This blog post relates to my study of Open Educational Resources as part of my Emerging Technologies for Learning Program of study at the University of Manitoba. Our instructor has asked “How does [internationalisation & localisation] apply to OERs? And how can you adapt your own OER content to address issues of local and foreign culture?”
As with the creation of any artefact, consideration of the intended audience is paramount. What do you assume that they already know? What do they need to know? What are their life experiences? What is their cultural background? How will they use the artefact? In terms of OERs, one of their strengths is the licencing that enables you to repurpose, revise, remix, and redistribute taking into account the context in which the body of work is to be used. So I guess the trick when producing OERs is to design them such that they are as easy as possible to repurpose for different audiences, rather than trying to make your work accessible to everyone.
The localisation of work is not necessarily limited to a region or ethnic culture. It can in-fact include organisational cultures. I am considering my final project for the course and what body of work to produce. I’d like to create something applicable to my place of work. This means ensuring it is localised to my workplace culture, and aligns with the organisational goals, language (what organisations don’t have their own acronyms and idioms for instance?), facilities and so on. So re-purposing an OER can mean combinations of reuse, revision, remixing, and redistribution such that the final product meets an organisational need.
Factors to consider when localising content can be obvious such as language. If an artefact was written in Spanish as an example, it would be completely inaccessible to the likes of myself who can speak nothing other than English. While other factors are far more subtle, yet still significant. For instance, it is common to use an analogy (or examples) to teach a new concept or idea by drawing a parallel between a known concept and a new one. What if the concept you assume to already be known by the learner is not known at all? So your choice of analogy must be localised to match the context of the learner, or else it becomes meaningless. While there are a growing number of software tools available that will translate one language to another, the more subtle nuances such as analogies embedded within bodies of work are harder to address. Returning to my initial point of designing OERs such that they are easy to repurpose for different audiences, it would be useful to be able to mark-up within an OER, elements that are contextual, such as analogies so that they can be interchanged to meet the needs of a particular audience. So when translating a body of work from one context to another, these marked-up areas can be replaced with something more meaningful for the intended audience.