The Open Translation MOOC: creating online communities to transcend linguistic barriers

Beaven, Tita; Comas-Quinn, Anna; Hauck, Mirjam; de los Arcos, Beatriz and Lewis, Timothy (2013). The Open Translation MOOC: creating online communities to transcend linguistic barriers. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, article no. 18.



One of the main barriers to the reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER) is language (OLnet, 2009). OER may be available but in a language that users cannot access, so a preliminary step to reuse is their translation or localization. One of the obvious solutions to the vast effort required to translate OER is to crowd-source the translation, as exemplified by Wikipedia (Wikipedia Translation) or TED (Ted Open Translation Project).

From October to December 2012 the Department of Languages at the Open University UK ran a MOOC on Open Translation Tools and Practices (OT12). Participants explored a range of online open translation tools (Amara, Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit) that enable and facilitate the crowdsourcing of translation, dubbing and subtitling. For this MOOC, participants collaborated in the translation and subtitling of OER mainly to and from English and Spanish, but also Portuguese, French, Greek, German and Catalan. Forum discussions, synchronous online sessions, recorded podcasts and the tasks themselves were designed to provide input, facilitate discussion and share views not only on the linguistic specificities of translating different languages, but also on issues such as quality assurance in open translation and the ethics and practicalities of openness in education and translation.

Data for this paper is drawn from online surveys covering participants' backgrounds and their prior experience as translators; their expectations and motivation for participating in the OT12 MOOC; and their evaluation of the outcomes of the MOOC.

We understand MOOCs as events (Cormier, 2010) or, following the principles of connectivism, catalysts for starting conversations within a network (Downes, 2011), and therefore feel that they might be a suitable way of engaging online communities of translators, language teachers and learners, and those interested in the crowdsourcing of translations for OER. This paper attempts to open up a debate on how the world of open education can harness crowdsourcing and existing open translation models to further the openness agenda.

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