Initially, Michael Wesch wasn’t thrilled about teaching online. He didn’t love the idea of talking into the camera and worried that students’ learning experiences could suffer. To him, part of the joy of teaching came from being with students in a classroom.
Over time, Wesch has come to see more opportunities through online education when it’s facilitated the right way. In his new video, Teaching Without Walls: 10 Tips for Online Teaching, Wesch shares about his own experiences with online instruction and gives viewers an inside look at his own pedagogical approaches. Wesch, a featured ACUE expert and ACUE-credentialed professor of anthropology at Kansas State University, says he doesn’t want the video to be a one-way conversation and wants ACUE readers to share their thoughts in the comments. Check out the video below and our interview with Wesch, then share your story in the comments section or tweet to @ACUE_HQ and @mwesch to share your story. #ACUE!
Q: What made you focus on “teaching without walls” in your latest video?
A: I want to show my students that an “online class” does not need to be contained to the screen but is best experienced as a class “out in the world” — a classroom without walls. This was an idea first inspired in me by Ryan Klataske. We ultimately created anth101.com together based on this core idea.
Q: In your experience teaching online, what is the most challenging barrier when it comes to engaging with students and facilitating their learning?
A: A screen — whether it be on a phone or a computer — has more potential distractions than just about any physical space imaginable. Our content has to be just that much more engaging, compelling, and relevant in order to compete. If students are not fully invested in the class, they can easily “game” assignments and discussions by fabricating comments and contributions just to “get by” rather than truly engage. In short, I think the bar for us is raised substantially by competing in a digital marketplace of education and entertainment of astounding quality.
Q: What online learning opportunities are you most excited about?
A: I get the chance to help students see how they can learn anytime anywhere through a wide variety of different formats, including podcasts, audiobooks, and videos. I get a chance to share great podcasts and videos and to create my own, opening new pathways for them to discover outstanding educational material they might never have encountered before. My main goal is not just to inspire them to love my class. I want them to fall in love with the tremendous wealth of all-the-time on-the-go learning materials available to us all.
Q: Can you share a reflection about your own online learning experience as a “student” in ACUE’s Effective Teaching Practices course?
A: The format of the ACUE course was even more educational than the content. The course design models several great online teaching practices and also gave me a student’s perspective on what works and what doesn’t.
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