Skip to main content

Online Language Learning Research Network (OLLReN)

About Us

Laureate International Universities and Cambridge University Press are setting up a virtual research institute to support research around the world into online language learning (OLL). 

The Laureate-Cambridge Online Language Learning Research Network – OLLReN – will combine the expertise and experience of both organizations.  Cambridge and Laureate have developed hugely successful cutting-edge online and blended programs for English language.  From their experience, they have identified the need for increased research into this area of education.  There are exciting pockets of research around the world, and OLLReN aims to help bring that research together.

OLLReN aims to support research into areas such as:

  • How mobile devices can be used for language learning
  • Evolving pedagogies for synchronous online language teaching
  • Effective learner and teacher behaviours when studying online
  • How the design of online learning platforms affects teachers’ interventions
  • How to make best use of technological features in learning task design
  • Motivating learners in online environments
  • Impact of online learning on areas of proficiency gain
  • Effective approaches to learning analytics for OLL.

Gordon Lewis

Vice President Laureate Languages 

Laureate International Universities

Ben Knight

Ben Knight

Director of Language Research and Consultancy

Cambridge University Press

Niall Curry

Senior ELT Research Manager

Cambridge University Press











Gordon Lewis is Vice President of Language Programs for Laureate Higher Education. He earned a B.S. in Languages and Linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington D.C. and an M.S. from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, CA. Gordon has served on the committee of the IATEFL Young Learners Special Interest Group and served as an editorial board member of ELT Journal. He is co-author of Games for Children and Grammar for Young Learners and author of The Internet and Young Learners, Teenagers, and Making the Most of Technology, all published by Oxford University Press.

Ben Knight is Director of Language Research and Consultancy at Cambridge University Press.  His key interest is to develop the way CUP invests in research to improve the effectiveness of its learning materials, curriculum development and teacher support.  He also works closely with Cambridge English Language Assessment to enable the two university departments to offer an integrated service to teachers and organisations around the world involved in educational reform.  

Niall Curry is Senior ELT Research Manager at Cambridge University Press and is formerly a Lecturer in Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, English language teacher and teacher trainer. He holds a BA in Applied Languages with French and Spanish, MA in TESOL and is currently completing a PhD in Applied Linguistics. Academically, he has presented and published research internationally on applied linguistics and language pedagogy focusing on areas such as language learning, corpus and contrastive linguistics, language for specific purposes and the role of the L1 in language learning and their application to online and face-to-face teaching and materials development.


Philip Kerr

English teacher and author

Gary Motteram

Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Manchester, UK

Mark Pegrum

Associate professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of Western Australia

Vicky Saumell

English teacher and teacher trainer


Carla Arena

Teacher Trainer & Co-Founder of Amplifica


Michael Thomas

Reader and Associate Professor in Digital Education and Learning at the University of Central Lancashire, UK

Bryan Smith

Associate professor of applied linguistics in the department of English at Arizona State University



Philip Kerr is a teacher trainer and ELT materials writer, who lives in Vienna. He is the author of a number of ELT coursebooks for adults and young adults, including Straightforward and Inside Out (Macmillan). His Translation and Own-Language Activities (Cambridge University Press) won the ESU / Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award and the British Council Award for ELT Writing. He is a consultant for two start-ups that develop vocabulary apps and he blogs about technology and language learning and teaching at

Gary Motteram is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Manchester, UK. He set up the first ever Master’s that linked educational technology and TESOL, which was also the first online degree of its type. He has presented at conferences and published regularly in the fields of technology in language learning and technology supported distance teacher education. His latest book is Innovations in learning technologies for ELT, produced for the British Council. He has recently managed a number of international projects for the University of Manchester, including eChinaUK and AVALON (, and he ran a two-year research project for Cambridge University Press exploring what teachers do with technology. His most recent projects include the Euroversity ( network and ReflectED Metacognition (

Mark Pegrum is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of Western Australia, where he specialises in mobile learning and, more broadly, e-learning. His current research focuses on mobile technologies and digital literacies. His recent books include: Brave New Classrooms: Democratic Education and the Internet (co-edited with Joe Lockard; Peter Lang, 2007); From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in Education (UWA Publishing, 2009); Digital Literacies (co-authored with Gavin Dudeney & Nicky Hockly; Pearson/Routledge, 2013); and Mobile Learning: Languages, Literacies and Cultures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). He currently teaches in Perth, Hong Kong and Singapore, and has given presentations and run seminars on e-learning and m-learning around the world. Further details can be found on his wiki at

Vicky Saumell is an English teacher and teacher trainer. She holds a degree in Spanish-English Literary and Technical Translation, a Diploma in the Theory and Methodology of TESOL and a degree in Educational Technology. She is particularly interested in the integration of new technologies for language learning. She is currently the author and online tutor of New Learning Environments for the Master’s in ELT at Universidad de La Sabana, Colombia. She is the Overall Coordinator of the EFL department at Instituto San Francisco de Asís, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a freelance materials writer and presenter. She is a committee member of the IATEFL LTSIG and IATEFL PubsCom.

Michael Thomas, Ph.D. is Reader and Associate Professor in Digital Education and Learning at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. He’s previously worked at universities in the UK, Germany and Japan and is author or editor of fifteen books, most dealing with the implications of digitally-mediated communication. He is currently completing a four-volume major work for Bloomsbury entitled Digital Language Learning and Teaching. He is lead series editor of Digital Education and Learning (Palgrave) and Advances in Digital Language Learning and Teaching (Bloomsbury). He is coordinator of the EU CAMELOT Project on machinima in language learning and project partner in the VITAL Project on learning analytics. 

Bryan Smith (PhD, University of Arizona) is associate professor of applied linguistics in the department of English at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the nexus of CALL and SLA. He has published widely on task-based CMC in L2 environments and is co-editor of the CALICO Journal.

Carla Arena is a designer of learning experiences with the digital in mind, Google Certified Innovator, teacher trainer, online moderator and former Head of the Technologies and Innovation Department at Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brasilia. She is the co-founder of AMPLIFICA, a company that provides learning experiences in ed tech for teachers and educational leaders.

Shannon Olson

Curriculum Manager
Laureate Languages

Laureate International Universities


Shannon Olson manages curriculum, assessment, and research for Laureate Languages. She earned a B.S. from Loyola University Chicago and an M.A.T. from the School for International Training (SIT Graduate Institute). Her focus is on the development and effectiveness of traditional, blended, and fully online language programs at postsecondary institutions. She is also interested in corpus linguistics.

Loading ...