A talk Managing cultural diversity in the context of open education – lessons learnt was given by Malgorzata Kurek (Jan Dlugosz University, one of the LangOER partners) at the 16th edition of the international IALIC conference, which took place at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in Bellaterra university campus, Spain, on 25th – 27th November 2016.
The presentation was based on the outcomes of the teacher training package designed and offered within the LangOER project to teachers from 6 different cultures operating with less-used-languages.
IALIC (International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication) is a very well-known organisation of global reach which promotes an interdisciplinary perspective on the interplay between languages and intercultural factors. The event attracted as many as over 130 researchers, educators and practitioners interested in interculturalism and multilingualism.
The leading theme of the conference was Bridging across Languages and Cultures in Everyday Lives: New Roles for Changing Scenarios and main aims were:
- to promote critical engagement with the notion of mediating between cultures and languages;
- to explore the role of technology in bridging between diverse languages and cultures;
- to explore the role of ‘broker’ in cross-cultural situations, including growing instances of ‘child language brokers’;
- to promote understanding of how language brokering is perceived by researchers and practitioners from cross-cultural situations;
- to provide a forum for a critique of existing analytical models of culture and language mediating practices that integrate current theories of language and intercultural communication;
- to provide a forum on ways in which research into language and culture mediation can inform teachers’ praxis.
This broad spectrum enabled the penetration of various aspects of multilingualism and interculturalism.
The presentation delivered by Malgorzata Kurek drew on the outcomes of the teacher training courses designed with the purpose of equipping teachers working in less-used languages with skills needed to locate, repurpose and create their own resources. The pilot course in English was piloted and then re-purposed by project partners to address the needs of their local teachers from Greece, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Latvia and Lithuania. The course is available on demand from https://www.openlearning.com/courses/goingopenwithlangoer/Homepage
The presentation focused on the stage of adapting and appropriating original instructional design to the unique characteristics and constraints of local educational cultures of Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Frysia. The research presented was based on the analysis of strategies used by facilitators to accommodate the training content to the profile of their local educational cultures.
The main points made by the author were the following:
- Instructional designers involved in designing open content need to consider the inevitable prospect of the materials being re-purposed and adapted to other educational contexts.
- The quality of open content is not its inherent feature but it emerges in the process of adaptation (Conole & Ehlers 2010; King 2013);
- Successful appropriation to local contexts is not free from cultural meanings and, thus, cannot be approached as an automatic procedure.
- Educational cultures should be accounted for in task appropriation and instruction delivery so that recipients feel assisted in their gradual adaptation of new practices.
- Facilitators play an active role in the process of adapting resources – they should be autonomous in their judgments and decisions about which modifications respond best to their local contexts.
The article on which the presentation was based had been published in the special issue of ALSIC and is available at: https://alsic.revues.org/2904
- Conole, G.C., & Ehlers, U.D. (2010). Open Educational Practices: Unleashing the power of OER. Paper presented to UNESCO Workshop on OER in Namibia 2010. Windhoek. Retrieved from http://efquel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/OEP_Unleashing-the-power-of-OER.pdf
- King, T. (2013). The “Onstream” Project: Collaboration between higher education teachers of Russian and Teachers of Russian in mainstream and supplementary schools. In T. Beaven, A. Comas-Quinn, & B. Sawhill (Eds.), Case studies of openness in the language classrooom (pp. 110-120). © Research-publishing.net.
Author: Malgorzata Kurek – Jan Dlugosz University