Universitat Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4840-4849
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
This paper focuses on one of the main problems we deal with at University, regardless of the faculty, degree, discipline or level we consider: lack of academic literacy. Academic literacy focuses on the types of reading, writing, and thinking skills required by students within the context of higher education. In general, it is assumed that academic literacy includes more than discrete language skills. It includes deep competence in reading, writing and critical thinking. Even though students are supposed to have the necessary literacy background when they arrive at University, it is very frequent to find students that cannot succeed in their respective studies just because they lack the writing/reading skills required at that level of education.

University must provide academic literacy development for students across all study programmes. However, the special focus on specific topics related to the degree they are following –and the overcrowded courses-- makes very difficult the task of supplying students the right tools to acquire the literacy skills they need for their academic achievement.

Taking into account the difficulties of achieving the necessary academic literacy in the regular courses, in this paper, we propose to use a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) as a learning environment for students to acquire their lacking skills related to academic literacy. A MOOC provides online resources that can be used by students from very different backgrounds, and due to its features, may improve the process of learning.

The MOOC we present here –called “Escribir para Triunfar” (“Writing to succeed”)—, which has been designed at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, is focused in one of the most important skills of the academic literacy: the writing skill. The reason for choosing writing is back up by the evidence that many university students have problems with this ability. Usually, they are not prepared for the most frequently assigned writing tasks, as for example analyzing and synthesizing information from several sources; they fail producing texts free of language errors; and, very often, they have problems to express their thinking clearly and accurately.

With the MOOC we have designed, we try to show that this online course format can be a good way to provide the tools to acquire writing skills and to solve the most frequent writing problems. We think that this tool may be useful for a wide generation of university students that have different backgrounds and that are not able to acquire the required academic literacy competences with the little instruction provided in the courses they follow.

The objectives of this paper are threefold:
1. To reflect on the consequences that the lack of academic literacy have in the academic achievement of our students.
2. To show the adequacy of MOOCs as a tool for academic literacy.
3. To present the MOOC “Escribir para triunfar” developed in our university and designed to help students to fix their writing skills.

Nowadays, is very frequent to speak about multiliteracies in order to describe the shift from a reading/writing literacy to a literacy that includes multiple channels of communication. However, it is very important not to consider ICT as opposed to the reading/writing literacy. Currently, with new technologies, we use the written channel more than ever and, therefore, the writing skills are gaining more and more importance in the learning, professional and social environments.
MOOC, Academic Literacy, Writing Skills.