CEP 820 - Teaching K-12 Students Online

In CEP 820, we focused on creating an online course module for teaching students in our current educational situation. Through the use of a Course Management System (CMS) we selected, we created an online course utilizing several factors that would make our courses a success. Because I teach a World Language, I chose to use Wikispaces to be able to use world language products more freely.

The instructors were Michelle Schira Hagerman and Ammon Wilcken. The online course was taken in the Spring of 2011.

Course Management System - Wikispaces


A course management system, or CMS, is used to manage online courses or hybrid courses that are taught online and in the classroom. There is a huge amount of options when it comes to a course management system. When teaching online, it's important to use the CMS that will enhance your course and has the best options and resources for your subject matter. Many times, these options include communicative areas, assessments, and content. 

We were able to pick a CMS that would best benefit our students' learning. By using a Wikispace, I can create and design my own site to be most beneficial for my class and for my students. It will allow students to be successful through it's features - including the discussion forums and outside sites including VoiceThread and Blogger. 

Because my school district in Michigan is currently creating a 2016 World Language course completion class, I created a CMS for Spanish 1 credit recovery within our district. It is a self-paced course in which students have 16 weeks to complete it for credit. 

Critical Review of my CMS Process

In developing my course management system (CMS), I went from Moodle to Blackboard’s free CourseSites, to finally Wikispaces in a span of a few weeks. I certainly struggled to identify which CMS would most benefit my own needs as an instructor as well as my pedagogy and content area. I wanted something flexible - a CMS that I could essentially mold into I was looking for - not a structured system that molded me. I decided to go with something that I was familiar with - I’ve used Wikispaces a lot in the past. In the future, I will definitely be up to try something new, but I wanted to focus on the pedagogy of online learning and how to convey it to my audience in an effective manner, not on the set-up (at least for my first online course module!) At first, I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself enough, but I realized that I had set my priorities and they stood firm, and am happy with the choices I’ve made and I definitely feel as though I’ve challenged myself and taken away a lot from this course and from my experience. 

When I began the course, I knew that I had to focus on my core beliefs as an educator - those that Punya Mishra Ph.D has introduced to me and I’ve taken and implemented in my own physical classroom. The TPACK framework, or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge has really allowed me to take my technology use to the next level in my physical classroom, and I knew it was the right way to go online, as well. It was a struggle to implement them in my online classroom and I feel as though I will be more prepared in the future. There’s not a variety of ways (as one may think) to really show students how to converse in the Spanish language and culture and I therefore needed to be creative when I was creating my lessons. I really needed to think about how to integrate the technology into my pedagogy in a meaningful way, and then into my assessments in a meaningful way, as well. 

As a language teacher, I feel as though it’s difficult to teach online and I had to be creative on many occasions to “teach” my students the exact areas that I wanted them to learn. I also had to be very creative with my assessments so that they could showcase what they’ve learned/reviewed in an effective manner. It was important to me to make my assessments projects that would really let the students “take it to the next level” and not something that they could easily find a replication of on the internet. 

Finally, when I thought about the general layout of the course, I felt like I was swimming in a sea of possibilities, without one really great idea of where to take it. There’s a lot that goes into teaching in a regular classroom context, and in an online environment one must be even more vigilant and structured. I had a big problem because this was the first semester that I’d ever taken an online course, so I was vastly unfamiliar with how they worked (besides what I’d been taught in my previous courses). I took what I liked from both online courses I was taking this semester, Teaching K-12 Students Online and the Capstone Portfolio Course, and implemented my favorite things from each - those that made my life easier. I also started to imagine my course on paper AND as the student - what options did I need to have? (That’s how my “how-to” section came about) and what would I need to feel successful, like I was part of a community and making progress? Thinking from the student’s point of view was a big help to me as I designed each area and thought of new things. Also, I wish I would’ve created my syllabus at the beginning of the course - it would’ve been a HUGE help when it came to the content that I needed to cover and how to cover them. 

Overall, I’m happy with my project as long as I can continue to call it a “project” - it’s going to be never-ending as I continue to make it more accessible, add more valuable content, and create assessments that are both meaningful and effective.