Transforming print to online

Logo of FutureLearn

I helped The Open University’s School of Languages and Applied Linguistics transform selections from its print-based language materials into online courses for the FutureLearn platform, by:

  • identifying the ways in which the print materials would need to be transformed and liaising with FutureLearn over their development of a new gapfill (“cloze”) question type – essential for meaningful language teaching
  • briefing the consultant authors who drafted the new online materials on the constraints and affordances of the FutureLearn platform
  • editing the drafts of the new materials, where they were imperfectly adapted to the new platform or insufficiently explicit to be passed on for building
  • revising the new materials once built, in response to QA from both FutureLearn and OU academics.

The following video (silent, except where audio is played) shows selections from Spanish for Beginners 1: Meeting and Greeting. These illustrate:

  • teaching presentation followed by a listening exercise
  • a gapfill quiz, providing practice in recall and use of the knowledge presented
  • a teaching presentation followed by a prompt for discussion (learner posts are not included here for data privacy reasons)
  • an activity to practice speaking in the target language followed by an invitation to share recorded sound files (again, not included here for data privacy reasons).

My briefing sessions to the consultant authors included demonstrations of exemplar materials on the platform and explanation of how the print materials would need to be transformed.

In this handout, I focused on things which were different from standard OU practice and which experience showed they were likely to get wrong:

  • character limits (for titles and headings) and indicative lengths (for pages, week-units, courses)
  • limitations on media use (videos could only appear at the top of a page and not be combined with interactive quiz questions)
  • OU interactive forms which could not be replicated on FutureLearn (click-to-reveal, free-entry text boxes, interactivity within a table)
  • terminology differences (“learner” not “student”, “educator” not “tutor”, “discussion” not “forum”).