our words make worlds

A04. Ideating the Modern Languages Curriculum workshop

In June 2019, the Digital Mediations strand of the Language Acts & Worldmaking project organised a workshop titled Ideating the Modern Languages Curriculum in collaboration with Thoughtworks, a global consultancy which works with private and third sector partners on technological strategy in the face of digital transformations. The event brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss and design principles (and where appropriate, prototypical elements) of a Modern Languages curriculum which would include the critical application of digital methods, digital/hybrid literacies and languages-driven responses to digital transformation. Hosted by Thoughtworks at their London office, the workshop used the concept of ‘ideation’, a process for brainstorming new ideas often associated with design thinking and software development (Jonson, 2005), in order to generate ideas and contribute to re-envisioning the Modern Languages curriculum of the future.

The idea for this event originated from various discussions about the intersection between Modern Languages, pedagogy and Digital Humanities led by the Digital Mediations strand in discussion with other members of the Language Acts & Worldmaking project. It was based on the premise that, while some areas of the ML field – notably language learning – have already engaged significantly with the opportunities and limitations of the digital, there is still a need to consider how digital engagement operates across the ML curriculum, covering both ‘language’ and ‘cultural’ elements. The design of the event arose from conversations with Charlotte Fereday (then at Thoughtworks), who in addition to arranging hosting, co-led the workshop, and identified panellists and facilitators. The workshop was an unusual opportunity to think outside of the classroom, beyond current institutional realities and across different sectors, between people and organisations who do not necessarily have many opportunities to collaborate.

This study consisted of a workshop with a range of participants involved in Modern Languages and/or digital practice and had two broad aims:

  1. To set up an engagement between different stakeholders interested in re-thinking ML curriculum design in light of increasingly hybrid and complex digital-analogue habits and the new expectations regarding media and pedagogy created as a result
  2. To extract some wider insights into the conditions in which engagement between ML practitioners and creative technologists/digital practitioners can flourish more generally

We report in full on the event in our Final report.