About the toolkit

Globalization in the 21st century has enhanced communication between countries and created a strong need for foreign language learning. It is proven that learning a foreign language improves brain functionality and social skills and fosters cultural awareness. LangMOOC, Language Massive Open Online Courses, is based on this idea. It aims to increase support for foreign languages by promoting multilingualism through the creation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Therefore, before the implementation of Language MOOC, the projects’ partners researched MOOCs to find the best and most efficient ways to create such tools, by gathering information and good practices. This toolkit is the result of that work.

This toolkit is a guideline that contains the core elements of a Massive Open Online Course and Interactive Language Learning Environment. It is, in a way, a tutorial that provides the various educational and technical tools necessary to create a language MOOC. This toolkit is divided into 6 chapters. Each chapter includes objectives and helpful tips to watch out for when creating your own Language MOOC.


Jessica Borniger - Iberika Education Group gGmbH
Idoia Martinez - Iberika Education Group gGmbH

Francesca Vacanti - CESIE
Silvia Ciaperoni - CESIE

Maria Perifanou - Active Citizens Partnership
George Bekiaridis - Active Citizens Partnership

Tord Mjøsund Talmo - NTNU

Mark Mitchell - Community Action Dacorum
Musarat Inayat - Community Action Dacorum


guidelines for the creation and arrangement of the content

Educational Resources

Educational resources are important to the success of a MOOC, and there must be authentic educational resources to help users fully comprehend the language.

Use of interactive tools, media and technology

The use of media and technology is essential to the success of a MOOC. When creating a MOOC, it is very important to make it highly interactive.

Activities that promote cultural awareness

A MOOC should also comprise of activities that increase language skills and cultural awareness which represents another important element of success of any language course.

Content Arrangement

The content arrangement of a MOOC is essential to creating an effective MOOC. It is recommended that everything be in a clear and easy to read structure.



MOOCs, as their name indicates, are massive online open courses and with the advancement of cMOOCs (connectivity MOOCs), online learning is more interactive and engaging than ever before. cMOOCs are not just a form of frontal learning; they incorporate pedagogical methods that are transforming online learning. The most important thing to remember while creating a MOOC is that even though these courses are online, they must be interactive.

A MOOC is paced with reading, lectures, and activities, and although some MOOCs are self-paced and some are controlled, students are responsible for completing the readings, grammar explanations and exercises. A MOOC's learning profile is essential to determine which level the user is in at enrollment. For example you can use a “Test your knowledge” quiz with questions that the user should complete before beginning the course. The quiz should have a range of challenging questions to most adequately determine the level.

Once the user has determined which level to begin with, the next step is to begin with the static parts of MOOCs. These static materials are crucial in maximizing the effectiveness of a course. Each unit will be prefaced with lectures focusing on grammar and real world usage of the topics.

Many MOOCs also use video materials to present dialogues and listening exercises to students. Recorded lectures may be used to best inform users. The users are encouraged to listen or watch more than once so that they get a deeper understanding. Maybe the most vital to each section is an interactive exercise. Upon completion of this exercise, the user will have already been exposed to all the information through the static materials, and now they must test their knowledge!

Although MOOCs are highly interactive resources, these materials act as a point of reference for users' learning basis.

Quizzes and graded exercises are used to test the user's overall understanding. The quizzes should have a variety of exercise types including, but not limited to, multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short answers.

It is a good idea to use a variation of exercise types when creating a Language MOOC to keep the user engaged and challenged. Including a vocabulary review is also a great way to build on each unit’s topic.

Communication is key to online learning and the success of MOOCs. This includes peer-peer learning, student teacher interactions, and open class community.

The collaborative aspects of online learning are critical to success. Forums and open discussions are used to discuss course content with other users and professors to build community learning.

Overall, MOOCs must incorporate static and interactive learning methods in a clear and understandable way for all users.



Assessment is the way instructors gather data about their teaching and their students’ learning.

There are 3 basic types of assessment:

Diagnostic assessment
The goal of a diagnostic assessment is to help you explore and identify your students’ current knowledge (of a topic, language etc.) and their skill sets and capabilities, in order to help you better plan what to teach and how to teach it.

Formative assessment
The goal of formative assessment is to get feedback about student’s progress toward one or more goals in order to identify areas that may need improvement.

Summative assessment
The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

MOOC Assessment basics

In MOOCs, there are usually different types of activities and assessments that align with the different pedagogical “philosophies” of MOOCs

xMOOCs Assessment
The majority of xMOOCs/xMOOLCs adopt the traditional pedagogical model and give more emphasis on the summative type of assessment (score is based on learners’ performance in tests during and at the end of the course).

cMOOCs Assessment
cMOOCs /cMOOLCs support a nontraditional pedagogical model that focuses on connected and collaborative learning. In that case the typical assessment strategy is based on formative assessment and less on summative (peer or self- assessment assignments).

In Language MOOCs, the design of the assessment strategy is not a simple task as we need to combine all types of assessment with an emphasis on formative assessment.

It is highly important to remember that learners should be put at the center of the learning process before we start designing any course content, assignment or assessment. One big difference between a MOOC and a traditional course is that a MOOC is completely voluntary. MOOC learners decide what they want to participate in and how they wish to participate. A language learner should feel really motivated to take a language course. This can be done by personalizing the course, which includes assessment processes as well.

1st AS point
A self-assessment “diagnostic” test is ideal for identifying each learner’s language level and to get useful information about the strengths and weaknesses of the learners. In this way the content and assignments prepared could be more effectively matched with the skills and the learning needs of the learner.

2nd AS point
A “formative” assessment plan that focuses on the multiple and ongoing support of the learner is the next important point of our assessment strategy. Scaffolding the learning process of each participant is crucial in Language Learning. This can be done in several ways such as providing instant automated feedback, peer to peer feedback , teacher to student feedback, group to group, student to “open authentic community”/Natives and self- assessment.

3rd AS point
All language learners should be responsible for their own learning. Even though the final grade is not the purpose of the learning a final test can help all students to check the improvement of their language skills (measurement of quantitative assessment data). For sure obtaining a certification, ECTS or even a badge can be a great motivation for many people even though this shouldn't be their basic aim.

In Language MOOCs, the design of the assessment strategy is not a simple task as we need to combine all types of assessment with an emphasis on formative assessment.

Allow formative assessment to be formative
Allow the participants to use this feedback to improve and refine their work without focusing on accumulating scores but putting emphasis on the learning goals.

Creativity and gamification of the learning process
Consider adopting a more playful and engaging assessment system, such as “game based vocabulary” (mission, challenge, action plan etc.) or an award automated system with badges, Karma, or points when someone completes an assignment, helps a peer, shares a good idea or useful content, invites a peer for discussion, creates a subgroup for an open discussion, etc. You may Include FB “likes”. All these actions can be really motivating for learners.

Deep Learning” Assessment
It is good to assess your students’ progress through learning activities that drive motivation and attain high levels of learning: ask them to reflect and to analyze an aspect of their everyday life based on the week's topic using guiding questions with open-ended answers, ask them to evaluate and solve complex problems or to conduct research that they will then present orally in a hangout.

Student-initiated feedback
As a teacher you should encourage students not only to post questions to the discussion forums, a common activity in MOOCs, but also to post artifacts and ask for informal tips or feedback.

Narrative assessment
A useful idea is to adopt a narrative assessment plan where peers provide the feedback in a narrative form using a checklist. This way they can have control of the whole learning process.

“Open Graded” Rubrics
Adding space for peer reviewers to give written comments to justify the grade can work very well with rubrics based on instructor created criteria. Setting deadlines for this type of assessment is also useful.

Active & Personalized learning through assessment
Choosing a system that can be applied to the learning needs of the learners is important. For example: quizzes that can apply questions according to the answers or the interest of the learners, or questions that change when the learner repeats a specific quiz in order to practice a skill, project based activities with clear assessment criteria accustomed to the learning needs and preferences of the learners (give choices to the learners), etc.

You should ask for learners’ feedback and you should be flexible to make the appropriate changes regarding your assessment strategy.

Visualization of the learning process
Evidence based improvement with data mining can be beneficial for learners as they can better control or personalize their learning especially if they can choose the content or the type of assignments that they prefer the most.

“Open access” portfolio
aggregating all student’s activities in an “open portfolio” would be ideal for continuous feedback by teachers and peers.


One of the biggest differences between an ordinary online course and a MOOC is the community part. This can be achieved in many ways. For example, through the creation of working groups and teams to carry out specific tasks. In this sense, social networking and social bookmarking tools can be useful to encourage peer cooperation. Different ways of sharing information and files, like Dropbox, will also be useful, especially within the group.

A key aim in MOOCs will have to be self-regulated learning; making students aware of their own strategies and ways of learning the curriculum. Self-regulated learning refers to the degree to which students can access, regulate, change and modify aspects of their learning process, for example their thinking, their motivation towards the subject and the learning methods and their own behavior during the learning process.

Video lectures are an integrated part of more or less every MOOC. It is natural to see the lecture as a static part of the lecture, but it is also possible to make it more interactive. This can, for example, include leaving comments on the lecture or making the lecture interactive through tasks.

On the other hand, it is not a problem to allow students to make these videos and distribute them to peers. That way they can interact, get feedback and test their skills with fellow users of the course.

One of the most common interaction channels is discussions forums.

There are some features of a discussion forum that can enhance the experience and success of a MOOC. First of all, it is vital that you have a moderator. This moderator should focus on three different elements:

  • Moderating the discussion, making sure that users do not break rules and harass others
  • Starting new threads, making sure that the forums is active and interesting
  • Making sure that users are directed to the correct channels and threads to get answers on their questions.

The forums should also act as a platform for the students to get answers from the lecturers. This means that the lecturer should have his/her own icon, and if possible the answers from the lecturer should be moved towards the top of each thread.

Something that is central in language MOOCs is different ways for students to interact with texts. This means that every language MOOC needs opportunities for students to upload files, and receive feedback, either from lecturers or peers.

A nice way to create interaction between peers in writing exercises is by using text editing tools where all users can edit the same document. There are several examples of these kind of tools, like Google docs, Google Hangout or other integrated tools available in the platform.

One problem with these tools could be that too many users are editing at the same time, making it less structured. A way to limit the problem could be to include a maximum of users for each document.

When it comes to language learning it is important to be able to talk and to use the language orally. MOOCs often include some sort of teleconferencing tool. If you do not have access to these tools, it is possible and useful to use platforms such as Skype or Facebook chat.

If you are using these kind of rooms, it is important that it is easy for the students to find the rooms. They have to be moderated with the same rules as the discussion forums, and it is vital that the lecturer uses the room in the correct way.

It is common and important that you limit the amount of users in each room. In language MOOCs it's also encouraged to include a native speaker in each session of each room.


Technical Infrastructure

Technical elements are essential for the development of all MOOCs. A MOOC is an online platform, dependent on both hardware and software, related to and designed for the specific course and the content needed to fulfill didactical purposes. It is important to keep in mind that the technical issues can never be separated from other aspects of the MOOC, especially the financial issues and pedagogy aspects.


Generally, all online services should provide a minimal level of security by using HTTPS to protect the communications from malicious third parties. In the case of a MOOC it is even more important to provide a good level of security to protect the login process and also to protect the users’ privacy. In such a system there will be typical information about the users’ progress and performance related to the courses and other personal and private information. If the service is envisaged to hold any financial and billing information in the future, then information security is crucial.

To keep the service secured, it is required that the administrator applies patches for known vulnerabilities and updates and upgrades the software in a prompt manner. Furthermore, to properly secure the service, it is required to also secure the host server and the network through best practices such as restricted remote access to the system, employing the least privileged principle, disabling any unnecessary application or service and generally minimizing the attach surface.


The provided service must provide predictable performance to the users. Also the service must be available to the authorized users allowing them to perform their desired tasks with minimal risks of data loss.

Considering the big number of users expected in a typical MOOC, the service should be backed by load balancing solutions and high availability hardware. The load balancing solutions typically involve several processing nodes to deal with the users’ requests, database nodes that deal with storing and retrieving the data in the system and load balancing nodes that distribute the work among the other nodes. The load is distributed by specialized nodes that tackle the initial requests and then forward them for processing to the appropriate processing node. The status of the nodes needs to be continually monitored in order to properly distribute the requests while maintaining fast response times and minimal error rates.


Stanford University developed ten guidelines1 for improving the credibility of a web site:

  1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
  2. Show that there is a real organization behind your site.
  3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the products and services you provide.
  4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
  5. Make it easy to contact you.
  6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
  7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.
  8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
  9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
  10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.