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Ireland’s ADAPT Centre at heart of €3 million EU project to make online learning accessible across languages

Ireland’s ADAPT Centre at heart of €3 million EU project to make online learning accessible across languages

Major new EU funding for research aimed at tearing down the language barriers to distance learning was announced today by a group comprising the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology at Dublin City University (DCU) and nine other European partners. The TraMOOC (Translation for Massive Open Online Courses) consortium has won more than three million euro in funding as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework Programme.

The three-year TraMOOC project will provide reliable machine translation for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). By tearing down language barriers to MOOCs, the project will provide previously excluded groups of people with new educational opportunities. Andy Way, Deputy Director of the ADAPT Centre and Professor of Computing at DCU, will lead the Irish input into the project.

MOOCs are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the Web. A relatively new development in distance learning, they have been growing rapidly in size and impact. Yet the language barrier constitutes a major growth impediment in reaching out to all people and educating all citizens. TraMOOC will tackle this impediment by developing high-quality systems for the automatic translation of various types of texts within MOOCs – varying from video lectures, assignments, tutorial text, to social media messages posted on MOOC blogs and fora, which are currently not covered by any of the existing translation platforms.

The TraMOOC online translation platform will provide translation from English into German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Polish, Russian and Chinese.

According to Professor Andy Way of the ADAPT Centre at DCU, “These eleven languages were chosen as they constitute strong use cases, are hard to translate into and have limited existing machine translation resources on which to build. By providing access in these languages, TraMOOC will open up online learning to potentially millions of new users, whose access to such resources is limited currently by language barriers.”

TraMOOC brings together a consortium of leading researchers, highly relevant industrial organisations and leading user partners. The Irish team will work alongside collaborators from Belgium, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, and the U.K.

Professor Andy Way said, “TraMOOC will address the needs of European and world citizens, who want access to open online education that is not constrained by language. The other big winners will be MOOC providers, who wish to offer high-quality, integrated multilingual educational services.”