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Dr Christine Pleines

Profile summary

Professional biography

As a Lecturer in German at the Open University's School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, I have been designing courses and developing  materials for language learning at a distance for over 20 years. I have a background in Applied Linguistics and second language pedagogy and a keen interest in all aspects of second language development. I am particuarly interested in how learners can develop their interactive competence in online environments.

Before joining the Open Unviersity I taught German language and culture to students from beginner to postgraduate level at Mid-Kent College of Higher and Further Education.

I have researched student use of online environments for language learning and have recently lead on the development of a suit of German-language MOOCs with an employment focus. As part of my doctoral studies, I have been investigating the potential of vicarious participation in recorded online tutorials for second language development.


Research interests

  • Second language development
  • Theories of second language learning
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Online learning
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Approach, design and implementation of online activities in a Virtual Learning Environment
  • Student engagement with online activities
  • Engaging students on a larger scale: Learning through direct and indirect participation in a Massive Open Online Course


Teaching interests

I enjoy curriculum development and have extensive experience in course design and developing multimedia language learning materials for distance learners. I am especially interested in developing students' cultural awareness and interactive competence in German. I have developed learning materials related to diverse topic areas including geography, education, stereotypes and film. Recently, I have been working on an EU-funded Massive Open Online Course with a 'German for work' focus.

I have contributed to teaching at the OU in the following roles:


  • Project lead and lead educator on a suite of EU-funded German-language MOOCs (2018 - date)
  • Head of the German section (2009 - 2011, 2014 - 2019)
  • Organizer of Residential School and 'Alternative learning experience' (2010 - 2019)
  • Results panel chair / German (2018)
  • Award board chair: L130 Auftakt (1998, 2017), L203 Motive (2010 - 2014)
  • Level 2 co-ordinator across French/German/Spanish (2011 - 2013)
  • Staff tutor overseeing Open University languages provision in London ( 2003 - 2004)

Open University module production and presentation:

  • Module team chair (production and presentation): L113, German Studies 1
  • Module team member:  LB160, Professional communication skills  (2012 -  2013)
  • Head/joint head of German section (2009 -2011, 2014-date)
  • Module team chair (presentation): L203 Motive (2009 - 2014)
  • Joint module team chair (production): L203r Motive (2006 - 2009)
  • Member of L130r Auftakt course team, Dvd-Rom development (2005-2006)
  • Member of Spanish course team (2004 – 2005)
  • Joint course team chair (production) : German beginner’s course Rundblick (2001-2002, 2004)
  • Organizer, tutor and course director at residential school (Jena/Germany)  and on the ‘Alternative Learning Experience’ (online) (1998 - date)
  • Award board chair: L130 Auftakt (1998, 2017), L203 Motive (2010-2014)
  • Course team chair (presentation):  L130 Auftakt  (1997 - 1999)
  • Book co-ordinator for second level courses L203 Motive and L213 Variationen (1996-1999)
  • Author and co-ordinator of preparatory study pack Café Einklang and first level German course L130 Auftakt (1995-1997)


Understanding vicarious participation in online language learning (2020)
Pleines, Christine
Distance Education, 41(4) (pp. 453-471)

Fostering Student Interaction and Engagement in a Virtual Learning Environment: An Investigation into Activity Design and Implementation (2013-09)
Hampel, Regine and Pleines, Christine
The CALICO Journal, 30(3) (pp. 342-370)

Languages Open Resources Online (LORO): fostering a culture of collaboration and sharing (2011-03)
Comas-Quinn, Anna; Beaven, Mary; Pleines, Christine; Pulker, Helene and de los Arcos, Beatriz
The EuroCALL Review(18)

Glaube und Gesellschaft (2006-05)
Stickler, Ursula and Pleines, Christine
In: Duensing, Annette and Baumann, Uwe eds. Developing Writing Skills in German (pp. 127-144)
ISBN : 0-415-39746-4 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Language learning and language learners (2005-07-21)
Lewis, Timothy; Pleines, Christine and Hurd, Stella
In: Hurd, Stella and Murphy, Linda eds. Success with languages. Routledge Study Guides (pp. 1-20)
ISBN : 415368367 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK

Developing competence in the language (2): Writing and speaking skills (2005-07)
Adinolfi, Lina; Pleines, Christine; Harper, Felicity; Beaven, Tita; Smith, Pete; Hassan, Xaviere; Adams, Helga and Nicolson, Margaret
In: Success wtih Languages. Routledge Study Guides (pp. 110-139)
ISBN : 978-0-415-36836-0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, UK

Learners as teachers? An evaluation of peer interaction and correction in a German language MOOC (2019)
Clifford, Elisabeth; Pleines, Christine; Thomas, Hilary and Winchester, Susanne
In : EUROCALL 2019 - CALL and complexity (28-31 Aug 2019, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) (pp. 88-93)

Learning Through Vicarious Participation in Online Language Tutorials (2020-06-06)
Pleines, Christine
edd thesis The Open University

Tookit "Moving your Language Teaching Online" (2020)
von Lindeiner-Stráský, Karina; Pulker, Hélène; Barkanyi, Zsuzsanna; Pleines, Christine and Vialleton, Elodie
Open Learn Create