Speech classes offer new skills during pandemic

Courtesy Photo

By Jessika Fulton, Staff Reporter

Due to the pandemic, most of Amarillo College’s spring and summer classes converted to tech-supported learning, and the speech department embraced the opportunity to teach students a new set of skills. 

The campus closure forced students to deliver required speeches on video instead of in person. 

“This online format has allowed speech faculty members to lead students in the discovery of online presentations and how to effectively do them,” Courtney Milleson, speech professor, said.

She added that, as COVID has changed the workplace, the ability to interact in video conferences, conduct online interviews and deliver video presentations has become increasingly important, making these new skills crucial for college graduates.

“I believe these students will have a greater opportunity to comfortably participate in future job interviews or host meetings for their positions thanks to their experience in our online classrooms,” Milleson said.

Lesley Ingham, a speech instructor and the coordinator of the AC Honors program, said the department adapted quickly to serve students during the transition to remote learning.

“We strive to communicate effectively in any medium, and I know that my colleagues have been available to students more than even during traditional semesters because of the convenient nature of video chatting,” Ingham said. 

The professors added that, while teaching speaking on video is important, they look forward to when students will once again be able to present speeches in the classroom.

“This is not ideal, as students should experience the challenge of presenting a speech to a group of peers and learning how to manage the anxiety and fear that comes with that,” Michelle Orcutt, a speech professor, said. 

She noted, however, that recording speeches allows the students to watch themselves and correct mistakes while mastering an essential modern skill.

“While we still agree that there is nothing like speaking in person in front of a crowd, there is a benefit to being able to present in a variety of channels. Even my students have commented that they prefer to meet face to face for speeches, but they have learned and improved through video speeches as well,” Orcutt said. 

Milleson said that along with many problems, the coronavirus outbreak has also ushered in a chance for adaptation and growth.

“It is reshaping how we interact with each other.  It is impacting how we leverage technology to assist us with those conversations.” 

After the pandemic ends, Milleson said she hopes to continue teaching online and video presentation skills in her speech classes.  

“COVID-19 is doing more than changing our attitudes about masks,” she said.

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