Oregonians at 2022 Language OER Conference

By | April 13, 2022

Oregon community college and university representatives presented at the 2022 Language OER Conference, cosponsored by the University of Kansas Open Language Resource Center and the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning. This conference provides a venue to showcase large-scale language OER and to exchange information on topics related to OER production and adoption.

Here are the presentation materials created by our colleagues:

Now That You’ve Published Your OER… William J. Comer, Portland State University; Lynne deBenedette, Brown University

This presentation will briefly describe the OER Mezhdu nami, an online introductory Russian course that was written in 2012-14, piloted in 2013-14, and became publicly available in 2015. The presenters will address a number of issues that OER authors need to consider after publication. First, there is the issue of making the OER attractive to and implementable at multiple institutions beyond the original core developers’ home universities. This primarily means providing those teacher supports (e.g., answer keys, visuals and PowerPoints, test banks, coverage schemes, lesson plans) that traditional publishers usually make available. An adjacent issue for OER authors is how deeply they should intertwine their resource (and/or its teacher supplements) with a particular publishing platform (i.e., Pressbooks, H5P) or with a particular LMS (i.e., Canvas Commons). While providing content in those formats can make the OER more attractive to some programs, it may also make the resource less viable at others. A final issue that the presenters will address is how to keep the OER fresh by issuing updates and new editions. We’ll address the challenges of managing corrections, updating realia and cultural references, and getting feedback from the user-base for larger structural changes. The presenters will raise these issues, outline pluses and minuses of various approaches, and describe the decisions that they have reached in navigating these many options.

Developing Accessible OER Documents: A Review of Best Practices. Seyed Abdollah Shahrokni, Western Oregon University

In this presentation, I will review some accessibility considerations (e.g., adding alt tags to images, using headings to lay out the document, adding closed captions to videos, using accessible fonts, maintaining an acceptable contrast ratio). Further, I will explore and review the affordances of some openly-accessible tools (e.g., YouTube, OpenAuthor, WebAIM Contrast Checker) to help the OER developer observe these practices. By the end of this session, the participants will walk away (sign out) with a refresher on accessibility considerations and also some related tools and resources.

Decoding the 1920s: Teaching Advanced Russian in a Literature Class. Nila Friedberg, Portland State University

Decoding the 1920s: A Reader for Advanced Learners of Russian was published by the Portland State University Open Access initiative in 2021. The 1920s is a major part of the Russian literary canon but is notoriously difficult for American students to read in the original, due both to its stylistic complexity and its hidden historical, political and cultural references. And yet, the period is crucial for understanding Russia – not only in the Soviet period, but also today. The 1920s and 1930s were the period when “The New Soviet Person” emerged, with its Soviet mentality. Recent attempts to glamorize the Soviet past in Putin’s Russia indicate that the Soviet mentality is still alive; and literature provides the best window into that world. But how can one teach 1920s prose in a language class, if the prose is decidedly different from everyday speech due to its poetic devices, figures of speech, and allusions; if the prose, that is, can hardly serve as an imitative language model for a learner? This textbook aims to offer a solution to the problem, proposing language assignments that would, on the one hand, help students transition to ACTFL’s Advanced Mid proficiency level, but at the same time promote meaningful engagement with literary texts. While the potential audience of this book may seem like a relatively small group of students (rated as Advanced Low), in reality it represents a highly important group whose needs must be met, and an open educational resource is the best venue for achieving that goal.

A Closer Read: Textbook and Novels for Adult Intermediate ESOL Students. Timothy Krause, Portland Community College

Recently, instructors of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at my institution expressed a need for reading materials appropriate for and relevant to intermediate-level adult students at our community college, both in terms of skills textbooks and short fiction for extensive reading. In response, I wrote the skills textbook A Closer Read and two companion novels (Stig Digs In and Alma Strikes a Chord) that together with ancillary materials form a complete curriculum geared for this level and demographic.

The textbook readings follow familiar hobbies, such as music, sports, and social media. It incorporates a variety of skills/modalities to address reading in a holistic and authentic manner. Each unit includes dictionary work and contextualized use of vocabulary in a topical warm-up; transitional listen-and-read dialogues with recordings; a primary article for close reading; a skill presentation with practice using the primary article; a second, related article with comprehension questions for homework; a text transformation exercise for consolidation of knowledge; and discussion questions. Elements are modular, so instructors easily add or omit pieces. Generous graphics make the textbook visually appealing while supporting comprehension and contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The set includes teacher’s guide with learning objectives and answer key; audio recordings; and Quizlet exercises. The two novels work well together but can be used independently. Each includes vocabulary list, comprehension questions, discussion questions, and extension activities.

Presentation slides

Citoyen.ne.s: An OER Textbook for a More Inclusive Classroom. Annabelle Dolidon, Portland State University

In this session, I will present CITOYEN.NE.S: Conversation en Français, an OER textbook for students at the intermediate/advanced level that is designed around issues of inclusivity and diversity, not only when it comes to the target culture(s) it reintroduces, but also with students in mind. I will talk about why and how I created chapters and activities that invite students to be themselves, no matter who they are and where they come from; cultural content that challenges that of many other language teaching methods; and background information that confronts the colonial roots of a Eurocentric view of French-speaking countries outside of France.

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