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Volume 9, Number 2: October 30, 2002

Cool, Convenient and Connected:
Using Streamed Media in the Basic Speech Course

by Judy Rene Sims, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Streaming video refers to motion video with accompanying audio that is delivered live or asynchronously and is available at the click of a mouse on a website. In order to examine how streaming video could be used by educators as a method of feedback in a speech course, I posted speeches on the Internet from students enrolled in a university speech course. A study was then conducted in which data were gathered from the students over a period of three semesters.

It was clear from the results that, when provided with the opportunity, a majority of students enrolled in the speech course chose to view their speeches on the Internet. The most remarkable finding was the discovery that students chose to e-mail the web address and password to their family members and friends so that others could share their experience.
The study was composed of 80 undergraduate university students enrolled in three sections of a basic speech course. A VHS video camcorder was used to videotape the speeches, which were then delivered to the university's Web Development office, where they were digitized, compressed and posted to a protected web site. The speeches were posted in two different qualities of streaming video: 28k to 56k and 100k to 768k. The students were informed that the Internet site was protected and could be accessed only with a password and web address. They were asked to sign a form granting permission for their speech to be posted to the Internet site.

The students then were provided with a password and the website address, which enabled them to see themselves, as well as the other speakers in the class from a computer lab on campus or their home computer.

Each videotape also was dubbed at the campus Media Development Center, and each copy was placed on reserve in the campus library. Students were told to view their speech--on the Internet, in the library or both--and then prepare a list of at least three speech goals, based on their viewing, that they would like to work on during the semester. The students also were provided with written comments from me about their speech.

Later, the students were given a questionnaire about the effectiveness of the streamed speeches as a form of feedback, as well as their opinions and behaviors related to the streaming of their speeches. Of the 80 students, 91% chose to complete a questionnaire.

According to the results, a majority (85%) of the students chose to view their speech on the Internet. One-half (50%) of the students who viewed their speech on the Internet watched their speech from a home computer, while 44% observed their speech from a computer on campus.
Students had the opportunity to view their speech on the Internet and on a VCR in the library. A majority of students (71%) reported that they chose not to view their speech in the library. One-half (50%) of the students who accessed their speech on the Internet viewed their speech using 100k to 768k. Twenty-four percent of the students observed their speech using 28k to 56k (21% "did not know" the compression rate used).

The students who observed their speech on the Internet were asked to comment about the effectiveness of streaming video as a method of feedback. The predominant themes expressed focused on convenience, ease of access, and privacy. For example:

  • "I liked it because it was fast and easy. I could do it on my own time, whenever it was convenient and wherever I had computer access. I liked the fact that I could view myself and others from my own home" (Sisson, 2001).
  • "I found streamed speeches to be an effective method for feedback because it allowed any number of students to view the results at the same time. Also, the fact that they are available for viewing 24/7 with no time limit is beneficial" (Pazdernik, 2001).
  • "I thought the Internet viewing was beneficial because it was convenient, efficient in timing (posted soon after speeches given) and nice that we could use our technology to its full potential" (Reichenbach, 2001).
  • "This was a convenient form of feedback. It allowed me to view my speech in privacy, without having to be self-conscience about those around me" (Lutz, 2002).

The students provided additional data when they were asked if they had any other comments to share about streaming speeches. Two major themes emerged. Students revealed their pleasure in being able to share their speech with their parents, and they commented on the value of using new technology. For example:

  • "Streaming students speeches on the Internet gave us the opportunity to share the website address with our parents so they could view them as well. Personally, my parents thought it was great to watch me give a speech; they were very proud" (Musil, 2001).
  • "Keep it up! My mom enjoyed watching my performance, also!" (Blommel, 2001).
  • "I was able to show my family the speech as well, and they were glad to be able to see something I was doing at school" (Wells, 2002).
  • "I believe that this practice fully utilizes all tools that are available to the university in a technologically advanced society. It's great! (Tollison, 2001).
  • "It is important for students to interact with different technologies" (Baily, 2001).

Clearly, the students agreed that the streaming of their speeches served as an effective method for feedback. The streaming media process, however, requires preparation. In order to successfully stream speeches, faculty will need campus technical support from web development personnel.

The issue of privacy will have to be addressed; faculty must take action to protect themselves and their students. One solution to the privacy problem would be to split the speeches into separate files and deliver only the specific speech to the student who performed it. The speech could then be delivered via email or on a CD or floppy disk (Hillis, 2001).

One must be aware of the educational institution's policy concerning online copyright (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2001; Maxwell & McCain, 1997; Salomon, 1999). Some universities may have a campus policy stating that information posted on their system becomes the property of the institution.

Cost issues must be considered. One could use a digital camera to record the speeches, which would allow the files to be compressed efficiently. However, the cost of digital cameras might exceed some departmental budgets.

Finally, issues related to differences in compression rates affecting the quality of the streamed video must be considered. The best and more continuous image is produced by the lower compression rate of 100k to 768k; break-ups and a jerkier image are frequently associated with the higher rate of 28k to 56k (Hillis, 2002).

Modern classrooms reflect the technology of the times. Instructors will continue to realize ways to use the Internet constructively in their classrooms. As many universities are positioning themselves to provide digital media solutions campus wide, streaming speeches on the Internet can be an effective teaching strategy to use in the basic course.

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References


Baily, V. (2001, July). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Blommel, K. (2001, December). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Hillis, L. (2001, July). Webmaster, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Lutz, M. (2002, May). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Maxwell, L. & McCain, T.A. (1997). Gateway or gatekeeper: The implications of copyright and digitalization on education. Communication Education, 46, 141-157.

Musil, J. (2001, December). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Pazdernik, K. (2001, July). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Reichenbach, R. (2001, July). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Salomon, K.D. (1999). Copyright considerations in distance education and technology-mediated instruction. Host name: American Association of Community Colleges [On-line]. Available: http://www.aacc.nche.edu/headline/110399head2htm.

Shedletsky, L.J. & Aitken, J. E. (2001, July). The paradoxes of online academic work. Communication Education, 50 (3), 206-217.

Sisson, C. (2001, July). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Tollison, J. (2001, December). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Wells, L. (2002, May). Survey participant. Fundamentals of Speech course. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


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