Meet the committee: Naomi Wahls

Committee member Naomi WahlsBased in:

Open Universiteit, Netherlands (but lives in Colorado, USA)

Passionate about:

Intercultural Learning, Open Virtual Mobility, Virtual Exchanges, Collaborative Open Learning, and Open Educational Practices

Open network: My channels

Recommends:

Trying connecting courses through virtual exchange with an international course. Instructors and administration learn so much about themselves, students, the educational systems in both countries, and about peer educators during the experience.

 

Although most recently I work predominantly with language educators and online language teaching, I have worked with various fields in online higher education since 2006. Even in the earlier years though, I’ve had interests in virtual exchanges (VE) for various course topics, including non-language learning courses that share the same language for the course content. During that time I completed 2 Master programs: Spanish and Information and Learning Technologies. During my Spanish Masters research, I studied video lessons, social media, and game based learning. My thesis was: “Using Video Lessons and Gaming to Teach Spanish Commands with Participant Interaction in Social Media”.

In 2010, I started practicing open virtual exchanges with 3 institutions between Mexico and the United States. At that point the students interacted for less than 3 weeks as part of their current course. This past year, educators in Mexico, Peru, and Uzbekistan began asking for stand-alone courses for credit focused on VE. During the first virtual exchange with Uzbekistan, the Uzbek university was able to award credit to the students for the virtual exchange, a step closer to Virtual Mobility (VM).

I started a small company in 2012: Wahls Instructional Design and was the instructional designer for a graduate teacher education MOOC specialization for credit in Colorado. During the design, I realized that MOOCs could be designed to be more inclusive of students in developing countries and rural areas which drew me to open education more directly. I also realized that Open Virtual Mobility (#OpenVM) might be of use to many non-native English speaking countries as a means of practicing English and advancing their studies with native speakers. As an external PhD Candidate with Open Universiteit, Netherlands, I’m researching OpenVM through Intercultural Learning.

The VE with Uzbekistan and the newer course model lead to the UNESCO project in Uzbekistan: Open Education for a Better World focused on Professional Development for English Teaching in Uzbekistan which includes Open Educational Practices (OEP) and collaborative open learning with the mentor team of Dr. Chrissi Nerantzi, Dr. Alisher Abidjanov, and myself. Dr. Chrissi Nerantzi introduced me further to OEP and collaborative open learning. This month, the UNESCO OER textbook project was accepted to the Rebus OER beta textbook project.

 

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