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Thursday, April 3, 2014

OER & Language Learning: Internet Specific Tools

I've mentioned this before but today I got an e-mail that brought the idea of open educational resources back into my mind. If such an online approach was well done, I can envision certain students completing a course online without ever attending a class. Later they could take an exam to prove their competency, earn a credit towards a degree and move on.

I knew a girl who entered high school fluent in at least four languages. Forcing her to take years of high school French was insane. She should have been offered the chance to write all the appropriate exams and put the entire French curriculum behind her. Heck, she spoke French better than some of her teachers. They asked her questions because she not only knew Parisienne French, she new Quebecois. She had lived in France and now that she lived in Canada she was spending her summers in Montreal.

A few years ago, I took a French language course from Western University in London. It was not a good experience. There were too many students and not enough instruction. It was an unfocused course that ran for a number of weeks and then just ended. There was no homework during the course and no exam at the end. The university took my money but gave me little in return. It was a no credit class and with good reason.

That course left me thinking: There must a better way to teach French to English-speaking Canadians. My curiosity led me to The Center for Open Educational Resources & Language Learning (COERLL) at The University of Texas. COERLL is one of 15 National Foreign Language Resource Centers funded by the US Department of Education.

COERLL creates educational materials designed for dissemination over the Internet. Called open educational resources (OERs), the online language tools (courses, reference grammars, assessment tools, etc.) are of great interest to me.

The material is free for anyone to use but may require permission to re-mix, improve, and redistribute. COERLL aims to promote a culture of collaboration. In addition, COERLL stated aims are to reframe foreign language education in terms of bilingualism and/or multilingualism.

I wish the university in London would host something similar. If offered in conjunction with a course such as the one that I took, possibly more could be accomplished. And, at the end of the course there could be an exam. Pass the exam and earn a credit from the university.

If you'd like to see what I am talking about, click the Le Vin de Vouvray link. This will take you to one of the COERLL French exercises posted by the University of Texas. I took the liberty of creating a vocabulary quiz in Quizlet using the vocabulary supplied with the Le Vin de Vouvray post.

I'm going to share a link to this post with one of the teachers at the French public school my granddaughter  attends. I'm seeking feedback on this open educational resource concept. I'm trying to decide whether I should proceed further in my attempt at interesting educators in London to offer something similar.

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