As a teacher, I often wonder how students end up in my classroom as opposed to at another college. Today’s infographic examines the college student’s decision-making process:
How did you select the college you attended? Did you follow this cycle?
As a teacher, I often wonder how students end up in my classroom as opposed to at another college. Today’s infographic examines the college student’s decision-making process:
How did you select the college you attended? Did you follow this cycle?
A superstudent named Lance Smith shared this beautifully designed slideshow on the last day of our Professional Communication and Presentation class:
Lance is an amazing human being. Not only is he thoughtful, professional, considerate, and hard-working, but his eye for design is out of control!
What awesome, surprising gift has a student given you?
When I graduated from high school, I attended a community college in my hometown. At the time, I loved reading and writing, so I decided to pursue my A.A. degree in Communication. My coursework included many public speaking classes but also many literature classes, and my passion for dissecting novels and short stories grew. In addition to this love of books and of thinking and writing critically about books, I developed a passion for leadership. My small community college offered me many opportunities to grow my leadership potential. I joined and actively participated as a Student Ambassador, a Senator in the Student Government Association, and with Phi Theta Kappa among other clubs and organizations.
When it came time to transfer to a university, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Florida. I decided to seek a B.A. in English, and I took a wide variety of literature classes. My favorite course was Irish Literature, where I read The Autobiography of Maud Gonne; Elizabeth Bowen; and, for the first time, a whole lot of James Joyce. Irish Literature quickly became my favorite genre. After graduation, I pursued a Master of Arts degree from the University of North Florida because of its many course offerings in Irish fiction, drama, and poetry. Outside of the classroom, I read Southern authors like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, and Truman Capote.
After graduating with my M.A. in 2008, I took a few years off from attending school as I transitioned into a teacher role. I taught classes at a community college and then at a university. Four years later, I returned to higher education for a second M.A. in Communication from the University of Central Florida. I’ve been taking one class at a time since 2012, which moves slowly but gives me ample time to read, study, and consider my path.
This semester, I am taking a communication theory course which comes at the perfect time in my academic career. I am considering PhD programs as well as the kind of research I want to do in the future. Now that I have almost completed 15 graduate COM hours, I can also begin thinking seriously about my thesis. But there was and still is a problem… I haven’t quite figured out how my previous interests while pursuing my M.A. in English will intersect with my current M.A. in Communication. Where would the research collide? How could I mesh both worlds together?
Answering these questions started with an important first step. In my discipline, scholars are either qualitative or quantitative researchers, and I knew after only a few semesters that I am 100% qualitative. Since most of my professors were quantitative scholars, I knew I had to network to find people with similar interests to guide me. My classmate suggested I talk to Dr. Sandoval, and as soon as I stepped into her office, I knew I’d found a mentor. Her work, her thought process, and her focus inspired me. After 45 minutes of talking with me, she sent me on my way with three books on critical theory that I haven’t been able to put down. In addition to my favorite professor, Dr. Hastings, I’ve now connected with the people who will shape the researcher I plan to become.
Learning about all kinds of communication theory this semester has gotten me closer to identifying exactly what I want to research and study as I continue with my PhD. I am interested in critical theory, social constructionism, feminism, dialogue, and identity. I want to learn much more about ethnography. I also want to keep looking for where those communication interests meet with my favorite literary works and authors.
I can’t wait to finally find my path and to forge ahead with new research that will invigorate me and maybe even inspire others! Are there any other Communication graduate students out there struggling with identifying their research interests? I’d love to hear from you!
In “Teaching Public Speaking Online: Part One,” I discussed our three major goals as an instructional team at a university and how we implemented those goals. In “Teaching Public Speaking Online: Part Two,” I covered three innovative things we’re doing in our online classroom. The last in our “Teaching Public Speaking Online” series focuses on our three biggest challenges ahead and the ongoing solutions we are working on.
Challenge One: Student Resistance
My colleagues and I do receive student emails flat-out refusing to do the work. Students will tell us they don’t want to put their personal information out on the Internet and thus don’t want to sign up or participate in Google+ Hangout team meetings. Students say they can’t present in front of a live audience because they’re new to the area, they don’t know anyone, blah blah blah. I’ve heard enough excuses from online students in the last four years to last me an entire lifetime.
Student resistance is problematic because if the student refuses to try one or more elements of the online class, they aren’t going to learn public speaking, and they definitely aren’t going to do their best work. As an instructional team, we try our best to overcome this by creating a safe, fun, positive learning environment for students, but the online medium proves challenging. We will continue to work on encouraging students to take a chance on uncomfortable curriculum…
Challenge Two: Live Presenting
The second challenge my team faces is that balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication. While recording a video and uploading it to YouTube is one way to practice a speech, synchronous public speaking and presentation is significantly more likely to happen in the real world. Unfortunately, the instructional team doesn’t have time to meet with every single student in order for that student to deliver a “live” speech via FaceTime or Google+ Hangouts. Though we simulate the live presentation environment as best we can, is there ever really any substitute for standing in front of 25 live people in your class and speaking to us? At this point in time, I don’t think there is. We can continue to get closer as more and more technology emerges.
Challenge Three: The Online Medium
Online learning itself is the third and largest challenge. When compared with the on-campus version of Public Speaking, students in our online class are more likely to fail the class, more likely to drop out of the class, more likely to earn a lower score in the class, more likely to be negative and unprofessional, and more likely to have a negative experience in the class. Technology is a beast. Email and AIM/iChat often provide a barrier behind which students hide, and they often forget they should be professional in language, tone, and content. On campus, we can hold students to 60 contact hours of lessons, activity, and discussion. Quite often, online students don’t dedicate the time it takes to learn the material… let alone to successfully apply the material. The nasty student email over a simple miscommunication in the directions and the hostile student voicemail because he didn’t check his comments for his grade are daily issues that bog us down. We will continue to seek solutions for education in the online environment since e-learning definitely isn’t going anywhere!
Help! Do you see any solutions to our three ongoing Public Speaking Online challenges? Let me know in the comments section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In “Teaching Public Speaking Online: Part One,” I discussed the three major challenges we faced as an instructional team at a university and how we overcame those obstacles. In today’s installment of the “Teaching Public Speaking Online” series, I want to cover three innovative things we’re doing in our online classroom.
Public speaking is vastly different in the modern age of technology than it was when Aristotle was doing his thing over 2,300 years ago. Still, an online public speaking class cannot consist of students filming videos in their bedrooms and uploading those videos to Youtube. My team and I developed a course with a variety of live 21st century public speaking situations in order to help students learn and practice their communication and presentation skills. For example, Rebekah Lane suggested a perfect addition to the Public Speaking Online classroom: student Google+ Hangout team meetings. Since our students have two major presentations (an informative and a persuasive), they meet with their Google+ Hangouts teams twice during the month-long class. During those Google+ Hangout sessions, students are asked to play improv games to help with presentation anxiety and delivery; to discuss parts of their in-progress presentations; and to give each other feedback. These sessions allow for online synchronous communication in an otherwise lonely E-learning environment, and they also prepare students for potential speaking situations like these in the future. For example, I am meeting with Phil Waknell this week via FaceTime, and I am using Skype later this month for a project that I will reveal in February.
In addition to peer-to-peer Google+ Hangout sessions, students are also required to attend live GoTo Training sessions. These instructor-led, one-hour meetings are as close to a classroom environment as possible online, and they provide time for a student to interact live with fellow classmates AND instructors.
Last, but not least, we added a live presentation in front of an audience to our curriculum. Yes, students still have to learn how to record a video of themselves presenting using PhotoBooth or QuickTime (and, yes, those videos have to be recorded in one take without the magic of video editing). However, to challenge students in a positive way and to prepare them for the live presentation environment, we asked that they present their final persuasive speech in front of 3 to 5 actual living, breathing human beings. Since they know this last speech of the month will be live, they have four weeks to find their audience members. No, they cannot use Google+ Hangouts or Skype; the speech has to be live. While I am getting some minor pushback (“I’m new to the area and I don’t know anybody!”), most students work with me if they are concerned about finding 3 to 5 people to present for. The threat of the “0″ on the assignment for failing to deliver a live presentation helps their determination to find an audience, too…
The online learning environment is a tricky place for giving and receiving feedback. Fortunately, many programs exist to help with this. My favorite such program is QuickTime. I can record student feedback while watching his or her video presentation. Check out this example. In the past, I’ve also recorded video feedback for students using Jing, which I loved.
I’ve found in my time as an online teacher that students don’t like to write response posts, and their response posts are typically pretty worthless. Since asking students to also create video feedback for one another, the quality of constructive criticism has gone through the roof. Check out this example of one student giving feedback to his classmate. This kind of feedback allows students to practice the lessons they’re learning; to analyze a speech which will, ultimately, help them with their own presentation skills; and to give their fellow classmates some great advice to consider and to apply.
It’s easy to give an online student written directions for a presentation assignment and to never hear from that student again until the speech is due. Instead, in our new Public Speaking Online course, we’re focusing on a more clear assignment structure based on preparation and feedback.
First, the student is asked to create a working outline for a presentation. That outline gets feedback from classmates and from the instructor. After tweaking the outline a bit, the student meets with his or her Google+ Hangouts team to practice that outline – to talk a bit about the speech. Additional feedback happens live during those Google+ Hangouts sessions. After quite a bit of time revising, editing, and tweaking, the student finally delivers his or her presentation.
Now, this assignment structure hasn’t solved all online public speaking problems. Some students, for reasons unknown, refuse to use the outline they’ve created for their presentation, and those speeches are terrible. Other students simply read the outline word-for-word, and those speeches are boring. For one group of students, however, I am seeing strong, engaging, audience-centered speeches as a result of hours and hours of preparation and practice.
In the final “Teaching Public Speaking Online” installment, I will discuss our ongoing challenges and solutions I’d like to work on this year. Join me for “Teaching Public Speaking Online: Part Three” next week!
Last summer, when I was promoted to the head of our Public Speaking courses and fearless leader of our instructional team, I took on an enormous task: revamping our online course. This was my first order of business because the online course had devolved into a complete mess for a number of reasons. When I saw the state of affairs online, and when I read angry/frustrated/hateful student critiques and emails, I was alarmed and immediately sprang into action.
My first goal was to ditch the worthless online platform we’d ordered from a textbook publishing company. I’ve spoken about this before on the blog, but the entire platform was like “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Nothing worked, and nothing could be fixed. Students couldn’t use the platform. If students tried to use it, items would take hours to load or would simply disappear. The publishing company talked in circles and had its best salespeople offer us training after training filled with doublespeak. As you may have guessed, all the training in the world won’t solve a malfunctioning platform, so after a lot of pushing and fighting from me, we got rid of the whole shebang.
The second order of business was to create a unified course under one university-approved syllabus. A huge problem our team faced was lack of leadership. In one year, two leaders had come and gone, and in the process, no one was using a syllabus (!) and each teacher was doing his or her own thing. While this allowed for a lot of growth and innovation, some students were really pissed. Emails and critiques would ask why one online class was so easy and why one was so difficult. Additionally, without a syllabus, the online courses were a free for all. Courses were not being designed with standard learning outcomes and an appropriate, common Public Speaking Online workload in mind. After I fought to get rid of the terrible online platform, I fought to create a common syllabus that balanced all of the online classes existing at once.
The third and final issue was and still is the biggest: how does a student actually learn public speaking online? While some classes are more intuitive for the online environment, public speaking and presenting seems like a tough fit.
I started by creating a video explanation of “public speaking” for my students to help them see how presentations have shifted and changed. I focused on the difference between the “Latin style” and the “modern style” so that students had a basis for understanding why the course COULD be taught, learned, and implemented online. In addition to the video, I provided my students with links to a variety of resources I labeled “21st Century Public Speaking and Presentation.” These resources included “Every Presentation Ever,” a short interview with Nancy Duarte on how/why presentations are broken, Garr Reynolds’ TEDx Talk on 21st century presentations, and Phil Waknell’s “Secrets For Delivering A Great Presentation.” My goal was to expose my students to the material but then for them to chew on that material a bit during the first week of the course. The Week One assignments allowed for the chewing to take place.
The very first assignment in the course was a “21st Century Presenting” discussion board post and response post. Each student was tasked with answering questions about the material above: What is the difference between the Latin style and the modern style of public speaking? How can we study and implement online presentations? What is your definition of 21st century presenting based on your lessons? What mistakes did you watch in “Every Presentation Ever” that you’ve made in the past? What, specifically, do you want to implement in your own speeches after watching Reynolds’ and Waknell’s speeches?
The second assignment was the first video presentation of the course. With a goal of practicing online presentation execution and delivery for the first time, the content of the speech was easy but tied back to those same resources listed above. I asked each student to introduce him/herself, to identify one personal presentation problem, to set three public speaking goals to work on during the course, to talk about a plan of action to achieve those goals, and then – importantly – to discuss the professional execution of the video. Students have a difficult time with execution (lighting, camera placement, background, noises, attire), so having them talk me through that execution has done wonders for the quality of presentation videos.
Week One was successful. Students are getting it, and they express excitement (mixed with nerves, of course) about moving forward.
The course has been rebuilt, but it certainly isn’t perfect, and I have one nagging concern. As you may know from reading a few previous blog posts on the subject, my goal is to find us a new textbook. Our current book is absolutely ridiculous. I re-read it several times while revamping the online course, and I hate it more with every turn of the page. Luckily, my colleague Phil Waknell contacted me this week to brainstorm a possible solution. More on that in the future…
Up next, in “Teaching Public Speaking Online: Part Two,” I discuss the additional curriculum changes and updates to the online course including GoTo Training sessions; Google+ Hangouts meetings; video presentations and live presentations; video feedback; and more.
Do you teach public speaking and presentation classes online? How do you make them work for your students?
During my holiday break, I was tasked with creating a digital Teaching Portfolio. Today, I finished my Visual Teaching Philosophy. This Slideshare presentation explains what kind of leader and teacher I am, what I expect from my students, and what my students should expect from me. Scroll through below:
My digital teaching portfolio is almost ready to make its official debut! Check back to Creating Communication next week for the link.
Teachers: do you have a digital teaching portfolio? What pieces did you include?
Calling all superteachers and superstudents! Are you interested in learning more about public speaking and presentation? Would you like to build or tweak your online Public Speaking class? University of Washington’s Dr. Matt McGarrity guides us through a 10-week online course – for free – through Coursera. Sign up now! The course begins on March 31, 2014.
Be sure to tune into Creating Communication, as I will be posting more about revamping our online Public Speaking course and about my approach to teaching an online course that most people feel cannot be taught/learned online.
Have you taken an online Public Speaking course? What did you like most about learning the ins and outs of presentations online?
This morning, a Professional Communication and Presentation student wrote me the following email:
I am sitting through a death by PowerPoint, and I just want to get up and scream at how bad this presentation is.
Everything we have learned in this class is so completely on the mark.
And to be completely honest, my patience for bad PowerPoint is at an all time low now that I know better on the subject.
Where is the color? Why is there so much text? Why is the instructor TIMIDLY reading the slide verbatim?
I took video of my coworkers struggling desperately with their consciousness; they had the heaviest eyelids…
Ignorance truly is bliss because this was horrendous, especially after learning what makes a bad slideshow in an itemized fashion.
It is my pleasure to be your student!
Note: Yesterday’s post focused on the importance of content in a presentation. Today’s post relies heavily on those ideas.
After I discovered Dr. Carol Dweck’s work last summer, I felt like my perspective on teaching public speaking and presentation had been neatly summed up with the “fixed” and “growth” mindset concepts. Check out Dweck’s RSA presentation below:
I teach a subject that allows me to see the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset on a daily basis. I teach college courses on public speaking and presentation. One course is a basic, 1000-level introduction to public speaking, and one is a 3000-level advanced presentation course. A student can come into those classes with an excitement and love for attention from a crowd, with a naturally charming personality that translates to strong delivery. But public speaking isn’t just about delivery and whether or not you can perform well in front of people. Public speaking is about hard work to deliver a message in a way that will resonate with an audience. And because content – not delivery – is the most important part of public speaking and presentation, even naturally charming people cannot do well in my class unless they work hard on their content.
Let’s consider two students. Student A is a shy, timid young woman who would much rather sit in the back of the room hidden in his laptop than speak in front of a group of people. Student B is an outgoing, charismatic, confident young woman who loves to share her ideas in front of a large group of people. Because she is nervous about speaking, Student A spends quite a bit of time preparing her content. She comes to meet with me in my office. She sends me her outline for my feedback. She practices and rehearses with her family and friends. Because she is excited about speaking, Student B spends very little time preparing her content. She relies on her charm to win over the audience because her dazzling personality often wins people over in everyday conversation. She decides she’s just going to “wing it” on speech day because she is so often told that she’s a great communicator.
Student A has worried so much about meeting her audience’s needs that she presents engaging, insightful content using strong, effective visuals. Her delivery isn’t perfect; she can work on movement and eye contact. However, she has built up her confidence through practice and preparation. Student B, on the other hand, has worried so little about meeting her audience’s needs that her content is disorganized, confusing, and selfish. Her audience finds her delivery confident and exciting, but her message doesn’t resonate. Student A’s desire to work, to grow, helps her, and public speaking is a subject where thoughtful, hard-working people will always win.
Consider Steve Jobs. He was not always the most powerful communicator. A growth mindset works well in the field of public speaking because, quite simply, the amount of work you put into your presentation has a direct correlation with how successful with your speech will be.
If you plan on being a public speaking superteacher, it is important to cultivate that growth mindset in your students. Begin by studying Carol Dweck’s work. You can also check out Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk; Duckworth’s ideas about grit are highly influenced by Dweck.
Why do you think so many public speaking instructors cultivate a fixed mindset? What can we – the presentation revolution – do to push the growth mindset?