Developing EAP courses for distance delivery in the global context

Donnarumma, David and Peters, Helen (2011). Developing EAP courses for distance delivery in the global context. In: The 45th Annual Conference of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, 15-19 Apr 2011, Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK.



New Open University (OU) EAP courses are geared towards enabling students with language needs to achieve in the academic environment. According to research carried out in the OU (O’Shea-Poon et al, 2009), there is ‘a strong relationship between English language competency and academic attainment’. In addition ‘continued inward migration, international expansion and an increased focus on widening participation are likely to widen the ethnicity attainment gap.’ (p. 2)

The objective of these courses is to help students appropriate the written and oral language for their own purposes, whether study related or outside of the study context.

The courses offer students access to resources in the form of reading, audio/visual and speaking materials online, with which to interact individually or collectively. Establishing online relationships is seen as key to enabling students to communicate comfortably across geographic boundaries. Communication takes place via Tutor Group Forums, Elluminate (web conferencing programme), email or Skype and is an essential part of the courses. The distance dimension enables the creation of online communities, and the courses prioritise tasks which give students the opportunity to work collectively through group activities, for both formative and summative purposes.

This talk will discuss how the courses have been designed to achieve these aims and to what extent they have succeeded, giving examples of materials and activities from three courses, two undergraduate and one postgraduate. It will include links to the course websites and offer innovative and exciting ideas for online English learning in the academic context.

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