The computerisation of a multitude of language-related processes, information and documentation, which was carried out with rudimentary methods and support until recently, has become an incontrovertible fact in advanced and competitive societies, to the point of no return. This is due to its multitude of advantages in terms of profitability, quality and reliability. It should be noted in this regard, that, aside from the expert status of each member of the teaching staff of this master’s degree in the field of ICT for language education and processing, the UNED (National University of Distance Education), by its very nature, offers its members a real platform to experiment and reflect on a daily basis on the application of more advanced ICT in a multitude of processes related to information and document management, as they are present in virtually all activities of the institution (teaching, evaluation, research, organisational and administrative activities, etc.).
The teachers at UNED which, with around 200,000 students, has the largest student population in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, are direct witnesses to the huge demand for resources for distance education, and not only in the context of our institution, but on a social level, due to profound changes in the educational demand of the population in developed countries. Owing to the growth, diversification and specialisation of the population in these countries, individuals face major difficulties in attending classes, as they are located far from the training centre or lack time due to a multitude of professional obligations, and social and personal commitments that are common to members of modern societies. The reconciliation of social, professional and educational life is only possible through ICT. In addition to responding to a real social demand, the benefits and possibilities of online learning have been highlighted by a large number of experts, both for knowledge-based subjects and also ones that entail the acquisition of practical skills and competences, such as languages. ICT is equally suitable for distance learning centres, where they make it possible to “reduce the distance” both between students, and teachers and students, and in educational institutions that provide face-to-face training, where they allow study time to be extended, as well as the contact or communication with other interlocutors. Therefore, it is not surprising that the method of computer-assisted language learning is spreading to countries, including Spain, that are both interested in and concerned about overcoming the language gap. Nevertheless, the dramatic proliferation of all kinds of products, systems and tools in the market is often mistakenly welcomedby language specialists who lack specific training on how to handle and benefit from them. This lack of technological training (known as digital competence, already objective of the curricula of compulsory education) leads to attitudes, such as alienating ICT-based language education and processing from the traditional didactic and scientific approaches, or creating unrealistic and absurdly high expectations of the role that ICT play in language education and processing, and rejecting it after those expectations have not been fulfilled.
In an interdisciplinary field like this, other factors, such as separating the work of linguists, teachers and technologists, and not integrating theirresults and advances in the different areas, which make any collaborative progress impossible, do not pass unnoticed. Those factors explain why ICT is not adequately present and frequently used in academic, professional and research activities related to languages. This master’s degree, using an interdisciplinary approach, aims to guide and assist experts in one or several languages in building various types of theoretical knowledge and developing practical skills and competencies that are necessary for the optimal use of ICT. A considerable number of language-related scientific (professional and academic, teaching and research) activities can be carried out more efficiently in this way.