Integrating Massive Open Online Courses in the ESP Programs for Students of GeoScience
Gritsenko, Elena Alexandrovna; Polyakova, Svetlana Valentinovna
Perm State University, Russian Federation
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been applied at the university level in various forms worldwide. However, not enough attention has been paid to this educational resource in Russian higher schools of learning, especially in the area of teaching ESP (English for Special Purposes) for students of the earth science.
In this paper we consider a project of integrating MOOCs as an innovative educational ESP tool based on the learner-centered approach, cognitivism and connectivism in the digital era. A comparative analysis of a number of textbooks used by English teachers from Russia revealed that they are largely oriented towards translation of theoretical materials rather than real life communication in a professional field. Another drawback is a lack of interdisciplinary interaction between related sciences, namely geology, hydrology, ecology, biology, chemistry and physics. Thus, new types of teaching materials for educating Bachelor', Master and postgraduate students are necessary to develop.
Also, we looked into the methodological potential of the MOOCs offered by the FutureLearn platform and the Coursera's portal: “Geohealth: Improving Public Health through Geographic Information”, “Introduction to Waters”, “Introduction to Sustainability, Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century” and others. These MOOCs are strongly oriented towards video, participation and collaboration. The use of such free resources undoubtedly gives certain advantages for lecturers and their students, as it provides great opportunities for searching and selecting the materials that are best suited for educational purposes.
We implemented this project by offering the students the above- mentioned topics for self study and partly through doing it in a computer class. For monitoring the students' work they were asked to send the screen shots of their comments for further analysis and discussion in class. Upon the completion of a certain topic the students were given several questions for feedback to reflect on the course.
In conclusion, these modern models of e-learning seem to be promising. They are freely distributed, user-friendly and utilize the existing approaches to the topics and problems studied. These resources, however, should be a part of a blended course whereby both conventional and innovative methods are combined. It is explained by a limited number of hours taught, the curriculum and the Russian state educational standards.