A natural consequence of the increasing connections and sophisticated lines of communication that are have been created as a result of the internet, the classroom is no longer confined to the four physical walls of a school building.
eLearning is becoming increasingly more commonplace not only at all levels of the education system but also in industry, as companies seek to provide flexible, personalised, continuing professional development opportunities for their employees.
It would seem that one of the fundamental elements of successful eLearning is that course administrators know their market. Without such knowledge, it is almost impossible to convince busy learners to engage with learning opportunities that they do not perceive to be relevant to the context within which they operation. This sentiment was echoed in our recent interview with Dr Anabel Galan-Mañas who insisted that in order to design a successful bachelors degree course in Translation, one must know the market into which graduates are going to enter.
Equally, if this is the case for a bachelors degree, it makes sense that a similar approach should be adopted for the teaching of a postgraduate course in Translation Studies: what is your market? However, in this scenario, the student cohort is potentially very different. Potential students may be working, may have family commitments, may have left university many years previously, may not be able to dedicate time to a face-to-face course.
eLearning has the potential to break down some of these barriers in order to provide continuing professional development opportunities to established or aspiring translators whilst also rewarding them academically for their learning and skills acquisition. It also has the potential to attract professionals from sectors to refine and redirect their skills to a different industry or professional sector.
A recent study was undertaken by Project DaRT into the potential market for a online Translation Studies course in Ireland. Although similar courses already exist in the UK and beyond, no similar course exists in Ireland. A simple online survey was created through which to interrogate this potential market from a decidedly international perception i.e. learners can be from and live any part of the world but still receive their tuition through a recognised body.
Some of the findings are listed below here. If you require full-access to the survey then please email us directly to request a temporary password.
Respondents: Drawn from a variety of online communities on Facebook that deal with translation, linguistics and education. There have been 120 respondents so far to the survey and these graphs will be automatically updated. However, it is not expected that many of the results will change the overall picture significantly.
- Subject – By far, the most popular subject to study at postgraduate level was Translation Studies (51%) followed by Perfecting Languages (41%), Applied Linguistics (41%) and Culture (33%)
- Motivating factors – Nearly 70% of respondents felt that the overriding reasons to undertake postgraduate study online was ‘for learning’ and ‘for fun and interest’. This was closely followed at just under 50% by improving job prospects and acquiring new transferrable skills.
- Demotivating Factors – 62% feared that a lack of time might work against them followed closely on 60% by expense. 30% were also worried about work commitments closely followed with 26% by the lack of interaction with other students.
- Institution – Although the quality of the institution was important to respondents at around 63%, the fact that course content was interesting was by far the most popular response (76%). Other notable factors include a manageable payment structure, easy to use VLE and lots of personalisation possible within the course content.
- eLearning Model – The most popular type of learning model was the Asynchronous Learning Model that is timetabled. Here, students follow a lecture structure but it is highly timetabled and chucked to keep students motivated. However, it was felt not to be very important that students followed the same course as others on campus.
- Time – 12-18 months was by far the most preferred timeframe (60%) followed by 2 years (40%). Students were also willing to spend around 4-6 hours per week on study (55%) with 40% on 1-3 hours and 31% on 7-10 hours. Also, Christmas, Easter and August are times in the calendar that students are not as willing to devote their time to study.
- Payment – 40% of respondents would prefer to pay monthly and 35% would prefer to pay per module. Also, 55% of respondents would seriously consider studying if there were a full or partial scholarship opportunity.
- This audience would prefer a course that focused on Translation but also enabled them to perfect languages and had a cultural aspect. This might be particularly useful for teachers who are interested in gaining cultural capital to inform their own teaching.
- Many candidates appear to be self-motivated but there should also be a professional element to these qualifications in that they demonstrate how they might make them more employable.
- Institutions should also be sensitive to time that students can dedicate to study.
- Although the institution is important, it is also important that the course content is interesting. Therefore, it is important that the course differentiates itself from others on the market.
- It is important that students have constant interaction with lecturers through asynchronous learning. It is important that there are set activities on a weekly basis that students can complete rather than too many open-ended tasks.
- Students need to be able to pay for modules flexibly and also be able to apply for scholarships and prizes.
If you would like access the survey then please contact us for the password stating your reason for your interest in the survey.