Making it work: Teaching and learning speech communication at a distance

Ana Katrina T Marcial and Rhonna Marie R Verena
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baños, the Philippines

Guided by Moore's discussion of the three kinds of interaction (1989) and the rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICT), distance education (DE) teachers have consistently explored the use of online tools and resources to facilitate learning in the virtual classroom and address the issue of transactional distance through activities that encourage interaction. The available options become vast with each development in ICT, but previous studies have provided teachers with references for choosing the most appropriate technology and/or platform to maximize interaction and communication in the context of open and distance e-learning. The shift from structural to transactional issues in the related literature has highlighted the use of web-based audio and video conference platforms for synchronous learning as a significant area of study — though asynchronous learning activities have also been explored, especially with the increasing use of open educational resources (OERs), to make online teaching and learning more successful. Still, combining synchronous and asynchronous activities to establish and maintain quality interaction and facilitate learning depends on the needs and demands of a particular online course.

This paper reflects on the experience of teaching a speech communication course online and presents the different forms of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities that may be adopted to facilitate learner-content, learner-teacher, and learner-learner interactions. Through analysing the teachers' observations and the learners' perceptions based on survey responses, this paper describes the advantages and challenges of using open educational resources (OERs), video-sharing platforms, and web-based audio/video conference platforms to teach and learn the principles of speech communication online. The conclusions from this study may serve as a guide, not just for instructors of online courses in speech communication and public speaking, but also for DE teachers who facilitate skills-based online courses.