Much of the open education movement to date has centered on the creation and use of open educational resources (OER) in areas such as science and technology, which are on the leading edge and currently the more prominent users of OER. Connexions, Merlot, and OER Commons show two to three times as many entries for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics categories as compared to the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
While other contexts (e.g., Europe) have created and made use of OER in foreign language (FL) curricula since the early 2000s, OER only recently began to affect FL education in the United States (US). A small-scale study that surveyed university-level FL program directors in the US indicated that one of the primary reasons for interest in OER as the growing number of blended and fully online courses offered in a variety of languages (Thoms & Thoms, 2014). However, discussions of how OER can be best utilized in both traditional face-to-face, blended, and fully online FL courses have not sufficiently addressed the issue of effectively mixing open and closed materials, tools, and practices (Blyth, 2013). Furthermore, little is known about how FL educators teaching in K-12 contexts in the US perceive and make use of OER in their courses.
As the open education movement continues to grow, there is a critical need for research that explores (a) how FL educators perceive and make use of OER in their classrooms, and (b) the nature of and reasons for the rise in open educational practices (OEP). In response to the paucity of research related to OER and OEP in FL education in the US, this presentation reports on the results of the first wide-scale survey study sponsored in part by the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) housed at UT-Austin. Data was collected in summer 2015 from 1,673 FL educators collectively teaching over 20 FLs and working at all levels of the US educational system-K-12, community colleges, and 4-year colleges/universities. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the response data focus on (a) how aware FL educators are of OER and open education in general, (b) reasons why FL educators adopt OER/OEP, (c) perceived benefits and challenges of creating and incorporating OER in FL courses, and (d) how OER has changed FL educators' teaching. The presentation will report on this data and will provide suggestions for raising awareness among FL educators about OER and OEP. In addition, future avenues of research in this area will be delineated.