The digitization of our media content has significantly altered the roles of producers, distributors, managers, educators, and students in all communication and technology related fields. Accordingly the onus is now on instructors in higher education to adjust lectures, course materials, and assignments to better prepare students for the new skills and responsibilities associated with the production, distribution, and management of new media content. Accordingly, I believe educators need to provide their students with simulated real-world experiences, the fundamental theories and literature to support those experiences, and the critical thinking necessary to apply what they’ve learned in the future scenarios they encounter. In an effort to achieve such lofty goals I attempt to infuse three key elements into my teaching.
Thinking outside the box, more eloquently referred to as critical thinking is a learnable attribute. Having been on many hiring committees in the private sector I have seen firsthand the importance of creative problem solving, not just for the company, but for the careers of the individuals in question. Nothing will help you move up in a company faster than a creative solution to a difficult problem. Accordingly when I design lesson plans I am very concerned with the real-world applications that can be brought forth by creatively thinking about, evaluating, and applying the theories learned in class. It is not enough to regurgitate the knowledge in the texts, as there will be no textbook to refer to in the private sector, and thus assembling portfolio pieces, conducting professional presentations, and analyzing real-world cases studies give students the opportunity to apply and practice creative thinking, before their jobs depend on it.
Internal motivation is another learned attribute that can aid any professional, researcher, or academic. I believe that motivation is within the locus of control of an individual, and certain experiences can teach people how best to harness motivation. Accordingly students in my classes are given a lot of opportunity to explore original topics that they select, in an effort to identify what really drives them and where their passions lie. While some people have the benefit of automatically knowing their life’s passions, for many of us it is a moving target, constantly changing as new opportunities become available. As such it is only through trying a variety of independently selected topics that a student can begin to identify new opportunities and harness their own personal interests for long-term motivated learning. By leaving the private sector to pursue my personal research interests I quickly discovered a passion for teaching, and have ever since been motivated to provide the best learning experiences I can for my students, and for myself.
Finally, I am a huge promoter of rich learning experiences that take students outside of the classroom. I have been a student, researcher, and instructor in 5 different countries, across 3 different continents. I have had complex corporate titles and simple service experiences. I spend my school years teaching and researching and my summers travelling, and through all of this I have never stopped learning. Every job, country, and task is an opportunity for self-improvement and enlightenment. Seeing as true ambition is never satisfied, I plan on being a life-long learner, and I hope that my students will be able to teach me as much as I am able to teach them.
To my future or current students I would say, the world is your classroom, get out there and see what you can learn.