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Design Your Online Language Course with Connect® Based on the Quality in Online Learning Certification

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started with Connect?

“Start off slowly. Begin with the assignments that are pre-created by McGraw Hill and gradually beef up your requirements in the subsequent terms as you become more comfortable with Connect. While students are learning the material, you have the opportunity to learn the system. If you don't fully understand how an assignment should work, your students may not get the most out of it.

A great way to start is by using the adaptive LearnSmart® modules and grammar tutorials as part of instruction and then compiling a variety of questions from the question bank for homework. This allows you to assess multiple skills on a single topic.

Students usually respond best to consistency across the term, so try to avoid adding new assignment types throughout.

For language courses, I recommend a format that looks something like this for each topic:

  1. Grammar tutorial assignment (if teaching Spanish, French, or Italian)
  2. LearnSmart Module
  3. Homework/Workbook assignments
  4. Quiz

Additionally, I include a Voice Board assignment, review assignment, culture assignment, and test for each chapter. Each chapter in my course typically has a vocabulary section and 2-4 grammar points depending on the chapter.

Avoid adding too many assignment types when you are getting started so you aren't overwhelmed with questions and manual grading. As you get more comfortable with Connect, integrate a variety of assignment types to meet your goals for the class.”

What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?

“The most important one for me is consistency. Formatting each unit/module/chapter/week the same way and having consistent deadlines will lead to fewer questions for you and allow students to plan more effectively.

Providing timely feedback is another one that is extremely important with online courses. Students need feedback on each assignment type before they complete the next assignment of that type to help them improve.

Clear expectations for grading, response time, and communication are also valuable. By keeping everyone on the same page, you reduce frustration on all fronts, so students can focus on learning and you can focus on teaching.”

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

“I highly recommend assigning and requiring a few of the Connect orientation tutorials. Encouraging students to complete this type of assignment gives them a great introduction to the course and will ensure that they know how to complete all the assignment types you assign. However, don't assign orientation tutorials that don't apply.

I find that my students consistently complete the tutorials and that they are helpful. Check your title's tutorials to ensure they are good quality and meet the goals you have for your lesson and use those to help with a flipped-style or online class.”

What types of assignments do you use in Connect?

“I assign all of the listening assignments that are auto-graded and always have at least one recording activity per chapter. I also require one of the essay questions in each chapter test.

Another great activity for students in Introductory and Intermediate Spanish courses is the Practice Spanish: Study Abroad assignment, which is an Application-Based Activity in Connect. This virtual exploration program gives students the opportunity to have more interaction with the language in a simulated "real- world" setting. My students have commented that it is a fun way to get extra practice.

If you are using an online class format, the Recordable Video Chat assignments can be used for multiple goals. They allow students to build community in small groups, which fosters better questions and more insightful use of the language (especially if you can spread your heritage/native speakers among your first-time learners). Additionally, these activities can be used as attendance and participation grades while also allowing you time to provide individual feedback similar to a face-to-face class.

The Recordable Video Chat assignment can also be used in an asynchronous online setting. Students have to schedule their own meeting times with their groups and sometimes struggle with planning ahead, but the assignment is effective for speaking practice.”