Situated Learning in Open Communities: The TED Open Translation Project

Cámara de la Fuente, Lidia and Comas-Quinn, Anna (2016). Situated Learning in Open Communities: The TED Open Translation Project. In: Blessinger, Patrick and Bliss, T. J. eds. Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education. Cambridge: OpenBook Publishers, pp. 93–114.



Online communities where users can engage as both consumers and producers of content offer increasing opportunities for teachers and learners to connect formal and informal learning, often through open practice. TED Translators, an online community of volunteers involved in the crowd-sourced translation of audiovisual open content, provides a good opportunity for teachers to involve their students in completing authentic tasks that make a real contribution to society, in this case, disseminating ideas across languages and cultures whilst practicing the skill of translating video subtitles.Using a qualitative approach based on the analysis of participants’ narratives, we explored the experiences of situated learning within a community of practice as part of a pedagogy that seeks to exploit the intersection between learning in formal and informal contexts. We focused on students’ perceptions of the learning derived from participation in TED Translators, and the role of this activity in the training of translators, and found that participants valued the learning of a new skill and the often serendipitous knowledge they gained about other topics, and were mostly positive about the role of this kind of activity in translator education.

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