Dr. Michael Thomas

Prof. Michael Thomas


School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies

Adelphi Building, AB150

+44 (0) 1772 89 3148


Subject Areas: Languages and International Studies

Dr Michael Thomas BA (Hons) M.Ed. (Manchester) MBA (Leicester) Ph.D. (Newcastle) Ph.D. (Lancaster) SFHEA FRSA is Professor in Higher Education and Online Learning in the School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies. He has taught at universities in the UK, Germany and Japan since 1994 and holds PhDs from Newcastle University and Lancaster University respectively. He has authored or edited over 30 books and special editions of peer reviewed journals.

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Full Profile

Dr Thomas’ teaching and research interests in digital education and culture are interdisciplinary, including digitally-mediated teaching, learning and literacy practices (especially in immersive and online task-based environments), applied linguistics and the philosophy of education in the age of neoliberalism. He has taught students at Newcastle University and Liverpool University in the UK, the University of Heidelberg, Stuttgart University and Mannheim University in Germany, and universities in Nagoya, Japan, across a period of 24 years. He has also acted as a learning consultant in the corporate training sector for SMEs including the Global English Corporation in the United States. Leaving Japan in 2010, he returned to the UK to take up his current position at the University of Central Lancashire where he is now Professor of Higher Education and Online Learning.   

Dr Thomas is the founding and lead editor of two world-leading series, Digital Education and Learning (Palgrave Macmillan US) and Advances in Digital Language Learning and Teaching (Bloomsbury Academic), which have published over 25 books between them. Among his own authored monographs, edited books and edited special editions of peer reviewed journals are: Digital Language Learning and Teaching: Critical and Primary Studies, IV Volumes (Bloomsbury, 2017), Project-based Language Teaching with Technology (Routledge, 2017), E-Research in Educational Contexts: The Roles of Technologies, Ethics and Social Media (Routledge, 2017). Contemporary Task-based Language Learning and Teaching in Asia (Bloomsbury, 2014), Contemporary Computer-Assisted Language Learning (Bloomsbury, 2012), Handbook of Research on Web 2.0 and Second Language Learning (IGI, 2008), Task-Based Language Learning & Teaching with Technology (Bloomsbury), Interactive Whiteboards for Education: Theory, Research and Practice (IGI, 2010), Digital Education: Opportunities for Social Collaboration (Palgrave, 2011), Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young People, Technology and the New Literacies (Routledge, 2011), Online Learning: IV Volume Major Work (Sage, 2011), and Handbook of Research on Web 2.0 and Second Language Learning (IGI, 2008).

He is Co-editor of the International Journal of Computer Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALT), founding Editor-in-Chief of the Scopus indexed International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE), General Editor of the Journal of Second Language Teaching & Research (JSLT&R), and has guest edited peer reviewed special editions on learning and technology for leading journals such as the CALICO Journal, the CALL Journal, the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and the Journal of Digital Education & Culture.

He has been the PI and Co-I of funded projects in the UK, Europe and Asia on subjects such as immersive virtual worlds, digital game-based learning, mobile learning and MOOCs, and coordinated large multinational projects involving universities and SMEs, winning external grant funding from the European Commission, JISC, the HEA, MEXT, Oxford University and the ESRC. He has delivered over 50 keynote and invited conference presentations in many countries. Having completed two PhDs he is an experienced research degrees supervisor and currently supervises PhDs and professional doctorates on computer-assisted language learning, mobile-assisted learning, task-based learning, social networking in education, curriculum development and organisational change, sociolinguistics and identity, vocabulary acquisition, and social media and professional development.

Dr Thomas has organized over forty national and international conferences, workshops and symposia on digital education in the UK, Germany and Japan and is a member of leading editorial boards including the Journal of Research in Learning Technology (ALT-C) and an advisory member for the Laureate-Cambridge University Press Virtual Institute for Research (VIROLL). Dr Thomas is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SHEA) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).


Thomas, Michael, Reinders, Halo and Gelan, Anouk (2017) Social learning analytics in online language learning: Challenges and future directions. In: Faces of English language education: Teachers, learners and pedagogy. Routledge, London and New York. ISBN 9781138201590.

Thomas, Michael (2017) Project-based language learning with technology: Learner collaboration in an EFL classroom in Japan. Routledge Studies in Applied Linguistics . Routledge, London & New York. ISBN 978-0415788281.

Thomas, Michael and Schneider, Christel (2017) Language Learning with Machinima: Video Production in 3D Immersive Environments. In: Teaching English reflectively with technology. IATEFL, Canterbury, UK.

Gasmi, Afef and Thomas, Michael (2016) Academic writing in the flipped EFL classroom: A case study on student engagement in Oman. In: Flipped Instruction Methods and Digital Technologies in the Language Learning Classroom. IGI Global, Hershey, PA, USA, pp. 232-251.

Thomas, Michael (2015) Introduction to Contemporary Task-Based Language Teaching in Asia. Contemporary Linguistics Series . Bloomsbury, London and New York.

Dixon, Edward and Thomas, Michael (2015) Researching Language Learner Interactions Online: From Social Media to MOOCs. CALICO Monograph Series, 13 . CALICO, Texas.

Thomas, Michael (2015) Researching Machinima in Project-Based Language Learning: Learner-Generated Content in the CAMELOT Project. In: Researching Language Learner Interactions Online: From Social Media to MOOCs. Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium series, 13 (13). CALICO, Texas, pp. 129-147.


Higher education policy; neoliberalism in education; applied linguistics; digital education and learning; online learning.


  • GUINEVERE (2017-2019): Games Used IN Engaging Virtual Environments for Real-time language Education (European Commission Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership in Schools).  
  • VITAL (2015-2017): Visualisation Tools and Analytics to Monitor Online Language Learning & Teaching (European Commission KA2 Strategic Partnership in Higher Education).
  • CAMELOT (2015-2017): Creating Machinima Enhances Online Language Learning and Teaching (European Commission KA2 ICT in Education and the Lifelong Learning Programme).
  • DEAL (2012-2013): Digital Education and Learning (HEA).
  • DIGIT (2012) Digital Methodologies in Educational Research (ESRC Digital Social Research Fund/University of Oxford).

Research Groups

  • Unit 28 of Assessment, MFL and Linguistics
  • Centre for Digital Education, Culture and Society
  • Worldwise Centre

Membership of professional and learned bodies

  • Royal Society of Arts (RSA)
  • British Association of Educational Research (BERA)
  • British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
  • The Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

  • Research student supervision:
  • Dr Thomas welcomes research applications in technology-enhanced learning, computer-assisted language learning, task-based approaches to learning, and digital discourse analysis, among other related topics.
  • Some recent research student topics include:
  • - EFL in Saudi Arabia (PhD).
  • - The Acquisition of Past Forms by Saudi Learners of English (PhD).  
  • - Proverbs in African discourse: A sociolinguistic study (PhD).
  • - Vocabulary Learning Strategies in Saudi Arabia (PhD).
  • - Social networking and language education in Spanish (PhD).
  • - Task-based language teaching with Arabic learners (PhD).
  • - ESP and Technology Enhanced Language Learning in Indonesia (PhD).
  • - The Use of Mobile Phones and Task-Based Language Teaching in Saudi Arabia (PhD).
  • - The Implementation of English Language Training in Nigeria (PhD).
  • Lead, Research Degrees Tutor (RDT).
  • Lead, REF Unit of Assessment 26 Modern Language and Linguistics (UoA26).


Recent Invited Keynote Presentations

1.    Thomas, M. (2017). Keynote. Mobile technologies and intercultural learning, 7th June, Challenges in Intercultural and Mobile Learning, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

2.    Thomas, M. (2017). Keynote. The use of technologies in foreign language learning, 19th May, Conference on Educating for Change, University of the Basque Country in Vitoria, Spain.

3.  Thomas, M. (2015). Keynote. Technology-mediated Task-Based Learning with Machinima. Language and Technology Conference, Luneburg University, Germany, 20-21 November.

4.    Thomas, M., & Scholler-Schai, D. (2014). Keynote Panel. Why E-Learning Fails? NCeL 12th Seminar on E-Learning Practices. 1-2 April. Al Jouf University, Saudi Arabia.

5.    Thomas, M. (2014). Keynote. E-Learning Futures. NCeL 12th Seminar on E-Learning Practices: Factors for Successful Performance. 1-2 April. Al Jouf University, Saudi Arabia.

6.    Thomas, M. (2013). Keynote. The Discourse of Massive Open Online Courses. 5th International Roundtable on Discourse Analysis. City University of Hong Kong. May 23-25.

7.    Thomas, M. (2012). Keynote. Tasks and Technology. TBLT in Asia: Challenges and Opportunities, Osaka Shoin University, Osaka, Japan. 19-20 May.

8.    Thomas, M. (2011). Keynote. Tasks, Technology and Blended Language Learning. Symposium on Re-conceptualising the Language Classroom. University of Pennsylvania, USA. 10 December.

9.    Thomas, M. (2011). Invited Plenary Presentation. English Testing Service (ETS) English Language Learning (ELL) Research Colloquium on Next Generation Assessments. Texas, USA. 14-15 September.

10.  Thomas, M. (2010). Keynote. Web 2.0 Tools, Digital Natives and Personal Learning Environments. 2010 Asian EFL Journal International Conference. Providence University, Taiwan, 23-25 April.

Recent Conference Presentations

1.    Thomas, M. (2017). “Using learning analytics to inform the process of formative feedback”, 3-5 July, 9th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Barcelona, Spain.

2.    Thomas, M. (2016). “The Culture and Cultural Impact of Machinima”, 25 June, International Machinima Convention, De Montford University, Leicester, UK.

3.    Thomas, M. (2016). “Learning Analytics in Online Language Learning: Challenges and Future Directions”, 4-6 July, EDULEARN16, Barcelona, Spain.

4.    Thomas, M. (2015). “The CAMELOT Project and learner creativity”. International Academic Conference on Teaching, Learning and E-Learning, 13-14 November, Vienna, Austria.

5.    Thomas, M. (2015). “The CAMELOT Project: Language Learning with Machinima in Virtual Worlds”. Language. Learning. Technology, 20-21 November, Luneburg, Germany. 

6.    Thomas, M. (2015). “Tasks, Technologies and Machinima: The EU-Funded CAMELOT Project”. 27 October. SLA Education Research Group, Faculty of Education, Cambridge University, UK.

7.    Schneider, C., & Thomas, M. (2015). “CAMELOT - CreAting Machinima to Empower Live Online Language Teaching and Learning”, European Distance Education Network, 9-12 June, Barcelona, Spain. 

8.    Thomas, M. (2015). “Evaluating the use of machinima in language learning: Findings from the CAMELOT Project”. 28 August. EuroCALL 2015. Padova, Italy.

9.    Thomas, M. (2015). “The CAMELOT Project: Language Learning in Virtual Worlds”. Learning and Teaching Conference, 5 June 2015, University of Central Lancashire, UK.  

10.  Thomas, M. (2014). “The CAMELOT Project: Language Learning with Machinima in Virtual Worlds”. Language Media and Technology, 20-21 November, Brussels, Belgium.   

External Activities

  • Invited Member, International Advisory Committee. Virtual Institute for Research into Online Language Learning. Cambridge University Press, UK.
  • Co-editor, International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALT).
  • Publications Officer, World Association of Online Education (WAOE).
  • Reviewer, International Journal of Educational Policy Research and Review.
  • Reviewer, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching.
  • Reviewer, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La Revue canadienne de l'apprentissage et de la technologie.
  • Reviewer, Language, Media and Technology.
  • Reviewer, The Linguistics Journal.
  • Abstract Reviewer for American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL).
  • Founding Editor and Member of the International Advisory Board. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments.
  • Reviewer, Educational Researcher and Evaluation: An International Journal on Theory and Practice.
  • Book proposal reviewer for Palgrave Macmillan UK and US.         
  • Reviewer, Language Learning Journal. Taylor & Francis.
  • Reviewer, System: An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics.
  • Reviewer, Language Resources and Evaluation.
  • Book proposal reviewer, Routledge, UK and US.
  • Reviewer, Language Learning and Technology.  
  • Invited Member of the Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of Teaching English with Technology.
  • Invited member of the Editorial Board, Journal of Pedagogic Research.
  • Book proposal reviewer, Continuum and Bloomsbury
  • General Editor, Journal of Second Language Teaching & Research (JSLT&R).
  • Board of reviewers, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET).
  • Invited member of the Editorial Board, Research in Learning Technology Association of Learning Technology Journal (ALT-J).
  • Reviewer, Association of Learning Technology Journal (ALT-J).
  • Reviewer, Language Teaching Research.
  • Editorial Board, International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society.
  • Book Reviews Panel, British Journal of Educational Technology.
  • Advisor, The Asian Editorial Index, Category of Business English.
  • Journal Academic Editor, The Asian English for Special Purposes Journal.
  • Editorial Group, Asian Journal of English as a Foreign Language.




applied linguistics; digital education, learning and literacy; online learning; higher education policy; neoliberalism in education;