Spanish 3 Comprehensive Design Document

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1 Description of Design Challenge Spanish 3 Comprehensive Design Document We were tasked with designing a Spanish Three course for The Online Academy at George Mason University. This course is an alternative to taking Spanish Three in the traditional classroom for students around the state of Virginia. The target audience is sophomores and juniors in high school that are planning to complete the advanced studies diploma. These students earn an average of a B or higher and have successfully completed both Spanish One and Spanish Two. The curriculum for this course is based on the Virginia State SOLs and the curriculum of local school districts. In this course, students learn about the culture, language and history of Spanish-speaking countries. All of the learning experiences are placed in an authentic situation and allow students to explore the use of Spanish in daily life. Target Audience Our target audience is high school students between the ages of 15 and 18. These students vary in background but are students seeking to earn the advanced studies diploma. We have three distinct types of students that may take this course: homeschooled students, students looking to get ahead and students that have been removed from the traditional learning environment. Each of these students has a unique background in the content area but has passed both Spanish One and Two prior to enrolling in this course. These students will access the online course from home, at school or in a public situation. Students will be accessing the material before school hours, during school hours, after school hours or on the weekends. To see detailed explanations of these three personas please go to Appendix A. List of behavioral hypotheses: Gets easily frustrated when using written communication. Excels when using technology. Gives up when transferring information to the real world. Gets easily distracted by surrounding environment. Is enthusiastic with hands on activities. Gets bored when doing lengthy reading. Responds negatively to negative feedback. Seeks easy tasks. Chooses assignments are fill in the blank before writing. Seeks meaningful learning situations. Shuts down when given difficult tasks. Responds to appealing colorful pages. Responds to tricks that get him or her interested. Responds well to real world situations.

2 Struggles in a low feedback environment. Responds well to positive reinforcement. Flourishes under challenging situations. Excels at technology oriented tasks. Prefers to work in small sections. Data Collection To collect data, we are using two methods of data collection. The first method of collection is to survey a large number of high school Spanish 3 students about their impressions and opinions of online learning. This survey will be given to students in Loudoun and Stafford counties to students of all grade levels. The survey has ten questions and covers study methods, thoughts on online education and time management skills. Students will complete this survey anonymously online at quia.com. To see the questions used in this survey, please go to Appendix B. The second step of our data collection will be to have two sessions of focus groups made up of 8 students. The focus group will be made up of 4 juniors and 4 sophomores. Students will explore two modules from the VHS Spanish 2 Course. We will be using Module 3 and Module 7 because these modules best represent the style of design from the two course designers. After the twenty minutes of exploration, we will conduct a focus group to discuss their likes, dislikes, impressions, improvements and expectations of this course. The focus group discussion will be moderated by the course designers and will be videotaped for further analysis. To see the guided questions for this focus group, please go to Appendix C. Data Results After completing a focus group with eight high school students, I was able to find out more information about what these students would like to see in an online Spanish course. One of the most commonly discussed improvements was self-assessment. The students would like to see self-assessments at the end of more sections. This allowed them to decide if they understand the concept or if they need more review before they are ready to move on. The students would also like to have more videos. They want to see videos about culture using both native and nonnative speakers. They would like the videos to have speech that is comprehensible for level three students and on topics that are relevant to their life. They like the way the vocabulary is introduced and think that it is good to have a variety and visuals. They would like to see the challenge in a more concise manner and with much less detail. However, they do believe that they would be able to accomplish this task if given the time and resources. Overall, they liked to the look and feel of the course and thought that they would like to take a course like this. Our second form of data collection was a survey that focused on technology, study habits and learning preferences. We were able to survey 292 current Spanish 3 students from Loudoun and Stafford counties in Virginia. The complete results from this survey can be found in Appendix D. Here are some of the most important details from this survey:

3 33.9 % of the students would be likely to take a course online. 89.4% of the students would access the course from their home computer. 75% of the students would access the course after school hours % of the students would spend one hour per session. 56.5% of the students would prefer to learn new material in small sections % of the students expect to receive a little support at home % of the students have high speed internet % of the students do not have access to a microphone. Conclusions from Data Collection Create challenges that are more concise and less wordy Include more self-assessment at the end of each section Create videos about culture and everyday life Continue to include visuals and audio for vocabulary Include a variety of instructional activities including, word search, matching, reading, etc. Create small sections of information to assist students with comprehension and retention Create more opportunities for conversations with the mentor

4 Appendix A Design Persona 1: Dennis Dennis has grown up in a rural area of Virginia but has aspirations of leaving his small town and going to Virginia Tech. In order to reach this goal, he must earn the advanced academic diploma. The only problem that he faces is that the criteria for this diploma requires that he complete either three (3) credits in one world language, or four (4) credits split as two (2) credits each in two separate world languages. This has been complicated by the availability of these courses in the rural area where he lives. Because his school does not offer Spanish 3, he has decided to take it with TOA. He will be working on the course from the local library, as he does not have a computer at home. He is good with computers and technology after taking two computer courses at school. His computer skills will be beneficial since he will be taking his first course during the summer with limited or no technological assistance from home. Depending on the subject on which he is working, Dennis typically performs from slightly above average to excellent work. However he passed Spanish 2 with a C and has low content knowledge. He has some understanding of basic vocabulary and grammar structures, but cannot transfer this knowledge into a real world application. Additionally, his English writing skills are low. His current English teacher is working with him on improving his written communication skills, but is confident that he has sufficient skills to communicate with a mentor. He is eager to pass the course and is willing to put in the effort, but he is very nervous and lacks confidence in this content area. His confidence in the online learning environment is low and his attitude towards online learning is indifferent. However, recognizes that it is a means to an end and will eventually help him achieve his goal of attending Virginia Tech. Design Persona 2: Jacob Jacob is a home-schooled 16 year-old student that does his learning from his home computer. Jacob has never attended public or private school and has been home-schooled by his mother since the age of four. He comes from a large family and traditionally learns alongside his six siblings. He is a middle child and has two brothers in college, one older sister still at home and three younger siblings. This is his first experience with an organized online class, although he has a lot of experience with using the internet and computers for learning. He spends his mornings doing religious study, Science, English, History and Math, and will be working on Spanish 3 in the afternoons and evenings. He travels on mission trips every summer, so he will complete the Spanish 3 course during the traditional school year, between September and May. Each summer he makes mission trips to different Spanish-speaking countries and has already spent time in Guatemala, Honduras, Chile and Peru. His major goals for taking Spanish 3 are to improve his communication in Spanish. He wants to be fluent in Spanish so that he can function in these Spanish-speaking countries while he is on mission. His mother has spent a lot of time in Central and South America on mission and is fluent in Spanish. While Jacob works on the course, he will be supported by his parents and if he needs extra help they will assist him. He

5 has high level computer skills and has all technology and equipment available to him. He has both a microphone and headphones available to him and is experienced with audacity, Microsoft office, and the use of the internet. Design Persona 3: Austin Austin is a troubled seventeen year-old high school student. Austin started high school two years ago and had a lot of behavior problems in the classroom. After going through several anger management programs and working with his guidance counselor, it was decided that he should be removed from the traditional classroom setting and take his courses through TOA this year. Austin completed Spanish 2 last year with a private tutor working on the assignments provided by his classroom teacher. This year, Austin has been assigned a teaching aid that will work with him in a computer lab during the school day. Austin will be taking all of his core classes and Spanish 3 through TOA during the school day. After having so many problems in the classroom the last two years, Austin is excited about starting his TOA courses. He is not sure what he should expect but feels confident that he will do better working in the online environment that he has in the traditional classroom. Although Austin studied Spanish 2 with a tutor last year, his content knowledge is at the mid-level. He has some understanding of vocabulary and grammar, but struggles with its application in writing, reading and speaking. Fortunately, he will have assistance from the teaching assistant and the classroom Spanish teacher has agreed to help him once a week during her free period. One challenge to Austin s course load is that his school is on a 4x4 block schedule. Austin will be completing all of the Spanish 3 coursework in one semester. This could be a problem because he has a negative attitude about learning Spanish. He has not gotten along with his previous Spanish teachers and has never enjoyed the class. His parents are forcing him to take this class so that he can receive the advance studies diploma. Austin agreed to take the course to make his parents happy but he is not pleased about it. Because Austin will be working from the school computer lab he will have access to most of the technology necessary for this course. However, he may have trouble viewing some websites and videos due to restrictions on the school computers. He rates his computers skills at low, but is willing to learn what he needs know for his online courses. The teaching assistant assigned to Austin has strong computer skills and will assist him when necessary. Austin s English teacher rates his written communication skills at average and believes that he will be able to communicate with his mentor but may have some problems conveying thoughts and feelings in writing.

6 Questions included on the Quia.com survey. Appendix B 1. How likely would you be to take an online course? a. Very likely b. Likely c. Unlikely d. Unsure 2. Have you taken an online course before? a. Yes b. No 3. If so, how would you describe your experience? a. Positive b. Negative c. Neutral d. Does not apply 4. Where would you access the online course? a. At home b. At school c. In a public setting d. Other 5. When would you work on the online course? a. Before school b. After school d. During school d. On the weekends 6. How much time are you willing to spend in one session? a. Less than an hour b. One hour c. Two to three hours d. More than three hours 7. How do you prefer to learn new material? a. In small sections b. In large sections c. In gradual amounts 8. How much support do you expect at home? a. A lot b. a little c. Not much d. None 9. What type of internet connection do you have? a. Dial-up b. High Speed c. Satellite d. Unsure 10. Do you have access to a microphone? a. Yes b. No c. Sometimes d. Unsure

7 Appendix C Focus Group Questions: 1. How was the challenge proposed? 2. How well did you understand the challenge? 3. Did it make you more likely or less likely to be motivated to learn? 4. What type of activities did you see in these modules? 5. What kinds of resources are available to you? Vocabulary, grammar, reading, etc. 6. What did you like the most? 7. What did you like the least? 8. What would you like to see? 9. How do you prefer to have the vocabulary introduced? 10. Do you like the look of the website? Is it easy to navigate? 11. General comments, concerns, ideas etc.

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