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.

Organizing, Outlining and Supporting
With Makey Makey and VOCAT
Debra Hilborn

For this assignment, students will utilize Makey Makey and VOCAT to develop and organize a process speech with the goal that audience members will be able to perform the process themselves.  The assignment will focus specifically on organizing a message, outlining a speech, and supporting main points with visual aids.

Prior to assignment: students do reading on “Speaking to Inform” and get read an introduction to Makey-Makey posted online.

Workshop: Groups of four will each devise a unique way to use Makey-Makey to operate a program (game, sounds, typing, etc.) on a computer.  They will be given flip cameras or will use their own smart phones to document their process with video and pictures.   I envision this as one class period, possibly two.

Outside of class: The groups will post a video of their process to VOCAT and will annotate the video, using it to identify the main points and sub-points of the process that they would incorporate into a speech outline.   From that video and its annotations, groups will create an preparation outline for their speech, attempting to describe the process in 3-4 main points, with appropriate sub-points and details supporting each main point.  Groups will also be tasked to provide at least two pieces of visual support, such as clips from the video, pictures of their experiments, screenshots, etc. for each main point in their speech.  Groups will post their outlines (to a class blog, possibly connected to a later version of VOCAT) and get feedback from the instructor.

In-class: As a team, students will present a 3-4 minute speech with the goal of having the audience be able to perform the same action with the Makey-Makey by the end of the speech.  Groups will write a short reflection after their speech and post it to the blog/their VOCAT page.

I had envisioned this assignment as practice in organizing information and finding support for main points that would warm-up students for a longer, individual Informative Speech incorporating research.  I’m now rethinking this, based on feedback from my cohort and Kathryn.  I wonder if it could be built upon in another way, perhaps with the groups tasked with adding research from outside sources to expand the speech.  I’m not totally sure how that would work…. perhaps the more second, more extensive speech can be limited to topics related to technology, innovation and invention (side note- I’d love to teach a hybrid COM 1010 that focuses on technology and the city).  However it works out, I think I’d like to build upon the teamwork aspect of this assignment rather than switch to an individual speech, and I’d like to use the time spent in this low-stakes exercise to benefit a higher-stakes assignment more directly.

Two links relevant to my assignment:

Erika Kaufman’s amazing Cacophony post about using MaKey MaKey in Baruch composition courses:

MaKey MaKey site:

Presentation Aids Online Discovery
Carol-Leisa Gray

“How far superior an education that stresses independent action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on drill, external authority and ambition.” Albert Einstein

This blog will focus on such an authentic discovery process by engaging speech students in creating, exploring, collaborating on, understanding and using presentation aids for a hybrid or web-enhanced speech course,  in keeping with a course goal for Communication Studies 1010, for undergraduate students at Baruch.
The scenario below will allow students to build on content and help produce and utilize an online platform with necessary technological applications to accomplish these goals.

This blog is divided into rationale, origination of scenario, student and teacher activities, summary and implications. Links are provided for creating checklists and a sampling of creative aids from my classes.  Finally, I have provided general thoughts on hybridization on a PDF link: General Implications for Hybridization.
And a PDF of fascinating related links: Final Links.

A good speaker must have good research, organization, critical and ethical thinking skills, and precise language and delivery techniques with impact on audience in clear focus. However, today’s audience, easily distracted or confused by an accelerating competitive world of myriad new ideas and dazzled by bursts of technology, demands spot-on presentation aids that can redirect their attention and make the speech memorable.
Researching for support materials for speeches, in particular, selecting an aid that emphasizes an idea or point is a struggle for many students because it includes acquisition and application of building blocks of knowledge and critical thinking skills and ethical principles.
We need to be able to use critical and ethical thinking skills to gain a persuasive advantage, to motivate students (and faculty) away from coping just to finish the assignment and to want to get excited about digging in and acquiring the technology for scholarship, to make meaning authentic. We want to encourage inquiry, collaboration/collegiality, creativity and valid decision-making. That means engaged and creative teacher-student, peer- and tech-supported collaboration to select the perfect memorable and meaningful presentation aid to leave audiences wowing and repeating the message, and acting on it. This combination of teaching and learning would inculcate the acquisition of both content and process.

How the scenario originated:
For several years, I have assigned an explanatory group poster session project for the first speech to address Research and Visual Aids by learning to use backup, in this case a poster/visual-enhanced outline backup presentation aid. Students are assigned to either research or visual aids groups, work together out of class, and in-class each explain their parts of a chapter to the other group using poster or flip chart. They answer questions, provide feedback and evaluate each other on an assessment sheet. Afterward, they are quizzed in-class.
A sample for memorable student-created presentation aids from my course can be found in this PDF link: Favorite Visual Aids.

The Poster Session works well but I wonder, “What if technology could support the poster speech process to make it memorable and apply to all speeches in the semester and beyond. Wouldn’t a website of these collections with apps compel excitement to explore and create for students and teachers?”
That’s the reason for my designing the scenario for this project.

Here is the scenario:
An online presentation aids/technology/platform interactive inquiry resulting in a presentation and an on-line quiz on Best Supportive Visual Aids, Critical Thinking and Ethical Thinking Tools.
The process would begin early in the first half of the semester following a similar scenario for gathering cited supporting ideas, and followed by one for organization/outlining. All three would be preceded by units on Introduction To Public Speaking; Speaking To Inform/Creating Purpose Statements; Gathering Materials; Presentation Aids; Ethics. The Visual Aids instructional unit with on-line tasks would take about 1-2 weeks, or 2-3 class periods to accomplish. Task 1 below and mentoring/troubleshooting meetings with sub-teams and/or teacher could be considered part of class time, though on-line or in the office. Task 2 and 3 would be homework and task 4, the in-class presentation. will elaborate on the tasks for only the presentation aids skills. These tasks would be sandwiched by instructional units. The process could be modified and utilized for other content units. The website could become an interactive learning depository.

Student Activities for a class of 24
Task 1: Group Work
A typical class of 24 would be divided into three teams of 8 students. Each team would have two sub-teams of 4 students. Each sub-team should set up liaisons to coordinate with the other sub-teams and whole team for website setup. Each sub-team would explore one of the questions below:

Description, Team 1.
I. One team (4 in each sub-team, one question per sub-team, would initially discuss via on-line Blackboard discussion group or in person the following questions and divide up the following questions for further research.
A. What kinds of visual/audio support aids do I expect to find for a given purpose statement for the next speech? Compile a holistic description to post on website after Team 2 sets up website.
B. Which websites would be the most useful to search for these visual aids? Compile a list to add to website later.

Checklists, Team 2.
Another team of two sub-teams would divide up, initially discuss on Blackboard Discussion Group the following:
A. Review textbook criteria on how to prepare and present visual aids. Develop a visual aids appearance and presenting checklist to add to site once set up by Team 3.
B. Preview Ethics tenets and critical thinking skills from textbook from to create a checklist/assessment tool for site users. Add to site. Link to PDF:  Checklists.

Technology, Team 3.
II. Another team of two sub-teams would divide up, initially discuss on Blackboard Discussion Group the following:
A. Explore, discuss, design a Publishing site on Blogs@Baruch using its choices for apps for checklists, video, purpose statements with place for comments; description of possible aid types, and good websites to search for aids. Set up the site.
B. What kinds of technology (apps etc) could be used to publish the findings and apps with tech support? (Blogs@Baruch) The sub- team can analyze such apps as Vimeo, YouTube and Mashable for example. Set up.

Task 2: All Students
Each student would upload a purpose statement for Speech 2 (whose format has been taught in the classroom) with a presentation aid to be analyzed with the checklists for use in Informative Speech 2. (Students could also use the website to comment on language and delivery of the aid after classroom taught units on delivery and language.)

Task 3: Teams Evaluate Each Other
Using the checklists, students on one team can divide up to evaluate, comment and post on the website on particular presentation aids proposed by each student from another team for a particular point on a purpose statement. A global audience and/or other 1010 students could be invited to comment also using the checklist adding to authenticity.

Presentation of Findings
Task 4: Students on each team would post on the website activity findings about another team’s presentation aids regarding their authenticity, creativity and focus. In addition, teams would post feedback about the usefulness of the activity’s student-controlled inquiry,  development, analysis and assessment, incorporating the comments of a larger and possibly global audience.

The Filmed Presentation
The findings could be then presented and filmed for VOCAT f2f in the classroom as the First Speech with posters, similar to the original poster speech we’ve done for years.

For Teacher:
Assessment and Quiz: Participation grade for part one. Speech grade for part 2. Quiz grade for Part 3.
The teacher would set deadlines, monitor participation, and create a rubric and on-line or off line quiz.
The BCTC has qualtrics to help with setting up surveys and assessment. Blackboard could be used for the test. The site could be utilized in future sections of 1010 courses.

Class groups would search and develop a course website on which to put ingredients in the assignment: presentation aids whether images (charts, graphs, photos etc.) video, audio, checklists, comments/analysis using the checklists which are developed by another group using the salient criteria I have listed in my project. results blogs, and a place for the quiz App. The website would become a center of collaborative teaching and learning that could accommodate many elements of a web-enhanced course.

Implications for this Scenario
How much time, effort, and coordination would this actually incur for both teacher to build, explain, promote, assess and monitor the students and scenario and results, and students to schedule and work? How would groups with students unwilling or unable to do their assigned work be supported and accommodated? Will adjuncts have time to set up and get the help they need from CTL? How would this be clearly measured and assessed? What copyright legalities would we need to be concerned with? How can this process be monitored to be assured of engagement rather than merely sociability or fun? How could it be modified for hearing/sight impaired, for students who don’t have home computers?
The scenario could be modified by teachers actually setting up the website or in collaboration with willing students for extra credit. However, I think that student-directed development with teacher as mentor/ombudsman and tech-guidance would be key to their assimilation and application of the process.

Preparing for the draft with a web-tool, a visit to the museum
Julia Goldstein

The need:
In thinking about the research and organization components of COM 1010, I am particularly concerned with finding ways of reconciling COM 1010’s “contentless” nature with my conviction that it is impossible to develop meaningful oral communication skills without engaging in a meaningful thought process.  In other words, you can’t speak well if you don’t have anything meaningful to say, and clear speech is integrally connected to clear thinking.

I’ve continued to struggle with the course’s informative speaking assignment. In preparing for the informative speech in particular, I find that students frequently get stuck at a superficial level of developing knowledge and ideas.  Therefore, my aim in developing this assignment is to use web-enhanced techniques to scaffold student processes of engaging with their informative speech topics, developing meaningful knowledge, and thinking critically about the optimal way to organize this content into an informative speech.

The context:
This activity will guide student preparations for drafting their informative speech outline.  My informative speech assignment is a group speech (usually three students per group) that requires students to visit a museum exhibit of their choice and to combine the content of the exhibit with several additional sources to teach their audience about the content, themes, examples, etc. of the exhibit.  While some groups are very successful, others choose simplistic exhibits and/or gather perfunctory information and fail to develop the level of knowledge (and interest) necessary for a successful informative presentation.

The activity:
Students within each group will use an online tool to visually represent the information they have gathered about their topic (from the exhibit and elsewhere), and to share and collectively develop understanding of the topic.  They will use this web tool for posting images, sharing observations, asking questions, making connections, identifying themes, and ultimately exploring organizing patterns for turning their shared knowledge into an effective group presentation.

The tool:
I’ll need to keep exploring and talking with people who have experience with these various tools.  I’m considering “mind mapping” tools like Coggle as well as something like Prezi.  I want a tool that allows several users to post images that can be viewed simultaneously, to post comments associated with images as well as independently of images, and to build visual connections between different images and posts.  Ideally, a user could zoom out and see the whole map of ideas, images, and connections at the same time.  I also want users to be able to see who posted which images and which comments.

The logistics:
(Note: this follows a guided process of choosing an appropriate museum exhibit that will yield rich results.)

Step 1: Students read all information available on the museum website, as well as one outside source that the group has chosen together as a meaningful contextualization or overview text.  The group compiles a list of at least six research questions that may take the form of hypotheses.  Students post these questions on the web tool.

Step 2:  Students visit the museum, ideally together, and take notes and photos (if allowed).

Step 3:  Each student posts images, new questions, and notes/comments on the web tool.  It is up to the student whether they want to post items as responses to the original six questions, or as new threads.  Breakdown of the required postings is as follows:
·      Each student posts at least five images, with labels and explanatory notes
·      Each student posts at least three observations or comments about images posted by another student.
·      Each student posts at least two new questions.

Step 4:  After the first round of posts, and a few days to let the material settle, students post a second round as follows:
·      Each student responds to at least three questions or comments from other group members.
·      Each student introduces two new ideas from an outside source that they have read related to the subject, with the citation.
·      Each student posts two major themes they identify in the exhibit, explaining each theme in a few sentences.

Step 5: Based on the compilation of information, analyses, images, and examples represented on the web tool, each student will post a suggestion of an organizing pattern for the speech (i.e. a simple tentative outline with one topic sentence per paragraph).  The group will discuss these options of organizing patterns and deem one the most effective.

Step 6: Using the information, analyses, images and examples compiled on the web tool, the group will write a draft of their informative speech outline, to be brought to class and shared with another group for peer review.

Evaluation: I will assign a separate grade to the use of the web-tool, evaluating how thoroughly the group used it to share and develop knowledge and ideas.  The highest possible score will go to groups that go above and beyond the requirements for posting images, comments, questions, etc.

Risks and implications:  This is a complicated and messy process, likely to lead to some unforeseen confusion.  I may choose to start by implementing a partial version of this process, or perhaps test it out with a pilot group of eager and tech-engaged students, possibly for extra credit or in replacement of another assignment.  Although my goal is to give students a platform for engaging with the content in a collaborative but flexible way, with some degree of accountability, so that they are more prepared to write a strong outline, it seems likely that some groups will still struggle significantly with turning the freeform notes into an outline structure.  I wonder if there is a web tool that allows users to visually code data (i.e. highlight all of the ideas that belong in body paragraph #3 in green)?
This process would take up more time than I normally spend on preparing to write the informative speech outline.  I would probably choose to give up a f2f class session in exchange for this set of activities.  However, what evidence do I have that this process would be more effective than simply having students gather in person in their groups and hash through the material together?   I think that because it would take place over about a week, and would require each member to contribute individually and substantially, it would lead to a more inclusive and even collaboration.

9 thoughts on “Com 1010 Project”

  1. Your project brings up several salient points about the complexities of presentation, and some of the very concerns I’ve been grappling with, as in both my Composition and Great Works sections, I require (as I think most of the English instructors do for these courses) an individual presentation component. What I found particularly useful in your document, was your exploration into how to integrate collaboration on a number of levels, before the final speech is ready. This is exactly the way I approach a polished, formal essay because, as you say, we want the students to display a profound involvement with their subject and not just empty rhetoric; we don’t want to churn out a little parade of Sophists who sound lovely but say nothing.
    I, too, use image quite a bit with my students, and your proposal to post several visual texts simultaneously is really an intriguing one, and one I intend to experiment with (and your suggestions of tools like Coggle or Prezi are helpful). Yes, it could get messy, as multiple/simultaneous postings will lead to multiple ways of making connections, a good deal of back and forth between students, references to other works/texts/sources. In short, it could be messy, but could well be glorious. I think a certain amount of chaos is actually essential, especially in the early stages of research or any type of writing. Confusion implies, after all, a sincere kind of openness, and I always encourage my students to stay at the questioning stage in their projects, for as long as they can. Of course, at some point, they have to make decisions, but the more gradual this process (as in any scaffold type of assignment) the richer the outcome.

    1. Jeane, I appreciate your comments on confusion and openness. I agree, and I suppose that confusion is a central risk associated with innovation. Real learning is often much messier than coping strategies.

  2. Wow! I really enjoyed how both assignments had a deep sense of self-awareness around the fact that oftentimes these technologies can pose difficulties themselves, beyond the challenge of contextualizing them within the course effectively. Carol, I was especially impressed with how your understanding of the Baruch student body is an excellent group to discovery the efficacy of different methods of hybrid learning. Yes, many students have on-going life experiences which drastically change their own relationship to being a student—from using a language different from their home discourse to being a single working parent. Both assignments, really, had the awareness to question, examine possible problems, and be flexible to suit different needs.
    Incorporating technology in the classroom involves incorporating risk: Will students “take” to these tools? Will ideas that sound great as lesson plans manifest as successful sites of learning and teaching? This project seems well aware of the risks that these questions pose and seem to have built in space to recognize the different aspects of learning that occur, from observation to analysis. But, to put all of this in perspective, with the constant march of technology in the world we are all in the position to become life-long learners. Often these experience will build on previous skills, but others may seem completely foreign. The incorporation of Makey-Makey and Vocat for example should embrace the risk of mistakes and messiness to show students how mastery is not something ever finally achieved and each step will involve risk.

  3. These assignments and thoughts on building assignments are incredible. “Building” seems to be the key word in your classes. And using activities like the MaKey MaKey, the online tools, while remaining sensitive to student needs is so great to read. I feel fortunate to be part of this seminar and to peek into the ways my colleagues develop, brainstorm, and implement assignments.

    Julia, the messiness and documenting the messiness is such a great idea. Like these blog posts are helping me see the process of assignment building and introducing me to Coggle. I should say that depending on how Prezi is used, it may not be as useful as Coggle. Unless you make it work the way you want and branch out from the bubbles. Movement of ideas in Prezi can be more internal movement, like clicking to get to a bubble deeper within the image, rather than mapping out, which you would see better as an overview. I don’t know if that makes sense but it isn’t this branching out movement that is happening in Coggle.

    Also, all this work on using VoCat is now motivating me to use in Great Works classes as well to see if that is helpful before they give a presentation at the end of class. Thank you for all of this food for thought. What an inspiring group!

    1. There was an article in the Science section of the NYTimes last week I think about some research indicating that confusion in humanities courses enhances learning retention.

      Debra: I also enjoy the group aspect of this assignment. I think that more time should be allotted for post-production, though. The annotating, editing, and posting of the videos all seem to be in an amorphous out of class zone and they probably need more structure, even more class time. If you break down all the skills that students need to successfully complete these tasks in step 2, then a structure might emerge. For example, if you allot two class periods and two online sessions to the assignment, then the f2f sessions could focus primarily on production (pre-production skills mostly completed previously in an online session) and post-production (decide which post-production tasks would be best completed online previous to f2f session). That’s just one way to do it, of course, but I do think you’ll want to build out this step 2 of the assignment (which looks really exciting!). And about the sequence of this assignment in the course, and how much to “count” it… I think that depends on the overall workflow and schedule you have. I definitely agree that scaffolding it is a good idea, or even making it an actual graded assignment in the course.

      Carol: You bring up so many salient points not only about Comm1010 but online education generally. Imagine, though, if this document were one given to you as an instructor charged with teaching a hybrid section of this course. What points would you highlight? For example, while I agree that hybrid and online courses often pose challenges for the very population drawn to them (very busy people with many other commitments), rather than querying this, make it part of the rationale for your assignment sequence. The interrogation of such (and it deserves interrogation) would probably be better relegated to a separate document. Also, assume that you can receive tech help from the CTL for your needs, BUT be realistic about the technology students have access to and know how to use. It seems like you might have too many platforms going on—for blogs, at a Baruch class, use Blogs@Baruch. Other applications (YouTube, for example) can be embedded in Blogs@Baruch. Think about workflow and schedule: where and when do you see this work happening? I would recommend combing through what you have here with a organizing question in mind—what is your goal with this document?—pulling out the most important points that pertain to that question, and organizing the workflow under headings.

      Julia: Here’s a link about a creative use of Prezi:
      Also, in terms of the document and coding text visually, Google Docs would probably work pretty well. They even have a whiteboard and presentation app that might be too simple for your use, but could offer a way to integrate visual information with textual information without using too many platforms.One more thing, this app has been on my “to try” list for awhile and I am planning on experimenting with it now that I have some free time—it might fit your use: I am happy to give you a report in the next week or two!
      A few things to think about in terms of assignment design: would you provide a list of possible additional contexts for step one? Or a tutorial about how to “read” websites (I’m thinking that this might be a nice built in lesson about how information is organized that students could transfer to their own web maps)?
      I know that ideally you want students to go to a museum together. How will you deal with the unfortunate likelihood that unless a museum visit is booked during f2f time (which would probably be unrealistic), this might not happen?
      Where will the web tool eventually live so that all students can see it? A course blog?

  4. Debra: I love this process-oriented project. It reminds me of a much more rudimentary assignment I was given in 5th grade: write out instructions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. None of our instructions worked. Our teacher brought bread, pb&j to class and, using our instructions, tried making a sandwich. Hilarity ensued, and no sandwiches were successfully made (we all forgot to say things like, “take the bread out of the bag” or “take the cap off the jelly jar”). Anyway, your assignment has a similar fully-immersive quality to it and has a similar goal of asking students to be as clear as possible.

    Carol, I love the way you are designing your assignment to take advantage of our diverse, busy, and interesting student body. Melding one’s “real life” and one’s “school life” might really help students feel that their “school life” is more relevant than they originally thought. Your set of assignments and resources is so rich. I really admire and appreciate this!

    Julia, I love the premise you’re starting with: “I am particularly concerned with finding ways of reconciling COM 1010’s “contentless” nature with my conviction that it is impossible to develop meaningful oral communication skills without engaging in a meaningful thought process.” I think your idea of having them build a resource space/mind-map to organize and present their growing knowledge base is wonderful. And I love the way you stage the assignment and the students’ interaction with each other’s information and posts. Finally, there are risks, but I think students respond well when they are told that an assignment is a bit of an experiment. They might feel like they’re part of something more important if they know it’s something you’re developing, and they’ll be more self-conscious about the learning process — always a good thing.

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