ION | Illinois Online Network

Oral Reports

Description of Lesson: An oral report is simply the oral report of an activity done by a student. It can be either synchronous or asynchronous and may or may not be accompanied by slides.

Appropriate Content Areas: All. Appropriate at all times, but generally past the mid point of a course when the students have more content and technology background. Obviously common in any course teaching oral discourse or language.

Goals & Objectives:

The goals of an oral report is to deeply develop a students understanding of a given topic. It allows the instuctor to guage a student's understanding of a given topic and ability to formulate that understanding into oral discourse.

Sample objectives include:

After completing an oral report, students will:

  • develop deep understanding of concept x
  • compare concept x to concept y
  • categorize concept x and defend that categorization
  • report on or teach concept x to the rest of the class
  • demonstrate oral delivery of concept x using presentation style y

as determined by successfully attending to 80% of the requirements.


  • Students need an understanding of the technology required for the presentation. For example, if synchronous presentation using a tool such as HorizonWimba, Elluminate, Breeze, etc. is used, the students will need an understanding of delivering an audio presentation in that system. For illustrated audio presentations, students will need understanding of any presentation software such as PowerPoint used. For recordings, students would need understanding of audio recording software such as Audacity or Windows Recorder.
  • Students need access to materials such as library resources to research in preparation for the report.
  • Students need auditory capabilities. Accommodations will be required for the mute, and may be required for the hard-of-hearing. In such cases, illustrated audio using text transcripts may be an alternative.
  • If a specific format such as argumentation, scripted talk, or impromptu presentation is used, the students will need background understanding on the dynamics of that modality.

Materials and Resources:

What needs to be prepared in advance by the teacher? The teacher may need to prepare the technology. This can include linking to free software and tutorials for recording audio in asynchronous oral presentations, to software for creating illustrated audio presentations such as Microsoft Producer, or links to access and tutorials on the use of synchronous conferencing solutions. The teacher also prepares an assignment sheet explaining the protocol for the presentation. A rubric for assessment and example assignments may also be presented to the students.

What does the student need to bring to the lesson? Depending on the format of the talk, the student may need to prepare materials ahead of time including slideshows or video. In some cases, a script may be required that may or may not be turned into the instructor prior to the delivery.

Guiding Questions for this Lesson:

How well can the student articulate or argue a given concept utilizing the given protocol and medium.

Lesson Outline and Procedure:

Note that there are many alternative methods for this activity.

Talk Formats:

  • Notes and preparation
    • Impromptu - provide oral expressions on a topic provided at that time to the student(s).
    • Outlined - provide oral expressions when only minimal notes are allowed during the presentation.
    • Scripted - deliver a presentation prepared ahead of time, including exactly what to say.
  • Talk types
    • Argumentative / Persuasive - provide convincing arguments in favor of a given viewpoint or resolution either in the absense or presence of alternative views.
    • Declarative / Informative - inform about a given concept.
    • Reporting / Experiential / Experimental - provide information about a given event, place, experiment, or thing.
    • Biographical - provide information about a given person.
    • Question & Answer - provide answers to questions delivered orally.

Possible assignment activities include:

  • Readings or lectures on the type(s) of presentation(s) to be delivered are given to students, possibly at the beginning of the course in the syllabus or online course resources (common in speech courses).
  • At the beginning of the assignment, students may be grouped not so much for the purpose of working together but to create groups to whom the presentation is to be delivered. Using groups smaller than the whole class allows for better control and limits on peer feedback and the amount of deliveries that each student must view/listen to in the online environment.
  • Students are provided an assignment outlining the purpose / goals of the presentation, type of presentation, length, modality or technologies to be used or chosen, assessment information, and any other information necessary.
    • A rubric outlined assessment may also be given when students are provided with the actual assignment or as part of the course syllabus / assessment criteria.
    • Sample assignments from prior students may be available for viewing online. (Herin can be a possible advantage of online materials in that they are often recorded. Keep in mind that students retain the copyright on their presentations and permission must be obtained for both copyright and privacy reasons prior to sharing of student work.
  • Following a brief period, in non-impromptu methods, when students are not directly provided with a topic as part of the assignment outline, students submit a topic or viewpoint on a topic upon which to present.
  • Following instructor approval, the students begin preparatory work. This may include viewing lecture materials for the given course unit.

Asynchronous Methods: by nature, these would not include impromptu methods

  • Audio Only Methods
    • Student record an audio message using the format and directions provided.
    • This message is encoded as specified and submitted either to a forum for peer review or directly to the instructor.
    • Students then receive instructor feedback and/or peer review of the oral report. This feedback can be text-based or the instructor may add voiceover to the original recording and return a recording back to the student containing the feedback.
    • Followup questions may be asked in a synchronous session or asynchronous discussion forum or email.
  • Illustrated Audio Methods
    • Students record an audio narration to a visual presentation using software such as Microsoft Producer or Macromedia Breeze/Flash.
    • This presentation is uploaded to a server for instructor and/or peer review. The presentation may even be recorded directly on the server using software such as Breeze, HorizonWimba, or Elluminate.
    • Followup questions may be asked in a synchronous session or asynchronous discussion forum or email.

Synchronous Methods:

  • Audio Only Methods
    • Using an audio conferencing solution such as real audio, Skype, or instant messaging, the student presents an audio report.
    • During or after the report, the student addresses questions from the instructor and/or peers.
    • Following the report, the student recieved instructor feedback on performance. In some case, the audio may be recorded and then comments added by the instructor using voice-over techniques.
  • Illustrated Audio Methods
    • Same as audio only, but different technologies are employed.
    • The instructor may require that the student provide any slides ahead of time for review and/or uploading into the conferencing software.
  • Advanced Online Synchronous Conferencing Methods
    • The delineation here is when two-way or multi-party communication is used, an oral report involving leading a discussion may also be employed, whereby the student both reports on a topic and has the ability to ask questions and recieve direct responses from other participants.

Learning Activities and Assessments:

  • What will the students actually do during the lesson to ignite, maintain, and verify learning? The report itself will verify learning, but synchronous methods involving peer review may serve to ignite deeper participation and learning.

One thing to note about assessment is that oral report guidelines will likely be different between face-to-face and distance oral reports. For one thing, mannerisms and paralanguage will be considered differently. Personal appearance becomes irrelevant in most cases. Furthermore, use of visual aids should not necessarily be a grade on the students ability to manage the materials within the presentation software used, but rather the appropriateness of the given materials and how they were integrated with the oral presentation.

Activity Rubrics (for face-to-face education, but a good reference)

Teaching Strategies and Highlights:

What are some tips to help the lesson run smoothly?

  • To engage the students, a topic for the activity must be chosen that will ignite and maintain their interest.
  • Oral reports can be effective at curbing academic dishonesty.
  • Oral reports can provide substance to online personae and decrease isolation.
  • Oral reports could be linked to a private course podcast for delivery to the course.


  • Students need auditory capabilities. Accommodations will be required for the mute, and may be required for the hard-of-hearing. In such cases, illustrated audio using text transcripts may be an alternative.
  • Some students with language difficulties may need additional time for the presentation.


How much time would a typical online student require to complete such a lesson? Typically, at least 10 hours of preparation should be expected, whether impromptu or not. In the impromptu case, students should have about 10 hours of experience with the learning materials prior to being submitted to an oral question and answer session. For other forms of presentation, about 10 hours of reading and preparation can be expected. In the case of peer presentations, each student should expect to view/listent to 3-5 reports completed by other students and perhaps provide feedback. The time may be 5-45 minutes per report.

Learning Connections:

What connections to other topics exist within the lesson? This will depend on the scaffolding of the activity.

Ideas for Lesson Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

How did the students like the lesson? End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness and learning accomplished through such activities. Student should also be asked about the viability of obtaining any required resources during the exercises. They may also comment on the technologies employed.

Addtional questions to ask include: How was student learning verified? What was done to insure that the students were not taking part in some form of academic dishonesty? Were followup questions asked to verify retention of information? Were quiz or test questions linked to activities in the simulation?

Useful References:

  • Volle, L. M., (2005, September). Analyzing oral skills in voice e-mail and online interviews. Language Learning & Technology, 9(3), 146-163. Retrieved April 25, 2007, from


Back to index