Diane Carter has been teaching communication at the college level since 2001, following a successful career in the business sector. Now Carter, Public Speaking Course Director in the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies at the University of Idaho, encounters students from all walks of life and levels of experience. Some, she explains, like to hold the printed book and study the old-fashioned way; others are tech-savvy millennials who prefer everything online, including reading, studying, and communication. Consequently, her approach to teaching her Fundamentals of Public Speaking courses must be flexible, innovative, and appeal to a wide range of learning styles.
Just a short time ago, Carter and her colleagues were using an online study tool, but were recognizing its limitations and experiencing some challenges. For instance, getting all the essential information packed into a short two-credit course as required by the University of Idaho was tough, and meant all out-of-class assignments had to be on target and clearly help students master concepts not covered during class time. It also meant Carter needed to assign homework designed to build students’ speech preparation skills in a way that helped them understand the relationships between ideas they wanted to present—a concept that isn’t always easy to grasp. She knew she needed a different program with an innovative approach.