When We Empower Students to Become Experts

Join Chelsea on a tour of this assignment in the 4-minute video above.

How might you blend research, group work, video creation, and friends and family into an empowering and equitable learning experience for your students? In the 4-minute video below, Chelsea Cohen from Laney College, will show you!

Chelsea’s students, who are English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners, engage in a multi-stepped project, beautifully scaffolded into managing meaningful chunks. Each step of the way, students collaborate and increase their knowledge of a particular topic. Chelsea will demonstrate how extending discussions beyond the classroom or Canvas and into a students’ circle of family and friends can foster more diverse dialogue that situates a student as an expert. Can learning get more meaningful than this?

3 Steps to Becoming an Expert

  1. In groups, create a video using Adobe Spark based on your research paper.
  2. Share and discuss your video with friends and family (Extension: share the videos with your Twitter communities).
  3. Reflect upon the experience with your classmates in our class discussion. Summarize the ideas that came up with your friends and families and how it felt for you to facilitate the conversation.  

Accessibility tips! If you have a student in your class that uses a screen reader to navigate the web, you will need to provide an alternative to Adobe Spark Video. Also, if you have a student with a hearing impairment, have at least a few students caption their videos before sharing them with the class. To caption an Adobe Spark Video, download it from Spark, upload it into YouTube, and edit the auto-captions.

We suggest surveying your students in week one to let them know about your multimedia project plans and ask if they will need any accommodations. They’ll appreciate your efforts to support them!

Posted in Articles, Course Design Showcase, Equity, Rubric Section A, Rubric Section B, Rubric Section C, Rubric Section D.

Chelsea is a tenured instructor of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and the Distance Education Coordinator at Laney College. She is also a lead reviewer for the Online Education Initiative and a new facilitator for @ONE. She is passionate about helping her colleagues develop creative, inclusive activities for their online classes, and equipping her students with technology skills that will open doors in both their educational and professional lives.


  1. Hello Chelsea,
    My name is María Berumen , I am an adjunct instructor from Cuyamaca College. I am teach first level of Spanish and also an advance level Spanish 250/251 which is a combo class.
    I watched your video “An Equity Ice Breaker using Google Maps”. It’s an excellent practice for students to get to know each other’s origin family tree and most of all, to find their own family origin. This give me the idea to implement it in chapter three in “Vistas” that talks about their family’s origin and culture.
    Through the years of my career, every semester, I am always surprised when students talk about their closest relatives that some of my students do not even know their grand-parents’ names, age or where are they from. Giving them this project, in my face-to-face class with students will help them learn the origin country and culture of their family tree and also share it with their classmates. Thanks for your excellent idea. ¡Congratulations! and thank you for your excellent ideas.

  2. Hi Maria, I love hearing about how you have tailored this assignment to your Spanish class. What a great idea to use Google Maps to create a family tree and trace your family history. Thanks for your kind reply and for sharing this wonderful adaptation!

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