Mission Impossible: Can Public Speaking Be Taught Online?

 

PossibleBy Radhika Prout
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Wilmington Campus

Professional and business communication is a critical skill in the workplace, and any college or university would do a great disservice to its students if it didn’t prepare them for effective communication. As more classes move to an online environment, the chance for students to practice public speaking seems to disappear. It’s important to realize, though, that it’s not just academia that is moving online. More and more companies are offering telecommuting options, thus online meetings and virtual presentations are becoming standard practice. Therefore, a vital part of preparing students to transition into a professional career is by making sure they are exposed to opportunities to practice functioning in a virtual environment. Whether communicating synchronously or asynchronously, students must be well-equipped to understand proper etiquette on the web, or netiquette.

So when developing an online course, it is important to provide students with multiple opportunities to create experiences that will enable them to refine their virtual communication skills. Here are a few ideas for activities to help foster these skills, as well as suggestions for technology that can assist in the process.

Activity Applicable Technology
Students deliver presentation in real-time to an audience utilizing a web conferencing solution. Fuze
Big Blue Button
Students deliver a speech in real-time to an audience utilizing a phone conferencing system. FreeConferenceCall.com
FreeConferencing.com
Students record themselves delivering a speech utilizing a video recording device. Webcam
Camcorder
Students create and record an audio narrated presentation. PowerPoint
Screencast-o-matic
Voicethread

Each activity lends itself to creating a variety of experiences for students to communicate professionally in the virtual world. As technology continues to permeate the global workspace, students familiar with presenting in a variety of formats are better prepared to deliver on-demand.

Have you had successes or struggles getting students to communicate in an online environment? Share your experiences in the comments.

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