The Role of Open Educational Resources in English Language Learning and Teaching

The Role of Open Educational Resources in English Language Learning and Teaching

Dilek Altunay (Anadolu University,Open Education Faculty, Eskisehir, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2013040106
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Abstract

This article discusses the role of Open Educational Resources (OER) in foreign language learning and teaching, focusing on the field of ELT. Firstly, the concept of OER is introduced in the article by providing the definition of OER, role of OER in education, and studies on OER. Then the role of the OER in language learning and teaching is explained in accordance with language learning theories, and examples of OERs for the field of ELT are provided for learners and teachers of English. Possible concerns regarding the creation and use of OER by language teachers and learners are also examined in the article. The article ends with future directions and a summary of the benefits of using OER in language learning and teaching.
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Background

Open Educational Resources (OER)

In 2001, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the release of most of its courses on the Internet with free access. As a result of the increase in the number of institutions offering free or open courseware, UNESCO organized the 1st Global OER Forum in 2002. At this forum, the term Open Educational Resources (OER) was adopted.

There are many definitions of OER. UNESCO’s definition of OER is ‘‘open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes’’ (UNESCO, 2002). Varis (2010) defines OER as “educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve and redistribute” (Varis, 2010, p. 1076).

The distinction between an OER and any online resource is that OER are licensed for reusing (White & Menton, 2011). Creative Commons is the most commonly-known open license. The purpose for which learners are allowed to use the resources other than for sharing (e.g., altering the work or using the work for commercial purposes) changes depending on the type of the Creative Commons license (See www.creativecommons.org for detailed information).

Yuan et. al (2008) classifies OER into four categories: Large Institution-based OER initiatives; Community (or Consortium)-based OER initiatives; Specialized OER Initiatives; and Public OER Initiatives. Examples of each of the categories as taken from Yuan et al. (2008) can be found in the Appendix.

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