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?

7 thoughts on “Visual inquiry”

  1. This is all great grist for your deliberations with Debra and Julia next week.

    And, this:

    What if “develop(ing) a willingness to experiment” became one of the learning goals for an online or hybrid class?

    in my opinion should be a core learning goal across higher education.

    1. Luke, re: willingness to experiment
      I’ve been doing it for 27 years in teaching and before that in journalism within the bounds of departmental approval, student collaboration, materials, tech, money & time. Don’t intend to give up yet

  2. Carol, I am very taken with the idea of students developing the course site and its resources along with establishing a “best practices” guide for methodology…which, as I understand it, seems to govern the assignment sequence you lay out. Have you done something like this before face-to-face? How much time did you spend on it? It seems like this could become a model for later assignments, and thus the time spent at first would save time later. But I understand your concern about balancing student-centered discussion and content. In your posts, I notice that time and its limits is something you seem to struggle with. This might be Quixotic, but–could hybrid courses open up the grid and give us more space/time?

    1. Kathryn
      Re: My proposed visual/aids discussion group sequence. I did a mostly in-class a/v discussion in an M.A. Public Speaking class for Chinese (& 1 Korean) accountancy students at another school. After an examination of checklist and projected visuals, students worked in triads to examine their own from a previous speech, and discussed results with the whole class and what strategies to use for the next round of speeches. I ask them to work in their cohort to help one another and write a report. That’s when I had my flash of how it could be done better. I think I forgot to mention creating & publishing on a Twitter member list that allows for more than 140.
      I think how Twitter or Vimeo could have helped in a journalism class I taught in grad school when I sent them out to cover real meetings. Or in a Linguistics Power of Language class (a full semester in 2 weeks. I had to read &organize each night, designing research & presentation activities for the following day.) Or in an immersion ESL class. Students read, collaborated, created & produced two-act plays from readings, and did analysis and feedback.
      My business negotiations classes did real time negotiations.
      So so often, I’d be asked to invent whole new courses in two days only to get a call as I was finishing up, to do something else starting the next day, and ask me if I wouldn’t mind giving the course I’d developed & it’s developed plan to someone else.
      So yes I have real concerns.

    2. I’d agree that putting in extra and necessary time in the beginning and throughout as needed could and would free up time for in-class. We do need support by administration and tech for that time. I know it is possible. I’m willing, experienced and creative as are other teachers I know. The points in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence for a persuasion speech, Attention, Need, Practicality and Action can be the inquiry goals for utilizing best tech for hybridization, for extending, enhancing any course.

  3. Hi Carol and everyone else who is reading here,

    Carol, I suppose I can ask you about this in person tomorrow, but I’m not quite clear on what kinds of visual/audio support aids are you talking about here? I’m curious to hear what kind of variety of aids your students use for these purposes in speech class.

    I have to say, thinking about visual aids makes me think of my frustrations with PowerPoint, and also how in some ways engaging in long written discussions on a blog presents similar frustrations. I’m thinking now particularly about the sequential nature of both technologies. I’m sure many of you see blog discussions (like this one) in a different light, and I would like to. But there are aspects of the blog discussion that reminds me of Bass’s “silos.” Distinct conversations evolve, but in order to follow them you must read the linear progression, and return to the “main menu” when you’re done to see where other conversations led. To me there’s something about the simultaneity of f2f group discussion that is deeply enriching, that I never seem to experience in these blog discussions. Sorry to sound negative. Maybe I should explore technologies that allow for more simultaneous written, visual, and audio expression…

Comments are closed.