Relevancy of the MOOC About Teaching Methods in Multilingual Classroom

  • Danguole RutkauskieneEmail author
  • Greta Volodzkaite
  • Daniella Tasic Hansen
  • Madeleine Murray
  • Ramunas Kubiliunas
Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 188)


Over the last couple years, migration between European countries and immigration to Europe from non-European countries has increased a lot. Due to this increment, the situation in language diversity and multilingualism in schools has also changed. Now, teachers face a lot of difficulties related with teaching in multilingual classes in Europe. The authors present the research on MOOC delivery for embracing language diversity in the classroom and results from surveys completed voluntary before and after MOOC courses. The research revealed the 97% of participants would recommend the course to a colleague or a friend.


MOOCs Diversity Multilingualism Open education Challenges 

7.1 Introduction

Massive open online courses have become popular not so many years ago. Mainly, they are used to provide education for non-traditional audiences, which include people from different cultures. However, as the number of different cultured students in all the classrooms are increasing, teachers are still not prepared and need additional lessons and seminars. The authors stated [1] that new teachers begin their career without any or with little preparation about multilingualism. For example—the training programmes for teachers in England. The authors highlighted that the system overfocuses on English as an additional language and does not pay the required attention for students from different cultural backgrounds [2].

It is not a surprise that 35% of people under 35 years old in Europe have an immigrant background [3]. This caused the effect of linguistic diversity in schools of almost in all the biggest cities in whole Europe. This mainstream attracted the attention of scientist, and the number of researches increased automatically. For example, researches explore the challenges of teaching students with the national language and other additional languages [4]. These kinds of researches show the opportunities and challenges in the process of course delivery.

7.2 Methodology

The article goes as follows: in the first part of the paper, there is the identified problem and the need for the research area. The literature overview on teaching in multilinguistic classes using MOOCs methodology is discussed and presented. The discussion of the research is carried out by presenting a MOOC which was delivered to the Teacher Academy by School Education Gateway. ‘The Teacher Academy on the School Education Gateway was launched by the European Commission to help teachers’ access relevant professional development activities across Europe. The Teacher Academy is a single point of access to on-site and online in-service courses as well as a selection of teaching materials [5]’. Experimental evaluation of the course delivery challenges is presented and the effectiveness of the presented model is shown in the paper. The conclusions are provided at the end of the paper based on 1272 pre-responses and 245 post-responses.

7.3 Literature Review

The key challenge when preparing future teachers is to find ways to implement study about diversity and teaching fast and with greater value [6]. When analysing the case of multilingualism in USA, the authors highlighted that diversity in USA is described as ‘fragmented and superficial’. The authors claimed that there still are programmes for teachers in which diversity learning is ignored, despite the growing number of students [7]. The authors claim that there is a need to revise study programs of all teachers to include multilingualism the problem where it is not included [3]. A lot of researches have analysed culturally and linguistically responsible and responsive teaching [8]. It also includes discussions on what is the required response and how it should appear in teachers’ education. Some authors [9] have discussed that the education of all teachers should include spheres like ‘transformation of trainees multicultural attitudes’ and increment of skills and knowledge that are vital for teachers when teaching in diverse classroom. Other authors [10] think that all teachers in bigger schools and bigger cities should know several different languages (language learning feature should be one of their learning modules). Another group of the authors suggest to teach teachers about the majority of students from other country backgrounds. Hey, do you think that combining cultural knowledge and language knowledge will provide great benefits [11].

However, there are researchers who are worried about overprotective and superficial treatment of the diversity and multilinguistic problems in classrooms [12]. This approach started to gain popularity very fast and got the name of ‘stomp and chomp’ [13]. Later on, it started new activities which were related with diversity awareness and teacher education. Such an example is the EUCIM-TE project [14]. A lot of researchers started to analyse the problem of skills needed to work in a diverse classroom [15]. The majority of the authors have claimed that [16] skills and knowledge are not the only ones needed. All of the teachers should demonstrate their knowledge through practice which should be responsive and will empower a teacher to act in creative ways [17]. The authors have identified that creative ways [18] mean that teachers should be given the basic information and interpret it in their own ways, to control and teach class with the best approach. After the study of the researches, it is clear that there is no one sustainable practice on how to prepare teachers for teaching in the diverse and multilinguistic classes. More research needs to be done and all of the actions should be implemented in practice [19].

7.4 Discussion on the Pedagogical Model to Plan MOOC

The analysing course has been developed for primary and secondary school teachers. Also, it includes teacher trainers who want to improve their competencies development and teachers who work in bilingual and CLIL schools regardless of the subject they usually teach.

This course was built to encourage teachers of all age groups and from all subjects, to more deeply realise the importance of teacher language awareness and to better understand the multilingualism in their classroom. This course provides teachers with tools and resources to deliver subjects in different languages and to plan lessons.

The main purpose of this MOOC (‘Embracing language diversity in your classroom’) is to ‘increase teachers’ awareness of the language competencies development of their students and how to benefit from them, as well as to provide them with different ICT tools and resources to support them in delivering curricular subjects in different languages’.

The platform for MOOC implementation was by chosen School Education Gateway. Later on, the outcomes which will describe the preparation of the teachers were described and raised. The outcomes: (1) come to know the importance of teachers’ awareness of the students’ language diversity; (2) understand and turn language diversity into an asset for their teaching; (3) learn to empower language teaching with innovative technologies (CLIL, Multilingualism and Translanguaging) and apply them in the classroom; (4) explore freely available online tools and open educational resources for language teaching and learning to integrate in the classroom; (5) become familiar with multilingual classroom projects; and (6) learn how to build learning activities using resources for CLIL. Based on these outcomes and reachable results, coordinators created 5 different modules for this course: the importance of language awareness; turning language diversity into an asset for your teaching; content and language integrated learning; multilingual classroom projects.

After the completion of the course, students receive digital module badges for every completed module of the course as well as a course badge and a course certificate upon completion of the full course. All badges can be exported to the Mozilla badge backpack. Full scheme of MOOC planning process is seen Fig. 7.1.
Fig. 7.1

Planning MOOC design processes

This MOOC is especially valuable to teachers who are new to working in bilingual and CLIL projects or have little experience with these, and it will serve to provide participants with various tools and resources they can easily integrate in their lessons for more efficient and innovative teaching and learning.

In this course, students who enrol in the course are not left alone and a support process assures their easier participation in the course. Also, a key principle of the MOOC moderation on courses in Teacher Academy by School Education Gateway is about community building so that the students can help each other, rather than get full 1:1 support from a tutor all the time. The main functions of the tutor are listed in the Fig. 7.2.
Fig. 7.2

Role of tutor and actor in the MOOC

Raising awareness about how having students from diverse nationalities and speaking different languages in the same classroom can actually be used as an asset providing a benefit and added value to the said classroom. Besides, the MOOC will help teachers to build learning scenarios for content and language integrated learning (CLIL) in a framework of twenty-first century skills.

Looking from the student (actor) perspective, when actively participating in the course, it should help to develop such competencies as scaffolding language, task design to support communication, anticipating problems and selecting tools to support understanding, checking learners’ understanding, and providing relevant and personal feedback.

7.5 Experimental Evaluation

The research data is based on participants feedback/reflection on the course (started/completed) data, and on the data collected via two surveys completed voluntarily before (pre) and after (post) the course, providing information about the profile of course participants, the participants’ course impressions, and participants’ self-assessed knowledge of course topics. Results are based on 1272 pre-responses and 245 post-responses.

7.5.1 Participants’ Profile

Totally, 1272 participants have started the MOOC and just 363 participants finished it and got the certificates. Top 10 countries in which MOOC was started and completed are listed in the Table 7.1.
Table 7.1

Top 10 countries by a number of participants that started and completed the MOOC

Started the MOOC

Completed the MOOC

Italy (639)

Italy (234)

Turkey (75)

Romania (35)

Romania (73)

Turkey (31)

Portugal (56)

India (20)

Greece (48)

Portugal (19)

India (41)

Greece (19)

Spain (37)

Spain (18)

Croatia (15)

Croatia (6)

Germany (14)

Germany (4)

Poland (13)

Serbia (4)

The table shows that the leader was Italy with 639 participants who started the MOOC and 234 participants who have completed it. Talking about the situation in the Baltic countries, Latvia was the leader with four participants who have started the MOOC and all of them completed it. In Lithuania, six persons started the course, but just one of them has finished it. In Estonia, one person started the MOOC but did not finish it.

Data collected via the pre-course survey indicates that the majority of course participants are secondary school teachers (64% of respondents) and the second place is taken by primary school teachers (28% of respondents). The minority of the participants were school counsellors and policymakers (see Fig. 7.4).
Fig. 7.4

Professional background of the participants

However, the survey identifies that the majority of participants were females (88% of all respondents). The age of the participants is from 25 or younger to over 55 years old. The majority (85%) of the participants were 36 years of age or older (see Fig. 7.5) To sum up, the majority of the participants were females who are 36 years of age or older and are working as secondary school teachers.
Fig. 7.5

Age of the participants

7.5.2 Course Impressions

Results for course evaluations were revealed from 245 post-course surveys. The first question was to evaluate the overall value of the course. 99% of post-survey respondents rated the overall value of the course as ‘Good’ or ‘Very good’ (see Fig. 7.6).
Fig. 7.6

Evaluation of the overall value of the course

The second question was to evaluate the extent to which participants do agree to the statements below (see Fig. 7.7). Results revealed that 96% of survey respondents agree or agree strongly that the course has made them more confident to use the methods addressed in the course. Also, 97% of the survey respondents said that they would recommend this course to a colleague or friend (agree or agree strongly).
Fig. 7.7

Extent to the agreement with statements

The participants were asked to rate how confident they feel in effectively benefiting from the language competences of their students after taking this course (5 = high level of confidence). 83% participants reported that they feel confident in benefiting from the language competences of their students after taking this course. Also, following the MOOC, 95% indicated that they learned how to build learning activities using content and language integrated learning (CLIL) and 98% agreed that they have a better understanding of language diversity.

7.6 Conclusions

  1. 1.

    In general, 35% of people under 35 years old in the whole Europe have the immigrant background and requires learning language in MOOC.

  2. 2.

    Studies across Europe explore the challenge of teaching students with the national language and additional one.

  3. 3.

    The key challenge is to find ways in which diversity can be given much greater prominence and time.

  4. 4.

    Teacher education needs to be revised to facilitate student success in the best way.

  5. 5.

    There has not been sufficient empirical research on how best to prepare teachers for diversity.

  6. 6.

    MOOCs have started to gain popularity for opening up education to non-traditional student audiences.

  7. 7.

    2437 people from 55 countries registered to take part in the MOOC. 1218 participants started following at least one course module. 436 participants passed the MOOC and received the course certification.

  8. 8.

    The majority of course participants were secondary school teachers, female, and 36 years of age or older.

  9. 9.

    99% rated the overall value of the course as ‘Good’ or ‘Very good’.

  10. 10.

    97% would recommend the course to a colleague or a friend.

  11. 11.

    83% feel confident in benefiting from the language competences of their students after taking this course.



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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danguole Rutkauskiene
    • 1
    Email author
  • Greta Volodzkaite
    • 1
  • Daniella Tasic Hansen
    • 2
  • Madeleine Murray
    • 3
  • Ramunas Kubiliunas
    • 1
  1. 1.Kaunas University of TechnologyKaunasLithuania
  2. 2.Aarhus Business CollegeVibyDenmark
  3. 3.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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