EFL Teachers' Perceptions on the Potential of MOOCs for Lifelong Learning

EFL Teachers' Perceptions on the Potential of MOOCs for Lifelong Learning

Francisco Javier Palacios-Hidalgo (Universidad de Córdoba, Spain), Cristina A. Huertas-Abril (University of Córdoba, Spain), and María Elena Gómez-Parra (Universidad de Córdoba, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2020100101
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Despite its numerous advantages, globalization, information society and the emergence of information and communication technologies (ICT) have caused quick changes in society, provoking the rapid obsolescence of knowledge and the appearance of new concepts. In this context, new professional demands for teachers are required to help students develop necessary competences for the 21st century. At this juncture, ICT, e-learning tools, and MOOCs have arisen as remarkable training resources for teacher lifelong learning with an undeniable potential; however, it seems relevant to study whether teachers agree in the usefulness of such tools. In this light, this article investigates and compares the perceptions of Spanish pre-service and in-service EFL teachers about ICT, e-learning and MOOCs, and the uses of these technologies. The results obtained allow the researchers to analyze whether the possibilities of these resources correspond to the real necessities of EFL teachers.
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In recent years, education has dramatically evolved driven by the economic, political and social development of nations all around the world. At this juncture, new technological paradigms have emerged (Sanz, & Pantoja, 2015). Although these transformations and changes have always been present at schools, their strength has radically increased during the last years due to forces re-configuring the economic and social reality of the world (Caldevilla, 2011; Casani, & Rodríguez, 2015). In this context, both developed and developing countries are investing large amounts of money, time and effort in improving their education systems by changing curricula and training programs, improving facilities and supporting educational research, among other actions (Baglieri, Baldi, & Tucci, 2018; Munari, Sobrero, & Toschi, 2018).

Technology plays a key role in preparing citizens of the 21st century. In this sense, a new educational research line, Educational Technology, has started with the objective to respond to the needs of this new society and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). According to Hsu, Hung, & Ching (2013), its definition has evolved over the years, from studies that considered it a variation of ways of dealing with learning processes (Ely, 1963), to the latest ones that define it as means of dealing with technological processes and resources (Januszewski, & Molenda, 2007), with several attempts to create a conceptual framework (Davies, & Schwen, 1971) and analyze theory and practice (Seels, & Richey 1994). Nowadays this field seeks to integrate ICT in the teaching-learning process as a support tool combined with new teaching methodologies, where the teacher acts more as a guide for students than as a mere presenter of contents (Rodríguez, & Gómez, 2017).

Additionally, language education in general and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learning/teaching in particular cannot be understood without the help of technology anymore (Tejada, & Fernández, 2018). As mentioned by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe (2006) and Instituto Cervantes (2012), digital competence is one of the key competences for second/foreign language teaching and lifelong learning, defined by Parisi, Tani, Weber, & Wermter (2017) as the human ability to continually acquire, refine and transfer skills as well as knowledge throughout their lifespan, an essential element for cognitive development. In other words, it can be understood as a self-motivated search for knowledge for professional or personal intentions, or even both.

At this point, it is relevant to clarify what a competence is:

A competence is more than just knowledge or skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilising psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is a competence that may draw on an individual’s knowledge of language, practical IT skills and attitudes towards those with whom he or she is communicating. (OECD, 2005, p. 4)

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