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UOC takes part in an interuniversity project to create week-long courses to master a specific skill


The nanoMOOCs will take the emotions of their students into account (Foto: NordWood Themes /

The university is developing a microtraining programme for small retail outlets on basic communication in English with tourists

UOC teaching staff are also participating in a microcourse on the tools used by advertisers to reach consumers and how they talk about nutritional properties

The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) is putting the final touches to the design of an innovative online training programme to help small businesses communicate in English with tourists. Please, come in! is the name of the fun learning initiative put forward by the Centre for Modern Languages (CIM) to teach shop and restaurant staff how to naturally and fluently interact with tourists in English. This course forms part of the nanoMOOCs research project, which also integrates technology capable of detecting emotions and gamification tools to ensure an adaptable learning experience.

These nanoMOOCs are an offshoot of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which have achieved a high level of popularity as an online learning resource in recent years. From the first MOOCs, which were “long with dense content, we learnt that by shortening them and focussing on just one skill we could make them more effective for learners”, explained the creators of the interuniversity project.

The defining characteristic of nanoMOOCs is their focus on a highly specific content area (a skill) in a short period of time (a week). The project has committed to a new audiovisual digital training format, that adopts advanced technologies designed to improve the quality of learning and is planning to develop its platform,, to host the courses.


Emotion detection and monetization with blockchain

A number of advanced online learning technologies have been incorporated into the nanoMOOCs. In addition to their short format, the courses include the detection of emotions, with computer vision techniques; the application of artificial intelligence for skills assessment and customization; advanced gamification and certification with blockchain, in order to stimulate monetization with various business models, going beyond traditional methods based on payment for the issuance of certificates.


The first three courses

The nanoMOOCs project, which was launched a year ago, is based on three pillars: the instructional design of the courses, the integration of technologies in the platform, and the exploration of sustainability models for the new format. The first few months of the project saw the creation of the first three courses and six technologies, over a single platform based on Open edX.

In addition to the UOC's' Please, come in! course, which was created with Joseph Hopkins, who is the director of the CIM, a member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Education and ICT research group (EDUL@B), the project has put together two others: Què podem fer amb els plàstics abocats al mar? (What can we do with all the plastic in the sea?) to analyse this environmental problem, which is aimed at secondary school pupils and led by Edebé; and Dels anuncis a la taula: salut i felicitat com a estratègia a la publicitat alimentària (From adverts to the table: health and happiness as a strategy in food advertising), which is on the tools used by advertisers to reach consumers and how they talk about nutritional properties. The latter course is an initiative of Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) with the participation of Mireia Montaña, who is a member of the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences and the Learning, Media and Entertainment research group (GAME); and Prof. Francesc Xavier Medina, a member of the UOC's Faculty of Health Sciences and the interdisciplinary research group on food, nutrition, society and health (FoodLab).

“The nanoMOOCs project has been very positively received in its first year. We have successfully managed to make progress on the project in collaboration with teams from different locations and with different areas of expertise. The design and implementation of a viable product in three different fields required careful coordination and plenty of imagination. I am sure this will lead to the creation of new courses, especially in social and business fields”, said Prof. Teresa Sancho, leader of the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications' Learning Analytics for Innovation and Knowledge Application in Higher Education (LAIKA) research group. “The pilot projects we will conduct this year will identify any aspects that need to be improved and allow us to make progress in understanding and improving learning processes in non-formal contexts”, added Sancho, who was in charge of coordinating the UOC's participation in the project.


Interdisciplinary research

In addition to Teresa Sancho, Joseph Hopkins, Mireia Montaña and Francesc Xavier Medina, the other UOC staff involved in this initiative are Lluís Pastor, a professor and researcher in the Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences; Julià Minguillón, a professor and researcher who, like Sancho, is attached to the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications' LAIKA group; Francesc Santanach and Xavier Mas, a Technology for Learning expert and a specialist in digital education, respectively, from the eLearn Center, the university's learning innovation centre; and Eric Mesalles, a project manger from the Research and Innovation department.

The nanoMOOCs project is associated with the RIS3CAT Mèdia community and coordinated by the UPF. In addition to the UOC, researchers from the University of Barcelona and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and experts from Lavinia (Next Media Project), Edebé and Grupo Ormo are also involved in the project.

RIS3CAT Mèdia, which groups 35 companies, government bodies, technology centres and universities that operate in the cultural and creative industries, is promoting eight projects due for completion in 2023 in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analysis, hyper-personalization, cybersecurity and the development of new formats. A budget of €6 million has been allocated for the execution of the project by the Government of Catalonia through ACCIÓ, its agency to boost competitiveness.

This study supports the following no. 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for quality education


The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health. Over 500 researchers and 51 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: #UOC25years


Photograph of Teresa Sancho Vinuesa

Teresa Sancho Vinuesa

Expert in: Student support, and assessment and feedback, especially in maths and statistics in higher education. Analysis of open education practices (MOOCs, repositories, social media).

Knowledge area: Mathematical education.

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Photograph of Joseph Hopkins

Joseph Hopkins

Lecturer in the Arts and Humanities Department
Director of the Languages programme

Expert in: Application of ICT to language teaching; online language teaching; computer-assisted communication; online teacher training.

Knowledge area: Teaching of foreign languages.

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Photograph of Mireia Montaña Blasco

Mireia Montaña Blasco

Expert in: Traditional and digital advertising; media; advertising media planning; the Internet and social networks; strategy; segmentation by target audience; consumer behaviour; young adults as advertising targets.

Knowledge area: Traditional and digital communication, advertising and media.

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Photograph of Francesc Xavier Medina Luque

F. Xavier Medina Luque

Professor in the Health Sciences Department
Director of hte UNESCO Chair on Food, Culture and Development

Expert in: Social anthropology; anthropology of food; food studies; wine and food tourism; Mediterranean cultures; social and ethnic identities.

Knowledge area: Food systems, culture and society.

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Photograph of Lluís Pastor Pérez

Lluís Pastor Pérez

Expert in: Rhetoric and communication; non-verbal communication; metaphors and narratives; participation and media; media and learning.

Knowledge area: Communication and journalism.

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Photograph of Julià Minguillón Alfonso

Julià Minguillón Alfonso

Expert in: Technology enhanced learning, learning analytics, data science i open education.

Knowledge area: E-learning and open educational resources.

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Francesc Santanach

eLearn Center expert

Expert in:

Knowledge area: E-learning and open educational resources.

Xavier Mas

eLearn Center expert

Expert in:

Knowledge area: E-learning and open educational resources.

Eric Mesalles

Research and Innovation Area project manager

Expert in:

Knowledge area: E-learning and open educational resources.

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