From the list provided in the Ko & Rossen textbook (second edition), I would say that I will definitely do these types of student activities online when I teach hybrid courses:
- Have students use Web resources (no-brainer)
- Group activities (good fit w/ESL in which the whole point is improving students’ abilities to communicate their ideas to others in English)
- Peer editing / evaluation – more just evaluation (ESL students are not quite skilled enough to “edit” each other’s written word)
- Guest speakers – I don’t have any great ideas on whom I would invite but I love the idea. It helps ESL students to hear different voices, accents, etc. – exposing them to authentic English in use/not just “teacher English”
- Summaries – very important for students I teach
- Class exchanges – I have done this before and would enjoy doing it again – it gives students a chance to speak and write for an audience of their peers
On the other hand, I don’t anticipate having students do these types of activities online because they don’t seem to be a good fit with my discipline or with the abilities of my students:
- Debates – at least not now – maybe in the future? Students from some countries would need a lot of training in appropriate language for debate – it’s foreign to them – or they simply don’t have the English to know how to hedge and appear not too direct (i.e., rude).
- Role playing/simulations (except for the fact that sometimes I have students do project in which they imagine the audience is Americans for whom they need to explain the business customs – as an example – of their native countries, but I would hardly call that role playing….)
- Case studies – maybe in the Vocational ESL class but in general English/grammar class, it doesn’t really fit
I like the suggest in the chapter of using rubrics, which I already do for doing summative assessment of students’ writing and oral presentations. I hadn’t thought about using rubrics so much for assessing online speaking tasks – probably in ESL a simple checklist is easier to use (e.g., speaker greeted, speaker supported his/her point with at least one example, speaker concluded the conversation/discussion). The types of speaking tasks I currently have students do online are pronunciation quizzes, using Wimba Voice Board. I don’t have students do as many communicative / discussion speaking tasks online because I don’t actually teach online yet and have the luxury to have students do those types of activities onground when we meet. I imagine that grading written discussion boards would be made easier with a rubric, as well, but from what I have been hearing from instructors who have been teaching online, reading and responding to all discussion threads can consume your life, so perhaps a very simple point system would be better (0 = didn’t do, 1 = participated in discussion, 2 = actively participated, making points that demonstrated depth of thought).
I recently attended a CALPRO Webinar on rubrics. Its content was especially designed for ESL, but one important point is that not all tasks are worthy of a rubric. From another workshop I recently attended on teaching writing, I have learned that using rubrics is useful for providing formative feedback, not just a summative score (as I most often use them). However, I do always provide students with the rubric, when used, before submission of an assignment. I would do the same in an online environment, and I realize that Blackboard has rubrics built in, though I have never used them within Blackboard. I’m interested in seeing and learning more about how others share rubrics with students in an online class and how instructors teaching online use rubrics to provide feedback to students on their work.
Curious to hear/read how others grade discussion boards. Again, I teach noncredit, so grading is not something we are required to do, but I give grades to make students accountable and give them extrinisic motivation to do the work.