ProtoCommunications is a project that started as a way to address two significant problems with the study of speech and debate: first, the role that technology plays in education, and second, the perpetual increasing cost of instructional content. We discovered that, while technology offers new and exciting ways to produce and distribute high quality instructional content at less cost to students, nobody has designed a single, comprehensive solution to address the unique complexity of student interaction in speech and debate courses. Not even us. Our current solution is to integrate a few products into the course to create as rich an experience as possible in an online environment. We understand that some people have reservations about creating additional online accounts. We considered all of the options during the creation of this course, and concluded that the benefits outweigh the costs, because what you get is an unparalleled learning experience at no additional cost. Not only that, but we are confident that these products will be useful well after you are finished with this course. In this lesson, we will explain reasons why you will need accounts for Google, StreamYard, and Yoodli.

Google

As a student, you will need to register for a Google, or Gmail account. If you already have an account, you should use it for this class. If you do not have an account, or if you want to create a dedicated account for your coursework, please create one by going to the Google homepage. There you can find account creation buttons by going to Gmail, or attempting to sign into Google. You will need to choose a username that is not already taken, nor is too similar to a preexisting account.  People use Google products because they work. Some of their products have proven more successful than others, but this corporation got to the size it is today by making tools that people can use. Google is constantly monitoring its performance, and making improvements. The sheer size of the company means that it has an unparalleled amount of resources to offer. We are constantly finding new ways to collaborate, and produce with the tools they develop.   While the choice to use Google is not exactly free to us, a business, an account is free to you, the user. Needless to say, this is a really important factor when developing tools that reduce the cost to students. We decided that the cost that we take on for emails, storage space, form automation, and more, is well worth it if students can access those benefits at no additional cost to them.  As a performance based communication course, several different assignments require student recorded video for professor assessment. YouTube is a product of Google, and by creating a GMAIL account, a student will simultaneously create a YouTube account. Once logged in, users can upload personally recorded videos to complete such assignments. YouTube also offers live events, allowing for real-time video conferences between multiple users. Furthermore, live events enable students to meet and record themselves discussing topics, giving speeches, and  interfacing with the instructor.   A GMAIL account gives a student access to Google Drive, which comes with 15G of storage space and numerous useful applications. This first application worth noting is Google Docs; a free, online, word processing application which can allow students to work on the same document at the same time from remote locations. Second, Google Sheets, is a spreadsheet application similar to Excel, or Numbers. Third, Google Forms is a powerful application that easily facilitates the collection of data from students. It is particularly useful for surveys and peer reviews.

StreamYard

A Google account is essential to this course for more reasons than just its applications, it also is helpful for the other accounts that you need. For instance, you can use your YouTube channel as a location to stream videos. YouTube has a built-in streaming application, but we recommend another product called StreamYard. StreamYard has a number of features that YouTube does not, like the ability to stream to multiple platforms at once. You can link to destinations like Twitter, Facebook, and Twitch, in addition to your YouTube channel. This makes it easier to gather an audience because it accommodates different devices and technology preferences. Another feature is that StreamYard allows you to invite guests to share the screen with you. This is useful if you want to have a debate, roundtable discussion, or just record audience feedback. It is important to register for an account as soon as possible because users need to endure a waiting  period while YouTube approves your request to stream.

Yoodli

Luckily, the last product that requires an account in this course has a much easier setup. Yoodli is an AI speech coach, and it allows users to submit video speeches for analysis. It gives automatic feedback like the number of verbal fillers, rate of speech, and language choices. The results are easily shared for coaching, or peer evaluation. Yoodli is an exciting new product that helps students develop disciplined speaking skills on their own time. We are confident that there is, and will always be a need for human evaluation of speeches. But Yoodli is still an excellent tool for practicing speeches.   As of the publication of this lesson, all Yoodli users need to register for a separate account. When you sign up for our course, we use the contact information to send an invite. This takes us time to manually enter your email address, so we ask for patience as we manage this task. You will receive an invitation from ProtoCommunications to set up your Yoodli account.  ProtoCommunications is dedicated to building students’ technological competence. All of the above products build skills that are likely to benefit students outside an educational environment. The word processing application, Docs, is overwhelmingly similar to other word processing applications. Communicating using video technology is becoming a vital skill. Students today are more likely than ever to be interviewed using video, or find a job that requires them to perform in front of a camera. And artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how we communicate. As we continue to develop products and services to meet the needs of communication education, we respect the excellent products that are publicly available to everyone, and are confident that they will add value to this course.