Engage your audience with some hot technology topics. Reference research, do some polling and spark a debate to make online issues memorable and thought-provoking.
The Ups and Downs of Social Media
As social media becomes more pervasive, many scholarly studies are being conducted to research the negative aspects of online social networks. Research conducted at the University of Waterloo, for example, found that users with low self-esteem often posted information that made them less likable to people. This stems from the fact that reactions to personal statements are harder to determine in an online environment compared to face-to-face interactions, so some users may not realize that these updates are less than endearing to others. A speech topic could poll classmates, friends or family members about their motivations for posting online and how they think people react to these disclosures. You could even stage an experiment where someone you know posts personal statements online. Follow these statements with a survey of the user's friends to gauge their reaction. Presenting research and then confirming or contradicting it with your own can make a compelling speech.
Technology's conveniences often offer a downside. When you send a text message or post a picture online, for instance, the meta-data linked to these files can disclose your whereabouts. There are ways to disable these features, but they're often counterintuitive. You could speak about the required tech aptitude of most smartphone users. You might suggest that people should be required to know the detailed workings of their devices to avoid giving up some of their privacy. Another option would be to discuss if the burden is on the user or the service provider to educate the public about these issues.
Massive Open Online Courses
Some of the nation's most elite universities, like Ivy League schools Princeton and Columbia, offer massive open online courses -- or MOOCs -- through different online companies. While it's difficult to earn credit or get feedback directly from the professor, tens of thousands of students get free access to top-notch information presented in a way that caters to the online pupil. Speech ideas could focus on several aspects of this type of learning. For instance, you could talk about the user interface of the different courses by signing up and providing screenshots -- or even a virtual tour -- for your audience. You could also debate the effectiveness of a model in promoting increased job opportunities or career advancement. For instance, analyze how employers respond to a resume that has online, noncredit courses listed and how can a student demonstrate his learning from such subjects.
School districts have differing levels of resources. Some are able to provide new technology to their students, while others may purchase refurbished or secondhand computers and have little funding to train teachers on technology-based instruction. By examining how many students have access to an Internet-connected device and by analyzing how this statistic has changed in the last 10 years, you could address this issue in terms of the progress made in recent years and the steps that still need to be taken. Consider another approach to this equity-of-access issue by researching the availability of broadband Internet in rural communities compared to urban schools. Similarly, look at the level of technology familiarity among teachers and seek to determine whether age, geographic location or any other factors determine the preparedness of the teacher to integrate technology into her curriculum.
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