Less used languages in digitally mediated contexts

How can we increase the low online presence of OER for less used languages? This is a theme that was brought up in the LangOER webinar. In an increasingly digital world there is a risk that small languages are marginalised and taken over by large, more widely spoken languages.

Sylvi, Alastair, Anna, Kate

The four speakers in the webinar: Anna Comas-Quinn, Sylvi Vigmo, Alastair Creelman, and Kate Borthwick

Sylvi Vigmo from University of Gothenburg highlighted the potential role of co-design when developing OER for less used languages. This implies finding ways collaborating on a multicultural level to share OER. One suggestion was how to involve learners in the OER community. Sylvi presented some results from the state-of-the art report from the LangOER project. The general picture is that there are few OER in less used languages set up from the UNESCO definition. Even though there are a number of open learning resources, they are not necessarily always possible to for instance modify or re-purpose.

The next speaker, Kate Borthwick from University of Southampton in the UK brought up some inspiring projects with OER where teachers from less used languages have gathered to share ideas. This has created a sense of community for the teachers who don’t need to work in isolation any longer. It has also raised their awareness of learning from each other and increasing the number of materials.Kate stressed that we must consider “how we reach new and wider audiences alongside increasing OERs available”.

The final speaker, Anna Comas-Quinn at the Open University in the UK, raised translation as a way to reach out to small languages. Anna stressed the importance of translation as a step in making ideas accessible to other people. Translation communities are growing. The idea is based on how the power of the crowd can facilitate for online presence in OER in less used languages.

There were some challenges brought up in the webinar, for instance management issues and how repositories of OER are sustained. There were discussions of how to get some common guidelines for how to organise OER. In the discussions in the webinar chat and twitter feed there were questions of how to validate the quality of OER and how to control the content, if indeed it needs to be controlled. There are no simple answers to these questions, but it is useful to discuss ways forward of working with it.

The chair, Alastair Creelman from The Linnaeus University did an excellent job moderating the webinar.This webinar has been an important step in connecting with everybody interested in the potential of OER for less used languages. Networking together and finding ways to promote OER, sharing work and collaborating has only started.

To round up: here are two relevant reflective twitter feeds from the webinar:

OER practice opens the world up to lesser used smaller languages and provides them with a lifeline

How can we use open education practice to reach out to teachers & learners who are outside the mainstream?

Voices from the Twitter feed


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