Tita Beaven

Department of Languages, The Open University, UK
Calling for open educational practices in scholarship projects.
Photo: Performing Languages

Although I have worked in the area of Open Educational Resources and Practices for several years, I have often thought that many outputs of scholarship activities are not always disseminated as openly as they could be. I wonder what we teachers who are engaged in scholarship activities can do to improve dissemination and engagement with our work? I also strongly believe that the outputs of publicly funded research and scholarship should be available to all whenever possible. That is why when we applied for funding for a European Lifelong Learning project through the European Commission, we decided to try to make the activities and outputs as open as possible.

Performing Languages is a Grundtvig adult education partnership project, which enables amateur actors from France, Spain, and Italy to work with language teachers at the Open University (OU). Together they explore, amongst other issues, how drama activities can be adapted to the language classroom. The primary aim of the learning partnership is not to produce materials but to share experiences and develop common understandings; however, from the beginning we were convinced that any resources we produced for our project (such as workshop activities, lesson plans, texts and video recordings) should be available as Open Educational Resources (OER), published under a Creative Commons licence. That way, they will be available to everyone working in the lifelong learning areas of drama, language learning, and intercultural education. In this way, we are hoping that the experiences and ideas from this project can be either replicated by others or adapted to their specific contexts and needs. We believe that by making our resources open we will increase the impact of the project.

It has not always been easy, but we are finding that you just have to keep making the case for openness, and that slowly, one person at a time, you can make a difference. Most of the teachers who have taken part in the project have written activities for the language classroom based on what they learnt in the theatre, and have published them as OER. That in itself has been great to see (published in OU’s language learning website LORO, Languages Open Resource Online repository of OER, and tagged as “performing languages”).

I would encourage all teachers to think about making the results of their scholarship activities (be they teaching resources, case studies, workshop or conference presentations, or indeed journal articles) open to all, and to publish them through open licenses such as Creative Commons whenever that’s appropriate. Others will be able to use them and adapt them, and the work will have a greater impact and help improve the quality of teaching and learning everywhere.

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