The web-site is now in readonly mode. Login and registration are disabled. (28 June 2019)

joshuau: My Dream: Vocabulary learning MOOC

Cloud created by:

Joshua Underwood
4 December 2012

Extra content

English Vocab MOOC

Tags: #mooc #languagelearning #vocabulary

The situation (context)

The environment would be online and in the 'physical world' and social settings of individual learners and other participants.

Main actors would be people who want to improve their English language vocabulary and people prepared to help them.

The change you would like to see (challenge)

What do you hope to achieve?

Easy & free access to strategies, tools & people that help people learn and use English vocabulary.

What would be different if you succeed?

The above already exist, to some extent. The difference would be that course participants would find it easier to find and use these and would develop strategies to use these with better results.

How you might go about bringing that change?

What is your pedagogical approach?

Distributed scaffolding (with fading)

Which technologies will you use to implement it...

Unknown. Likely to be a distributed enviornment and include social media, web-based & mobile apps, tools for 

and how?

Unknown, but hoping to move towards some design ideas through this course. Any thoughts? Offers to collaborate?

Joshua Underwood
14:57 on 4 December 2012 (Edited 15:00 on 4 December 2012)

I notice the OU did a Translation MOOC recently, which I would love to have followed but was unfortunately not aware of :-(

An Open Translation MOOC

Did anyone do that? What can you tell us about it? Is it going to happen again?


Joshua Underwood
08:13 on 9 January 2013

Embedded Content


Peter Miller
6:24pm 9 January 2013 (Edited 4:19pm 10 January 2013)

One possibility would be to use an OpenSim virtual world in the same way that the commercial company LanguageLab use Second Life (see also the Avalon project). A major advantage with OpenSim is that you can incorporate entire regions (256x256 m) created by others and distributed as so-called OAR files. If you want a shopping mall, a small town or a resort hotel, the content already exists. See, for example, I'm not an expert in vocabulary acquisition but it is quite feasible to think in terms of scripting objects, including non-player characters (bots), to respond to the presence of the student's avatar. I'm based on the Kitely grid and there is an ESL region being established there. While historically these environments have required powerful desktop PCs, there is a reasonably capable Android viewer now (Lumiya). A Unity3D solution would be another possibility but these are intrinsically more isolated (there is a technology used to link OpenSim grids called the Hypergrid).

Joshua Underwood
6:56pm 9 January 2013

Thanks Peter, that is completely not a direction I had been thinking of going in, and that's great because you have got me going on some new thoughts about why and how I might want to use virtual worlds in vocabulary learning maybe as part of a ple/cle.

Thanks :-)

Peter Miller
6:44am 10 January 2013

Most welcome! I should have mentioned that the Android viewer is commercial though inexpensive.

Peter Miller
6:44am 10 January 2013 (Edited 4:11pm 10 January 2013)

[duplicate -- how does one delete comments?]

Elizabeth Guerin
2:01pm 10 January 2013

I like your idea Joshua and Peter's suggestions and useful links :-)

Joshua Underwood
8:41pm 10 January 2013

Peter, don't think you can delete comments - least I have never managed to.

Elizabeth, have you proposed a 'dream' project?

Marie Arndt
12:55pm 11 January 2013 (Edited 12:56pm 11 January 2013)

Hi, guys,


What you have been discussing about vocabulary acqusition is partly related to my project idea,

 I found it very interesting and worth exploring.



Susanne Winchester
4:07pm 11 January 2013

Hi Joshua

Your project sounds really interesting. I have a keen research interest in vocabulary learning via web based flashcards, although I think my dream project is on raising cultural awareness in language teaching.

Second Life is an excellent platform for creating an immersive language environment. I have done a bit of teaching within Second Life and the task -based approach works really well (e.g. going on a tour of discovery, exploring regions for talking about it etc.). The teacher can "hand out" note cards with instructions or vocabulary and students, e.g. go on a hunt for objects. It is fascinating but may not appeal to everyone, though.

Anyway, your idea sound very interesting.


Anne-Louise Power
5:13pm 11 January 2013

Hi Joshua,

I really like the sound of your project.  

I was just looking at vocabulary activities using JING before hopping on Cloudworks.  For me, the key words in your concept were free and easy.  I find that teachers can struggle with ideas when introducing new vocabulary to students, especially handling pronounciation/syllable stress.  Also, there tends to be plenty of online offerings; however, that can lead to a bit of a hodge-podge of ideas.  Peter's links were indeed very useful and interesting!

I work in the ESL field as a teacher and material writer for education companies in South Korea and Hong Kong.  I would like to collaborate on this project.

Lesley Shield
12:03pm 13 January 2013 (Edited 12:07pm 13 January 2013)

May I suggest that if you haven't already done so, you have a look at the Lingu@Net Worldwide website? You may find some useful resources there.

Other useful sources of information might be found in the following journals:

TESOL, IALLT, EuroCALL, PAC-CALL, JALT-CALL, IATEFL are all organisations worth having a look at, too, if you haven't done so.



Joshua Underwood
7:15pm 13 January 2013

It's Sunday evening and I'm trying to get a grip on all the proposals people have made and see where I can fit into a group.

I'm feeling there are several that interest me around language learnign and many of them already somewhat more clearly specified than my ideas so I'm planning to join one of those groups and not try to set-up a project group around this particular idea.

Thanks to everyone for their comments - hopefully find you on one of the other projects!

Mark Johnstone
7:15am 14 January 2013 (Edited 7:19am 14 January 2013)

Hi Joshua. I had a look at some of your work this morning on GoogleSites linked to your profile and it looks like the project that Marie Arndt and I are discussing could provide a context for your work on mobile apps for vocabulary acquisition.

I noticed your background is in human computer interaction. This is a subject that language teachers do not typically know much about.  We do, however, tend to know something about vocabulary acquisition. This is a central concern for those of us teaching "academic English" and English registers linked to specific professional domains or activities (we are looking at engineering).

I enjoyed your cartoon "Qu'est q'une poche" and your description of how this question came up and how you investigated it using online tools. I have similar stories about researching obscure Arabic terms (before the Internet) that involved me in several days' library footwork and polling native speakers. Your method achieves the same results in much less time!

Marie has specifically noted her students' use of smart phones. Mine use laptops but they all have phones as well and do know how to use them (a few put them to "creative" use in a writing exam the other day).  So, I encourage you to have a look at Marie's proposal. It is still forming and I'm certain that it would accomodate your interests.


Joshua Underwood
8:21am 14 January 2013

Thanks Peter, Elizabeth, Marie, Susannne, Anne-Louise, Lesley, Mark for all your thoughts and suggestions.

I'm thinking I'll not try to set up a group around this and rather I'll try to contribute to the project Marie & Mark are discussing if that's ok. I'll also keep an eye out for other language learning related projects, I tagged a few as oldsmooc_language, and try to contribute to those if I can.

Karen Ferreira-Meyers
8:59am 14 January 2013

I have been teaching French and English for a very long time in a traditional and very conservative environment. I am keen to find out what possibilities online learning for languages offers. My problem for now is that there are many ideas/clouds that interest me, so I want to read and contribute to 101 thoughts, but time is not on my side. I hope to get involved here though!

Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.