While taking classes online is usually FOR credit, there are options available to learn without cost to the learner. These courses are open courses for anyone to acquire more knowledge on a particular subject or as refresher courses. The Open Course I chose is from MIT – Spanish I.
The site is laid out well. There are clear expectations and directions.
The course Home Page is laid out with graphics of Hispanic flags and a Welcome! In the Course Description, it states that it is “very different from other classes at MIT”. There are 26 videos lasting 30 minutes each to go along with the textbook and workbook. It goes on to talk about what they do in the “classroom”. At this point, everything follows what they do “in the classroom”. It appears not to be written specifically for online instruction.
The Assignments are clearly communicated and include links to outside sources as well as an online version of the textbook: Destinos. The assignments are laid out by the class day. These are not laid out in Unit-Module Topic Guideline format. As stated by Simonson, et al, 2012, “When courses are planned, the designer might want to use the Unit-Module-Topic approach model (UMT approach)”.
In the Resources section, the first resource, LLaRC (Language Learning and Resource Center), is no longer active. There is not an opportunity to work in a “lab” setting. They need to have some other source for a language lab. In learning another language, part of the process is learning “how” to sound. The textbook seems to have an option so one can listen to sounds. However, the “voice” giving directions sounds mechanical. To me, it is not very inviting nor engaging.
In order to assess how one is progressing, there are quizzes and tests along the way. I took a 20 question Basic Quiz on the verbs Ser and Estar. When I was finished, it was graded. I had missed 4 and it gave me hints on the ones I had missed and an opportunity to change them and get graded again. I scored 100%. Having a positive assessment is important when learning. It gives a person confidence and the desire to continue with the course.
There is a list of “In-Class Activities”. Although the handouts, in PDF form, are great and it is good information, there is not an option for grading to see if one has the correct answer or not. Here is an example of the first 10 activities listed.
|1||Vocabulario de las presentaciones (PDF)|
|2||Actividad Verbo SER (PDF)Completar con SER o ESTAR (PDF)|
|3||Actividad para descubrir los parentescos (PDF)Repaso del episodio y de los verbos regulares en tercera persona (PDF)|
|4||Repaso vocabulario y verbos en el presente (PDF)|
|5||Horarios y asignaturas (PDF)Vocabulario: asignaturas, y horas (PDF)|
|6||Destinos Lecciones 1-6: Repartir una serie de 10 oraciones a varios grupos de estudiantes. Los estudiantes deben leer al oración conjugando los verbos para que otro de los grupos identifique al personaje (PDF)|
|7||Repaso Episodios 7 y 8 (PDF)|
|8||Verbos irregulares (PDF)Presente de verbos de raíz irregular (PDF)|
|10||Actividad: ¡Es hora de encontrar un novio para Raquel! (PDF)|
Here is an example of an activity without the benefit of an answer sheet.
So, in regards to the questions we were asked, it does appear to be well thought out, carefully pre-planned but not designed for distance learning. It is possible to be a self-paced course but there is still the issue of “grading” in some aspects of the course. Without an answer “guide”, a learner will not know whether or not they are progressing well through the course. This course was clearly designed for a traditional brick and mortar classroom environment as it clearly and consistently refers to “in the classroom”. The activities will give a student a better understanding of the language but could have been more interactive as they were only on paper. A few ideas for interactivity would be an online crossword puzzle, a fill in the blank story, etc. However, it would need to have software to check the accuracy of the work. All in all, it is a good resource for a refresher but not for an actual distance learning course.
Groeger, Margarita, and Solivia Márquez. 21F.701 Spanish I, Fall 2003. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology),http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/foreign-languages-and-literatures/21f-701-spanish-i-fall-2003 (Accessed 6 Oct, 2013). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA