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).

The Rise of Badges

The Rise of Badges

Open Up will be taking a short break, but you can expect to hear about exciting events and new OER offerings from us in the fall. This year, our focus will be on the progress of digital badges for alternative credentials in foreign language education.

Digital badges allow language educators to earn credentials for the 21st century classroom and share them with the world. Here’s a quick intro:

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We’ll be creating a badge opportunity for you at this year’s ACTFL conference, so be sure to participate and see how you can get involved in this growing movement.

Building Community at AATSP

Building Community at AATSP

Conferences are a great place to talk to teachers and hear what’s on their minds.  The Spanish and Portuguese teachers at the AATSP conference in San Antonio gave us lots of terrific ideas. Here are a few:

Ann Mar, a high school AP Spanish teacher from San Antonio, told us that she had recently become aware of COERLL’s SpinTX Video Archive.  She was excited to discover that it  closely aligns with the new AP Spanish curriculum scheduled to begin this fall.  The AP Spanish Language and Culture Course is a national curriculum set by the College Board. Ann told us that there are 6 themes within the new curriculum  that match up well with the themes in the SpinTX videos ( e.g. “Personal and Public Identities”, “Families and Communities”,  “Contemporary Life”).

Ann has already posted a link to SpinTX in the AP teacher community forum. She will also be running a summer institute for AP Spanish teachers at UT Austin later in July. Finally, she is  interested in having her high school students in San Antonio collect videos using our protocols, with the idea that we could use them as part of the corpus if they turn out well.  So, it looks like COERLL will definitely be exploring how to  connect our video archive to the AP Spanish curriculum with Ann’s help.  Thanks, Ann!

Another terrific idea came from  Dr. Margo Milleret from the Portuguese program at the University of New Mexico. Margo suggested that COERLL consider developing badges aimed at middle or high school students based on our introductory LCTL resources. Badges are a way to recognize and verify online learning. The goal would be to expose students to languages that aren’t normally offered in high schools (such as Portuguese), so that when the students go to college, they would be more likely to study a LCTL.  She noted that while she doesn’t have the resources to do something like this herself, she would really like to collaborate with a center like COERLL and other  K-12 teachers to make it happen.  Margo’s great idea combines various elements of COERLL’s mission:  K-12, LCTLs, and Open Education.

And finally, another good idea came from ACTFL president Toni Theisen. Toni was chatting with us at the COERLL booth about the tremendous potential of badges for teacher development.  She wondered whether COERLL could help ACTFL award attendees of this year’s convention in Orlando with a participation badge.  Great idea, Toni! That would certainly help bring badges to the attention of the foreign language teaching community.  Let’s work on this … together.

Open Education is fundamentally about sharing.  So a big “Thank You” to all the teachers who shared their  ideas with us at AATSP.

Carl BlythCarl Blyth is Director of COERLL and Associate Professor of French, UT Austin.  His research includes CMC,  cross-cultural and intercultural pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, and pedagogical grammar.  He is project director of eComma, an open-source annotation application to facilitate more “social” forms of reading.

 

 

Meet the iTunes U Language Learner

Meet the iTunes U Language Learner

Have you ever wondered about those students who are learning foreign languages on iTunes? There are over 600 free language learning collections on iTunes. People are using them. What do you know about these students?

Earlier this year, I presented a paper at the e-Learning Symposium in Southampton University in the UK about the iTunes U language learner. I wanted to share the results with you. The findings show that most iTunes U learners have quite a different profile compared to university learners: from their age and gender to their occupation and motivations for accessing iTunes U language resources.

Before watching, think about who you think the iTunes U language learner is. Mostly male? Mostly female? How old? What do they do? Do they listen on mobile devices or on their home computers? Do they think they are learning by engaging with the language resources they download from iTunes U? And what implications do the answers to these questions have for the design and implementation of iTunes U resources from your own institution?

Now watch the presentation.

How do your answers to the questions above compare with the actual results? Feel free to comment on your impressions and implications for teaching and learning through iTunes U.

Fernando Rosell-AguilarFernando Rosell-Aguilar is a lecturer in Spanish and coordinator of iTunes U content for the Department of Languages at the Open University, UK.

Read more about open language learning on iTunes.

 

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.

 

Improving the Recipe for Effective Language Learning

Improving the Recipe for Effective Language Learning

Fernando Rubio checks back in with us after finishing his first year teaching a Spanish MOOC.

I ended my previous post inviting you to think about the role of MOOCs and the intersection between teaching and certification.

The conversation that has been going on since my last post has been just as polarized as it was before. MOOCs have recently been called a new form of colonialism because they are an attempt to address the demand for higher education by some of the top universities in the U.S. They have also been touted as a disruptive game changer if MOOC providers can create the right recipe that combines free access and credit. Let’s take a look at some offerings from MOOC providers.

Fremium Model

MOOC2Degree is a result of a number of universities teaming up with online course developers Academic Partnerships. Students receive the first course in an online degree program as a free MOOC in hopes that they will then pay tuition to complete the degree through regular online coursework. This is simply a version of the freemium model that we all know and love.

User-Centered Model

Outside the U.S., as part of the UK’s Open University, Futurelearn has thrown its hat in the ring by promising a for-credit MOOC-like experience without the drop-out rates and plagiarism problems of a MOOC. As they say, “it would be a shame to deliver that on a platform and infrastructure that was powered on another continent.” (Did anyone mention neocolonialism?)

Blended MOOCs

I am writing this blog post as I read the New York Times’ front page story on how San Jose State has “outsourced” to Udacity some of the mentoring for its basic math courses. The article includes this interesting quote from a higher education officer at the Gates Foundation: “2013 is about blending MOOCs into college courses where there is additional support, and students get credit.” This quote gives me the perfect segue into the point that I want to make today.

My main concern is still the same it was when I started teaching my MOOC — What can MOOCs teach us about learning and how can they create a more effective learning environment? And perhaps blending MOOCs into regular for credit (either online or face-to-face) courses is the way to take advantage of what the two formats can offer. My next challenge, for Fall ’13, is a blended course on Spanish Applied Linguistics that will combine 50% face-to-face instruction and 50% MOOC. For-credit students will participate in both formats and will hopefully benefit form the opportunity to interact with a large number of students who will be following the free and open MOOC component of the course. I will keep you posted!

In the meantime, please send your thoughts on developments in the world of MOOC language learning. 

Fernando RubioFernando Rubio is Co-director of the University of Utah’s Second Language Teaching and Research Center (L2TReC) and Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics.  His research focuses on the acquisition of Spanish as a second language and on the intersection of language learning and technology.

Why Foreign Language Grad Programs Should Care About OER

Why Foreign Language Grad Programs Should Care About OER

Discussions about the future of OER often seem to center on issues of promotion and tenure and on finding viable business models for  for large-scale projects. While these are certainly issues for which solutions need to be found, our desire to institutionalize and commodify OER must not crowd out consideration of the pedagogical opportunities that OER can provide to graduate programs.

Digital Humanities and CALL

We are in an age in which graduate programs are thinking about alternatives to the dissertation and Digital Humanists are calling for project-based scholarship for graduate students. Work on OER can facilitate this new kind of graduate training, creating a focus for discussions of content as well as curricular design, and providing hands-on experience in issues of CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) for a generation of teachers who will be expected to work increasingly in online and hybrid formats.

Creating a Knowledge Ecosystem

Rather than focusing exclusively on single-author articles and monographs, couldn’t graduate students also collaborate on materials for classroom use? Think of the vast array of materials that such an army of graduate students could produce, and the praise it might garner from legislators seeking to lower the cost of higher education. Think about the “knowledge ecosystem” that this small change could help create, and the ripple effects that a cohort so young could have over time. (See Making Collaboration Easier to watch Rich Baraniuk talk more about the knowledge ecosystem.)

What do you think? Could embracing Open Access and technological literacy as integral parts of graduate studies better prepare both the future professoriate and the growing number of alternative academics being produced by our graduate programs?

Jon perkinsJonathan Perkins is the Director of the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center at the University of Kansas. His research interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning, instructional technology and faculty development.

Give Us Some Credit!

Give Us Some Credit!

It’s an exciting time. We’re seeing the next phase of open education happening: progress toward accreditation for open online learning. We thought we’d share the latest news in this welcome trend.

  • Academic Partnerships + MOOC2Degree  Academic Partnerships, representing online learning for some 40 U.S. universities, is launching the MOOC2Degree program. This online degree option is meant to attract students to full degree programs.
  • Coursera + UCB, UCI, Duke & U of Penn  Coursera and four top universities are piloting a system of awarding university credit equivalency for its online courses.
  • Udacity + San Jose State  MOOCs purveyor Udacity partnered with San Jose State University to offer academic credit for a few of its courses.
  • EdX + Stanford  Standford has teamed up with EdX in the effort to open up its online courses to a wider audience. It’s not clear what sort of credit learners receive, but courses are taught by Stanford professors (via interactive video) and include formative and summative assessments.
  • MOOCs + Georgia State  The university is working on granting credit for MOOCs coursework from other institutions.
  • COERLL + LARC  Right here on the language learning home front, COERLL is collaborating with sister language resource center LARC at San Diego State University to develop a badge system for professional development based on an open platform. In the works is a curriculum for COERLL’s Spanish Proficiency Training and Foreign Language Teaching Methods, both open educational resources.

What are you thoughts on awarding credit for open online learning? What should we be aware of as we go forward? For example, credited courses are rarely free — Coursera users  can expect to pay up to $200 for credit, for instance. But what is this compared to university tuitions?

To read more on the topic, see Why I Love and Hate My Spanish MOOC by Fernando Rubio.

Dialogue, Community, and the Creation of OER

Dialogue, Community, and the Creation of OER

Since COERLL began in August 2010, the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that open educational resources (OER) are the products of a community of end users. Just as Wikipedia is the result of its contributors, OERs result from educators and learners who collaborate for the greater good.  Having learned this lesson, we have shifted our emphasis to the creation and curation of a community of open educators.

The Role of Dialogue

Dialogue is the key to developing a community, including the COERLL community. To that end, we have taken multiple steps to foster dialogue with those interested in the benefits of open education for language learning. We have added Facebook sites to several of our OERs such as Français interactif, Deutsch im Blick, and Brazilpod.

We have begun this blog — Open Up to dialogue directly with language teachers and OER developers.

And finally, COERLL just finished co-hosting the annual meeting of the International Association of Dialogue Studies (IADA).  The conference explored the role of dialogue in the creation of communities of practice. According to Etienne Wenger, a learning theorist who popularized the concept, “communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

Dialogue Conference Report

During the conference, speakers emphasized the role of dialogue in different types of human interaction, including the professional sphere, e.g.,  doctor-patient interaction, teacher-student interaction,  and reporter-editor interaction.  While the speakers came from different theoretical backgrounds — interaction analysis, conversation analysis, dialogue analysis, and ethnography of speaking–they shared a common goal: to understand the role of communication in communities of practice.

dialogue conference

As part of the conference program, COERLL hosted a panel discussion on the theme of “Curating OER Communities of Practice.”  Orlando Kelm, developer of Brazilpod, spoke about his efforts to curate a community of practice among the users of this popular Portuguese website.  The directors of SPinTX (Spanish in Texas), Jacqueline Toribio and Barbara Bullock, discussed the challenges of getting different communities to talk to each other.  For example, the SpinTX project facilitates a dialogue between Spanish language educators and the developers of the Spanish in Texas video corpus in order to build a pedagogically friendly interface for the videos. 

The bottom line is this: OERs are the product of their community. And dialogue is key to community-building.  So, please, help us build the COERLL community by dialoguing with us. Conference attendees, please feel free to add comments here about the event. Did the experience spark new ideas, new collaborations? Please share your experience. Together, we can build better OERs and a more open world.

“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.