A Pledge for Open English

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From the blog TOETOE (ˈtɔɪtɔɪ): Technology for Open English - Toying with Open E-resources http://www.alannahfitzgerald.org/190/

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A Pledge for Open English

  1. 1. Articles from TOETOE Technology for Open English Toying with Open E- resources (ˈtɔɪtɔɪ)A Pledge for Open English2012-03-05 00:03:00 adminPrincess Mary, Girl Guides, 1922 viaWikimedia CommonsHey, I’m not even British but as part of Open Education Week – March 5-11 – I’vejust signed a pledge with the new UK-based Open Education SIG, an internationalspecial interest group with a UK flavour (not flavor:).I attended a meeting held at the Open University in the UK at the end of February todiscuss the future of open education in the UK. I am a teaching fellow with theSupport Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE), one of about 400people working in UK higher education who have been involved in government-funded open educational resources (OER) projects over the last three years. Whenwe all made our applications for funding to the Joint Information Systems Committee(JISC) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in the UK we also made the usualcommitment in our proposals to sustaining our OER projects after their fundedlifetimes. So, what better way to reinforce this commitment than by signing arenewed pledge to Open Education? While the Cape Town Open EducationDeclaration has been picked up by many organisations around the world we thoughtit would be a good idea to re-mix this declaration to make it more personalised forthe educational practitioner. What does this all mean for English language teaching practitioners?Frontrunners for technology-enhanced ELT, Russell Stannard and DavidDeubelbeiss, have also been pushing for more open educational resources andpractices within ELT.Recently, I posted a comment on Scott Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT blog regarding theissues of attribution, re-use and the making of derivative resources for teachingEnglish based on original resources created by another author:
  2. 2. Attribution, Creative Commons licencevia Flickr[One of the things that interests me most about this post and the comments relatedto it is the issue of attribution to the original work on automaticity by Gatbonton andSegalowitz. Attribution is essential whether you’re sharing resources in closedteaching and learning environments (e.g. classrooms, password-protected virtuallearning environments, workshop and continuing professional development spaces)or through publishing channels using copyright or copyleft licences (e.g. books,research articles, blogs, online forum discussions). There is obviously a greatamount of sharing and attribution going on in this discussion and the bloggingplatform is an enabler for this activity.What also interests me is the behaviour around resource enhancement. As Scottoutlines in the example here, an original resource from a research article byGatbonton and Segalowitz was re-formatted into a workshop by Stephen Gaies(presumably with attribution to Gatbonton and Segalowitz). This in turn inspired Scottto engage in further resource gathering to inform his teaching practice while applyingthe five criteria for automaticity, and this further informed the section on fluency inhis book, How to Teach Grammar (presumably with attribution to Gaies but now herealises he should’ve included attribution to Gatbonton and Segalowitz). In its latestiteration we find the same criteria for automaticity here in his blog post containingmore ideas on how to apply this approach in language learning and teaching fromboth Scott and his blogpost readers. This is a great example of resourceenhancement via re-use and re-mixing, something which the creative commonssuite of licences http://creativecommons.org/ allow materials developers and usersto do while maintaining full legal attribution rights for the original developer as well asextended rights to the re-mixer of that resource to create new derivative resources.Legally enabling others to openly re-mix your resources and publish new onesbased on them was not possible back in 1988. Arguably, Gatbonton andSegalowitz’s paper with the original criteria on automaticity has stood the test of timebecause of its enhancement through sharing by Gaies and by the same criteriahaving been embedded in a further published iteration by Scott in How to TeachGrammar. Times have changed and there is a lot we can now do with digitalcapabilities for best practice in the use and re-use of resources with attribution stillbeing at the core of the exchange between resource creation and consumption.Except that now with self-publishing and resource sharing platforms, including blogs,it’s a lot easier for all of us to be involved in the resource creation process and toreceive attribution for our work in sharing. This coming week, March 5-10, is OpenEducation Week http://www.openeducationweek.org/ with many great resources onhow to openly share your teaching and learning resources along with how to locate,re-use, re-mix and re-distribute with attribution those open educational resourcescreated by others. Why not check it out and see how this activity can apply to ELT?]If you’re new to all of this and have any pesky questions about the business modelsbehind open education, please check out Paul Stacey’s blog, Musings on the EdtechFrontier, with his most recent post on the Economics of Open. So, why the interest in British resources for open English?I’ve been coming in and out of the UK for the past 10 years with my work related totechnology-enhanced ELT and EAP. Resources include not only those artifacts thatwe teach and learn with but also the vibrant communities that come together toshare their understandings with peers through open channels of practice. BALEAP,formerly a British organisation (the British Association for Lecturers in English forAcademic Purposes) but now with an outreach mandate to become the global
  3. 3. forum for EAP practitioners, is such an informal community of practice. Memberswithin BALEAP are actively making up for a deficit in formal EAP training byproviding useful resources to both EAP teachers and learners via their website andthrough lively discussions relevant to current issues in EAP via their mailing list.Because of my interest in corpus linguistics and data-driven language learning, I’vealso been working with exciting practitioners from the world of computer science,namely those working at the open source digital library software lab, Greenstone, atthe University of Waikato in New Zealand, to help with the testing and promotion oftheir open English language project, FLAX (the Flexible Language Acquisitionproject). The FLAX team are building open corpora and open tools for text analysisusing a combination of both open and proprietary content. A copyrighted referencecorpus such as the British National Corpus (BNC) is enhanced within the FLAXproject by being linked to different open reference corpora such as a Wikipedia anda Web-derived corpus (released by Google) as well as specialist corpora, includingthe copyrighted British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus, developed byNesi, Gardner, Thompson and Wickens between 2004-2007 and housed within theOxford Text Archive (OTA).Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS) manage the OTA along with jointlymanaging the BNC which is physically housed at the British Library. TheOpenSpires project is also based at the OUCS and this is where Oxford podcastshave been made openly available through creative commons licences for use andre-use in learning and teaching beyond the brick-n-mortar that is Oxford’s UKcampus. Try out the Credit Crunch and Global Recession OER that are based onan Oxford seminar series and have been enhanced with corpus-based text analysisresources. Or, make your own resources based on these same seminars to sharewith your own learning and teaching communities. In addition to being housed on theOUCS website these resources, along with many other creative commons-licensedresources from educational institutions around the world, can also be found on theApple channel, iTunesU.So, it seems there’s quite a bit going on with open English in the UK that’s worthengaging with, and maybe even making a commitment to sharing with openeducational resources and practices. A finale take-awayCheck out FLAX’s new Learning Collocations collection where you can comparecollocations for keyword searches and harvest useful phrases to embed into yourwriting, using the BAWE and the BNC along with corpora derived from Wikipediaand the Web.
  4. 4. FLAX - search resource by Jeff Davidson, Durham University English Language CentreThe A Pledge for Open English by Alannah Fitzgerald, unless otherwise expresslystated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.Terms and conditions beyond the scope of this license may be available atwww.alannahfitzgerald.org.

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