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Thursday, August 13 • 2:10pm - 2:35pm
Spanish Learning and Culture Outside the Virtual Environment

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The present paper analyzes teaching strategies in an online foreign-language classroom environment. Of particular interest are the ways in which schools work to build a sense of community outside of the online learning environment and encourage students to become engaged in their respective communities.

While research on online learning has tended overwhelmingly to focus on university settings and/or adult learners (Harvey et al., 2014), online classes have become increasingly popular within K-12 instruction, both in combination with brick-and-mortar classrooms and in independent online schools (e.g., DeNisco, 2013; Queen and Lewis, 2011; Keeler et al., 2007). A 2013 report from the Evergreen Education Group, for example, states that nearly 620,000 students were enrolled in single online courses in 28 states during the 2011-2012 school year—an increase of 16 percent from the year before. In addition to the relatively small amount of attention that educational research has devoted to primary and secondary online schools, the participation and engagement activities that take place outside of the online classroom have likewise received little consideration. For second-language learners, these activities are invaluable insofar as they allow both students and community members to engage in dynamic forms of collective learning and assist in the development of positive learning environments (Cho and Summers, 2012; Cho and Jonassen, 2009).

The paper will present data on the activities in which beginning Spanish high school students engage in order to: 1) support Spanish learning and culture outside the virtual environment; 2) enhance learning; and 3) build a sense of community through interaction with members of students’ individual communities. The information presented will consist of activities in which students engaged during the course of an academic year of Spanish 1 at an accredited online high school based in California.


Laura Méndez Barletta

Stanford University

Thursday August 13, 2015 2:10pm - 2:35pm EDT
CGIS Knafel K050 1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA