As long as I’ve been a Spanish teacher (sixteen years now!) we as a profession have been talking about and moving toward student-centered, content-based, and task- or project-based teaching; language instructors have long since stopped seeing themselves as the proverbial “Sage on the Stage” (see Online Course Design Pitfall #3: Insist on being the “sage on the stage.” from this article). And while being a facilitator rather than an all-knowing keeper of information looks a bit different in an online or hybrid environment than in a fully F2F class, I imagine we can apply the many of the same skills to make sure our students remain the central focus of our courses.
In order to keep our hybrid courses student-centered both inside and outside of the classroom, we must avoid the temptation to overuse recorded grammar lectures and stuff the online component of the course with prepackaged content delivery while reserving our task-based, communicative activities for our classroom meetings.
One specific activity that may help us avoid this issue is a great tool available for Canvas: the glossary function.
In face-to-face Spanish courses, students are given a list of vocabulary words to memorize at the beginning of each lesson. They’re expected to use these words, but the list is never sufficient, and students make frequent use of tools like google translate and wordreference.com while they’re completing assignments in Spanish courses. Why not make this necessary part of language learning into a wiki-building activity? Whenever students need to look up a word for an assignment, they can add it to the course glossary– complete with definitions, tags, relevant images or examples– thereby creating a living, evolving, searchable document to which students both contribute and refer. The course glossary is accessible via a plugin that’s displayed on every Canvas window in the course, so it’s easy to navigate, consult, and build.
There are many ways to make sure students are the principal content-creators in both the online and F2F portions of hybrid courses; this is just one I’m excited to try!