Author Archives: mbijlsma

How can open education empower minority languages?

The seminar “Open Education in Minority Languages: Chances and Perspectices” organized on the 7-8 of October 2015, had a the central theme to “get a grasp” on how minority languages can make use of the fast developing field of Open Education. The seminar was organized in the framework of the LangOER project and was hosted by the Fryske Akademy (home of the Mercator Research Centre).

All seminar highlights and presentations are gathered on the seminar’s Padlet page.


The seminar offered interesting perspectives on open education, as it brought together experts of the field of open education with minority language representatives. The fact that (most) of minority languages have limited or no access to open educational resources, urged the participants, speakers and the consortium partners, to come up with practical and creative solutions on how to empower the ” smaller languages”. The challenges often encountered by minority languages are a lack of financial and/or political support.

Importance for regional and minority languages to adopt Open Educational Resources and Practices

During the seminar, a presentation was given by Giulia Torresin and Katerina Zourou, (Web2Learn, Greece). This presentation highlighted that “the adoption of OER/OEP is much more pressing for smaller languages, which have very limited digital presence, threatening linguistic diversity and cultural diversity on a global scale”.

OER initiatives presented during the seminar

During the seminar, several initiatives were presented to inspire participants, representing various languages in Europe:

  • Photodentro (Sofia Papadimitriou, Greek Ministry of Education)
  • Wikiwijs (Robert Schuwer, chair Special Interest Group on Open Education, Netherlands)
  • NDLA (Christer Gundersen,Nordic Digital Learning Arena)
  • OER Wales (Deborah Baff, University of Wales)

Examples of challenges encountered by smaller languages:

  • Manx (Isle of Man): This language is recently being taught on a few schools again, however due to the lack of written publications in the Manx language, teachers are often challnged by the fact that they have to create their own material.
  •  Arbëresh (Southern Italy): Arbëresh is spoken in Southern Italy in the regions of Abruzzi, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Apulia and Sicily. With almost no written tradition of the language, it is a challenge to keep the language ‘vital”.

Hence, OER’s could be very valuable for these language. This also stressed the need for more OER’s which can easily be adjusted to a specific context or language ( see also the ‘Travel Well Criteria of European Schoolnet“, What makes some educational resources more useful for different cultural and linguistic contexts).

OER policy for Regional and Minority Languages

During practical sessions organized during the seminar, participants were invited to share ideas on how they see the future of their language with regards to OER in 2025 and also what the role of policy could be in this respect. The outcomes of the discussion or gathered on the seminar’s Padlet Wall.


One solution to further engage the smaller communities is to use a bottum-up approach, with true community driven engagement. A good examples is to refer to the ExplOERer project, which focuses on the: value of design of national OER repositories of small languages in creating user engagement, through social networking and game mechanics, as a means of OER expansion and appropriation. Also, to facilitate further OER uptake by smaller languages, it is important that more OERs are produced by the “bigger” languages, that are easier to use for different cultural and linguistic contexts.

On the blog of Alastair Creelman (Partner of the LangOER project, Linnaeus University), you can find more solutions discussed during the seminar, on how minority language communities can be empowered by use of open educational resources and practices.



Share This:

OER Expert Deborah Baff:“Embedding OER and OEP across the Higher Education Sector in Wales”

On 7-8 October, the LangOER seminar “Open Education in Minority Languages: Chances and Perspectives” is taking place. You can find more information on the events page and you can follow all conference highlights on our padlet wall.

dbOER Expert Deborah Baff (Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, University of South Wales) is giving a presentation during the seminar, entitled: “Embedding OER and OEP across the Higher Education Sector in Wales”.

You can also join her presentation virtually! (No need to register) Please find more information below:

  • Time: 7 october at 12:30 (CET)
  • Link:


Her presentation details the experience of a Universities Wales pan Wales project to embed open educational resources (OER’s) and open educational practice (OEP) across the Welsh Higher Education Sector. The project was led by the Project Manager Deborah Baff in order to meet the aspirations of the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent (2013) the project worked collaboratively reporting to an OER Expert Group with representatives from all Universities Wales together with recognised experts in the field. The presentation will provide a brief background to the project and outline the successful delivery of all main project deliverables with the key outputs highlighted. Including:

  1. Development and launch of a website/portal to showcase the best OER’s in Wales, and aims to strengthen OEP within every part of university life through promoting the creation, use and re-purposing of OER’s.
  2. Development of a pilot short / small massive open online course (sMOOC) working in partnership with all Welsh Universities and involving existing students as co-creators of the course. The MOOC has been piloted on a bilingual basis with Welsh and English Speaking existing students.
  3. The establishment of the OER Wales Cymru Champions Network in order to create a network of practitioners offering a diverse range of roles, background and experience
  4. Planning and Delivery of the OER15 International Conference held in April 2015 in Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Finally the presentation focuses on how barriers to collaboration were overcome and the importance of maintaining effective communication channels.


Higher Education Wales The Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent (2013) Available at 7 April 2014)

Welsh Government (Online Digital Learning Working Group) Open & online: Wales, higher education and emerging modes of learning (2014) Available at: (Accessed 7 April 2014)

KEY Links

Project Website

Debbie Baff

Twitter : @debbaff

Blog :

Share This:

Seminar “Open Learning in Minority Languages: Chances and Perspectives”

The seminar Open Learning in Minority Languages, is taking place on the 7th and 8th of October in Leeuwarden (Netherlands).


All the seminar highlights will be shared with you on the padlet wall:

The seminar will offer selected presentations and discussions fostering collaborations around open educational practice and regional and minority languages.

The program includes presentations by OER experts Robert Schuwer (SURF Special Interest Group on Open Education), Alastair Creelman (Linnaeus University) and Sofia Papadimitriou (Ministry of Education of Greece). Download the program here: program.LangOER.Seminar.RML .

The seminar is organized by the LangOER project and hosted by the Fryske Akademy, which is the home of the Mercator Research Centre.

We also offer for a select number participants funds to participate in the seminar, if you wish to apply for this, please fill in your motivation in our registration from.

  • Date: 7-8 October 2015
  • Location: Post Plaza hotel Leeuwarden (Netherlands)
  • Registration: Please go here for registration. With regards to any questions you might have, you can send and e-mail to



Share This:

Save the date: Open Learning in Minority Languages: Chances and Perspectives , 7-8 October 2015

In the fast developing digital area, new opportunities address themselves for regional and minority languages to engage with other language communities or to engage others with their language. Open Educational Practices (OEP) and Open Educational Resources (OER)  in that respect, are in ideal way to empower a small languages.

How can different language communities and cross-border collaboration advance the development of  OER? How can OEP be transferred to language communities with less financial resources and political support and how? What are the challenges and opportunities from a policy perspective on OER uptake? What is the added value of OER from a (small) language teaching perspective?


These and other topics will be addressed in a seminar taking place on the 7th and 8th of October 2015 in Leeuwarden (the Netherlands). Both researchers, educators and policymakers in the field of regional and minority languages, interested in how they can engage with their language in the field of OEP, are welcome to participate.

The seminar is organized by the European Commission funded Life Long Learning project LangOER and hosted by the Mercator Research Centre (part of the Fryske Akademy ).

Registration will open on the 1st of August 2015. For registration, send an e-mail to:

Download the leaflet (pdf)

Location: Post Plaza hotel, Tweebaksmarkt 25-27, 8911 KW Leeuwarden (Netherlands)


Share This:

Teacher Training in the Netherlands: Raising Awareness on OER and OEP use

In the Netherlands, teachers do have access to high quality online educational materials, often provided for by the publishing sector, additional to the purchased educational materials in printed form by the school. These online educational materials however, are not open. Teachers in general are however enthusiastic about the online teaching materials which are purchased by the school, as they are of high quality and can be used on their Digibords. In the Netherlands, a clear challenge thus exist in raising awareness of the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER) and the concept of Open Educational practice (OEP) as an alternative or complementary to the online materials purchased by the schools, which are not open.

The Mercator Research Centre, part of the Fryske Akademy and coördinator of the langOER project, adressed this by organising training session in the Netherlands, which was hands-on centred and allowed the participants to work towards a common goal. We choose to set-up a training structure to work in a collaborative form towards an endproduct: a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for Frisian, as a form of OEP. Teachers were asked to join a working group for the MOOC. Either working on the: lessonplan, addressing the target audience or working on the didactical approach of the MOOC. In this way the participants received a hand-on experience of the concept of open education and truly open educational practice and it’s added value to the eductaion sector and the wider community. The added value of a MOOC for the Frisian language, was an important motivation for the teachers as well (predominantly teaching the Frisian language or teaching some  subjects in Frisian) to learn on OER and OEP. One of the first topics in the first training session for example was: Wat to know about copyright and creative commons licensing before creating a MOOC? (organized by Lisette Kalshoven, Creative Commons Netherlands / Kennisland). Expertise was also delivered by the University of Groningen, which worked towards a MOOC for Dutch, with over 30.000 subscribers. More information can be found here.

DSC_0050 first session introduction

Thus,  working towards a Frisian MOOC to raise awareness of the benefits of OER and OEP for teachers was beneficial. Next to that, this approach had several positive side effects as well:

– Working towards a MOOC for the Frisian language gives a substantial contribution in working on raising awareness for the Frisian language as mentioned, an important motivation of the teachers to attend the training:

  • 2nd or 3rd generation Frisian emigrants living in Australia, New Zealand or for example the Unites States (US) and Canada could decide to learn the mothertongue of their ancestors;
  • Students from abroad attending the NHL ( University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, Province of Friesland) or are following the Master Multilingualism in Leeuwarden at the University Campus Fryslân, could learn the official second language of the Province of Fryslân;
  • Immigrants in Fryslân can get acquinted with the Frisian language and culture;
  • Toerist interested in the Frisian language can follow the MOOC, to for example no the basics on getting around in the province and using the language during their stay in Friesland.
  • all over Europe, especially students in English and Dutch could learn more on the Frisian language, which belongs to the same language family as English and is very close to old English. Students from the University of Warsaw where they can study Dutch, were very interested in learning more on the second official language in the Netherlands, namely Frisian.

DSC_0074working groups

Concluding, as a result of the teacher training in the Netherlands, teachers became aware of the added value of OER and OEP and are more likely to use OER in the future, eventhough they have access to high quality online material. Next to that, Creative Commons licinsing and copyright issues in relation to using online material was an eye-opener for the participants. Often when they for example look for images, to use in the class room, they were not fully aware of what to know about copyright and creative commons licensing. In that respect the training had high impact. Using a bottum-up and open approach towards creating a MOOC, proved to be a succesfull approach in engaging teachers in learning on OER and OEP. For the MOOC itself it proved to be beneficial as well. The MOOC is very much tailored towards the target groups; takes into account the student perspectives; took into account the various ideas about the didicatical approach; and the materials and structure of the first lessonplan of the MOOC was reviewed by practicioners in the field. This initiative received considerable attention by other institution in the North of the Netherlands (University of Applied Sciences (NHL, Leeuwarden), University of Groningen and the Afûk) and the aim to work further in finishing other lessonplans for the Frisian MOOC as well.


Share This:

Seminar: Re-visiting the pedagogy of the languages of minority communities

On Friday the 26th of June 20915, a seminar on the pedagogy of the languages of minority communities will be organized by the Mercator European Research Centre for Multilingualism & Language Learning (Fryske Akademy) and by SOAS, the Institute of World languages (University of London). This time the focus is on pedagogical aspects and includes policy issues as well as practices involving resources ranging from story-telling to Open Educational Resources (see below for further details). During this seminar, the LangOER project will also be presented.




09.30: Registration & Coffee

10.15: Cor van der Meer, Mercator (Fryske Akademy), & Itesh Sachdev, SOAS (University of London):   Welcome & Introduction

10.30: Sarah Cartwright, Our Languages Project, London:  Understanding the languages landscape

11.15: Fatima Khaled, Peace School, London: Motivating teenagers in the digital age

12.00: Manjula Datta, London Metropolitan University: Language development through storytelling

12.45: Lunch

1.45: Marit Bijlsma, Mercator (Fryske Akademy): Open Educational Resources in multilingual European contexts

2.30: Wim de Boer, Afûk Institute for the Frisian Language:  Frisian MOOC

3.15: Coffee

3.45: Anne Pauwels, SOAS (University of London): Advantages/disadvantages of current practices with panel/audience in discussion with panel and audience

4.30: Julia Sallabank, SOAS (University of London): Language pedagogy for endangered languages

5.15: Closure

 Registration deadline: 22nd June, 2015.  Please register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment by emailing:

Venue: VG01, Vernon Square Campus, SOAS, University of London, Penton Rise London, WC1X 9EW (closest stations – Kings Cross/St Pancras International)






Share This:

Webinar Series: How can OER enrich your teaching practice?

OEROpen Educational Resources (OER) are a growing area of interest internationally. More and more teachers and school leaders use free educational materials to be shared and reused for teaching, learning, and other purposes.

How can Open Educational Resources enrich your teaching and learning practice? Can they spice up your classes? Where to find OER in your language? Are you curious about how to blend online learning in your own teaching context? All these questions where addressed in a webinar series (March – May 2015) organized by the Mercator Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. Also a Polish version of the webinars was organized by Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt.

Below you find all the experts who participated in the webinars, with links to their presentations and webinar recordings:

English language version:

  • Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy / Mercator Research Centre) – Opening Up Education and an Introduction to OER

What does ‘openness’ in education actually mean? How do I find OER? How can you integrate OER in your teaching practice?

  • Ebba Ossiannilsson (Lund University) – Benefits and Challenges in Using OER

Several issues were addressed during this webinar, amongst others: OERs for personalised learning, students perspectives, professional and career development and lifelong learning and quality perspectives for the stakeholders.

  • Robert Schuwer (Fontys University of Applied Sciences and chair Special Interest Group Open Education)

Robert Schuwer introduced a ‘roadmap” and a step-by-step approach in using OER in your own context. Participants learned how to determine which learning materials are to be published open, which license to use and how to add metadata to make materials retrievable.

  • Maarten Zeinstra (Kennisland and Creative Commons Netherlands) –  CC licensing and OER myths

What is copyrights and what are the effects on my material? Where can you find Open Resources?

You can find a recording of the webinar here.

  • Elena Schulman (European Schoolnet) – Travell Well Resources and the Learning Resource Exchange

Which resources are well suited for use in multidisciplinary or cross-cultural contexts? Which type of resources are intuitive to use and have  a user-friendly interface?

The presentations can be found on Slideshare.

Polish language version:

  • Alek Tarkowski- Open Model of Education

Does openness count? What kind of benefits are brought by the open model in teaching? What is missed in this model? In the first webinar dr Alek Tarkowski was introducing a possible scenario of using open model in higher education and science.

  • Kamil Śliwowski – Creative Commons Licensing

All of us prepare many educational and promotional materials. We share our work and experience with others but rarely we do it in a way that can guarantee that those materials will be accessible, easy and safe to re-use for other educators or to general public. This is why it’s good to know how open licensing models work and how to use and publish with Creative Commons licenses – for our common good. The webinar about CC licensing aims at bringing together basic knowledge about open copyright models with an experience of how easy and useful it is to use CC in higher education.

  • Karolina Grodecka- How to: search for OER in effective way

Have you ever wondered, how make your lectures more engaging for students by showing interesting video without spending hours on making it from scratch? The objective of the third webinar was to achieve necessary skills to search and select OER suited for every participant.

  • Karolina Grodecka – Adapt and publish OER. Legal and practical perspectives

One of undoubtable benefits from using OER is a possibility of re-using and remixing them according to one’s purpose. This allows academic teachers to save a lot of time and effort. The objective of the fourth webinar is, therefore, to achieve necessary skills to adapt OER into one’s context and needs, to learn how to localize, use and publish open content in the web. Participants also gained knowledge on the difference between OER use fair use of copyrighted resources.

  • Anna Stokowska – Evaluation: pros and cons of OER usage

The last seminar’s aim was to sum up the work that have been done by the participants at home. It was also a chance for them to speak on open education, about their doubts, hopes and discoveries. The moderator showed during this seminar, possible ways of using OER in everyday practice of academic teachers as well as pros and cons of OER usage.

All the webinars can be found on YouTube and the presentation can be found on SlideShare.

Share This:

Upcoming webinars: From OER for career development and personalized learning to OER licensing

On the 25th of March, the first webinar took place for the LangOER webinar series designed for teachers of the Network of Schools, however the webinar series are open to anyone having an interest in this topic. During the webinar, Marit Bijlsma gave a first introduction into the topic of OER, providing a basis for the other upcoming webinars.

The presentation of the webinar can be found on:


A summary of the topics covered in the first webinar:

What are OER?

The most popular definition of OER is that by UNESCO (2002)

‘The open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes (UNESCO, 2002)”. This is the definition we also use in the LangOER project.

Open resources are often collected in databases called repositories in which they are categorized, grouped by subject, level or format and easily searchable. Some repositories are user-created (users can submit their own content) whereas others offer only approved content.

What does “openness” in educational material actually mean?

Openness is a very broad term which can embrace various meanings and which exists on different levels.

Perhaps the most popular distinction is that made by David Wiley (2007), in which he suggests the following dimensions of openness:

  • Reusing – (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)having the right to use the original content in a wide range of ways and contexts 
  • Revising having the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language or improve it)
  • Remixinghaving the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistributing having the right to make and share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).
  • Retainingthe right to make, own, and control copies of the content

How to find free images and other media on the web?

  • Strategy 1: Use a dedicated search engine which filters the web content for licensed materials. The best example here is a Creative Commons search engine . Creative Commons search engine offers convenient access to databases of services offering multimodal content.
  • Strategy 2: Use advanced search preferences in the Google (or other)  search engine. When searching for images, click Search Tools and choose the License tab. Then select the type of license you need.
  • Strategy 3: Use one of the dedicated repositories of images or other media.
  • Strategy 4: Use

Upcoming webinars: Announcement Online Webinars OER

  • 2nd of April (14:00-14:45 CET): Ebba Ossiannilsson (Lund University), Benefits and challenges of OER
  • 15th of April (14:00-14:45 CET): Robert Schuwer (Fontys University of Higher Education), Step-by-step approach in applying and using OER
  • 23rd of April (14:00-14:45 CET): Lisette Kalshoven (Creative Commons Netherlands / Kennisland), Licensing and OER
  • 13th of May (17:00-17:45 CET): European Schoolnet,  ‘Travel Well’ resources and the Learning Resource Exchange

Registration:  send your name / affiliation (e.g. school or organization) to

More Information:

The participants joining the webinar, have the chance to win a € 1.000 award to be spend on technical equipment. Each webinar will give the participant a task / question. Curious about the first task? Participants were asked to post at least two different types of CC-licensed material on This is a great wall to share resources with your colleagues, or students for example!

The series of five webinars (25 March-13 May 2015) are part of the activities of the EC-funded project LangOER.




Share This:

How can OER enrich your teaching practice?

LangOER webinars newOpen Educational Resources (OER) are a growing area of interest internationally. More and more teachers and school leaders use free educational materials to be shared and reused for teaching, learning, and other purposes.

How can Open Educational Resources enrich your teaching and learning practice? Can they spice up your classes? Where to find OER in your language? Are you curious about how to blend online learning in your own teaching context?

Join our online webinar series organized by experts in the field, and get the chance of winning a €1.000 award!

How to register: please mail your name and school / affiliation to:

More information:  Announcement Online Webinars OER (pdf)

The series of five webinars (25 March-13 May 2015) are part of the activities of the EC-funded project LangOER.

We are looking forward meeting you online!

Share This:

Media and Learning Conference Brussels, 20-21 November 2014


OER: Insights into a multilingual landscape

Valentina Garoia (EUN) and Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy / Mercator Research Centre) presented LangOER and its main activities during the Media & Learning Conference, 20-21 November 2014. The session “Media-Based Open Educational Resources” was moderated by Aikaterini Chariopolitou, EduTV, Greece. The audience was for a large part composed of teachers and the presentation gave insights from a practical point of view, on how to use OERs and what to know before starting using OERs.

Marit and Valentina provided an overview of benefits of OER for less used languages from a multilingual perspective, based on the knowledge and insights from the LangOER project. They showed best practice examples of language repositories e.g. LeMill, Loro and LRE. They also explained the open licensing component related to OER, and the importance of making this aspect explicit. Using Creative Common licensing allows the author to define rules on which he or she would like to share the creations with others. Furthermore, in order to develop an understanding of what items to look for on the web concerning less used languages, we looked at how to distinguish OER from other open access materials. We also explored which “search strategies” can be used by OER practitioners. The discussion after the presentation touched upon challenges to move the field forward: Is OER uptake a far- fetched idea or a current practice? How can sustainable OER uptake be ensured?

In the discussion session, several issues were raised by the audience:

  • When it comes to using OER, it is rather difficult for private schools to make use of OER, as many OER as licensed for “noncommercial use”. However, since a private school charges tuition fees, these OER cannot be used.
  • The concept of “OER” is quite novel to a large group of people. Next to that, it can be difficult to find the right material when searching on the web. Answer: Indeed, we aim to address this as well in our training sessions next year. What we further suggest is to have a look again at our 3 proposed search strategies or go to the following link:
  • It would be good if a repository would separate OERs that are not suitable for modification and adaption, from OERs which can be modified and adapted. Sometimes, you spend time searching for the right OER but then it appears that the source cannot be modified, which is rather time consuming.
  • When an OER is a good quality OER? Answer: In the LangOER project, we refer to the 5 r’s by David Wiley:
    • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
    • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study        group, on a website, in a video)
    • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
    • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to   create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
    • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your    remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Share This: