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Speaker's corner

Page history last edited by Mats Deutschmann 10 years, 1 month ago

For further details see: http://creativecommons.org/ 

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The Speaker's Corner Iteration was basically a mini version of the debating course concept. It was adapted to a) be an individual task in terms of preparation for the event and b) involve a minimal number of SL meetings. 

Background to the Course

The course was conducted from the 7th - 14th  January 2010, and actually constituted the oral part of an online English proficiency course conducted under the Mid Sweden online English programme: 



During the course students had been producing discursive essays on various topics and they were also required to present their arguments orally. The students in the course were given the option to either present their argumentative speeches in a voice blog, or to present the speech live in Second Life for an audience. For the event an audience was invited consisting of other students from Pisa University. These were encouraged to give critical feed-back and to ask the speakers questions during the event.

Requirement and Recommendations


Level: B2-C1


Recommended size of group: 8 or smaller


Target audience: Typically university students being examined in an oral aspect of their course


Number of meetings: 2


SL environment requirements: An open environment with the possibility of displaying power point presentation slides on a whiteboard. A "soap box" (a wooden box) to stand on can also highlight the context of the story board.


SL objects needed:

  • An SL white board where pictures (JPEG format for example) can be uploaded during the final debate
  • Soap box


Other tools:

Some form of 2D online space where the course description and course information can be communicated. In trial 1, a blog was used to communicate with the course participants on a continual basis. In trial 2, we used an LMS (WebCT) for this purpose.


Skype is also needed as an initial point of contact before the students gain access to SL.

Learning Goals

Being able to present a convincing speech to a public audience.


Public speaking is an old British Tradition. In places such as Hyde Park there are especially designated areas where anyone can present speeches on any subject as long as they are deemed legal. Audience will stop by and listen spontaneously and respond with critique and comments as they wish. This is  the basic idea of the Speakers' Corner concept. For further information on Speakers' Corner see:


Reward Models

We invited various people to the event and they were all encouraged to respond. This increased the motivation of the students to present convincing arguments. At the end of the event we had a vote as to which speaker presented the most convincing speech.

Technical initiation

Students were contacted individually via e-mail and are given instructional material (seehttp://avalonlearning.pbworks.com/Introductory-Multimedia-kit-for-learners ). A time was then set when they could meet an instructor or technician in SL in order to check that sound, chat and basic movements function as they should. In those cases students had problems in creating their SL accounts and/or entering SL, the instructor contacted the student via Skype in order to give real time support. The technical initiation took anything from a few minutes to 30 minutes depending of the difficulties encountered. 


Lesson 1 – Speakers' Corner Event


  • Gathering
  • Sound check
  • Introducing each other
  • Explanations of the event
  • 5-minute speeches followed by questions
  • Voting


A time and place and place in SL was communicated for the event. Here it was important to take potential time differences into account since students may be located in different time zones. For the iteration we used the welcome area on Avalon island, where there was also a number of whiteboard screens where the students single power point slides could be uploaded prior to he event:



After an introduction session we explained the event and after this each student presented in turn (max 5 minutes). The audience were encouraged to comment and ask questions. Finally all present were encouraged to send a score (1-5) to the teacher via IM for each speaker. The winner was announced after counting the scores.


Evaluation of Students

The speech was graded according to the following criteria:

Aspect Weight given 

(% of total grade for task)


50%: Structure and Content (structure of arguments, 

organisation of ideas, clear introduction and conclusion etc)


30%: Cohesion (language structure, connection of ideas through logical links, signalling through the use of words and emphasis etc)


20%: Language Details (grammar, lexicon, 



For further details, see the study guide of the course


Overall Reflections

Although the event was short and rather unambitious the students enjoyed it. It gave them an opportunity to engage in public speaking to an audience that went beyond the course participants. From feed back received all students involved seemed happy with te event. What was rather discouraging, however, was the limited number of students that actually partook in the course event. We gave the students two options: asynchronous voice blog presentations and synchronous Second Life presentations. Out of the 50 active students only 4 chose to the task in Second Life. Reasons given for this were primarily ones involving time issues (finding it difficult to find the time to be online at a given time), but technical reasons were also brought forward (bandwidth issues, lack of headsets, and inferior graphic cards).

see survey: Survey on why students did not partake in Speaker's Corner event



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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