U.S. Department of State awards Penn ELP MOOC grant

James Riedel, executive director of Penn’s English Language Programs, and Benjamin Wiggins, director of Digital Learning Initiatives at Penn, in collaboration with a number of Online Learning and English Language Programs staff members, received a $700,000 grant from the United States Department of State to develop and administer five open, online English language courses.

The first of the five courses, “English for Business and Entrepreneurship,” began May 15. Later in the summer, Penn English Language Programs and Online Learning will launch the “English for Journalism” class. 

Other massive open online courses, to be offered during the next two years, include “English for Career Development,” “English for Media Literacy” and “English for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”  

“Students can access these online course for free, and we expect tens of thousands of students to enroll,” Wiggins said, “with hundreds more taking them in small, facilitated groups at U.S. embassies throughout the world.” 

In cooperation with FHI 360, the Department of State’s implementing partner, the School of Arts & Sciences’ English Language Programs and Online Learning are able to offer the courses, thanks to an English Access Microscholarship Program. 

“This Department of State project aimed to provide innovative, high-quality content-based English courses on a global scale, and we were excited to use our staff’s expertise to advance such a groundbreaking effort,” Riedel said.  

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