The Community Café: creating and sharing open educational resources with community-based language teachers

Kate Borthwick, Alison Dickens

Abstract


The Community Café project ran from 2010 – 2011 and was a collaboration between Southampton City Council and two universities in the UK. The project’s aim was to create, publish online and share a collection of open access digital resources for community-based language teachers in the Southampton area. The project addressed a particular problem: the scarcity of up-to-date, online resources for community languages. These languages are often learnt in informal situations, and teachers are often reliant on creating their own materials but have limited access to training. Engaging with open practice offers this group the potential benefits of improving their access to resources, enhancing digital literacy and practice, and gaining insights into alternative pedagogical approaches through using existing online repositories. The project used a mix of informal ‘café’ sessions and formal training to successfully engage the local community languages group in creating and sharing OERs. The group reported that there were real benefits to their pedagogical practice through working on the project and engaging with open practice: knowledge and skills gained continue to inform their teaching. The paper concludes that while community-based languages teachers are enthusiastic learners and benefits of open practice can be significant, they need encouragement, training and a neutral environment to engage fully with the open movement.

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Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society | ISSN (online) 1971 - 8829 | ISSN (paper) 1826 - 6223 © 2014 Je-LKS - Italian e-Learning Association (SIe-L).