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Communication Studies Adjunct

Com 1010 Project

Comm 1010 Project: Preparing for the speech
Debra Hilborn, Julia Goldstein, Carol-Leisa Gray

Comm 1010 is a scaffolded course where each unit builds upon the preceding one thus lending itself readily to web-enhanced/hybrid preparation assignments. All three activities below facilitate students to engage collaboratively and creatively online, exploring technology to take ownership of their assignments by thinking thoroughly about the process of speech making with peers. This can only make their in-class speeches stronger, more authentic. It can free up the teacher to act as a facilitator coach and mentor.
We firmly believe in preserving the integrity of the course’s emphasis on skills of LIVE oral presentation to physically assembled, real-time audiences.

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Visual inquiry

Bass asks poses three questions about teaching: What am I doing now that I’d like to do better? What pedagogical problems would I like to solve? What do I wish students did more often or differently? Kathryn also posed a question in response to my post: What if “develop(ing) a willingness to experiment” became one of the learning goals for an online or hybrid class? Reflecting on these, I have deliberated about which units of my public speaking course could I move on-line, which activities in any unit could be enhanced by moving on-line, and how would I rationalize doing either or both of these in terms of achieving both my and my students expectations of the course, usefulness for their future courses, and grading. What are the risks?

As I’ve said in a recent post, I sometimes have a “flash of an idea for a little twist of technology right there, right then” especially when I hear students puzzling over how a point of context can be applied to her or him personally. For example, a student may ask what specific kind of visual aid or support would be appropriate for her to use? It can use up class time to coach the student personally, or a student may not have time to come to my office, or there may not be enough time to address a line of students waiting between classes for me to address each similar question fully. Further, there isn’t always time to take a teaching and learning moment to put them into an instantaneous discussion group, circulate through the group and still find them wanting me to address their personal questions. Often, once I incorporate a segment into the unit for the next semester, I find the students in that semester may have different needs or concerns.

Therefore, one opportunity to introduce hybridization into my public speaking course would be to expand in-class discussion on-line. I incorporate the Crossroads Research Project’s six kinds of quality learning: Distributive, Authentic Tasks and Complex Inquiry; Dialogic, Constructive, Public Accountability, Reflective and Critical Thinking. I use Bass’s scenarios as models.

I can envision expanding any discussions addressing one point of unit, but building on knowledge acquired from previous units. For example, I’d like to construct a scaffold for “guided inquiry groups” about Use of Visual and Audio Aids to Support Main Points. This could include incorporating their knowledge of units on Gathering Materials, Audience, Supporting Ideas, Ethics. A possible scenario borrowing Bass’s examples is a follows:

  1. Brainstorming: Whole class/in-class: What kinds of visual/audio support aids do I expect to find and where can I search? (List ideas on board). Create an assessment checklist.
  2. On-line: Small triadic groups would search for and publish possible aids for individual speech project, detailing each Mission Statement comprised of General and Specific Purposes and Central Idea (with main points), for the larger audience and the assessment checklist.
  3. Using the checklist, the smaller group would evaluated and comment on the items found, and publish it for the whole class and invite a global audience to evaluate.
  4. Publish and present findings in class about usefulness of studying, analyzing and incorporating a larger audience.

Risks: How much time an effort would this incur for both teacher to build, explain, promote, assess and monitor the students and scenario and results, and students to schedule and work? Would this take away from other studying? How would this be graded? What copyright legalities would we need to be concerned with? How to be assured of engaged individual division of labor?

Collaborating to take charge of technology to enhance teaching and learning

Groom and Lamb end with a starting point, that “the battle for the future of the web…will require an ”inconvenient commitment to … openness, ownership and participation…hard work, creativity and a spirit of fun. Bass continues to address ways teachers can begin to do that, to take charge of the technology rather than it controlling us. Most compelling was Bass’s discussion that the affect of technology on teaching and learning is ecological. If there are myriad locations and times that learning takes place, it follows that we must address how and when should we use technology to enhance learning and teaching. As a speech teacher, I’m absorbed by these questions as well as how to collaborate with the tech experts to help me fulfill my dreams of student engagement, with the text, the project, the research and preparation and practice, and with one another and me to fulfill their success in delivering their message home. The problem is after the syllabus is written and presented, after I get to know each student over time, I often have a flash of an idea for a little twist of technology that I’ve thought of at that moment to help them right there, right then. Teachers and techs and students are constrained by so many structures and money. I am happy for this opportunity to collaborate on all the possibilities