In the past decades there have been several initiatives to broaden access to the learning traditionally offered through formal education systems. The boundaries between formal and non-formal education are becoming more and more blurred and there are ever-growing open practices and a wider range of Open Educational Resources (OERs) which aim for ‘opening up’ education to anyone, anywhere. In this course we will look at the open provision of educational resources and practices for language learning, which have been enabled by information and communication technologies.
The Web 2.0 philosophy has transformed the digital environment into a space for online creation and collaboration, changing the way in which learning is undertaken. Since the appearance of the Open Course Ware (OCW) initiative at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002, there has been a significant increase in projects related to Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Educational Practices (OEP) and Open Education in general. This has given teachers a unique opportunity to share, use and reuse materials and tools, and has naturally led to alternative approaches to language instruction, which blur the distinction between formal, non-formal and informal education, and encourage new models of content delivery, tuition, assessment and accreditation.
It is in this context that Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) come into the picture. They are a natural evolution from the widely used virtual learning environments (Moodle, Blackboard, aLF at UNED) and provide a more creative, adaptive learning environment, since they allow students to customise their set of resources and learning materials.
All these initiatives recognise that that learning is ongoing and seek to provide tools to support that learning. This course provides an overview of the current situation in Foreign Language learning, in which there has never been a wider range of methodologies, practices and resources that encourage a culture of sharing and yet all these new initiatives do not seem to have fully materialized yet.