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Wikiversity offers the possibility of setting up your own learning projects, perhaps centred around a class or learning group.  I hadn’t fully appreciated this aspect of the site and it is both intriguing and exciting.

Here is a quote from the site:

Possible question: I’ve read all this stuff so far, and it seems I can just jump in here and use Wikiversity to set up some pages to organise and teach my own class. Surely this is hardly in the interest of a global project like Wikiversity? Surely there must be some kind of limitation on my exploitation of Wikiversity’s resources?

Answer: of course you can jump in and do your own class stuff here!

The reason why this helps the world at large is a piece of deep, subtle and somewhat speculative wiki-wisdom, however. The theory of wiki-dom looks at the very long-term effects and fate of the learning resources you create. At first, a new resource may be so specific and particular in terms of time, place and people, that it is of absolutely no use to the wider world whatsoever. Your resource may only be used by you for a few weeks (time); its content pretty well limits it to your own lesson planning and classroom events (place); and the people involved may not extend outside your class (people). However, unlike a non-wiki webpage, others can come after you and find the resources you have left behind. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they may re-purpose your resources to save themselves time. During the process of repurposing, it is likely that the universality (wider usefulness) of the resource may increase by a small, perhaps almost insignificant amount. The universality will tend to increase, because the resource has now been used on two occasions in different times, places and by different people. Of course, each time the repurposing occurs, the universality may not increase much, or may even sometimes decrease. But in the long run, the resource will incrementally become more valuable and of more universal appeal. This is something which is scarcely visible at the beginning, or not at all visible. But it is the theory of the wiki.

Hmm.  Looks like something I might be interested in pursuing.

Fraida Dubin and Elite Olshtain provide a useful overview of course design principles in their 1986 book on the subject.

  1. Concept: has it already been done well? Is it needed?
  2. Definition: what will be included?
  3. Objectives: what are the actual needs and goals of the target audience?
  4. Congruence: will the course plan fit with a given syllabus or curriculum?
  5. Voice: whose voices will be in the text and whom will they address?
  6. Teachers: who will have the most control and how much scope will there be for improvisation?
  7. Learners: how much responsibility will learners have and will the course match their cultural expectations and learning styles? How much freedom and risk will be encouraged?
  8. Point of view: how neutral or universal should the text, language and material be (e.g. in terms of age, sex, class etc.)?
  9. Inventiveness: what will be the balance netween internal structure/progression and adaptability/selection?
  10. Skills: how will language skills be integrated with structures, themes, situations, functions etc.?

Janice Yalden notes the following principles in designing tasks for language learning/teaching:

Tasks should:

  1. Be realistic;
  2. Have some kind of information gap;
  3. Be unpredictable and free in terms of language and meaning in order to encourage risk-taking, Independence and true language development;
  4. As far as possible meet the learners’ style, needs, expectations and interests.

Based on Yalden (1987) P.152

I’ve been doing some research on course design and will be summarising some of the key principles here from the literature. Our centre library is not as up-to-date as it could be but this is not really much of a disadvantage as it pays to look back at older material. Indeed, I have only just discovered the amazing work of Wilga Rivers, who is a real inspiration and I hope to make further similar valuable discoveries.

Janice Yalden gives a template for designing situation-based language courses. Her approach is very useful in that she deliberately keeps the outlines as universal as possible so they may be applied to any language.

The steps can be summarised as follows:

  1. Decide on the situation.
  2. List communicative goals: those things a person would typically need to be able to do in this situation in the target culture.
  3. List the types of transaction that would be needed to fulfil the communicative goals.
  4. List the language content: those words and expressions needed for each transaction.
  5. List the language objectives: e.g. specific grammar, lexis and phonological features.
  6. Prepare suitable teaching materials to meet the language objectives. Locate realia, pictures and objects relating to the situation.
  7. Find/create listening activities, dialogues and video extracts. Script and record if necessary.
  8. Find or create further activities to reinforce content: reading, writing, tasks, games etc.
  9. Devise summative tests and evaluative component.
  10. Review and revise material.

Based on Yalden (1987) P.148f.

Open Learn, a free collection of Open University course units and a collaborative learning space, offers a basic introduction to fiction writing skills.

The great thing is, once you have signed up and enrolled on some courses you can get the content via RSS in your reader.

Open Learn, a free collection of Open University course units and a collaborative learning space, offers a basic introduction to fiction writing skills.

The great thing is, once you have signed up and enrolled on some courses you can get the content via RSS in your reader.

iTunes now has a university site where you can get podcasts of lectures in video and audio formats.

I will be reporting on any of the courses I do and enjoy.

iTunes now has a university site where you can get podcasts of lectures in video and audio formats.

I will be reporting on any of the courses I do and enjoy.

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