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Typically assigned during the second week of the semester, the OED task requires students to use the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary to research the history of a word.  Designed to get students thinking about processes of repurposing and amplification—making existing stuff (in this case, dictionary definitions) their own by way of selecting, structuring and re-contextualizing that material—the task requires that OED findings comprise at least three-fourths of their response.

The piece entitled “Open” consisted of a heavily duct-taped box containing 20 open-able items each of which featured the student’s OED findings, and a set of instructions for participating in an educational testing initiative. In the testing cover letter the student explains that the producers of “Open” are hoping to perfect an amazing learning tool, one that will “expand the test-taker’s knowledge and broaden his/her communication and vocabulary skills.”  The recipient is also told that the average child has been able to accomplish the task in 10 minutes.

open
click image to see more of "Open" and to hear its composer talk about the choices she made and the feelings she experienced while
producing the piece.