Openness in English Language Teaching
Alannah Fitzgerald, SCORE (The Open University) UK; Durham University, UK ; Concordia University, Canada Jeff Davidson, Durham University, UK Lesley Kendall, Durham University, UK
Conference Theme: Collaboration
Summary: An exploration of collaboration around open educational resources in English language teaching
Abstract: This presentation will introduce different yet complementary empirical studies as part of the TOETOE (Technology for Open English – Training with Open E-resources) project, managed by Alannah Fitzgerald, with SCORE and Durham University’s English Language Centre (DUELC). Teaching participants involved in an OER cascade project carried out at DUELC, Jeff Davidson and Lesley Kendall, both experienced practitioners in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) will present their first-hand experience of engaging with open practices for the first time with the design, development and delivery of innovative OER for EAP courses. OER in open file format were developed for teacher and learner training across two different EAP student cohorts (intermediate and proficient users of English) of two classes each for enhancing student writing and vocabulary acquisition in their specific subject domains. Both students and teachers made impactful changes in their language learning and teaching practice by utilising a range of open content and open tools. A variety of innovative OER were employed in the study, including: open corpora derived from Google and Wikipedia collections as part of the FLAX (Flexible Language Acquisition Project) based at the University of Waikato in New Zealand http://flax.nzdl.org/greenstone3/flax; open source tools for text analysis found in FLAX and in the Compleat Lexical Tutor http://www.lextutor.ca/ centred at the Université du Québec à Montréal with the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University in Canada, and; open source software for building your own corpora, AntConc, established at Waseda University in Japan http://www.antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/software.html. Leading English Language Teaching (ELT) practitioners were also interviewed about their work in promoting openness in ELT. An exploration of the different motivations for those practitioners’ commitment to the open agenda will be presented, including reasons for: sharing and endorsing OER and open practices for ELT; building open corpora and open platforms for data driven language learning, and; developing open source software for interactive language learning tools. A widening OER for EAP stakeholder vision will also be presented in the context of informal and formal learning communities who are now engaging with these types of OER for language learning. This is based on two scoping exercises attached to the TOETOE project, involving the newly launched OER University’s (OERu) prototype 2012 plans for accreditation and curriculum development and exploring where OER for EAP would be a ‘good fit’, and the newly formed web resources sub committee within BALEAP, formerly a British organisation but now with an outreach mandate to become ‘the’ global forum for EAP practitioners. Identifying how these different stakeholders collaborate around OER for EAP within formal face-to-face and distance education as well as informal education routes via not-for-profit organisations such as the OERu will provide insights into how effectively OER are discovered, used, shared and sustained and whether greater synergy can be attained between these different communities of practice.