Imagine looking at a new course syllabus, and reading: “Required Texts: Free e-textbook”…
This is what U of A students will find in their Beginner German classes. The e-textbook is aptly titled Willkommen: Deutsch für alle (in English, that means Welcome: German for Everybody). Here, the definition of “everybody” is broad: it includes anyone with access to the Internet connection. No need to be enrolled in the course, or even be attending the U of A. It’s completely free for readers – in fact, you can read it right now!
That’s because Willkommen: Deutsch für alle is an Open Educational Resources (OER for short).
For those unfamiliar with the lingo: OERs are teaching and learning materials that allow free use and reuse, without charge. OERs often have a Creative Commons license that states specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.
Working with OERs is rewarding, because it often means using exciting new technology to share knowledge openly and freely, for both learners and teachers. Willkommen: Deutsch für alle maximizes the potential of being entirely online (although a PDF can be easily exported), by embedding the textbook with lots of interactive elements that engage students in online activities.
When the Library launched Open Education Alberta, Willkommen: Deutsch für alle was one of the first titles added to the program. Developing this textbook has been a year of hard work for authors Claudia Kost and Crystal Sawatzky, both from the Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Department.
We asked Dr. Kost a few questions:
1. Tell us about your OER (Open Educational Resource), and in which course(s) are you planning to use it?
Our OER is called Willkommen: Deutsch für alle (Welcome: German for everybody) and it will be used in the beginning German language classes (Germ 111/112) at the University of Alberta. With our e-textbook, students will learn to communicate in German in a variety of contexts and situations. In addition, it is designed to be cost-free, user-friendly and flexible for use on a variety of digital devices (computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone).
2. Why did you decide to create your own OER?
We always wanted to write our own textbook for teaching German. Designing this e-textbook as an OER allows us to provide students with a cost-free alternative to the expensive textbooks that are typically used, while at the same time making sure they have access to pedagogically sound materials and up-to-date information.
3. What are you looking for your students to experience, when using this open resource?
Our e-textbook takes an inclusive approach to the depiction of German-speaking people, contexts, and concepts. It views language learners, instructors and a wide range of individuals interacting in German as belonging to a large German-speaking community. We want our students to experience the diversity of this community, so we designed our materials to be purposely inclusive of sexual orientation, race and ethnicity.
4. Anything else you want to add?
We are excited to show our OER to the world and hope that other instructors and students enjoy teaching and learning German with it.
Interested in creating your own OER? Find more information on the Library Publishing Website!