Tag Archives: comm1010

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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COM 1010 Web-enhanced Assignments Update

Debra, Carol, and I are in the process of developing our respective web-enhanced activities designed to target a (broad) challenge that we’re all facing in teaching COM 1010: how to guide students through thorough and effective processes of researching and developing appropriate organizing patterns for their speech assignments.  We all agreed that critical thinking skills were integral to meaningful engagement with these processes as well.

Here’s an update from each of us, describing where we are in the process of developing our activity:

From Carol:

This blog will focus on how to engage speech students in understanding and using presentation aids, one course goal for Communication Studies 1010, for undergraduate students at Baruch.

Many of our NYC students work full or part-time, and approach their studies from various multicultural and multiethnic world views. This means more than ever that higher ed must incorporate ways to enhance scholarship and build collegiality in and beyond the classroom.

Higher Education can accommodate those differing world views and new realities by utilizing the surge of new technologies to aid creative and engaged sharing of ideas and expanding the traditional f2f classroom to web based or hybrid.

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 of and applying critical and ethical thinking skills and new ways to study.

I’ll provide a rational, describe some of the literature, types of aids and technology, necessary ethical and critical thinking skills; a web based activity that can migrate to hybridization; discuss considerations /implications/risks including issues for inexperienced students, and concerned teachers, and offer solutions in technology, checklists, and grading and scheduling; and summaries of links of helpful current news.


From Debra:

Like Zohra with the 3-D printer, I’ve absorbed a lot from recent exposure to Makey Makey technology (http://makeymakey.com) and have been wanting to incorporate it into the COM 1010 classroom. This assignment is very much a work-in-progress right now and I have a number of questions scattered throughout.

For my 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 the assignment: students do reading on “Speaking to Inform” and get an introduction to Makey Makey.

Workshop: Groups (of 2-4?) will devise a unique way to use Makey Makey to operate a program (game, sounds, keyboard, typing etc.) on a computer. They will be given flip cameras to document their process with video and pictures (can this happen?). I envision this as one class period, possibly two (at BLSCI or computer lab?).

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 a 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 (questions: can this actually work? How difficult is the process of pulling out sections of the video? Could they use VOCAT to quickly find the places they want to play?), pictures of their experiments, screenshots, etc. for each main point in their speech. Groups will post their outlines (where? to class blog, on 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 giving the audience the ability to perform their 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 envision this as a warm-up to a longer, individual Informative Speech that would incorporate research. This assignment practices organizing information and finding support for main points in a contained way, so I’m interested in how it could prepare students for organizing information in a longer speech where they have to gather research.


From Julia:

The need:
In thinking about the research and organization components of COM 1010, I am particularly concerned these days 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. Whereas in the personal speech at the beginning of the semester, and the persuasive speech at the end, in which I find that students are motivated to thoroughly explore their topics, in preparing for the informative speech, I find that students frequently get stuck at a superficial level of developing knowledge and ideas. Partially this is because it’s hard to know what to say when the assignment isn’t about making an argument.

I want to develop an assignment that uses 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, a group speech, requires students to visit a museum exhibit of their choice and to combine the content of the exhibit with several additional sources to prepare an informative speech that teaches 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:
My first thought was to use Instagram, but since I have never used Instagram myself, I’m not completely clear on how flexible it is and whether or not it can really do what I want it to do. If not, I’ll need to find an alternative. I started exploring Instagram last night, but it doesn’t seem all that intuitive. This is where I need help. What web tools would allow a group of three people to essentially create an online storyboard for posting images, making notes and comments associated with the images, as well as posting memos not directly connected to a particular image?

The logistics:
I still need to work out detailed requirements. I’d like to avoid micromanaging the assignment, but without guidelines, students won’t have a sense of how thorough I expect their work to be. I’m thinking of requiring something like this:

Each student is responsible for:
• Posting 5 images, with labels contextualizing the image and providing some explanation
• Posting at least three observations about images posted by other members
• Posting at least three questions (factual or more analytical) about images and content associated with them
• Responding to at least three questions or comments from other group members
• Identifying and posting two major themes of the exhibit, writing a few sentences explaining the theme
• Suggesting one possible organizing pattern for structuring the speech (in terms of what each body paragraph will be about, and the order)

Of course I need to fine-tune these directions, figure out a time frame, and decide whether or not this activity will take the place of a f2f class session. To be continued…


Over the next day, the three of us will be responding to each others’ projects and discussing the implications of each.  Tomorrow we will post more developed descriptions of the activities we are designing, accompanied by analyses of their implications for students and instructors.  We welcome your thoughts!




Thoughts on the Group Project

Good morning, Comm1010 folks.

I read through your posts over the weekend, and wanted to post a couple quick thoughts about some common threads I noticed that might help you with your group project. I’m sure you all have your own awesome ideas, but in case it’s helpful, here are some things I noticed:

  • Maintaining engagement and interaction in the online sessions. While many of you mentioned the inherent apparent contradiction in taking a public speaking class online, you seem confident in the benefits of hybridization. However, many of you expressed concern about what you might lose in a class like Comm1010 in the online space. You all had some great ideas about how to keep students engaged, though, so I wonder if you might want to put together a handbook or guide of ideas about how to do this in Comm1010 specifically.
  • Workflow. While you all had interesting and effective examples of assignments that already break out of the grid structure, you noted the challenges of timing, and wondered how to make the online space work for the face-to-face sessions. It might be neat to design an assignment series that tackles these questions.

Connecting Online with In-class

This past semester, I worked on new assignment for COM 1010 that in some ways points to the opportunities I see in hybridizing the course. A few of us had the chance to do a kind of trial run of VOCAT 3.0. I thought I’d test drive an idea of having students analyze the rhetorical techniques that persuasive speakers use in a particular presentation, with the plan that they would then make their own short presentation about the speech they analyzed, arguing whether or not they thought the speaker was persuasive.

The idea stemmed from a class period the previous semester where we watched and analyzed President Obama’s speech about Syria from September 10, 2013. In that class, I played the video through the projector and stopped and started at points I thought were key, where I’d already identified that the President was using rhetorical strategies like ethos, logos, pathos, or making a particular type of persuasive argument. I asked them what they thought was happening in each moment, and they were fairly good at identifying what I was asking for. However, I was left with the feeling that there was a lot more opportunity for engagement in analysis, that I’d been leading them too much, and that the contact with the material I’d designed for them was a bit superficial and passive.

The new VOCAT allows for students to upload speeches from YouTube, Vimeo and elsewhere, so I tasked them in the Spring semester to find their own videos to upload and analyze, using the annotate feature, which allows you to capture notes wherever in the video you want to. Now they had many more opportunities to make their own decisions, like what video to choose and where to annotate (they had a few key concepts they had to find, like one example each of ethos, logos, and pathos). I think they were able to do much closer, more invested analyses because of this. The assignment ended up scaffolding itself well, as they went from annotating, then pulling those annotations together into an argument, then presenting the argument to the class. In class, students were curious about and attentive to their fellow students’ analyses, and we all had the benefit of seeing clips of a wide variety of persuasive speakers. There are a lot of tweaks I’d make to the assignment going forward, but it definitely seemed to deepen the distributive and critical learning happening in my classes. I would love to continue thinking about how online spaces can support in-class presentations and how they might build upon each other.

In terms of risk, if I think broadly about COM 1010, I fear loss of engagement because of loss of class time. COM 1010, for me at least, works best as a kind of workshop, where we walk through the process of making different types of presentation together and build camaraderie and trust. I see a risk here, but maybe also an opportunity to think carefully about how to reinforce the workshop/camaraderie feel in online spaces so that it can support the face-to-face interaction in class. From reading everyone’s posts, I am struck by the possibilities for experiment and play that hybridization presents. A focus on experiment could be radically beneficial to COM 1010 students (and teachers, too!) learning how to approach the challenges of making and giving presentations.

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?

Public Speaking Class Online?

To many people I speak to, this sounds like an utter absurdity.  But the conversations we’ve been having this week have helped me think more broadly about the opportunities a hybrid course can offer.

The main opportunity that I see in teaching a hybrid version of COM 1010, Intro to Speech Communication, is that students could spend more course-related time out in the world, observing and taking part in public speaking situations outside of the classroom. I often feel that while the classroom is a safe space for getting comfortable with public speaking skills, the assignments we do in class always have an inherently contrived element. I don’t necessarily think this is bad, because I think school should be a place to develop skills and test out ideas in an environment that provides structure and safety. But we also want to maximize connections between theoretical concepts/guidelines and experiences in the messy world outside of the classroom. A hybrid COM 1010 course could involve students exploring “real life” public communication situations on their own, developing their thinking about these experiences in low-stakes writing assignments shared online, and gathering in class to digest these experiences and maximize class time for practicing the relevant skills.

Secondly, a hybrid COM 1010 course could free students from the necessity of watching all of their classmates’ presentations. In a class where twenty-four students each give three or four substantial speeches in a semester, a huge amount of time is spent watching presentations. While some of this is instructive (and you can learn a lot even from watching poor presentations), I’m interested in reducing the amount of required “audience” time.

I do see several potential risks associated with teaching COM 1010 as a hybrid course. Less class time means fewer opportunities for various kinds of face-to-face oral communication, including individual presentation, and dyadic, small group, and large group discussion. For a course specifically designed to improve students’ oral communication skills in front of audiences, limiting the amount of time available to practice this seems like exactly the wrong direction to pursue. Spoken conversation can be facilitated through various web media, but I don’t know a way to use web media to practice speaking to a large audience in a simultaneous, real-time way.

Lastly, public speaking class elicits a lot of anxiety in many students. I think that a hybrid course would risk limiting the capacity to develop feelings of comfort and authentic connection between students and teachers, and among students. The development of a community of comfort and trust in a COM 1010 class is critical to the success of many students.

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