Teaching Sign Languages Online: Open Educational Resources
Erasmus+, Project number 2020-1-UK01-KA226-VET-094469
June 2021 - May 2023
The first SignTeach project (2014-2017) developed, implemented and evaluated Open Educational Resources (OER) for sign language teachers and their trainers in Europe.
The OER included information for new and experienced sign language teachers about a.o. didactics, class management, the CEFR for sign languages, meta-linguistics, ICT and entrepreneurial skills.
The output of the project consisted of over 250 short videos in International Sign and several national sign languages: short videos of sign language teachers at work, videos with comments, interviews with experts, results of a Survey and more.
The project's website has since then been visited over 18.000 times by 13.880 individual users from 158 different countries. It is used by individual teachers for independent learning as well as by trainers of sign language teachers.
The project was considered a 'good practice' example and made the shortlist for the European Language Label in 2019.
Since the online teaching of sign languages was not considered relevant at that time, little or no information was included in the OER about teaching sign languages, online. The Covid-19 pandemic however has dramatically changed the need for this kind of information.
On the one hand, interest in learning a sign language has increased as a result of the visibility of sign language interpreters in Corona bulletins on TV, and because people realise that lipreading - difficult at all times - is now impossible because of the protective mouth masks people have to wear.
On the other hand, sign language teachers were unable to continue their traditional on-site teaching practices as a result of the pandemic.
A consortium of 7 partners from 7 different countries, representing Universities, Deaf Organisations and SME's aims to fill the gaps in the SignTeach OER that have now become apparent. Together, we aim to develop new online open learning resources that sign language teachers and their trainers can use to improve their digital pedagogical competences and that will enable them to deliver high quality inclusive digital, online education, nationally and transnationally.
Together with associated partners, we will produce:
- IO1: New "Good Example" videos with Intros and Comments, showing sign language teachers teaching online;
- IO2: New podcasts: short instructional videos in International Sign and/or national sign languages of the presenters, on various topics related to the online teaching of sign languages. Didactics, technology, testing, safety and security, and more. The podcasts will be produced by partners in the consortium, but also by associated partners, invited experts, learners. In this way, the SignTeach project will provide sign language teachers, their trainers, other stakeholders in this field with a platform to disseminate and exchange their ideas, opinions and expertise. In this way, the SignTeach project will provide sign language teachers, their trainers, other stakeholders in this field with a platform to disseminate and exchange their ideas,
- IO3: A pilot study of teaching a foreign sign language online, transnationally.
The online teaching of sign languages poses new challenges, but also offers new opportunities. It enables sign language teachers to teach their national sign language to learners in other countries; it enables Deaf children to learn a foreign sign language as a second language, and it enables Deaf learners to learn the sign language of a foreign country before they travel there for work, study or as a tourist. |
To find out what is or is not possible and effective, we will develop, deliver and evaluate a 'taster' course in British Sign Language and will teach it to partners in the consortium. Sign language teachers teaching other sign language teachers a foreign sign language! We expect lively and informative discussions, resulting in reports and recommendations that we will publish on the project's website.
- IO4: A Report on the 'State of the Art' in the online teaching of sign languages (nationally and transnationally), with the results of an online Survey and interviews with experts ,teachers, learners. All output will be developed by Deaf sign language users for Deaf sign language users and will take their needs and preferences into account from day 1.
In 2017, the first SignTeach project was judged to be ‘an excellent project’ by the evaluators and was judged to be a 'good practice'. As to the relevance of the project, the evaluators wrote: 'The outcomes adequately and fully meet the originally intended ambitions and address the needs of the participating organisations and target audiences of sign language teachers and their trainers. (..) This output is assessed as very positive and relevant. (..) The SignTeach project delivered an impressive number of good examples and podcasts (..). The project succeeded in generating wide interest for its approach and products and long-lasting effects can already be seen and are further expected.'
We expect that the output of the follow-up project, SignTeach Online, will be as good and relevant and will have as large an impact as the first SignTeach project.