Developing a Self-Organised Learning Environment for English Language Learning and Support at the FernUniversität in Hagen, November 2021-December 2023
The FernUniversität in Hagen’s Internationalisation Strategy 2020 document sets out a roadmap for bringing research and teaching at the institution in line with the federal government’s goal of ensuring that German universities are able to compete in and capitalise on the realities of globalisation. Although the FernUniversität in Hagen is the country’s largest institution of higher learning – boasting 78 725 actively enrolled students – it trails behind Germany’s bricks-and-mortar universities in at least one aspect: English language learning and support. To date, the university does not have a language centre; thus, students taking English-medium modules are at a distinct disadvantage when compared with their peers at other public universities.
In order to remedy this situation, a language learning support service will be launched as part of the studyFIT portfolio. Initially, it will have two main components. Firstly, a self-organised learning environment will be provided by Altissia, a Belgium-based language learning application that is already in use at several universities across Europe. Students will be able to improve their general English skills by following various learning pathways determined by their attainment in an initial placement test. Initially, the Altissia portion of the language learning support service will be available to 1000 student volunteers annually during the pilot phase, running until December 2023. Data on the students’ learning progress and engagement will be gathered in order to ascertain areas for improvement before the application is deployed to all registered students. Secondly, a series of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses will be prepared through the collaborative efforts of studyFIT and the five faculties. In principle, these ESP courses will be available to all students in the respective faculties, and they will be accessible via Moodle.