With almost 30 million visitors a year, Barcelona has become a leading tourist destination. The emergence of this city as a mass point of arrival has forced it to reshape many of its services in basic aspects such as communication, even more so in sectors like the taxi industry, which has a high level of use and in many cases is the first contact tourists have with the city. The Barcelona City Council, via Barcelona Activa, the Institut Metropolità del Taxi (IMET) and the Consorci de Turisme de Barcelona, saw the MOOCs as an effective tool for helping the more than 13,000 taxi drivers in the city acquire basic tools for communicating in English.
Through ten educational blocks, located in different districts of Barcelona, the ‘Online English for Taxi Drivers’ MOOC provided participants with basic elements of communication in English. It included simulations of real situations that often arise during service and cultural knowledge on the city, as well as tools needed to adequately attend to English-speaking clients.
The primary objectives were established while designing the MOOC. Some were obvious, such as teaching taxi drivers basic communicational skills in English or providing them with cultural information in order to focus the conversation on the interests of the tourists. Other additional objectives added value to the course, such as improving the students’ use of new technologies. Homuork’s MOOCs, by definition, provide educational content in an open multiplatform that is designed to encourage user participation.
The best evidence that demonstrates how this objective was met is the statistic on MOOC points of consumption by users. 60% of the registered connections were made from a Smartphone, 22% from desktop computers and 18% from tablets. To date, it has clearly been the Homuork program with the highest level of participation from mobile devices.
The proof that a MOOC truly meets the needs of a sector lies in the demand, and the ‘Online English for Taxi Drivers’ course has already released three editions, with a growing level of participation each time. After the first two pilot tests, with about 300 students each, the last course had 1,130 participants.
The course also saw compliance data that is generally uncommon with the MOOCs: the average completion rate for the programs exceeds 40%, taking into account the data from all three editions. In addition to its success among participants, the program attracted attention from the media, who widely covered its release.
Barcelona City Council’s Business and Tourism Councilor, Agustí Colom, praised the project as “an innovative and quality program that will contribute to improving the competitiveness of one of the city’s major industries”.
Ajuntament de Barcelona