ISPY - Online Networking Platform for Language learning

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Demo ISPY:



The ISPY project is an exciting EU funded project that begun in November 2010. 

Led by Language Networks for Excellence, which is a department the University of Wolverhampton, the project aims to break new ground in the teaching of languages across Europe. The ISPY project embeds collaboration between learners from different countries within the learning process and uses an online environment as a key tool in the delivery of its objectives. For example, a learner in the UK who is learning German will get advice, feedback and support from learners from Germany as they compete activities and work towards qualifications in that target language. 

The ISPY team has partner teams at educational establishments in all of the other countries involved in the project. Partner countries are Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland and Romania. As a team we will develop exciting and creative activities that will be uploaded to and accessed by learners via the chosen learning platform.

When learners log-in from different countries the learning platform must be available in their home language. e.g.  Menu systems and headings.


Why is the project called ISPY?

The project has a theme of espionage. The learners log in and undertake a set of approx ten modules which are described as ‘spy training missions’. The modules will be available in each of the chosen languages (Polish, Dutch, Germany, Spanish, Romanian and English) and learners will select the target language of their choice. Each module will consist of a back story (Text), photo story (video), Web links, Short tasks (Flash?), a quiz, listening task, filling in gaps tasks, and an extended task that calls for collaboration through a moderated forum. Once a learner has completed all of the modules they are classed as a qualified spy! Administrators in each country will also have the option to add additional activities to keep the content fresh, in essence these will be new missions for the now ‘Qualified’ spies. During the missions the users will need to learn key language skills such as booking hotel rooms, using money, telling the time, ordering food, arranging meetings, purchasing travel tickets and reading documents in order to complete the modules. Users will also need a locker in which to save notes and work. The University of Wolverhampton will develop all e-content to appropriate specifications but will require additional support/training in populating the learning platform with the mission contents and providing training for each of the partner teams around Europe.  


What is the scope of the project?

The initial length of the project is two years. Much of the two years will be taken up with writing and developing the course content across each language and other dissemination and KPIs. The University has been tasked with developing the course and a suitable means of delivery. A working prototype of the platform needs to be in place for the end of April 2011 with the final testing of the platform beginning in February 2012 and lasting until June 2012. The platform would then be officially launched at the end of the project. After the funded period of the project, the platform will be offered on a subscription basis in the each of the countries with purchasing institutions providing funds that would pay for learners’ access to the learning platform and on-going management and maintenance by staff from the University of Wolverhampton (LNFE).


The Learner Experience  

Ideally, learners in each country would only be able to access the materials that relate to the chosen language of study. For instance, a German student should be able to log in and see all menu systems in German. If they are learning English, they would be able to access the modules in that language. We would like to bar learners from accessing modules that are in their home language in order to stop them transferring answers between the different language modules (Cheating!). Although most of the content will be created by the Development Team we see learners benefiting from the vast array of functionality that a learning platform can provide. We would also like learners to be able to keep a course blog individually, have access to their own space to save notes and ongoing work (accessible by the teacher), to chat to peers from the same class during lessons and access a top level forum facility that is accessible by all users. The availability of assessment tools and quiz creators would be beneficial and would allow teachers across each country to assess in a way that is relevant to their context; we foresee a tool for creating quizzes and surveys built in the platform.  When learners have completed all of the missions we would like them automatically to receive a completion certificate; however, in some countries it may be that learners complete only a selection of the modules on offer. This will be particularly important in countries with very well developed language learning with learners being more advanced than the typical.


What is the timeline for the project?

Development of the initial specification platform and access to the site (Spring 2011)

Presentation of Platform in June 2011 and its facilities (Spain)

Development of interactive content starting in June 2011- December 2011 (including multimedia materials etc)

Testing in Sprint 2012

Amendment with Final platform May – September 2012

Conference – September 2012 (TBC)

Commercialisation Plan (July/Aug 2012)

ISPY Platform ‘Live’ on a subscription basis – December 2012


Hosting or Licensing

Costings should relate to the provision of a ‘closed’ platform available only to the ISPY development team and its selection of learners from March 2011 to Nov 2012 (approx. 1000 users across the 6 countries) including access to space for each users of around 10 MB. 

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