|The OER textbook I created can be broken down into two 4-credit intermediate French university courses: The first part of the sequence, titled “Unités 1”, is used in French 201 while the second part, titled “Unités 2”, is used in French 202. They can be used on their own too. This textbook has been designed for maximum flexibility in delivery and for ease of use. Key components include a consistent structure with built-in variety, access to authentic audio-visual material, answer keys, external tools embedded into Canvas (e.g., H5P, FlipGrid), and cultural diversity.|
This substantial reshape of the intermediate sequence was first motivated by the desire to make the UW-Eau Claire French curriculum more equitable, more accessible, and more affirming of diverse identities. I created those resources in order to move away from a curriculum that marginalized underrepresented groups to one that strives to portray the French-speaking world, as well as learners of French, as a multifaceted entity. Secondly, it was an opportunity to better align the program with national proficiency guidelines. This transformation was done using backward design, starting with redefining outcomes, creating assessment protocols and rubrics along ACTFL guidelines, followed by redesigning thematic units and lessons targeting all modes of communication on topics explored through the lens of a different French-speaking culture each week. Finally, the process was accelerated by the UW-system switch to a different LMS (Canvas) and the increased need to teach virtually in 2020. The resulting Canvas courses were published as an OER in Canvas Commons in January 2021 and in a Continuing Education subaccount of Canvas accessible by anyone upon request.
The main pedagogical framework and standards are based on ACTFL guidelines, and I am a certified ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview tester or otherwise. The rubrics and assessments that I developed are therefore proficiency-based. Another framework used is TiLT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching), which guides educators into structuring assessment prompts in ways that clarify and break down the necessary steps to success so that all students, regardless of previous experience and background, have equal chances to meet expectations. A third important framework that was applied to this sequence are Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles that optimize individual choice and autonomy, offer alternatives for visual and auditory information, guide information processing and visualization, and use multiple tools for construction and composition amongst other attributes.
This process took several years to complete. I started by complementing the textbook with authentic resources such as videos and texts, around which I created activities to develop students’ proficiency and intercultural understanding. As that collection grew, I was able to develop my own video tutorials over time for vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar until I no longer needed a textbook. Finally, I designed a shareable LMS course in which everything is organized coherently, where all the sources are sited, and where I provide captioned videos if the original videos on YouTube are not already captioned manually. I paid particularly attention to the design to ensure that (1) principles of UDL are applied consistently, (2) students using the site have all the information they needed without being overwhelmed, and (3) instructors are able to customize their course if they choose or use them as they are.
The final product is one LMS course for each course that I teach: FREN 201 and 202 are ready now, and more are coming soon (e.g., FREN 430 – Environmental and Linguistic Diversity – May 2021 ; FREN 325 – Pronunciation – August 2021 ; FREN 401 – Contemporary Societal Issues – February 2022). Those Canvas courses can either be imported by users whose institutions use Canvas, or by requesting access by email. In addition, they are designed as HyFlex courses and can thus be taught in any modality (i.e., online asynchronous, remote synchronous, F2F, or a mix of all). Answer keys are provided, and all modes of communication are practiced and assessed equally (interpretive, presentational, interpersonal, intercultural). Because I am the only French faculty at my institution, opportunities for collaboration are limited. I have used what I learned on pedagogy and content from professional development throughout the years at conferences and workshops. For the LMS design, I received training at my institution and have worked closely with Avonlea Hanson, an instructional design consultant.
Anecdotal evidence from end-of-semester course evaluations suggests that the changes implemented have had a positive effect on students’ learning experience, even after abrupt changes in modalities in spring 2020.