Grants/Catalyst Languages

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Catalyst Languages

Applicants: Shimna Integrated College
Affiliation: n/a
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Ian McMillan
Coordinator: Ian McMillan
Project Start: 2010/09/01
Project End: 2013/06/30
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Create a repository of CC language teaching resources. Remix and create brand new resources suitable for use within the UK curriculum. Host on our public Virtual Learning Environment. Deliver training in CC licensing and using open source technology to our network of partner schools, encouraging them to further develop and contribute new resources to the repository. Write up the project and submit to academic journals.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

Teaching resources would include: worksheets, images, audio and video works and slideshow presentations, available to download online. Teacher-training resources would include fact packs about CC licensing and a CDrom of useful open-source software.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

Specifically, the community of language teachers in Northern Ireland. On a broader basis, better teaching practice will benefit learners and the whole community. Online materials will be available to the world, but the focus will remain on the UK />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

I have been a teacher of languages in this community for ten years and a department leader for half of that time. We became a specialist school for languages three years ago and have built up an extensive network of other schools whom we support with various language teaching initiatives. I have been at the forefront of these partnership initiatives and am also the loudest voice speaking in favour of enhanced collaboration in an environment where historically schools have been encouraged to compete and keep their resources to themselves. As we create our Virtual Learning Environment, I have convinced most colleagues that our first duty as educators is to model good behaviour by sharing our resources instead of restricting access. Copyright issues and the benefits of Creative Commons are not widely understool throughout the teaching community here.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

1) Quantitatively: Number of resources collated and generated/remixed. Number of downloads of resources. Number of attendees at courses. Number of contributions to the repository from extra-mural sources. 2) Qualitatively: Are resources being used in lessons - how? Do teachers and learners find them useful? In what way and why? These things can be measured by using questionnaires with participating teachers. UK teachers increasingly find ourselves within a target-driven and highly evaluated culture; as a Specialist School we have years of experience in both self- and external-evaluation.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

Directly 5 members of staff will be involved in-house, one of whom will be project co-ordinator. Their involvement will be sustained by virtue of the fact that this is largely the sort of work they do all year anyway, it merely needs to have someone streamline and co-ordinate it to make sure everyone is working together. Copyright issues have become a terrible burden as textbook publishers not only are becoming more litigious, but also are building in links with online resources which are kept behind an expensive paywall - we have bought materials in the past only to find they are near useless when the license runs out. Everyone wants to find a way around this, especially as school budgets are getting increasingly tight.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

We expect, based on attendance at previous courses we have been involved in, 15-20 teachers would come to our courses, who would then return to their home schools and further disseminate the information.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

The project will not attempt to create new technology. We will be using pre-existing internet hosting and communications applications and deliver training to teachers in order that they might maximise their use of this. This will include details of how to create, share and remix audio, video and slide-show teaching tools using open-source software.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

The greatest challenges in teaching are always time and money, yet this project aims to be part of the solution to both of these problems. Free collaborative resources will save money (textbooks are expensive and many come with software which is even more expensive and which MUST be re-licensed ANNUALLY!) and having things in a well-organised repository will save time, as will training which will empower teachers to remix the resources to get exactly the resource which suits their learners' needs.

Of course setting this up will require both time and money, which the Catalyst Grant will contribute towards.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

After the three-year duration of the grant, the vast bulk of set-up and dissemination work would be complete and the position of CC Co-ordinator would be phased out. The resource would only need routine maintainence, a responsibility which would be shared between the school VLE co-ordinator and the IT technician, under the supervision of the Head of Languages. Further training would be passed on within our own and partner institutions as part of the regular programme of In-Service Training.

The greatest problem here is if the use of the service grew so exponentially as to create a burden on our web hosting and bandwith services, which would be proof of the project's success and enable us to present a compelling case to the Department of Education that the project is not only worth the minimal cost which expansion of these services would require, but is actually one of the most cost-effective ways of enhancing quality educational provision. Indeed savings made on not having to buy and replace textbooks and other resources would contribute considerably to the infrastructure costs.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

Many schools are already setting up their own Virtual Learning Environments. i believe that once a strong lead has been given, modelling collaboration, sharing and the freedom to remix and improve upon each other's work, the benefits of this model could be taken on by other schools and other subject areas: I imagine another school hosting resources for Geography and yet another for Maths. The potential is enormous.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

Beyond the initial grant, the main support which Creative Commons can provide will be advice and training materials for the dissemination of remix culture as the new model of "best practice".

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

Blog/website Newsletter in paper and electronic formats. Email Telephone Face-to-face meetings and seminars.