My research interests include humor, motivation, and instructional theories, as well as material and curriculum design, focusing on language learning and the development of the language learner’s motivational self. I’m interested in the use and effects of teacher self-disclosure in language learning environments. While I enjoy research, I am most engaged in the classroom, working closely with my students.
The term OER is really new to me, even though I was probably involved in using them and later creating them for a much longer time. Retrospectively, I would say I have been a user of OER for 20 years or so. When I was in high school I always tried to find free educational resources online to prepare and study for big upcoming exams. When I worked at Mt. Holyoke College later, I was fascinated by the way my mentors taught: engaging the students and realizing innovative ideas. Not only did I get inspired to create my own material, I also built my first personal website which provided information and material for German students at the college. I never thought I would enjoy teaching. Through the work with my mentors I was introduced to Dr. Zsuzsanna Abrams and her German language projects: Deutsch im Blick (DiB), a first year German textbook, and Grimm Grammar, an online grammar tool. These were open resources with a Creative Commons (CC) license.
I found the project original, authentic, and cool. After my first year working with Dr. Abrams I was thrilled when she asked me to actively work on its content, which meant not only to edit, collect realia, and design new exercises, but to actually apply what I had learned and share it freely with my German language students.
I think it is important to educate users about open licensed material. As an instructor I have found it dissatisfying if a picture or a file that was used to create a great exercise has to be taken out of a lesson because we cannot acquire rights or permission to use website content. Also, some exercises become useless if content has been taken off the web or its URL changes.
I hope that promoting and speaking for the general utility and value of open educational resources can help open up more venues and ways of realizing issues, such as integrating music videos and other culturally valuable material. Ideally, developers will find a way to communicate and cooperate in a more transparent yet secure form with the different user groups (teachers, students, administrators). As of now there is no way for us to share testing and evaluation material. Assessment should only be available for teachers, and I am not aware of an open and free platform that would allow such cooperation and sharing. I hope folks knowledgeable in how to realize this will soon step forward, so that projects like DiB (and its various users) can benefit from an even greater collaborative community and successful learning outcome.
Access DiB at http://coerll.utexas.edu/dib/.