OER Faculty Author Spotlight: Dr. Jocelly G. Meiners

In celebration of Open Education Week, UT Libraries is proud to spotlight a few of our talented faculty members who are on the forefront of the open education movement as open educational resource (OER) authors! Today we’re featuring Dr. Jocelly G. Meiners, Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. 

Dr. Meiners is a native of San José, Costa Rica. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and obtained a BA in French and Astronomy, an MA in French Linguistics, and a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics. She is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and specializes in teaching courses for Heritage Spanish learners. Her research interests include pragmatics and emotion in second language acquisition, heritage Spanish learners and pedagogy, as well as linguistic attitudes and language maintenance regarding Spanish in the US. She currently serves as co-director for the Texas Coalition for Heritage Spanish (TeCHS)

Dr. Meiners shares her experiences creating and contributing to the Heritage Spanish community website, where instructors of Heritage Spanish can connect with each other, share classroom resources they’ve created, browse resources created by others, and stay updated on relevant professional development opportunities. 

Do you recall how you first became aware of open educational resources (OER) or the open education movement more broadly?

“I think I first learned about OER through COERLL (Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning). Carl Blyth, the director, was my professor and one of my mentors during graduate school, so I learned about COERLL from him. It was exciting to hear about the creation of COERLL and that it would be hosted by UT.”

What was your primary motivation in building Heritage Spanish?

“As the population of Spanish heritage learners increases throughout the US, the demand for Spanish courses designed specifically for heritage learners keeps growing. However, there aren’t any “one size fits all” textbooks for teaching these students, since the heritage student populations around the country are so diverse and have such different needs. Therefore, a lot of instructors are constantly creating their own materials to serve their students, so we wanted to create a platform where instructors can share OER and find materials that they can adapt and use in their own classes.” 

What has been the greatest benefit of creating and using OER as an instructor?

“The greatest benefit as an instructor is being able to access materials that other dedicated instructors have created and implemented successfully in their classes, and then modify and adapt those materials to serve my own students. Also, sharing OER is a great way to give back, contribute to the field, and support other instructors, especially those who are getting started teaching heritage learners.”

What was the most challenging part of creating Heritage Spanish?

“The most challenging part, which we are still working on, has been building the community and gathering instructors’ work to share on our website. Although many instructors are creating amazing content, they often don’t know about Creative Commons licenses and how to share their work. However, we have several projects to help with this, particularly our annual summer workshop, where instructors can learn all about finding, creating, and sharing OER and also learn techniques and strategies for teaching heritage Spanish.”

How have your students responded to the material? What feedback do you receive from other users?

“Students appreciate using materials that are designed specifically for them, with topics that are really engaging to them, and also of course the fact that OER are free! Instructors who use OER love having access to such a great variety of resources and being able to use them freely. Instructors are often amazed that they can find such great materials for free on our website.”

What would you say to an instructor who is interested in creating or adapting OER but isn’t sure how to get started?

“For heritage Spanish instructors I would say get familiar with our website, check out what other instructors have created, get in touch with us, sign up for our newsletter, join our community, and come to one of our workshops! For other language instructors, COERLL has lots of great resources, and navigating the Creative Commons website and creating your CC license is easy. Just start by looking at other people’s work and you will realize you can do it too. It feels great to share and know that you are helping your community of instructors.”

Want to get started with OER or find other free or low cost course materials? Contact Ashley Morrison, Tocker Open Education Librarian (ashley.morrison@austin.utexas.edu).

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