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Friday, August 14 • 2:00pm - 2:50pm
A MOOC auf Deutsch: Communicating Across Cultures

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In this presentation, panelists will discuss a theme-based German MOOC for a global audience with multiple learning styles and diverse cultural backgrounds. This experimental course on Coursera is for beginners wanting to learn and use language to understand and exchange attitudes towards culture and society as represented by a multicultural and multiethnic audience. Panelists will discuss the methodology and technology used to promote learner interaction with the instructors, the content and other learners. Although this course is for the beginner, we will discuss how native speakers might participate in the MOOC’s language communities and exchanges to provide models of authentic and accurate language usage. Using a MOOC as a vehicle to bridge cultures and build global communities is the primary goal of the course whereby learners and expert speakers of German might continue beyond the course to share with each other their languages and cultures on a reciprocal basis.

For the purpose of learning and applying language as a medium to convey meaning - within the context of themes related to the modern family, nutrition, and “Green Germany” - we have adapted a technology- and multimedia-enhanced methodology based on Bühler’s threefold functions of language to express, make requests and represent. Online videos and content will engage learners with comprehensible input and models for language usage in thematic contexts. Learners will then be prompted and directed to create and represent through the target language their cultural attitudes and backgrounds. As learners traverse this threefold technology-enhanced process and begin to interact with each other in discussions, VoiceThreads, and other social media, they will begin to employ all three functions of communication. These peer-to-peer interactions also serve the purpose of overcoming challenges of purely content- or task-based MOOCs in that they focus on building and sustaining communities (Beaven et al., 2014).


Ed Dixon

University of Pennsylvania

Carolin Fuchs

Teachers College, Columbia University

Friday August 14, 2015 2:00pm - 2:50pm EDT
William James B1 33 Kirkland St Cambridge, MA