As a language instructor and in the hope to experience how MOOCs work with language learning, I signed up for the Language Teaching MOOC. The objective of this course is stated as “… for language teachers of all levels to discuss and gain a deeper understanding of emerging trends in blended teaching and learning of world languages, including the methodology, best practices, and practical application of the blended and online classroom,” and “… to equip participants with the necessary core knowledge and skill set for designing, implementing, and improving a blended or online classroom.” So essentially, this MOOC course is no difference from the one I have taken previously or any other MOOCs except that it focuses more on language teaching methodology and technology.
The tools used for this course include a course website, Google+, Google Groups, Blogs, Twitter, and YouTube videos. And the course formats include online discussions, one course project using Instreamia, an online language learning platform created by Ryan & Scott Rapp who are also “instructors” of this LTMOOC.
So far, I would rate this LTMOOC course as a great opportunity for langue practitioners to exchange information and ideas. Participants also get a chance to do a project with a couple of technologies which might new to some. Nevertheless, my curiosity to exam as a learner how MOOCs work with a foreign language teaching and learning has not met. Previously I did a couple of experiments which integrate social media and mobile devices to help student with their Chinese learning. Major findings from those experiences is that the help of social media for beginner language learners is very limited, and it helps more with students whose language proficiency is higher, and that students’ motivation is a key issue in online learning.
Relating this experience with a previous question whether MOOCs are a threat to the brick and mortar liberal arts institutions like ours, I would argue that for language courses, especially those beginning and intermediate level courses, MOOCs should be the least threating. Face to face, small student-instructor ratio classroom instruction should still be the most effective means.