B-MELTT (BLENDING MOOCS FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER TRAINING) ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING BRITISH COUNCIL RESEARCH PROJECT
The British Council ELTRA (ELT Research Awards) project consists of a joint staff-student action-research project in its third iteration cycle. In its first two cycles the Futurelearn MOOC on Language Learning and Teaching designed by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the British Council was embedded into the teaching, learning and assessment of the mandatory module Theories and Methods of Language Learning and Teaching on the MA in English Language Teaching at Coventry University.
The module was already being delivered in blended learning mode (face-to-face and Moodle): the MOOC forums provided an amplified opportunity for ‘global meta-reflection’ on teaching practice. There were over 60,000 participants from around the world).
In its Autumn 2016 implementation, following the award of British Council ELTRA funding, the project involved 29 students on the MA in English Language Teaching at Coventry University (UK), 25 BA English Education students from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, 54 participants from the MA in TESOL programme at Sichuan International Studies University (SISU), Chongqing, and 9 from a similar programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), Suzhou.
Qualitative (semi-structured interview transcripts/open questions in a survey) and quantitative (Likert-scale-based online survey results) data were collected and analysed both before and after participants had engaged with the FutureLearn MOOC, in order to record their beliefs on learning about English learning and teaching on a MOOC with particular reference to learner autonomy. The project aimed to ascertain how teachers’ beliefs could be affected by a meta-reflection on their knowledge and practice carried out in three ways: individually while doing the MOOC; collaboratively in targeted weekly online meetings with participating peers; and collaboratively with the rest of the worldwide participants on the MOOC.
It is hoped that the results of the ELTRA project will provide the ELT community with a novel model of continuous professional development that could also enhance ELT teachers’ critical digital literacy.