2012, another busy year

2012 was a fuitful year. Here is a quick summary of the things I did:

Online teaching materials

Working in collaboration with the BBC, I produced a series of OpenLearn resources based on the Hairy Bikers Bakeation series. The aim was to encourage the general public to get over the language barrier and have a go at exploring different cultures and languages. I am awaiting the latest figures, but in May 2012 the website had already had 1160 unique visits, each dwelling an average 12 minutes, which is very high (4 mins. is considered “high”).

The new edition of the Spanish Beginner module Portales (L194) is now up and running. As a member of the production team I was in charge of producing the online revision quizzes (iCMAs) that appear at the end of each unit, covering grammar, reading and listening skills, and short speaking tasks with audio-recorded model answers. This was a huge task as I wrote about 2,600 quiz items for the first 8 units alone, but students love the immediate feedback that electronic quizzes provide.


Journal article: 

Fernández-Toro, María; Truman, Michael and Walker, Mirabelle   (2013).  Are the principles of effective feedback transferable across disciplines? A comparative study of written assignment feedback in Languages and Technology. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education

Conference papers:

Harper, Felicity; Green, Hannelore and Fernandez-Toro, Maria   (2012).  Evaluating the integration of Jing® screencasts in feedback on written assignments.    In: 15th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning , 26-28 September 2012, Villach, Austria.

Fernández’Toro, María  & Polisca, Elena (2012).  Evaluating assignment e-feedback in Higher Education . Paper presented at Language Futures: Languages in Higher Education Conference (LLAS),  July 2012, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Research projects:

I am Project Director for the e-Feedback Evaluation Project (eFeP), which has been progressing smoothly on schedule. We have now completed all data collection and are currently in the proces of analysing the data. We shall also be running a number of training events in 2013. For further details , go to the project website.

I am also a member of the MAGICC project team. MAGICC (Modularising Multilingual and Multicultural Academic Communication Competence) is part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. In the past year we conducted all the preparatory work (review of srelevant projects, interviews with stakeholders, needs analysis, etc.) and are now ready to start developing the module itself.

Other activities

My visit to Paraguay in the Summer was packed with activity, including two invited talks at the Universidad Autónoma de Asunción (Paraguay), the first on Distance learning in the UK , and the second on Bilingualism in Paraguayan song.  I was also interviewed on several Paraguayan media and performed a song in the Guarani language in a popular TV programme.

Back at the Open University, I have now been a member of the Accessibility Practitioners Group for over a year. My role is to help colleages within my faculty ensure that all the materials that we produce are accessible to disabled students, and also that any disabled students who need additional support get the help they need in order to enjoy a similar learning experience to the rest of their cohort. This is no easy job, as learning environments are continually changing as we produce our courses, but we are strongly committed to the challenge and working hard to make these accessible.

The year ahead

2013 promises to be at least as busy as 2012. Here are some of the plans so far:

  • Submit a joint article with Stella Hurd entitled Reacting to feedback on language learning tasks: A model of cognitive and affective engagement in learning contexts
  • Complete the e-Feedback Evaluation Project (data analysis, training and dissemination, final report) and explore possible follow-up options.
  • Continue in my role of Faculty Accessibility Specialist, supporting module teams and developing my knowledge in the field.
  • Continue chairing the Advanced Spanish module A Buen Puerto (L314), which is about to start its third presentation since the curent online version was launched.
  • …and if all goes to plan, I should also be co-chairing the production team for a new generic module for all students starting a Language Studies qualification (details to follow in due course subject to module approval)

Watch this space…


About mft2

Lecturer in Spanish, Department of Languages The Open University, UK
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