Category Archives: Languages

Seminar on openness

On Monday, 22 June,  Jan Dlugosz University organised a seminar on openness in education. The seminar was delivered as part of the LangOER  teacher training sessions for Poland. The detailed programme is available here:  We were very happy to host three renowned expert speakers:

  • Kamil Sliwowski (Creative Commons Poland) who explained the idea of openness and Open Educational Resouces emphasising their importance in Less Used Languages. His presentation (in Polish) is available here: Presentation 1
Kamil Sliwowski

Kamil Sliwowski

  • Przemyslaw Stencel (Edukacja Online) who discussed the process of opening up classrooms and presented some tools which are essential in the process. The presentation he gave is available here: Presentation 2 
  • Tomasz Walasek (Technical University, Czestochowa) who gave a presentation on the challenges modern education is facing right now. His presentation is available here: Presentation 3
The engaged participants

The engaged participants

Our  LangOER colleague Anna Skowron presented the project and explained the principles of open licensing. Her presentation is available here: Presentation 4

Anna Skowron

Anna Skowron

The participants got involved into discussions about the idea of open education, the potential of Open Educational Resources and about the process of opening up their classrooms. They had an opportunity to try out new technologies and to exchange their opinions and experiences in that field.

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OER teacher training course in Poland

The course on Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices was held in Czestochowa, Poland in April. It was offered in a blended format: two face-to-face workshops were intertwined with the online course held on the OpenLearning platform: Otwarte Zasoby i Praktyki LangOER

The course was announced through various channels using this invitation and teachers who got interested in participating in our course registered through a website dedicated to our training course. The same website was used in the process of product submission.

The online component (Module 1) was made available one week before the first f2f meeting. The teachers who had already registered for the f2f workshop were invited to join the online course and familiarize themselves with the idea of Open Educational Resources.

The face-to-face workshops were organised for two groups of teachers of different subjects and from different educational levels, ranging from kindergarten teachers to academic teachers; from history teachers to physical education teachers. The first face-to-face workshop took place on April 10 (the Friday group) and April 11 (the Saturday group) and was followed by the online component consisting of three modules.

The first face-to-face workshop took place on April 10 (the Friday group) and April 11 (the Saturday group) and was followed by the online component consisting of three modules. The second face-to-face meetings were held on April 24 and April 25.

The first f2f workshop was devoted to the following issues:

  • the idea of openness
  • what are open educational resources
  • examples of OER
  • open licences
  • finding OER
  • working with images and videos
  • correct attribution
Discussion about the idea of openness in education

Discussion about the idea of openness in education

The participants were highly engaged in discussions and were very eager to share their views and experiences.

The second f2f workshop was dedicated mainly to the process of creating the open educational resources and consisted of the following topics:

  • Open licenses – revision
  • Polish open educational resources repositories – a review
  • Hands-on task – creating open educational resources


Participants working hard on creating their own OER

The teachers were assisted by Gosia Kurek and Ania Skowron (the instructors in the course)  and managed to start working on their own open educational materials. The completed their work at home and submitted the ready products via this website.

The online component was structured as follows:

  • Module 1: “Let’s meet” – the idea of openness in education, open educational resources and open licenses were introduced to the participants; they were taught how to find an openly licensed image. This Module was made available to the teachers a week before the first 2f2 workshop and served as a sort of introduction to the whole course.
  • Module 2: “Open Educational Resources” which brought the idea of OER closer to the participating teachers who were invited to introduce themselves
  • Module 3: “Our products” in which participants were given a selection of different tools with step-by-step instructions they could use when creating their own OER.

The teachers participating in the training course were very engaged both during the face-to-face meetings and in the online course. Apparently, the topic of Open Educational Resources is of great interest to the teachers who would like to be more aware of the whole idea.

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Swedish language teachers engage in questions of openness

Swedish language teachers are eager to find ways of implementing digital activities for their students. Therefore, the Internet is increasingly used for finding resources and practice material. However, there are recurrent questions of how this material can be used and what different licenses mean. For this reason, the Going Open Sweden online course was held with some active and dedicated language teachers contributing to discussions of openness in education and production of OER. The participating teachers all have an active interest in the use of IT in language learning.

The announcement of the course took place on Facebook groups for Swedish language teachers. When the invitation was posted it attracted immediate responses from more 40 teachers. The Going Open Sweden course had it’s final meeting in Stockholm on 15 June, with the participants and the course leaders Sylvi Vigmo from University of Gothenburg and Linda Bradley from Chalmers University of Technology. The teachers who had engaged in the project from all of southern Sweden were invited to this meeting.

LangOER 15 June 2015 Final meeting
Participants in the final seminar in Stockholm

Swedish language teachers are eager to find ways of implementing digital activities for their students. Therefore, the Internet is increasingly used for finding resources and practice material. However, there are recurrent questions of how this material can be used and what different licenses mean.

The announcement of the course took place on Facebook groups for Swedish language teachers. When the invitation was posted it attracted immediate responses from more than 40 teachers. The Going Open Sweden course had it’s final meeting in Stockholm on 15 June, with the participants and the course leaders Sylvi Vigmo and Linda Bradley from University of Gothenburg. The teachers who had engaged in the project from all of southern Sweden were invited to this meeting.

The fact that we focused specifically on language teachers in Swedish schools has meant engaging in a group that has shared ideas and resources with each other. It has also been very valuable being able to discuss methods of teaching and sharing pedagogical ideas related to online learning.

The course was set up with four course modules dealing with openness in education, licences and critical testing of software for language learning. The participants have been enthusiastic working thoroughly with the course assignments. The course ran from 26 March to 6 May 2015, during a very hectic period for Swedish teachers in the end of term. Even though most teachers had a heavy work period, they have been active with assignments. In the final evaluation, they mentioned that the layout of the course with a content allowing for possibility to work whenever there has been a possibility, has meant that they have been able to carry through the course.

The course leaders have communicated with the participants regularly, encouraging them to attend OER webinars and promoting OER content in the modules. Also, supporting them in their online work has been essential. Apart from the introduction seminar with Swedish OER expert Ebba Ossiannilsson we also had a mid-seminar through the video conferenceing programme Adobe Connect where Ebba was invited again. In addition, Ebba has answered questions from the participants throughout the course, which has been highly appreciated.

Ebba Ossiannilsson,

In the final seminar in Stockholm, we discussed plans for disseminating the course content to even more Swedish language teachers. The participants were encouraged to invite colleagues, displaying their produced OER and inviting the colleagues to get involved in the open learning debate in Sweden. This process is in fact already an ongoing process. The participants appreciate the “extended classroom“ that online possibilities offer through social media. To conclude, we’d like to thank all participating teachers who have now started the process of being ambassadors of OER in Sweden. Engaging in this course has had an impact on spreading OER to langauge teachers in Sweden.

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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)






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Promoting Open Educational Resources (OER) in popular Indian languages: needs and benefits – Dr. Pradeep Kumar Misra

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Misra was one of the expert speakers at the recent LangOER workshop in Oslo. Dr Pradeep, who attended virtually from India, presented the current situation in India and the needs and benefits of making Open Educational Resources (OER) available in less used languages.

The following two paragraphs were written by Dr Pradeep, and are a summary of the presentation he provided to the project team during the workshop.

“The Indian government recently approved an open license policy to bring all the new digital learning resources as OER under BY-SA licenses. A number of OER Initiatives have already started, including: National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER), National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), eGyankosh, Project Oscar and NIOS: OER Repository. Among the population of 1.27 billion people in India, 228 million are enrolled as students at school level and 18.5 million at higher education level. Hence, a need and importance of OER as a cost-effective mechanism to provide quality resources becomes self-evident. Among different measures, languages have a very important and unique role to promote OER among academic fraternity in India. The reason is that India may be termed as a country of languages. The Constitution of India designates a bilingual approach for official language and Hindi and English are official languages in central government supported educational institutions. But this situation differs in states, as India has 29 states, and all the states have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation. As a consequence, India has 22 officially recognized languages. The popular languages in India having more than 10 million speakers are Hindi (258-422 million), Bengali (83 million), Telugu (74), Marathi (72 million), Urdu (70), Tamil (61 million), Guajarati (43 million), Kannada (40 million), Punjabi (34 million), Malayalam (33 million) and English (12 million). The other interesting note is that English is often hailed as the language of upper classes and masses usually communicate in local Indian languages.

“Languages have a vital connection with use and promotion of OER in the schooling sector in India. The majority of students in India usually come from middle and lower socio-economic categories and mother tongue or regional language is the medium of instruction for most of them. These students need cost-effective OER but most of them are either reluctant or unable to use available OER due to language barriers. The reason is that the majority of available OER are in the English language. Some OER are also available in Hindi language, while OER in other popular Indian languages are almost non-existent. On the other side, students from upper socio-economic classes usually go to English medium schools and for them it’s easy to understand and learn from available OER in English. Instead, these students who have enough means to procure and pay for resources, prefer to use commercial educational resources considering the prevalent belief that free means less in quality. Comparing these two situations, one can argue that those who really need OER in India are unable to make maximum use of these due to language barriers. Considering that 80% of schools in India are government schools (usual medium of instruction Indian languages) and 20% private schools (usual medium of instruction English language), OER in popular Indian languages are needed more and benefit more to teaching-learning community. As a guiding principle, development and adoption of OER in popular Indian languages will be helpful to increase the popularity, credibility and acceptability of these resources among students and fulfilling the vision behind the OER movement that making educational resources freely available to all is a fundamental right”.

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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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The LangOER webinar: a successful event attracting many participants

The LangOER webinar gave some food for thought about open learning and OER in less used languages. During the event, Sylvi Vigmo, Kate Borthwick and Anna Comas Quinn gave their views on the current situation how Open Educational Practices and OER could be enablers of multilingualism. The whole event was recorded so if you didn’t have a chance to attend, the webinar can be accessed online.

Access here the recording of the webinar:

Follow the tweets about the webinar on twiter: #langoer


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Discussing the diverse picture of OER at the EUROCALL 2014- symposium, Groningen

At the EUROCALL conference we had the opportunity to give a symposium for an interested crowd. The topic concerned issues of multilingual repositories, management of OER repositories and teacher and learner engagement, and looking for shared questions in need of being tackled. Sylvi Vigmo and Linda Bradley from LangOER discussed the findings the state-of-the art study of OER in less used languages. Tita Beaven from the Open University, UK, talked about LORO and gave useful insights into management of such a large repository. Then Kate Borthwick from University of Southampton discussed work with OER uptake in interesting contexts for less used languages.  We finished with a discussion where the audience were invited to contribute and sign up on a list. We will see if we can make a potential special interest group for OER in EUROCALL.

Here are the happy symposium leaders; Linda Bradley, Tita Beaven, Kate Borthwick and Sylvi Vigmo (Katerina Zourou was also part of the planning team):

photo 1

During the symposium, LangOER partner members from Fryske Akademy Marit Bijlsma and Cor van der Meer, who is project coordinator, participated. In the photo together with Linda Bradley and Sylvi Vigmo

photo 1

Blogger: Linda Bradley.

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Take the opportunity to participate in the upcoming webinar

Open Educational Resources (OER) for less used languages in an increasingly digital everyday culture

What is the future for less used languages online? How can online resources be an effective tool to preserve less used languages? This is the topic that will be discussed in the Webinar Open Educational Resources (OER) for less used languages in an increasingly digital everyday culture: What are the challenges and how will we tackle them?

Time: 19 September 14:00-15:00 (Central European Time)

Access here the recording of the webinar:

Download the poster (pdf)


Kate Borthwick, University of Southampton, UK

KateCoordinator for e-learning at the Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS). Experienced developer of online learning materials and an e-tutor. She has a research interest in open educational resources (OER) and managed all of the Centre’s recent projects exploring Open Educational Practice.


Anna-Comas Quinn, The Open University, UK

AnnaLecturer in Spanish at the Department of Languages. Leader of LORO, a project to provide free open educational resources for language teaching and learning ( Fellow of SCORE (Support Centre for Open Educational Resources).


Sylvi Vigmo, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

SylviTakes a specific interest in interaction, communication and learning in collaborative digital media settings. More specifically this means in-depth explorations of the use of languages in learners’ boundary crossings between contexts in which digital media are used as resources.


Chair: Alastair Creelman, Linneus University

AlastairE-learning specialist, business intelligence, project leader. University library / e-Health Institute. Distance/net-based learning, quality in e-learning, open educational resources (OER), MOOCs, social media in education.



What will you learn from this webinar?

  • The status of OER in less used languages in Europe
  • Some current strategic projects working going on that deal with OER
  • How OER can be used as a resource in teaching and learning of languages

Taking part in a webinar? Have a look at how it works:


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Why do OER matter for less used languages?

Katerina Zourou, Ph.D., LangOER project manager

Throughout the project lifetime (January 2014-December 2016) the LangOER team will produce evidence-based studies on the value of OER for less used languages for several target groups (learners, and teachers, educational experts and researchers, policy makers at national and international levels). Looking for evidence in OER is a complex issue, with the OER Research Hub probably being the only initiative striving to provide evidence on OER.

This short overview is based on a small sample of existing studies on the value of OER from a multilingual/multicultural perspective and provides a grounding for forthcoming studies. It exemplifies barriers that can only be overcome by broader participation with Open Educational Practice (OEP) and stronger engagement at policy level.

  • Shortage of freely accessible resources in less used languages (and social connectivity as a response)

There is a need for less used languages to openly license existing resources as a means to engage with users wishing to improve their knowledge about given languages/cultures. Keeping resources as copyrighted material not only impedes re-use and repurposing of materials in new learning contexts but also prevents users from taking ownership of them and engaging with their development and improvement. A study by Ulrich Tiedau (2013) on Dutch language OER developed in the UK emphasizes the importance of community-driven OEP as a trigger for OER expansion.

  •  Reluctance to use OER in languages other than the native language

A recent study (Clements & Pawlowski, 2012) confirms that hindrances to the use and re-use of OER are among others linguistic in nature. 35% would rather use material produced in their own country and 21% say a main barrier is resources in English only (p.9).

  •  OER as means to face cultural/linguistic hegemony

Due to the limited number of speakers of less used languages by comparison with the number of speakers of “bigger” languages, the capacity to produce, maintain and update resources is not the same. Adoption of OER/OEP is much more pressing for less used languages and on a global scale their lack threatens linguistic and cultural diversity. Two studies support this idea, both situated in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) field. Although OER and MOOC are not comparable, we can draw similarities with the perceived threat of cultural/linguistic hegemony by more represented languages. A short paper by Altbach (2014) asks ‘who controls knowledge” in MOOCs and highlights the fact that the number of students from foreign countries registering on a course is much higher than the number of native speakers. The author questions the pedagogical and other values that a course brings, and their suitability for any registered user in the world. In addition, a blog post (though not grounded on evidence) by Katherine Forestier entitled “China’s new MOOCs could be a double-edged sword“ ) shares insights on this issue from a policy perspective. The author claims that the arrival of MOOCs has been greeted nervously by many university leaders in China, with some concerned about ‘foreign ideas’ being imported via MOOCs, and that this move has resulted in Chinese MOOCs in response to English-language ones.

The main page of the consortium of French-language MOOCS (or FLOTs, for Formations en Ligne Ouvertes à Tous)states that “the development of French-language MOOCs alongside English-language MOOCs is even more important for teaching in regions that are historically French-speaking, particularly in Africa”.

Another example is OCW Universia, formed by all the Spanish, Portuguese and Latina American Universities which have opted to join the OCW project. The OCW Universia website states that partners belong “under the cultural and geographical affinity of the Spanish American space. It thus has a stronger representation on the world Consortium”.

Growth of OER in less used languages comes not only by enhancing the production of OER in these languages, but also through an effort to cross-fertilize approaches, methods and practices. What is needed is to create bridges between stakeholders and communities of more and less knowledgeable peers and to strengthen cooperation between stakeholders of leading languages and those of less used ones, so that more voices are expressed, resources are more contextualized and rooted to cultural/linguistic contexts. Engagement with end users is also useful, with some crowdsourcing examples already in place (Paskevicius, 2012). After all, multilingualism/multiculturalism is a trademark of openness, exploration and wide horizons.


Altbach, P. 2014 MOOCs as Neocolonialism: Who Controls Knowledge? International Higher Education, number 75, Spring 2014, p. 5-7.

Clements, K., & Pawlowski, J. M. (2012). User-oriented quality for OER: understanding teachers’ view on re-use, quality, and trust. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning , 28(1), p. 4-14.

Forestier, K. 2013. China’s new MOOCs could be a double-edged sword. University World News. Published November 1, 2013, last access June 30, 2014

Paskevicius, M. 2012. Adding language subtitles on Khan Academy VideosPublished March 2, 2012, last access June 30, 2014

Tiedau, U. 2013. Open Educational Practices in a Lesser-Taught Language Community. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society,(January 2013), 47–57. Retrieved from

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