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Dr Klaus-Dieter Rossade

Head and shoulder portrait, blue shirt, smiling face against green background

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am Head of School of Languages and Applied Linguistics (LAL) at the Open University, a school with over 10,000 students, almost 60 academic staff members and over 200 Associate Lecturers. Before that, I was Associate Dean (Curriculum) in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) at the Open University (OU), responsible for curriculum strategy and planning, qualification and module production and assessment for three schools: Health, Wellbeing and Social Work; Education, Childhood and Youth Studies, and Languages and Applied Linguistics.

I am also Director of the Assessment Programme in the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Students) office, which brings together academic colleagues across the university to improve and innovate assessment practice, including design, marking, feedback, academic integrity and assessment policy. I am academic lead for the implementation of the UNIwise end-to-end exams and assignments system at the OU and have led the classification algorithm review for the university. I chair or am member of key governance committees, as well as periodic programme reviews and validation panels for our OU validated partners such as the ArabOU. 

As an academic researcher and teacher, I challenge reductionist thinking and long held beliefs and practices about how language and culture shape people’s perception of themselves and the worlds around them. I debunk myths about how we learn languages and the role languages take on in our lives. As a teacher and doctoral supervisor, I give students licence to explore the practices they need to be effective and authentic in todays’ multilingual and multicultural world. My work is supported by more than 30 years of studying, researching and teaching literature, culture, language and ideology in Higher Education in Germany (Freiburg University) and the UK (University College London and, since 1999, the Open University). 

As a university leader, I focus on curriculum and assessment policy and practice, and challenge structures that are outdated or needlessly reduce the scope, flexibility and transparency of degree study. I build bridges between people, stakeholders and staff groups based on trust and alignment, and I regularly support and mentor colleagues. My work is grounded in my extensive academic leadership and my professional experience as a qualified, professional coach. My respectful, collaborative, and compassionate leadership style is widely recognised across the University.

Research interests

During the last three years, I have developed a body of work in assessment in Higher Education. Triggered by the pandemic disruption and my contribution to the universities’ response, this includes co-running a Special Interest Group on the Future of Assessment for the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), several keynotes and publications on the Future of Assessment, Online Assessment, Marking and Feedback and Assessment, and workshops by the Assessment Programme on authentic assessment, assessment futures and student wellbeing. Related to this, I am also interested in Academic Business continuity during crisis, and the transformation of traditional university education through Microcredentials and short courses.

Previously, I investigated the identities, beliefs and values of Associate Lecturers (ALs) in Languages at The Open University and how they mediate intercultural awareness and competence with their own beliefs, values and their teaching practice in distance education. It showed the extend to which research has entered teaching practices and teacher identities in some cases, but also the long journey ahead to firmly embed what we now know or are beginning to know, in teaching contexts.

In another project, I explored how competent and mature L2 learners (CEFR C1/B2) negotiate personal identity and culture in discussions about ‘languaculture’ and ‘rich points’ (Agar, 1995) in self-organised asynchronous text forums. The ability for students to self-manage, construct their own discussions and arguments, and share their life experiences, all in the target language, has influenced my own teaching approach for language students. I am now keen to explore further an emerging sub-theme of ‘trust’ in students’ abilities, competencies and resourcefulness.

In my doctoral research, I challenged common beliefs about research and scholarship during Nazi Germany and the shadows this period cast on the young (West)-German republic. My study on the literary scholar Benno von Wiese discusses notions of guilt, party membership and wilful ignorance in the process of dealing with the cultural heritage of Germany’s darkest period in the 20th century. Working through history is all too often a binary pursuit of opposites and extremes, further compromised by relying on crude proxies (eg. party membership) with only scant recognition of how the complexity of life in politically turbulent times shapes a single person’s attitude and behaviour. Such historically and culturally situated work remains highly relevant, as the current Brexit debate and the polarisation into ‘Brexiters’ and ‘Remainers’ aptly demonstrates.

Past research includes instant messaging and social bookmarking in language learning, as well as government funded research into Language learning at keystage 2 (2007-2009). I have organised conferences, edited and published in the fields of migration, German film studies and the history of German Studies.

I was editorial board member of IJPL (International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning) and previously of GfL (German as a foreign Language). I was president of the Association of Modern German studies (AMGS) for almost a decade and co-organised conferences and edited special issues in areas relevant to the HE and Schools sector which AMGS aimed to bridge.

Teaching interests

My teaching and learning portfolio has covered all levels in German Studies at the OU and also cross-languages modules such as Exploring languages and cultures. As a Higher Education teacher, I aim to raise learners’ awareness of the potential of language, their own and those they are studying. I also foreground perspectives that shape learners experience through language, such as multilingual identities, and intercultural professional and communicative competence. The skills-content divide in Language Studies is rarely in service of students needs and I consider my courses and materials to provide a bridge for students to cross that divide and overcome the limitations that stem from it. Teaching economy is rapidly becoming a major factor in learning design and I have led or contributed substantially to initiatives that deliver quality and authentic study experiences in sustainable ways. I have also contributed extensively to the innovation of pedagogy, production and delivery of audio-visual learning materials online.

Teaching at the Open University includes the design and production of learning materials in print (books), video and audio (documentaries, interviews and language practice recordings), and online task-based and collaborative activities. This work connects me to ten years of professional broadcasting experience as a sound editor in Stuttgart, Germany, at the beginning of my career. Teaching at the Open University therefore closes a professional and also personal loop in my life.

Since 2014, I’ve become interested in both formal and every day public speaking, and how, as a result, people begin to lead simply by how they show up and share what they stand for. I regularly run workshops on this for university staff and students in HEI in the UK and abroad (such as workshops for multilingual teachers/researchers who are English Medium Instructors).

Impact and engagement

Being an academic is about more that creating new knowledge and inspiring the next generation of academics. We must also create embodied legacies for the public that can ripple through society and enable people to become active citizens in their communities. I do this by way of educational artefacts and live or recorded personal appearances. Outside my teaching role, I have produced and authored Open Educational Resources on aspects of languages and cultures. Drawing on my professional experience, my broadcast media work includes academic lead adviser on the BBC three-part documentary Berlin (2009) and several live broadcast appearances on the OUstudenthub platform since June 2015 ( 

I run workshops on public speaking to business leaders encouraging participants to take a stance, show up and, with their actions, begin to shape the world within their reach. As Speaker Curation Director for TEDxCoventGardenWomen 2016 and 2017 and TEDx speaker coach, I support people to find and develop their voice and presence for their ‘ideas worth sharing’. 

In a public talk in 2015 I’ve come full circle and addressed my early professional life as a sound man and editor in German public radio and television. “Learning to love the sound of languages” explores the acoustic impact and immediate connection with the sound of other languages when we come into contact with them (


Finding gems in computer-assisted language learning: clues from GLoCALL 2011 and 2012 papers (2013-10)
Son, Jeong-Bae and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 3, Article 1(4) (pp. 1-8)

German at the Open University (2010-09-06)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
Deutsch: Lehren und Lernen, 42

Introduction: cultural responses to migration experiences since unification (2008)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter and Leal, Joanne
German as a Foreign Language, 2008(3) (pp. 1-3)

Cinema and migration since unification (2008)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter and Leal, Joanne
German as a Foreign Language, 2008(1) (pp. 1-5)

Negotiating gender, sexuality and ethnicity in Fatih Akin's and Thomas Arslan's Urban Spaces (2008)
Leal, Joanne and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
German as a Foreign Language, 2008(3) (pp. 59-87)

Cultural transformation in Eastern Germany after 1990 (2005)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
German as a foreign language, 2

"Dem Zeitgeist Erlegen": Benno von Wiese und der Nationalsozialismus (2007)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
Studien zur Wissenschafts- und Universitätsgeschichte
ISBN : 978-3-935025-81-2 | Publisher : Synchron (Wissenschaftsverlag der Autoren) | Published : Heidelberg

Benno von Wiese (2018)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
In: Kraus, Hans-Christof ed. Neue Deutsche Biographie. 27 Auftrag der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften von Hans-Christof Kraus
Publisher : Duncker & Humblot | Published : Berlin

Transnational online discussions to foster open practices (2013-09-01)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
In: Beaven, Ana; Comas-Quinn, Anna and Sawhill, Barbara eds. Case Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom (pp. 137-148)
ISBN : 978-1-908416-09-4 | Publisher :

Lebensumstände (2006)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
In: Duensing, Annette and Baumann, Uwe eds. Developing Writing Skills in German (pp. 4-20)
ISBN : 9780415397469 | Publisher : Routledge in association with the Open University Press | Published : London

Using ICT to support your language learning (2005-07-14)
Shield, Lesley; Rossade, Klaus-Dieter; Rosell-Aguilar, Fernando and Beaven, Tita
In: Hurd, Stella and Murphy, Linda eds. Success with Languages (pp. 161-184)
ISBN : 9780415368377 | Publisher : Routledge in association with the Open University Press | Published : Oxford

Benno von Wiese (2003)
Rossade, K. D.
In: König, Christoph and Wägenbaur, Birgit eds. International Germanistenlexikon 1800-1950 (pp. 2025-2028)
ISBN : 3-11-015485-4 | Publisher : Walter de Gruyter | Published : Berlin, German

Making Microcredentials Count (2022)
Golding, Tyrrell and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
In : Innovating Higher Education Conference 2022 (19-21 Oct 2022, Athens)

Instant messaging in distributed and distance language learning (2005)
Rossade, K. D.; Heins, B. and Hampel, R.
In : World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (EDMEDIA) 2005 (2005, Chesapeake, VA)

Audio-graphic-conferencing and instant messaging in language learning (2003)
Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
In : Proceedings of the 8th biennial conference of he International Association fo Language Learning Technology (17-21 Jun 2003, Michigan, USA)

Online remote exams: Open University students’ views around the nuances and variants of online exams (2021)
Aristeidou, Maria; Cross, Simon and Rossade, Klaus-Dieter
The Open University