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MOOCing language learning: reconsidering elearning issues

At present the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) phenomenon is one of the most significant educational trends within different disciplines in higher education. As for foreign language learning only few courses have been developed due to the many challenges from both pedagogical and technological perspective. When designing a MOOC course for language learning teachers and instructional designers are to reconsider several elearning issues. Precisely are the features of open and massive that differentiate them from other existing online language courses thus numerous challenges arise concerning the tools to implement and the methodology to follow.

This paper addresses these technical and methodological issues by presenting the design of a MOOC that aims at developing the speaking interaction skills of learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and learners of Spanish as a Foreign Language (Español Lengua Estrangera – ELE). This course has been developed by teachers from three universities in Catalonia with wide experience in the teaching of EFL and ELE, and with expertise in distance online education and computer-assisted language learning. Regarding technological issues, the MOOC team relies on resources and tools developed by the School of Languages at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, within the framework of the European Project SpeakApps. Those tools were essentially designed to facilitate learners’ oral practice and will be the resource base for this MOOC.

In this MOOC learners will have to interact with native speakers of their target language and will avail of documentation, materials and activities that will allow them to maximize and fully realize the potential benefits of this interaction. Students will learn to reflect on, develop and improve learning and communication strategies that will equip them to handle spoken conversation with native speakers successfully in terms of communication achievement and making use of it as a learning opportunity.

This course takes advantage of the massive and open nature of MOOCs to provide students with enough opportunities to interact and practise their speaking skills and communication strategies.


Christine Appel    
Estudis Arts i Humanitats - Escola de Llengües
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Mar Gutiérrez-Colón    
Estudis Anglesos i Alemanys
Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Joan-Tomàs Pujolà    
Didàctica de la Llengua i la Literatura
Universitat de Barcelona


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