Michigan State University masthead graphic Michigan State University masthead graphic


Elizabeth Lavolette

LLT346: Pedagogical Grammar
Best Fully Online
“Mixed media, instructor avatar, and student comfort”
- Elizabeth Lavolette -

LLT 346 teaches English grammar for pedagogical purposes, focusing on prospective or current teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL). The primary content focuses on the topics teachers are most likely to encounter when teaching English to children, adolescents, or adults who would be considered beginner­ or intermediate ­level English speakers. Pushing the envelope, these instructors did not adopt the standard campus learning management system options, instead selecting a custom programming option, creating their own learning environment using a WordPress website.

Sustainable design

The design approach undertaken for LLT 346 is highly student­ centered, but it is also instructor­ and program ­centered. From the instructor and program perspective, this course is fully online, incorporating a range of technologies but is designed so that any instructor with the requisite content knowledge can step in and teach it. The technologies incorporated are effective in their efforts to bolster the learning goals, yet easy to learn making course updates possible with minimal tech expertise. An avatar is used to maintain a sense of instructor presence, yet allow for the course to be facilitated with consistency by multiple instructors if need be.

From the student perspective, upon logging into the course, you are immediately presented with a clean, consistent organization, telling you exactly where to begin, and what to do next. Mixed media is used to present course concepts, with avatar Ana Phora guiding students through activities. Pages that have multiple sections highlight individual sections in gray when the mouse hovers over them to further facilitate students’ wayfinding and comfort.

Interactive multimedia

Interactive multimedia created using Adobe Captivate allows students to experience course content in ways that bring the words on each page to life. Each module contains at least one interactive presentation, guided by the course avatar. Transcripts, with screenshots, are provided for these presentations. To prepare students to retain the most important concepts from these presentations, “”self­checks,” delivered via Google Forms, must be answered before watching each presentation, and “think about it” questions are offered at the conclusion in order for students to reflect, ensuring that they learned what was intended.

Student-­Instructor Communication

Aside from e­mail, communication was facilitated using Facebook and Google Hangouts. Office hours were virtual, and each student was required to sign up for a five ­minute conference with an instructor at the beginning of the semester to ensure they understood the technology. Finally, each student joined two Facebook groups: one that included all students in the course, and one that included only four or five of their peers. The larger group was intended for course announcements and student questions about the course. The second was for group work and peer feedback.

Technologies included in this course:


Charlene Polio, Professor, Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian, & African Languages, Course development advisor

Jimin Kahng, PhD Candidate, Second Language Studies, Co­teacher

Debra Hardison, Associate Professor, Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian, & African Languages, Course teaching advisor