The Language Box: A Faroes Project Repository for Sharing Language Learning Resources in Distributed Social Spaces
The Faroes project is a JISC-funded Capital Project led by the Learning Societies Laboratory in ECS at the University of Southampton, and supported by pedagogic experts from the University of Portsmouth, and from Modern Languages and the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies at the University of Southampton.
Its primary aim is to establish a lightweight repository for learners and teachers to share their resources, based on the CLARE repository (developed alongside the L2O Project), the experiences of the L2O, MURLLO and CLAReT projects, and the active community of language teachers and learning technologists that these projects have been engaged with.
Through a number of previous workshops with the language teachers' community of practice two important lessons have been noted:
- That the community is eager to share their resources and wants a lightweight repository that they can incorporate into their everyday practice. They are also keen that the repository should have a user interface that follows the best practice principles of Web 2.0 sites (social, interlinked, evolving and flexible).
- That practitioners are enthusiastic about sharing learning assets: simple resources such as videos, audio files and presentations.
The simplicity of producing and reusing resources (for example, there is no overhead of content packaging, or complex metadata authoring) makes them particularly attractive to practitioners. Further engagement with the community will help the project to deliver a really usable repository that fulfils these requirements. In addition, it will allow us to begin to explore the difficult issues concerning authorship, provenance, authority and copyright in the context of a real system with real users.
Through engaging with the established community of language teachers in order to deploy a lightweight repository we hope to both foster cultural changes in resource sharing in the community, and also to create innovations in repository design based on Web 2.0 best practice.
Our Faroes repository first took the name of Puffinshare, a one-stop shop of shared language resources on the web, enabling teachers to experience a new way of finding, managing and sharing their language-teaching resources. In October 2008, an improved version of Puffinshare, renamed the Language Box, was launched. This provides a lightweight repository for language teachers to store, manage and share their resources.
This repository in-the-making has been presented to participants at several local workshops and several more are planned for further afield before March 2009. Workshop participants include language teachers and learning technologists from the HE/FE sectors, who have joined the Language Box community and helped test it. They have created user profiles and uploaded a range of their own teaching resources to the site in these hands-on sessions. The workshops have also provided valuable feedback on how teachers want to use a digital repository, and how their learning resources might be tagged. Web 2.0 features which have been added to the Language Box include popularity ratings, most recently added resources, interlinked tagging and an innovative previewing facility.
The Faroes project is now linked with EdShare, a shared institutional space for the collaboration and sharing of materials used in teaching and learning across the University of Southampton.