There are many reasons why I love Teachmeets; the learning, new ideas, networking, a chance to win a prize – there are lots of them. One of the reasons I started organising Teachmeets was because despite being perfectly happy standing in front of a class or students and speaking or even delivering a Year group or Whole School assembly, if you put me in front of a few colleagues and ask me to share a few ideas, I was a nervous wreck. Organising the events and making myself the compere was a great way to push myself outside of my comfort zone and get better, more confident and happier at speaking to audiences of my peers.
Oracy is incredibly important and is explored in some depth in my post, ‘Oracy in the curriculum and how technology can help’. Oracy is, as Phil Beadle correctly writes, “the most important and fundamental skill”.
With the advent of easily accessible apps and tools to support teaching and learning, I recently learned of a great free VR app called ‘VirtualSpeech‘. The app has an age rating of 4+ so can be used across the age ranges.
Once in the app, you can choose from a variety of different training scenarios, from job interview preparation to public speaking. The app scores you on different things such as eye contact, the speed of delivery, pauses, etc.
How do you use it?
There are a number of ways you can use the app although the suggested way is to use a VR headset such as Google Cardboard with your phone or another device. You don’t have to do it this way but it would make for a more natural experience if you were to do it that way. To access the various menus, simply move your gaze over to a menu option and you will see a cursor floating in front of you. Simply place that cursor onto the option that you want and it will take you into that section of the app.
One of the features I like about the app is that you can upload PDFs of presentations that you have made in Keynote or PowerPoint etc and then present them to your virtual audience. This is a great way to practice your oracy, either as a student or even as an adult.
How could you use it in the classroom?
There are lots of ways in which this app could be used in the classroom to support oracy. The fact that the activity is undertaken in VR also means that it has fewer high-stakes risks for learners (or teachers practising too) so that they can practise in a safe and non-confrontational environment. Here are some of the ways I could see the app being used although I am sure you could think of plenty too:
- Planning a speech
- Delivering an assembly
- Practising for a job interview
- Less intrusive means of preparing for a presentation with kind, specific and helpful feedback
- Delivering a training session
- Teaching a class (for those completing a PGCE or equivalent)
- Talking to a group of parents (which can be quite worrying!)
Whichever way you look at it, this app is super helpful for helping learners or adults who are anxious about presenting. Why not try it for yourself. You can access it for Android, iOS or via their website here.