|Having received an Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grant (2018/19) with my colleagues Renata Creekmur and Federica Santini of Kennesaw State University, we created a comprehensive OER textbook for first-year Italian language and culture courses, as follows: Creekmur, Renata; Santini, Federica; and Scapolo, Andrea, "Elementary Italian I & II" (2019). Foreign Languages Grants Collections. 5. All materials, including grant proposal, report, and the link to our OER textbook, are available at https://oer.galileo.usg.edu/languages-collections/5.|
The goal of this project was to create open-access, textbook-less elementary Italian courses (ITAL 1001 and 1002) that foster students’ engagement through the use of current and relevant authentic materials, and activities that help them build skills they will need in their academic and professional careers. Italian 1001 and 1002 are foundational courses for our program, and Italian 1002 is part of the KSU General Education curriculum. In these two courses, students acquire effective communication skills in both the written and spoken language and an understanding of the practices and products of Italian culture.
Over the course of our project, we completely restructured the existing courses, organizing the content into thematic units that adopt a project-based approach to language acquisition and intercultural awareness, with end-of-semester portfolios that foster students’ reflective learning and critical thinking. The resulting project provides students with an integrated, accessible, high quality, and no-cost platform of authentic online resources. Some of these materials were already publicly available and accessible, while others were created and made available by our team.
By using OER, instructors are able to serve a more diverse population and help under-served students, such as first-generation students, to take full advantage of educational opportunities offered by world languages and culture programs. Since 2018, our University has marked courses as No-cost, Low-cost (required materials at $40 or less), or regular. Thus, OER can have a direct impact on enrollment. In combination with addressing enrollment and becoming more competitive among course offerings, we wanted flexible, accessible, authentic materials that are easily approachable by our students and that foster inclusivity and social justice in our classes.
Additionally, the combination of the new materials used and the project-based approach allowed us to keep the students engaged in class at all times and increased their participation in all activities.
In November 2019, we co-presented our project, including strategies to successfully create OER for Italian courses, at ACTFL 2019, as "Using OER to Enhance Italian Language and Culture Classes."