About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5340-5348
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain

DEVELOPING A PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE FOR INTERNATIONAL DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENTS: A CASE OF E-VOLUTION

T. Lynch

University of Edinburgh (UNITED KINGDOM)
In 2010 the University of Edinburgh launched its Distance Education Initiative, under which it aims to extend the range and number of its Online Distance (ODL) Masters programmes – currently numbering some 40 programmes. One of the student service projects arising from the Distance Education Initiative is the Online Pre-sessional Academic Language course (OPAL), which was intended to support international students with English as a second language, about to begin an ODL Masters programme. OPAL was created in early 2013 and piloted as a tutored course on the Learn platform in summer 2013, as a result of collaboration between two institutions at the University of Edinburgh - the Institute for Academic Development and the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC).

Initially, it had been our intention to ‘distancise’ an exisiting set of academic writing materials, Essay Writing, which were used in the ELTC’s face-to-face pre-sessional programme for international on-campus students. However, after I consulted the research literature on online learning - in particular Haythornthwaite and Andrews (2011), Meskill and Anthony (2010) and various contributions to Holmberg, Shelley and White (eds.) (2005) - it became clear to me that what we should be doing for ODL students was rather different to what we did for on-campus students. What newcomers to online study really need is the opportunity to familiarise themselves with and practise the specific types of written e-communication that they will be required to produce for their Masters programme. Although they do also need practice in writing ‘conventional’ course assignments, which they will submit as part of the assessment for their degree, that practice can be provided later in their university career, once their Masters programme has started, in the form of the in-session academic writing courses run by the University of Edinburgh’s English Language Teaching Centre, all of which are available as online tutored courses.

This shift of design focus – which I have chosen to call e-volution – forms the core of my proposed paper. I will discuss how we created different interaction spaces (chat, discussion, learning journal) in the OPAL study units, which would require different levels of formality of expression, in order to set up realistic opportunities for the students to use different styles of written English. I will explain the issues that arose during the pilot course, for the OPAL students, tutors and myself as course director;. I will then discuss participants’ evaluations and comments, gathered during and at the end of the course. Finally, I will discuss the changes we are planning for the next iterations of OPAL, which we intend to run in two versions: a tutored course, on the lines of the summer 2013 pilot, and an Independent Study version for autonomous learning.

References:
[1] Holmberg B., Shelley M. and White C. (eds.) (2005) Distance Education and Languages: Evolution and Change. Multilingual Matters.
[2] Meskill C. and Anthony N. (2010) Teaching Languages Online. Multilingual Matters.
[3] Pachler N. and Daly C. (2011) Key Issues in e-Learning: Research and Practice. Continuum.
@InProceedings{LYNCH2014DEV,
author = {Lynch, T.},
title = {DEVELOPING A PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE FOR INTERNATIONAL DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENTS: A CASE OF E-VOLUTION},
series = {8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-8412-0},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {10-12 March, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {5340-5348}}
TY - CONF
AU - T. Lynch
TI - DEVELOPING A PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE FOR INTERNATIONAL DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENTS: A CASE OF E-VOLUTION
SN - 978-84-616-8412-0/2340-1079
PY - 2014
Y1 - 10-12 March, 2014
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2014 Proceedings
SP - 5340
EP - 5348
ER -
T. Lynch (2014) DEVELOPING A PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE FOR INTERNATIONAL DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENTS: A CASE OF E-VOLUTION, INTED2014 Proceedings, pp. 5340-5348.
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