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Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Kiana Kikuchi Kiana Kikuchi

Public Speaking in a Virtual Environment

One SDSU graduate teaching assistant is helping students improve their public speaking in a virtual environment.
By Sofia Bert

“The students remain engaged and are eager to learn given the circumstances.”

Kiana Kikuchi, a graduate teaching assistant who teaches Communication 103 — a traditional freshman-level public speaking course — is changing her lesson plans during the transition to virtual instruction. 

“It has been pretty hectic,” said Kikuchi. “I try to maintain our schedule and make the class as close to in-person as possible.”

Kikuchi knows first-hand the unfamiliarity that comes with the adoption of virtual instruction. As a graduate teaching assistant in San Diego State University's School of Communication, she is both taking her graduate-level courses as well as teaching a course to undergraduate students. 

“I am trying to be as understanding as possible with my students,” said Kikuchi. “I want to help them get through this.” 
Though a course dedicated to public speaking may sound counterintuitive to teach virtually, Kikuchi has found ways to stimulate class discussion and keep students engaged.

“My lessons usually focus on activities, but I have been trying to focus more on content and lectures. After several lectures, I found that it was still easy to stimulate class discussion,” said Kikuchi. “The students remain engaged and are eager to learn given the circumstances. I have also been taking advantage of the various features of online learning such as quizzes and Blackboard and polling features on Zoom.”

Kikuchi’s students recently completely their first Zoom presentation, which went very well according to Kikuchi. 

Kikuchi said she has had to shift the grading criteria to be compatible with virtual presentations as students aren’t able to present in front of the class anymore. Now she looks for camera angle, tone, and engagement through Zoom when students are presenting or taking part in class discussions. 

“We are trying to make this as realistic as possible,” said Kikuchi. “In the future, there will likely be more virtual meetings and chats, so my students will be well prepared.”