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.

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Last year, the Mixxer (a free educational website for language exchanges via Skype) offered a MOOC to English speakers learning Spanish and paired the participants with a partner course of Spanish speakers learning English. Using open educational resources from COERLL, Colby College, Voice for America and the BBC among others, the language learners were introduced to new vocabulary and grammar points through texts and audio and then given activities to complete with their language partner from the other course. If you have ever taught a language class, you can think of the language exchange with the partner as a substitute for the partner activities we do most every day in class.

Thanks to a generous grant for digital humanities from the Mellon foundation, we were able to hire three education and language students at Dickinson College to create lessons in German, French, and Chinese. Created by Betsy Vuchinich, the Chinese materials use content primarily from the Confucius Institute and the University of North Carolina. The lessons have been designed for beginners of Chinese and are available on the Mixxer site.

The German and French lessons, created by Ezra Sassaman and Caitlin DeFazio respectively, are based on the COERLL open textbooks Deutsch im Blick and Français interactif. Both lessons assume some knowledge of the language – roughly one semester – though beginners could start by working through the text on their own. These lessons are currently available and free to use.

We had the opportunity to showcase these resources at the CALICO / IALLT conference in Athens, Ohio (May 6 – 10) and received a lot of praise from educators. Of particular interest is the news that we will use these lessons as part of three MOOCs to be offered this summer (starting July 1st). As before, each MOOC will have a partner course for speakers of Spanish, French and German learning English. Learners from each course will then be able to find partners to complete the language exchange activity provided within each lesson. The courses and lessons are open and free to anyone interested. We will be suggesting that our own students join as a way of maintaining their language skills over the summer.  A more detailed description of each course is provided below along with the sign-up form. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or you can contact me at bryantt@dickinson.edu.

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113108 (Spanish MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113052 (French MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113051 (German MOOC)

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.

An Open Assignment Bank … For Languages

An Open Assignment Bank … For Languages

From the editor: We’re happy to repost this entry with permission from Barbara Sawhill. You can catch more of her thoughts at Language Lab Unleashed. We welcome Barbara to our community of language educators for the progress of OER.

I’m a big fan of the creative work that happens at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) at The University of Mary Washington.

Digital Storytelling 106 (ds106) is one of the many creative ideas that DTLT  has spawned, and it certainly has a presence on the web. I have been watching ds106 (and I have sometimes participated, because that is what you are expected to do) and also wondering what ds106 – a course about using media in a creative way for digital storytelling — could teach those of us who are interested in using media in a creative way  for language learning.

To be clear: I am not looking for new shiny tools or cool apps. What I am looking for is creative and fun ways for students to speak, listen, write and read in a second language. I am thinking about fun tasks to develop language skills. And I want to  integrate free, open, available tools and objects into exercises for developing languages.  And then I want to share them with everybody.

So here is my idea:  What about an open assignment bank for LANGUAGES?  I know what you are thinking, jeeez louise aren’t there enough of those out there already? True, yes there are, but many of them are tied to specific textbooks, courses and lesson plans.

I’m thinking more broadly, more generally. And yes, more open-ly.  Like ds106, I want to make it possible for anyone to suggest an assignment and for everyone to try them out.

And, rather than re-inventing the wheel, maybe there are ds106 assignments that are already in the hopper could be stolen liberated repurposed for language learning. I’m pretty sure the DTLT folks are into sharing, and wouldn’t mind seeing that happen.

So here we go.  Here’s a start. Here is a link to a rudimentarygoogle form where you can add ideas to  a language assignment bank. Please add something, please share it with others.  Please think about ways to incorporate existing open resources into the mix.

Ready?  Let’s see what we can create together.

Barbara Sawhill portrait

Barbara Sawhill has been working for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for about 15 years. In addition to teaching Spanish she runs a somewhat unconventional language center. Prior to this adventure in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to write, read, swim, and watch the Red Sox. And sometimes she blogs over here and here as well.

Emerging Leader Creates Language Learning OER

Emerging Leader Creates Language Learning OER

We have been following academic technologist Todd Bryant and his ideas for creating meaningful language exchange experiences online. Todd created an open educational resource, the Mixxer, to do just that. (See The Mixxer Launches Spanish and English Language MOOCs.)

Check out Todd’s presentation at the New Media Consortium (NMC) summer conference.

You’ll see that Todd has utilized a variety of open online language learning materials, including some of COERLL’s Spanish and German materials,  to create a whole new open resource. This is what remixing and reusing is all about: fueling innovation and ideas to keep creating new learning resources for the public.

Shareworthy: COERLL’s Webinar Series

Shareworthy: COERLL’s Webinar Series

Your foreign language department will thank you for sharing COERLL’s Webinar Series, all about open educational resources (OER) for language learning. Here’s what we covered:

Finding Open Media for Foreign Language Instruction Learn how to search for and find high-quality authentic OER (multimedia, realia, interviews, etc.) for use in language teaching and learning.

 

The Practice of Using and Teaching with OER Explore the practice of implementing OER into teaching and learn specifically about integration of COERLL’s popular French curriculum, Francais interactif, into foreign language classrooms.

 

Focus on SpinTX: An Open Video Archive for Language Learning We unpack one of our most recent projects, SpinTX–a resource for bilingual Spanish speakers in Texas. Learn how to search and tag videos for features that match your interests, and create and share your favorite playlists.

 

Join Our June 12 Webinar!

Join Our June 12 Webinar!

Finding Open Media for Foreign Language Instruction

Just a friendly reminder to tune into COERLL’s June webinar series where we’ll explore topics around Open Educational Resources for language learning. For the first in the series, we focus on the practice of searching for and finding high-quality authentic OER (multimedia, realia, interviews, etc.) for use in language teaching and learning. We’ll share some of the reasons we’re passionate about supporting the creation and sharing of resources in this emerging field. We invite you to learn more about what this movement is all about and to share your experiences using, making, or searching for OER.

The webinar series is free and offers CPE credits. To receive credits, you’ll need to pre-register and make sure to participate in the webinar at the listed times.

Next webinar: The Practice of Using and Teaching with OER, Wednesday, June 19, 3 p.m-4 p.m. (CST)

The Mixxer Launches Spanish and English Language MOOCs

The Mixxer Launches Spanish and English Language MOOCs

In January, Todd Bryant shared his plans to begin developing online courses using his language exchange website, The Mixxer. (See MOOCs + Learning Networks = The Mixxer.)  He is happy to announce the first offerings from this project:

Free Language Learning MOOCs from The Mixxer

Todd curated a variety of open resources to build these courses. The English learning content came from BBC’s Big City Small World,Voice of America’s Learning English and grammar material through Purdue University’s OWL reference site.

For the Spanish lessons, he drew from Practica Español, a joint venture of Instituto Cervantes, EFE and Fundación de la Lengue Española. Other lessons came from Professor Barbara Kuczun Nelson’s “Spanish Language and Culture” site at Colby College. COERLL’s “Spanish Proficiency Exercises” and Bowdoin College’s “Spanish Grammar” site provide additional references and exercises.

Todd will be presenting these MOOCs at the 2013 New Media Consortium‘s summer conference on June 7. Congratulations to Todd for having his project selected as one of six “Big Ideas” for the Emerging Leaders Competition. We thank him for creating this open educational resource for the language learning public and wish him the best of luck!

Free Online Professional Development for Foreign Language Educators

Free Online Professional Development for Foreign Language Educators

Skip the convention centers and stuffy conference halls. COERLL will be bringing an exciting professional development opportunity directly to your home or office or fave coffee house, where ever you’re plugging in at the time.

In June, COERLL will roll out a webinar series for professional development and collaboration amongst foreign language educators. The series is free and offers CPE credits. To receive credits, you’ll need to pre-register and make sure to participate in the webinar at the times listed below. But, you have the freedom to join in from anywhere and using any type of internet-enabled device.

Finding Open Media for Foreign Language Instruction

Wednesday, June 12, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Presenters: Garin Fons (COERLL), Nathalie Steinfeld Childre (COERLL)

The Practice of Using and Teaching with OER

Wednesday, June 19, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Presenters: Garin Fons (COERLL), Amanda Dalola (UT Dept. of French and Italian)

Focus on SpinTX: An Open Video Archive for Language Learning

Wednesday, June 26, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Presenters: Garin Fons (COERLL), Rachael Gilg (COERLL)

So here’s what to do: 

  1. Mark your calendars for the webinars you’d like to join.
  2. If you want CPE credits, pre-register for each webinar.
  3. At the time of each webinar, go to https://meeting.austin.utexas.edu/coerll-june-webinars to login and join the event.

Be sure to pass this information on to your friends and colleagues! Oh, and please comment below if you have a question or a topic you’d like us to cover during one of the webinars.

“We’re Committed to Openness in Content Creation”

“We’re Committed to Openness in Content Creation”

From the editor: We had the opportunity to interview Scott Rapp, co-founder of the Instreamia language learning platform and the designer and instructor of a new first-year Spanish MOOC (4,762 students enrolled). Check back with Open Up to find out about Scott’s new Language Teaching MOOC for creating blended learning environments.

OU: How did you learn Spanish and what motivated you to create Instreamia?

SR:  My brother, Ryan, and I each spent two years abroad volunteering, Ryan went to Japan, and I went to Honduras. Learning Japanese and Spanish was a necessity.

Years later we were both working for Deloitte–Ryan in Japan and I in DC. We began discussing our strategies for learning languages, which was especially on Ryan’s mind as he had to do everything in Japanese, and he was also constantly being asked how he learned Japanese and recommendations for how they could learn English.

We decided that a well-indexed set of reference tools combined with natural language processing really took a lot of the tediousness out of learning a language. We gradually worked on building a product around RSS feeds and text-based sources when the “big idea” hit me like a ton of bricks: What if we could go beyond text-only sources, and focus our strategy on subtitled videos? Then we could integrate our powerful toolset into a video player! This led to other breakthrough innovations, like the dynamic exercises and adaptive learning with time-series depreciation that Instreamia includes today.

Originally called StudyStream, the Rapp brothers renamed their resource to Instreamia before rolling out their Spanish MOOC in January 2013.

OU: Why did you decide to make your courses open?

SR: Developing the Instreamia software, we wanted it to have a positive impact on the most people possible. We also recognized that many of the ideas for improvements and future developments would come from language learners and teachers, and that has proven true time and again. We still feel strongly that content development efforts by educators (including ourselves) are best made in Open Educational Resources. Our platform can’t work without excellent content, and obtaining and maintaining licensing for hundreds of videos, learning modules, dictionaries, and explanations would greatly undermine the scalability and versatility of our platform.

OU: But you are going to start charging a $99 registration fee? (Learn more.)

SR:  All the investment in Instreamia has been founders’ capital. Before quitting Deloitte, Ryan put away a substantial seed investment that he was able to live on for over a year while he began the development of Instreamia. I still work full-time, and work on Instreamia and the SpanishMOOC in my free time, and invest a portion of my salary to Instreamia.

We knew the time would come for us to change from an entirely free platform to having paid services or premium features. We want to stay true to our decision of making all the content free and open, and we will continue to publish all the materials we or any users create through Creative Commons.

OU: What were the factors behind the decision to charge the fee?

SR: During our initial offering of our Spanish MOOC, we realized the level of effort and commitment to our students (especially hand-grading assignments) could not be handled solely by volunteers. We were faced with a difficult decision: we could shut down the Spanish MOOC offering altogether, degrade the experience by excluding any teacher interaction, or … offer an improved course with paid TAs and graders, and charge a registration fee. We decided to add the fee, so we could offer a much improved learning experience.

OU: What are aspects of your courses that remain open?

SR: Our technology and code-base is not open-source. It’s proprietary and has a patent pending. But we’re committed to openness in content creation. Here’s how teachers, graders, and even advanced learners can contribute to each of our content categories:

  • Native-Content Subtitled Audio/Videos – These are either user-created (under CC), Instreamia-created (under CC), or they are used with permission from YouTube. Teachers can write text, record audio, and translate the transcript through Instreamia’s Video Editor.
  • Instructional Videos – These are videos we make available on our YouTube Channel (under CC). Any teacher can contribute by creating their own YouTube channel and embedding their videos on the Instreamia Lesson Creator.
  • Lessons – These are either user-created (under CC), or Instreamia-created (under CC). Teachers can write text, embed Instructional Videos, and create exercises based on the Native-Content library.
  • Grammar Explanations –  These are lessons with special indexing, so that teachers and graders can direct their students to them. For example, typing @gustar anywhere in a lesson or comment would create a link to the Gustar grammar explanation.
  • Dictionary Entries – Every word has audio pronunciation (Forvo, not CC), definitions (Princeton’s WordNet, free license), and multilingual relations, or translations (Instreamia, CC). When a user notices a word with an inaccurate or missing translation, he/she can edit it, so our users are making our translations better all the time.

As a community we can make and maintain content that frees us from using archaic textbooks. (See “Got Textbooks? From This Century?”) Together as a group of educators, we can provide a better learning experience without having to license content. This will make teaching languages more scalable and affordable, and it will allow for rapidly-evolving curricula.

OU: Do you have any questions for our readers?

SR: We have so much to say and to discuss, and we’d love to hear comments from you!

  • How would your classroom change if a computer were able to assign and grade homework based on each individual student’s needs?
  • What methods have you found to make students fall in love with the subject matter

Scott RappScott Rapp is professor of SpanishMOOC, an open initiative to teach Spanish to large groups of people online. He is also the co-founder of the adaptive language learning platform Instreamia, which enables blended teaching by dynamically creating interactive lessons based on native content.