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Planning for the Fall 2020 Semester Amid COVID-19

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. Aside from education, perhaps few sectors have encountered the foundational upheaval that COVID-19 and the resulting changes to our lives has caused. Some disciplines and courses, such as the traditional Basic Public Speaking course, are particularly impacted. However, we are fortunate to have the various tool at our disposal that we do. Where social distancing has separated us from one another, there is myriad technology available to alleviate the logistical and psychological turmoil that can result. While available technology and tools can be helpful, the mere abundance of options can be a daunting and overwhelming process resulting in a foray with decision fatigue.

Hopefully by now, the spring semester is in the rearview mirror. Educators used the tools at hand in the circumstances provided to salvage and adapt courses. Summer is here, but in many cases the real uncertainty and anticipatory breath holding is related to fall plans, or lack thereof. Institutions across the country and world are starting to announce various steps and decisions toward ensuring classes can continue this fall with safety as a vital consideration. According to the American Council on Education (ACE), a recent survey of college and university presidents on COVID-19 related actions for resuming in-person and on-campus operations found that allowing remote work and limited in-person class sizes are the most common plans and considerations ("Figure 7"). While the use of digital tools has already been increasing in frequency and availability, the new-normal of in-person education may involve digital and online components more than ever before.

According to Susan Grajek at Educause, of those colleges and university that have identified possible teaching scenarios for this fall, 82% are planning to offer HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) courses. HyFlex Instruction, a term coined by Dr. Brian J Beatty at SF State University, allows students to choose to attend class online or in person, even on a daily basis. In the public speaking classroom, this style of course is simpler said that done... How do I ensure I'm addressing core communication competencies? How can I adapt my course and modules for teaching not only online, but with a mixture of in-person? How does a department handle this from a assessment standpoint? The questions go on, but the issue is clear, there is a flurry of considerations and concerns.

Luckily, for educators teaching Public Speaking, particularly in higher education, Pops Classroom offers a beacon of calm amongst the storm. Let's consider the questions mentioned before around preparing for the new-normal of instruction...

  • How do I ensure I'm addressing core communication competencies?

According to the National Communication Association (NCA) the seven core communication competencies are Monitoring and Presenting Your Self, Practicing Communication Ethics, Adapting to Others, Practicing Effective Listening, Expressing Messages, Identifying and Expressing Fundamental Communication Processes, and Creating and Analyzing Message Strategies. Ask yourself, how are you ensuring you're addressing these now? Pops Classroom was designed from a student and instructor perspective to ensure that courses can not only be taught in the method that individual department and even instructors are teaching them, but to enhance, simplify, and improve those methods.

  • How can I adapt my course and modules for teaching not only online, but with a mixture of in-person?

Pops Classroom enables you to build each module similar to how you already do, but with options that take full advantage of being online and cutting-edge technology. The following is a display of how you are able to create a "Speech Assignment" within the platform:

  • How does a department handle this from a assessment standpoint?

Every component of the speech process is contained in Pops Classroom, from learning, to preparing, practicing, presenting, scoring, and reviewing. With this, being able to accurately track and evaluate students and instructors is made easy. These benefits not only address our current circumstances, but the POPS team has worked with mostly in-person classes for years to ensure assessment readiness. Today's environment has further shown the importance of this platform to address this need.

As events unfold, decision factors become clearer, and plans begin to take shape for this fall, the team at Power of Public Speaking stand ready to assist Public Speaking educators, departments, and institutions. Particularly for public speaking courses, but really for any class with a presentation component, Pops Classroom allows the incorporation of most - if not all - of the components of the speech process into one simple platform. The technology and various tools encapsulated within the POPS flagship online application were designed specifically for the public speaking classroom. As a result, many of the complications of teaching public speaking in this newfound terrain are not only addressed, but eased in such a way as to enhance what was possible before.

The enhancements to the teaching and learning process are evident throughout Pops Classroom. While students are writing their preparation outline, they are guided step-by-step through learning proper layout and organization. When students are ready to create speaking notes, they are assisted by artificial intelligence to create automatic and concise note that encourage the internalization of the presentation. As students begin to practice - at home or wherever - Pops Advisor artificial intelligence provides feedback on content and delivery.. Providing accountability as well as a sense of audience to the speaker. For the instructor, the grading process and logistics of managing an in-person, online, or HyFlex course is simplified and streamlined... From quick-fill comments to centralizing all assignment components and student communication/interaction. POPS created their toolset to make public speaking education better in general. Today, it may be a welcome relief. Tomorrow, a necessary component for educators' toolbelt.

POPS is committed and ready to not only provide relief during a difficult time, but ultimately share a method to improve the experience of teaching and learning the essential skill that is public speaking.

Visit the Pops Classroom page to learn more and watch a video demonstration.


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