like Cassio, Rodrigo, Vitor, Sanchaine, Junha, Pedro, Emmanuel, and my lifelong friend Alessandra, they brought to life the Portuguese language in my life. I can’t thank them enough for that. And I guess I can extend the same gratitude to Orlando, Vivian, and everyone at UT Austin for making high quality open-source material ripe for studying. Obrigadão!

portuguesebret_resizeBret Chernoff  is an avid language learner and music artist. He is one of the principal songwriters in the Seattle band Colorworks.

David Wiley’s Remix Hypothesis: using OER to rethink teaching

David Wiley’s Remix Hypothesis: using OER to rethink teaching

David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning and OER advocate, spoke at the University of Texas to kick off the Year of Open, a series of events sponsored by the UT Libraries and the Center for Learning Sciences. Wiley is well known in Open Education circles for his “5 R’s” framework of OER (reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain).

To get the audience to think about the broader benefits of OER, Wiley discussed his “Remix Hypothesis.” In brief, the “Remix Hypothesis” states that changes in student outcomes occurring in conjunction with OER adoption correlate positively with three faculty practices:

  • “replace” — substituting a text or a book for another
  • “realign” — finding ways to “mix and match” materials, using some open materials mixed with closed materials
  • “rethink” — thinking about what you can do with open resources that you couldn’t do before, essentially rethinking teaching methods

Replacing has the smallest impact, whereas realigning has a medium impact. The most profound impact comes from rethinking, because it’s not just about adding new materials but rather inventing new teaching practices and getting students and teachers to do things they have never done before. Details about the Remix Hypothesis can be found on Wiley’s blog, but in general, the hypothesis boils down to this: Open Educational Resources, unlike most closed materials, foster deep reflection about teaching and learning.

In one of his examples, Wiley talked about a class he taught in which students rewrote a textbook together. This required more than a simple change in textbook, it was a new way of teaching the class. As a consequence, the students had a real sense of pride in doing good work. For example, Wiley noted that his students invested more time and effort into the class because they knew others would see their work.

Another example of OER fostering a rethinking of pedagogical practice comes from Joanna Luks’ COERLL project, the open French textbook Le littéraire dans le quotidien (The Literary in the Everyday), which she uses to teach French in ways that go beyond the conventional. Joanna wanted to change her students’ habits by giving them a grading rubric and asking them to do extensive peer reviews of each other’s work before handing in their final products. By building these practices into her own OER, Joanna was able to engage her students in ways that she found lacking in commercial materials.

Most people cite cost savings and updated materials as the major benefits of OER. But according to Wiley’s “Remix Hypothesis,” the greatest promise of OER lies in helping teachers and learners to rethink their own educational practices.

Ecologies of Knowledge: The Role of Libraries and Librarians in the OER Movement

Ecologies of Knowledge: The Role of Libraries and Librarians in the OER Movement

Our presentation at this year’s AAAL conference highlighted several findings from a survey distributed to 155 university-level language program directors (LPDs). The study provides a snapshot of the progress of open education in the field of language learning in the United States. In one section of the survey, we asked LPDs questions about whether or not they had considered the library as a resource to support development and use of open educational resources (OER) in their foreign language (FL) programs. Seventy-three percent of respondents indicated that they had not considered the university library as a resource. This particular finding underscores the need for increased collaboration between LPDs and their institution’s library/librarians. This unique cross-disciplinary relationship will be key to the ongoing proliferation and incorporation of OER materials and tools in FL education.

University libraries are, at their very core, diverse knowledge ecosystems that provide a wide range of services and materials to the university at large. With respect to FL education, librarians can be vital partners in the process of encouraging FL faculty to incorporate OER in their courses. These information professionals excel in areas of evaluation, location, and organization, and each of these topics represents an area critical to the widespread adoption of OER. We have only scratched the surface of the potential of OER and the benefits of collaboration between librarians and the disciplines. Some interesting examples are out there: UMass Amherst Libraries; Open Textbook Library (University of Minnesota); PDX Open (Portland State University); and Open Course Library (Washington Community & Technical College). However, as you see in these examples, foreign languages are underrepresented. The bright side of this is that we are at a moment of exciting opportunity and potential.

Successful libraries are always evaluating the services they provide and asking what they can do to better serve their constituents—students, faculty, and staff, and in our current environment a crucial part of the answer to that question for all of these user groups is “embrace open!” This is a common thread within the OER movement in that it is, at some level, about improving the learning experience for students. We all know about the economic reasons for embracing OER, but the benefits of OER go far beyond the economics. Open educational resources can add authenticity and vitality to the foreign language classroom and create an environment where both students and faculty are more engaged participants.

 

Becky Photo_Small

Becky Thoms is the Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian at Merrill-Cazier Library at Utah State University. She manages USU’s Institutional Repository and provides education and outreach services related to intellectual property, scholarly communication, and all things open.

 

 

HeadShot_OpenUp_Thoms

Joshua J. Thoms is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Applied Linguistics at Utah State University. His research interests include the role of classroom discourse in L2 learning and teaching, computer-mediated language learning, and issues related to foreign language textbooks/materials.

Explore Open Education Week 2014

Explore Open Education Week 2014

The third annual Open Education Week celebration is underway this week, March 10th – 15th. The event is organized by the Open CourseWare Consortium, and serves as an opportunity for the global community of open education practitioners, educators, and creators to raise awareness about the movement and demonstrate the impact open resources and open practices have on teaching and learning throughout the world.

The Open Education Week website acts as landing page for a wide variety of events, resources, and other information about Open Education.  Spend a bit of time on the site to find an events taking place around the world, including free online webinars, locally hosted events, conferences, and even online discussions and forums.

Here is a taste of the webinars happening this week that may be of interest to foreign language educators:

March 10, 2014
eMundus: Open education, open online courses and virtual mobility

March 11, 2014
Opening Up Together: Forming an Open Educational Resources Collaborative

March 13, 2014
Resources for Teaching English as a Second Language

March 14, 2014
Sustainability in OER for less used languages

Over the next week (and beyond), we are eager to begin uncovering all the amazing resources within the Open Education Week website. We certainly encourage you to do the same and look forward to hearing from you about your participation in Open Education Week – especially about which resources you found helpful or inspirational.

Visit http://www.openeducationweek.org for more information about the week and events happening in your area.

Meet Us At the ACTFL Digital Badge Booth!

Meet Us At the ACTFL Digital Badge Booth!

The ACTFL 2013 Convention Network is growing — more than 450 attendees have signed up to earn a digital badge for engaging and sharing professional interests with the foreign language community. How can you join in? Go to the ACTFL Digital Badges site and click Become a Convention Networker to sign up. Then follow the steps to earning your ACTFL professional development badge, like these 21st century FL professionals:

Why Digital Badges?

COERLL partnered with ACTFL to bring you this badge-earning opportunity because we see the potential for digital badges as an alternative and effective method of credentialing and tracking professional development. In our Fall 2013 newsletter, Digital Badges for an Open World, we enlisted leaders in this movement to help us vision cast the future of digital badges.

In the newsletter, Evan Rubin, Director of Instructional Technology at LARC (our partners in FL digital badge initiatives) shares:

evan“I have very high expectations for badges in foreign languages. I imagine badges taking on gamified elements, where leaderboards will highlight high achievers. General statistics about any individual’s activity and performance could be accessed. I envision a community of practice in which participants will be proud to share their badges online, and where a sense of fun and friendly competition will motivate language professionals to create their own online personal learning networks (PLNs). …

Badges serve educators by allowing them to pursue a professional development agenda that is more customizable in every respect, without losing an ounce of rigor, but rather offering the possibility of a more interactive and more rigorous, continuing education.

Badges can serve administrators by providing the opportunity for faculty to design and deliver a professional development agenda, while still allowing them to vet and verify the status and standing of any current or prospective teacher on their staff. This goal will lead us into the future.”

You can join Evan and hundreds of other Convention Networkers who will be making meaningful connections at ACFTL 2013 and earning their very own digital badge. Go to actflbadges.org.

And when you arrive at the convention in Orlando, come see us at the Digital Badge booth. Find out more about how it works and meet other Convention Networkers f2f!

ACTFL-FloorPlan-booth-location

Also, please stop by the COERLL booth to find out about our open (free) educational resources and professional development for FL education:

ACTFL-COERLL-Booth

Make Professional Connections With Digital Badges

Make Professional Connections With Digital Badges

Today, we’ll hear from Abby Dings, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Spanish Language Program at Southwestern University, about digital badges for growing your professional network.

DingsDigital badges are poised to play a central role in Continuing Professional Education for language educators. Digital badges allow educators to explore areas that interest them, and to join peer communities focused on similar topics. The opportunities for networking and sharing expertise and ideas are valuable aspects of many badge challenges.”

See COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter for the full text. Abby is co-developer of a badge system to work in conjunction with the Spanish Corpus Proficiency Level Training website.

ACTFL-digital-badge

Earn a Digital Badge at ACTFL 2013

The ACFTL 2013 Convention Networker badge is a great example of how digital badges increase your professional exposure and create interest-specific connections.

Connect with Abby Dings and other language professionals who have joined the Convention Network so far. Search for members with common professional interests or languages. Then click Become a Convention Networker to begin making meaningful and lasting connections with your ACTFL colleagues!

 

Digital Badges Showcase Your Achievements

Digital Badges Showcase Your Achievements

ACTFL-digital-badgeAs part of our digital badge education series leading up to the ACTFL 2013 Convention, we’d like you to hear from teachers, administrators and other foreign language professionals about why badges matter.

First, a quick crash course on digital badges as a growing and effective means of showcasing your professional achievements …

411 On Digital Badges
  • Badge issuers include universities, professional organizations and language resource centers.
  • Badge earners can display these digital representations of professional development on personal websites, Facebook pages or wikispaces. Visit  openbadges.org to learn how to display your digital badges online.

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  •  Viewers (e.g. peers, employers) who click on the digital badge can see important information, including the badge issuer and a course description. Viewers also see what the badge represents, including achievements, skills, competencies, community involvement, CPE credits earned, evidence for formal or informal learning, links to portfolio work and other details reflecting the merit of the badge.

In COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter, Austin ISD World Languages Coordinator Tina Dong talked about how digital badges could make a difference for the teachers she evaluates:

COERLL_TDong_091613“I see potential for badges to be a reflection of a teacher’s language proficiency, their ability to differentiate instruction or to integrate 21st century skills and their knowledge of how to embed culture into instruction. In addition to teachers having an innovative way to visually display such attainments, it would help me determine which teachers can lead professional development workshops in certain areas.”

See the newsletter for the full text.

ACTFL 2013 attendees can go to actflbadges.org to earn a Convention Networker badge today! Connect with Tina Dong and other language professionals in the network.

Maximize Your ACTFL 2013 Convention Experience — Earn A Digital Badge

Maximize Your ACTFL 2013 Convention Experience — Earn A Digital Badge

If you’re attending the 2013 ACTFL convention in Orlando, we wanted to let you know about an exciting opportunity to earn a digital badge called the “Convention Networker.”

ACTFL-digital-badgeCOERLL and ACTFL have partnered together to develop this badge to showcase your efforts in connecting and networking with other convention attendees — f2f and through social media. Why is this important? Digital badges are fast becoming the means of showcasing professional experience and knowledge.

 

Watch this video for a quick ramp-up on badges:

 

ACTFL President and Loveland High School French teacher Toni Theisen recently shared her excitement about badges in COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter:

COERLL-Newsletter-Fall2#1B0“I want ACTFL members to learn about the badge concept and the potential of recognizing their skills and expertise at a more detailed level. This is why we are partnering with COERLL to present the first ever ACTFL badge. ACTFL can lead the way for developing ideas of using badges to recognize many possibilities of professional teaching and learning through multiple paths of credentialing.”

See COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter for the full text.

Then visit www.actflbadges.org to sign up and find out what you need to do to earn your ACTFL 2013 digital badge.

Leading up to the convention, stay tuned to learn more about the potential of digital badges for foreign language professionals.

Language Classrooms Are Opening Up

Language Classrooms Are Opening Up

From the editor: On this European Day of Languages, we are happy to announce the publication of Case Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom, co-edited by Open Up contributors Barbara Sawhill and Ana Beaven, with third co-editor Anna Comas-Quinn (The Open University, UK). The book itself is an open resource and available for free download. COERLL Director Carl Blyth contributes a case study on eComma, an open application for social reading. And frequent Open Up contributor Todd Bryant presents a chapter on his free language exchange website, The Mixxer. Please see the press release below for more details.

Case studiesCase Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom is a compilation of case studies written by practitioners in different educational settings who are exploring the concept of openness in language teaching and learning.

The idea for this volume emerged during the conference “Learning through Sharing: Open Resources, Open Practices, Open Communication,” organised by the EUROCALL Teacher Education and Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) Special Interest Groups at the University of Bologna (Italy) in March 2012.

“We felt that there was a real need to make visible the work that individuals across the globe are doing in this area,” said Ana Beaven, co-editor. “It was important to provide an open way to share those practices with others.

The book is structured in five sections, covering open tools for collaboration, sharing resources, sharing practices, collaborative learning and student-generated content, and learner autonomy. “We hope it will provide ideas for language teachers who might want to dip their toes into the world of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP), or maybe experiment further,” commented Anna Comas-Quinn, co-editor.

“Attending the conference in Bologna was an eye-opening experience for me as a language teacher and technologist working in the US.  I realized quite quickly how US-centric my knowledge of my profession had become, and how much I had to learn from the work of my colleagues in other countries,” said Barbara Sawhill, co-editor.  “This volume does a great job of sharing the diversity of ideas and practices about the ideas of OERs and OEP across many countries and institutions.”

Download the book free of charge. In October 2013, the publication will available on Google Books full view. You can also purchase a Kindle edition from Amazon, and as a black and white paperback from Lulu (with 20% discount) or from Amazon (starting in October).

Co-editors:

Ana Beaven (Università di Bologna, Italy)
Anna Comas-Quinn (The Open University, UK)
Barbara Sawhill (Oberlin College, Ohio, USA)

Contributors:

Ana Beaven (Università di Bologna, Italy)
Carl Blyth (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Kate Borthwick (University of Southampton, UK)
Todd Bryant (Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA)
Anna Calvi (The Open University, UK)
Marco Cappellini (Lille 3 University, France)
Alison Dickens (University of Southampton, UK)
Annette Duensing (The Open University in the East, UK)
Matilde Gallardo (The Open University in the South East, UK);
Cecilia Goria (University of Nottingham, UK)
Sarah Heiser (The Open University in London, UK)
María Dolores Iglesias Mora (The Open University, UK)
Terry King (UCL, UK)
David Elvis Leeming (University of Central Lancashire, UK)
Antonio Martínez-Arboleda (University of Leeds, UK)
Anna Motzo (The Open University, UK)
Irina Nelson (University of Southampton, UK)
Alicia Pozo-Gutiérrez (University of Southampton, UK)
Klaus-Dieter Rossade (The Open University, UK)
Barbara Sawhill (Oberlin College, Ohio, USA)
Sandra Silipo (The Open University, UK)
Julie Watson (University of Southampton, UK)
Susanne Winchester (The Open University, UK).