Friends of Israel Sci-Tech Schools is a US-based non-profit supporting the education of almost 100,000 international students among 57 Middle Eastern communities. Addressing language skills is a critical challenge, and for Michal Giladi, from an adjunct R&D centre, it was clear that rote memorization would not work at making diverse speakers fluent in many different languages. The imposition of a competency framework for language skills became an opportunity, which Giladi terms “CBLT” for Competency-Based Language Teaching. Her overview of the basis for a large-scale course design initiative in Moodle was the basis for a talk at the latest MoodleMoot UK & Ireland in Glasgow. A recording of the talk was made available early this week.
After the second or third foreign language, most avid learners cannot help but wonder about the paradigms through which they can be stacked, to draw parallels and similarities. In terms of skill, however, they all have similar demands when it comes to fluency. Language competency frameworks, not only in this case, reflect this insight. By Giladi’s own research, Moodle was lacking applicable models of teaching, at least for physical classroom, teaching-led contexts. Her solution implemented many cherished Moodle features, perhaps the most surprising and at the same time the most important: personalization. Gamification, badges, instant feedback, and other “active learning” tools were also part of the bundle.
A Grid format course allowed the design team to “map” competencies to sections and activities. Completion of the section corresponds to competency achievement, elegantly displayed on a Section Competency matrix, which is a feature sorely missing in Moodle, according to Giladi. The framework helps set out requirements for every section, independent of the language taught.
The teacher has access to a Competency report for individual users to identify weaknesses and personalize plans. If activities are found to show low completion rates overall, the learning plan for the group can be redesigned. In conclusion, framework or standards-based language learning can inform course design, regardless of language.■
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