University of Warwick School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Learning through connected practice, languages and communication, fixing copyright, the open web, opening doors!
Using social media to meet new and interesting folk with a passion for learning.
When I first heard about open education at an ALT conference some years ago, I was intrigued. I wasn’t aware it was “a thing”. Having worked in language education in secondary and tertiary settings for my entire career, I was already used to connecting and sharing with other educators in my local context, organising student exchanges and visits and using technology to enhance the resources available for language learning and intercultural exploration. A series of online experiences, notably the connectivist MOOC #change11 and participation in networks such as #globalclassroom and #virtualroundtable, opened my eyes to how the networking possibilities of social media and open practice could revolutionise how we work and experience our teaching identities. I became a virtual nomad, wandering the web in search of new possibilities for learning online. Contrary to the scare stories so often advanced about working “in the open” I have found a personal learning network who have brought a wealth of friendship, collaboration and connection. I frequently reflect on the positive effects of the open community.
Language teaching is a great opportunity to share the appreciation for culture and societies other than our own, a way of opening eyes to different perspectives and a practical way of understanding life beyond our immediate context. It can nurture mutual respect and tolerance necessary for community cohesion. These are just some of the reasons why it is so important that language learning opportunities are available to all. In my role, I teach students from across all departments, specialists in sciences next to business, maths, history undergraduates and more. They study an accelerated French course #begacc, bringing their various linguistic backgrounds into the mix and building their intercultural communication skills. The resources we create together are often shared openly and to reduce course costs we use many open educational resources. My use of learning technologies over the years has become influenced by an open mindset, using Creative Commons licences to express my wishes for re-use and remixing. One wonderful collaboration through a connection with Monash University brought opportunities to investigate the importance of open practice to the sustainability of teaching, a profession and craft I have been proud to have made my career. Creativity is central to the nature of humanity, teaching has given me many opportunities to use my creativity to reach beyond the walls of my classroom, the open web mediates this.
Leadership of the sig has been hugely influenced by the great work of Alastair Clarke and Terry Loane who lay the foundations for a vibrant and inclusive group. I have tried to ensure that open creativity has permeated the Open Education SIG. Our webinar series brings together individuals creating the most exciting activities for learning in synchronous with a curious and supportive audience, capturing interactions which can be shared and reviewed at any time. Many of our social activities leave interesting digital footprints so check out #openedsig hashtag! Many of us face challenges in our day to day lives, both professionally and personally and I believe that the SIG is a supportive community who welcome all and value tolerance, diversity and respect. This year, as ever, I look forward to our annual OER conference, #OER18 which looks to be a record breaker thanks to the leadership of Viv and David. The SIG committee hope to meet you there either in person or remotely for fellowship and fun.
Open practitioners are not difficult to find: