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“Start creating your own OERs” Workshop at the eTwinning Conference 2016

From 27 to 29 October 2016, the eTwinning and Digital Citizenship Annual Conference was held in Athens. The goal of the conference was to explore possibilities on how to raise the capabilities of the schools of today, in order to be prepared for the challenges of the fully digital society of tomorrow.

Professor Elena Shulman, expert member of EUN’s LangOER team, was responsible for the activity entitled Open Educational Resources: Start creating your own OERs, organized as 2 separate workshops taking place on the same day. These sessions were aimed at teachers engaged in professional development activities under the eTwinning programme.

Around 70 participants from a wide variety of European countries (including Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Moldova, Ukraine, Turkey, Lithuania and Portugal among others) joined the LangOER workshops. The expert, answered questions throughout the sessions and engaged teachers in considering and discussing issues around OER, copyright and best practices for creating and licensing their own OERs.

The workshop’s topic was based in the Going Open with LangOER online OER course, the related handbook and other relevant tools and resources. The first part of the session, focused on providing an overview of Creative Commons licenses and examples of open resources and how to find them. Then, the speaker went on presenting opportunities for teachers to explore resources and tools that facilitate their own efforts to discover, reuse and create their own OERs and to license these resources appropriately using Creative Commons licenses. The hands-on part of the workshop was followed by a questions & answers slot and the final wrap up.

Overall, participants provided feedback to the expert on the issues that teachers found challenging when it comes to Creative Commons licenses, the type of resources teachers were more likely to find useful in similar learning opportunities and insight into what motivates or acts as barriers to teacher’s willingness to share OERs in online communities.

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International Conference on Bilingualism in Education

A talk on OER: insights into a multilingual landscape was given by Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy), at the international conference Bilingualism in Education, which took place at Bangor University, North Wales, on 10-12th June 2016.

The event attracted around 150 international researchers and practitioners within bilingual and multilingual education.

The main goals of this conference were:

  • To increase the understanding of bilingualism world-wide, as regards both the individual and the community;
  • To build research capacity on bilingualism by developing a vibrant ‘laboratory’ for the study of bilingualism in action which aims to serve as a platform for interactions between bilingualism experts and junior researchers;
  • To develop strong bidirectional links with practitioners and policy makers concerned with bilingualism, so as to ground research and theory in the needs of those users and ensure dissemination of research findings;
  • To develop new collaborations.

The event covered a broad spectrum of themes of interest for the LangOER project to relate to and to exchange knowledge on and, in particular, the topic of ‘Understanding students’ attitudes towards post-compulsory study in minoritized languages’.

”It is widely acknowledged that the establishment of school-based educational provision in minoritized languages has been a key factor in language revitalisation in a range of primarily European contexts, where institutional recognition and support have been secured by the relevant minority. In the Welsh context, and elsewhere, the production of new speakers has arisen primarily as a consequence of the growth in the number of school-aged pupils studying through the medium of Welsh”

Andrew James Davies, Prifysgol Aberystwyth

The presentation focused on the following key aspects.

  • Language use and attitudes in a minority language community: The case of Wales. Language use and language attitudes have been longstanding and contentious issues within the field of minority language policy. In order for individuals to succeed in becoming bilingual, they have to receive input through both languages, Often, a lack of infrastructure bears the burden of successful minority language transmission. (Dr Mirain Rhys, WISERD).
  • Do Immigrant Minority Students Succeed in CLIL? Over the last few decades, processes of globalization and immigration have turned educational programmes and policies developed to cater to majority language or regional minority language groups into complex language planning issues. The growing influx of immigrant minority (IM) language speakers in both minority and majority multilingual education has laid bare the limitations of (some of) these programmes to provide relevant and appropriate education for all children in the 21st century. (Thomas Somers, Universidad Auntónoma de Madrid)
  • Trilingual Education in Friesland. Currently, Frisian is mainly taught through ‘weak models’ with ‘limited enrichment’. However, more than 100 primary schools (out of 450) apply a bilingual model, and another 75 schools apply the concept of ‘Trilingual Education’ with both Frisian and Eng-lish as a medium of instruction. The number of trilingual schools has increased, and schools are working step-by-step towards a fully developed, tailor made application of the CLIL approach, using school television programs from ‘Omrop Fryslân’ and digital teaching tools. (Alex Riemersma, NHL & Stenden universities of applied sciences).
  • Teaching mathematics in a Basque-medium pre-primary classroom: interaction resources and problem solving techniques. Early Childhood Education in the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain, in a multilingual education context in which 50% of students complete the curriculum in their L2, Basque. The presentation focused on the explanatory and problem solving expressions used by the teacher to the pupils that serve the dual purpose of teaching both the linguistic and the mathematical content. (Julia Barnes, Arantza Ozaeta, Matilde Sainz, Mondragon Unibertsitatea – HUHEZI).
  • Minority Language Families in Diaspora: Catalans in New York City. Educating multilingual children is an adventure ideally shared by teachers and parents. In order to encourage families to embark on, and persist in, the multilingual challenge, teachers benefit from a deep understanding of why parents decide to transmit which of their languages or not, and how they manage. Mixed and migrant families offer a particularly interesting case, since typically parents are forced to make conscious choices regarding their language repertoire. They can also illuminate the dynamics concerning societal multilingualism, where choices might be more environmentally mediated. (Eva J. Daussa, University of Groningen).

Author: Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy)

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OER from the bottom-up perspective – engaging teachers as ambassadors?

In the workshop about OER in practice about educators’ involvement at the LangOER conference in Brussels, there was an engaging discussion about how to increase OER awareness with teachers. The four short presentations about OER in different contexts lead to suggestions of what vital policy recommendations are need for teacher training.

First, the moderator Anna Skowron from Jan Długosz University in Poland presented the pilot course Going Open with LangOER, which was a successful initiative run in the seven partner countries of the LangOER network for a large number of teachers. The result from the pilot project set up by the Polish team was a handbook being used by teachers. From investigating the OER situation in Poland, there were some noteworthy reflections to bring back: Although there are a number of vibrant OER initiatives in Poland, when you scrape the surface it turned out that they were not OER after all. Also, there were national initiatives on open text books but they are not implemented in schools. There is an ambiguity as far as the terminology of “open” and “OER” is concerned.

The next speaker was Linda Bradley from University of Gothenburg who presented the Swedish version of the Going Open course and lessons learned. For the teachers engaged in the course, learning about OER was an eye-opener. Many teachers are really interested in knowing more about openness, open licenses and what is actually possible to share online.

The third speaker Vaiva Zuzevičiūtė from Mykolas Romeris University in Lithuania, presented the Going Open course in Lithuania. It attracted a large cohort of interested teachers. Instead of the 25 teachers that were invited, they ended up with 70 teachers! This shows that teachers are very interested in what OER can bring to teaching and learning, something that was manifested by one of the participating teachers being interviewed saying that it is necessary to “cut down the talking about using technology and instead get to work”. In the Lithuanian study it was clear that teachers need hands one materials that they can use directly in class.

The fourth and final speaker was Florentina Costea from The Arman Community from Romania, displaying a good practice example for lesser language e-learning investigating the Arman/Aromanian language. The OER movement can facilitate connections and spreading materials about a very small language, particularly in this case, where speakers are located in various places throughout the world.

The policy recommendations brought up, concerned how OER training within initial teacher education and continuing professional development programmes could be increased for teachers via online platforms. We discussed how it is possible to facilitate teacher and support staff training in the creation, adaption and use of OER. One solution could be to work more on the bottom-up perspective, with teachers as ambassadors, engaging teachers to be more active. However, the sustainability question still remains. Who is going to update and maintain the materials produced?

Author: Linda Bradley – University of Gothenburg

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Symposium “The Future of Learning: Critical Perspectives on Higher Education in the Digital Age”.

Professor Michael Thomas,  University of Central Lancashire, organised the symposium “The Future of Learning: Critical Perspectives on Higher Education in the Digital Age” on June 22, in Preston, UK.

The symposium sought to  give insights and encourage critical thinking with respect to the following questions: What is the future of learning in the digital age? How is learning being shaped by neoliberalism? How are digital technologies promoting and hindering learning? This interdisciplinary symposium will be of interest to students, teachers, researchers, support staff and policy-makers working in the field of education in general and technology-enhanced learning in particular.

Plenary Speakers and their topics follow:

Professor Stephen Bax: “The Future of Learning in the Digital Age: How to Achieve Normalisation” (The Open University, UK).

Professor Jozef Colpaert: “The Future of Content, Learning and Data Analytics in an Educational Engineering Perspective” (University of Antwerp, Belgium).

Professor Grainne Conole: “The Landscape of Digital Practices” (Bath Spa University, UK).

Rajay Naik: “Enabling Online Learning” (Keypath Education, UK).

Professor Hayo Reinders: “The Internet of Things: Implications for Education and Research” (Unitec University New Zealand and Annaheim University, USA).

Professor Randall Sadler (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA) and Dr Melinda Dooly (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain): “Critical Perspectives on Teacher Education: A Pedagogical Proposal for the Digital Age”

Katerina Zourou was invited to give a talk about LangOER results with the title  “User Perspectives on Open, Social Network-Based Learning and Teaching”. The slides of the talk are available here . Katerina highlighted the role of OER in broading access to open education and the limitations of this endeavour, based on recent findings from the LangOER project, namely the survey on the affordances of social networks in open educational practice (journal paper accessible here).


Katerina starting her LangOER talk, June 22.

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Online collection of scholar papers on “Social dynamics in Open Educational Practice”

The selection of papers entitled “Social dynamics in Open Educational Practice” for the journal Alsic is being prepared and will be released in Fall 2016. Katerina Zourou is the guest editor of this collection, which is one of the outcomes of work package 6 package 6 “OER/OEP for language education” .

Jonathon Reinhardt

Commentary: Preparing teachers for open L2TL: Frameworks for critical awareness and transformation

Malgorzata Kurek

Addressing cultural diversity in preparing teachers for openness: culturally sensitive appropriation of open content

Teresa MacKinnon, Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou, Howard Manns et Scott Grant

A Meta-Analysis of Open Educational Communities of Practice and Sustainability in Higher Educational Policy

Shona Whyte

From “solitary thinkers” to “social actors”: OER in multilingual CALL teacher education

Carl Blyth and Amanda Dalola

Translingualism as an Open Educational Language Practice: Raising Critical Language Awareness on Facebook

Katerina Zourou

Social networking affordances for open educational language practice

Steven L. Thorne

Epilogue: Open Education, social practices, and ecologies of hope

A peer-review process has been established in early 2015. From all abstracts submitted (10 abstracts), the editor have invited 7 authors to submit a full paper, of which 6 have been selected at the final round of review. Two among the selected contributions draw on results of the LangOER project, namely papers by Gosia Kurek and Katerina Zourou.

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Open Educational Practices in Small Languages: The Role of Community-Driven Engagement

A talk on “Open Educational Practices in Small Languages: The Role of Community-Driven Engagement” has been given at the 2016 “Future of Education” conference, in Florence, Italy, by Katerina Zourou. This annual conference is a meeting place for stakeholders working in the fields of digital education and training, literacies, teaching and learning approaches and methodologies.

Our talk dealt with the social dimension in the uptake of Open Educational Resources, by highlighting the role that communities can play in open practice. Due to the limited number of speakers of less used languages, including regional and minority languages, by comparison with the number of speakers of “bigger” languages, the capacity to produce Open Educational Resources (OER), further develop them and embrace them in Open Educational Practice (OEP) is not the same. At the same time, adoption of OER/OEP is much more pressing for less used languages which have (very) limited digital presence, threatening linguistic and cultural diversity on a global scale.

This presentation discussed ways less used languages can benefit from community-driven initiatives to enhance OER uptake. A selection of practices and initiatives were presented, to emphasize the role of bottom-up, community driven engagement as a catalyst of OER uptake.

In the first part of the presentation we showcased crowdsourcing and localization practices carried out by communities of less used languages, such as those hosted by Amara and Khan Akademy. We also identified state initiatives in less used languages that are built on the network based, community engagement of native speakers (cf. the Frisian MOOC).

For thoughtprovoking papers and reflections on the social dimension of OEP don’t miss Catherine’s Cronin blog

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Explore the LangOER collection of Open Educational Resources for languages

The project LangOER published a collection of open educational resources created by the teachers participating in the training sessions.

As many as 90 resources are available in the project’s main languages, namely Greek, Swedish, Latvian/Latgalian, Lithuanian and Polish. They range from memes, book trailers and practices to Ted-based lessons. They have open licenses and can be freely reused.

The materials are hosted on the LRE portal, Learning Resource Exchange for schools, a service provided by European Schoolnet.

Explore the collection here

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Social dynamics in Open Educational Practice: a forthcoming journal issue

The selection of papers entitled “Social dynamics in Open Educational Practice” for the journal Alsic is being prepared and will be released in Fall 2016. Katerina Zourou is the guest editor of this collection, which is one of the outcomes of work package 6 package 6 “OER/OEP for language education” .

The accepted contributions are:

  • Whyte, Shona. From solitary thinkiers to social actors: OER in multilingual CALL teacher education
  • Pasfield, Sarah, Grant, Scott, MacKinnon, Teresa, Manns, Howard. A Meta-Analysis of Open Educational Communities of Practice and Sustainability in Higher Educational Policy.
  • Blyth, Carl.Translingualism as an Open Educational Practice: The Case of Français interactif Facebook.
  • Kurek, Gosia. Addressing cultural diversity in preparing teachers for openness: culturally sensitive appropriation of open content
  • Zourou, Katerina. Social networking affordances for open educational language practice.

Jon Reinhardt, University of Arizona, is the author of the Introduction, and Steve Thorne, Portland State University, the author of the Epilogue.

The special issue is expected in early Fall 2016. All papers will be fully available online.

A peer-review process has been established in early 2015. From all abstracts submitted (10 abstracts), the editor have invited 7 authors to submit a full paper, of which 6 have been selected at the final round of review. Two among the selected contributions draw on results of the LangOER project, namely papers by Gosia Kurek and Katerina Zourou.

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A LangOER workshop at the 8th International Conference in Open and Distance Learning in Athens!

A 2 hours workshop entitled ” “Open Educational Resources (OER) in Greek language – Practices of Reusing” has been organized by Ioannis Lefkos, Katerina Zourou (Web2Learn) and Sofia Papadimitriou (Greek National Educational Television) at the the 8th International Conference in Open and Distance Learning, held on November, 7-8 2015 in Athens, organized by the Hellenic Open University Hellenic Network of Open and Distance Learning.

During the first hour, the facilitator was Ioannis Lefkos and his presentation was generally divided in three parts. The first part was an introduction to OER (according to UNESCO / Paris declaration) and Wiley’s concept of 5 R’s of Openness, followed by an introduction to the LangOER Project. Next, the use of the Creative Commons licenses, and how these can contribute to the development and growth of OER was discussed (in addition tools were presented about how to find CC content, how to choose the correct license, how to attribute the source either from a single or from a mixed content). At the last part of the workshop participants were provided with examples of OER repositories relevant to Science Education and also with step by step guidelines about using simple tools to Reuse, Remix and Redistribute OER’s. The tools proposed were

(a) TED Ed, online lesson editor and

(b) the Amara online video translation utility

During the second hour, Sofia Papadimitriou was the facilitator and her presentation was divided in four parts. The first part was an overview of the Greek National Repositories of OER. The second part was about the various ways of searching for Greek OER and the next part suggested ways of using OER in a pedagogical setting. The final part was focused on open educational practices and how this can be combined with OER. After and also during her presentation, participants were involved in hands-on activities with the aforementioned tools. Attendants were also provided with a link to all relevant resources used at the workshop in the form of a Padlet online Bulletin Board, so they were able to test these tools themselves even after the workshop.

View the workshop slides here and all related resources and tools Ioannis & Sophia used here

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Joint presentation at EUROCALL 2015

The annual EUROCALL conference, run by the European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), is a meetup place for CALL practitioners and scholars. Last year our team was present with a symposium on mutlilingual repositories.

This year presentation will be about the design and implementation of training courses for educators, as they resulted from Work Package 4 (Teacher training). Linda Bradley, Gosia Kurek and Katerina Zourou will represent the LangOER consortium and connect to the audience through this fascinating topic. Check the abstract and slides of the presentation.

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