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Second Last Class – Seeing Early Results

November 19, 2009

I’ve been teaching a course called Oral Rhetoric, a course where I work with students on their public speaking, both in face-to-face situations and in creating online audio recordings. Yesterday was the second last class and we spent most of the class time listening to their second last assignment, a commercial/pitch to advertise their final assignment – a story of theirs that they create a recording of and post online. The recordings of their pitches we heard were wonderful, and why wouldn’t they be. These students have spent all their lives listening to radio and tv commercials. They might not have Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of commercial-listening to gain expertise, but they do have hours and hours of soaking in just how persuasion works.

Over the term, I asked them to read about and practice two kinds of rhetorical skills:

Both the traditional and the current forms of rhetoric were in evidence in the pitches we listened to, but what really thrilled me were the spontaneous responses. We’re using PBWorks for our course container and it allows comments on pages. At the bottom of the Pitch page, was a conversation, a series of comments praising many of the pitches. I was thrilled because I had been trying to develop a Community of Practice approach in the course. After almost every presentation or posting of student work, I asked students to describe their own experiences while doing their own presentation/recording and to give positive feedback to at least three of their classmates. This was an assignment and posted on a weekly Discussions page on the course wiki. I wanted them to learn from each other, and to get used to learning from colleagues as a way to continue learning in their futures. The responses in the Comments section of the Pitch page were an unrequired, spontaneous manifestation of giving each other feedback. What that says to me is that some of the students have developed the habit of responding, and could recognize the technical possibilities (the Comment space at the bottom of the page) for sharing those responses. They have both the communication and the digital know-how.

Makes me happy

Joan Vinall-Cox, PhD (905)
JNthWEB Consulting –
Social Media & Learning

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