Something I am really enjoying about teaching Public Speaking in a Digital World this semester is the opportunity to see students work at Figuring It All Out. This week, students were finishing Building a Compelling Profile, as well as working collectively to develop an “About” page for their blog. As students gathered in their groups, I encouraged them to begin conversations to think strategically about the upcoming speech role-play video blog.
So, while listening to students’ discuss these assignments with one another, as well as from my conversations with them during our production day, I learned and observed some very interesting things.
Although many students read the course schedule of the syllabus throughout the semester, and maybe parts of the syllabus in class when the instructor goes over the document, I get the impression that they frequently don’t review the course overview, course goals, and accompanying policies as the semester continues. So, when I say I saw Students Read the Syllabus in class, without prompting as a way to understand what their blog was supposed to be about — I was elated and little tear came to my eye.
Witnessing Sparks of Creativity
Admittedly, I’m equally excited about Witnessing Sparks of Creativity as I am about students reading the syllabus. As I circulated through the small groups answering questions and quelling anxiety, I heard the exciting and innovative ideas students were working through in an attempt to provide a valuable resource for other students about likely public speaking moments in college. Witnessing Sparks of Creativity was so exciting because frequently, form and structure of research assignments often become barriers for some students to creatively approaching assignments. This means I have read a lot — and I mean a lot– of unmemorable papers. I want students to be creative and inventive within defined guidelines and I believe teaching this course in this way provides an outlet not only for myself, but also the students to be creative — and this means more interesting assignments. Yay!
I am a tremendous advocate of Collaborative Learning and the greatness that comes from the opportunity to create something new with others. My position not withstanding, moving students to embrace enthusiasm about Collaborative Learning is challenging. I don’t know that I’ve got a solution or formula, but I’ve structured the semester-long work groups with both individual and group work aspects that are dynamic. Most importantly, I’ve designed a class that is rooted in the student experience — therefore, they share multiple common experiences, i.e. being enrolled in this class together, being undergraduates, and creating a blog, alongside others.
So, viewing and walking them through the process of Figuring It All Out this past week was thrilling. Watching this unfold ws exciting for me because the more they figure out, the more I figure out, but also because experiential learning is frequently the most meaningful to both student and teacher. Stay posted for the next installment of Public Speaking in a Digital World.