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Professor meets students where they are via YouTube

Cielle Amundson, Ed.D., produces videos that help Roadrunners learn ‘how to college.’

By Siet Wright

October 23, 2019

Screenshot from Cielle Amundson's Youtube channel.Metropolitan State University of Denver is home to some forward-thinking educators who are using innovative resources to better serve students. One such person is English Professor Cielle Amundson, Ed.D. Amundson has taught in higher education for almost 20 years and has evolved her teaching style to meet students where they are.

Amundson realized that along with learning content, college is the place where many students learn how to be adults. She also realized that learning how to be a successful college student isn’t necessarily a skill that is taught in high schools.

“I wanted to create a resource that would support students outside of the classroom and when they are off campus,” Amundson said. “This resource could also be a place students turn to learn life skills like studying, stress management or general ‘adulting’ skills.”

Since many students spend their time largely online, Amundson developed a YouTube channel to help them learn “how to college.” She produces original content that directly applies to the classes she is teaching and to student needs. To date, video topics have addressed the skills necessary to thrive in a university setting and gaps in implied knowledge, such as what professors expect from their students, proper paragraph structures and how to write concluding paragraphs. Another video helps students understand the importance of resilience, why trying hard doesn’t automatically equal a good grade and why failure can help them better understand how to succeed.

Amundson believes all these components will help students learn how to successfully complete college courses. Allowing students to watch videos at home, and pause or rewind as needed, also helps them build foundational knowledge while keeping in-class activities on track.

“I have really enjoyed watching Dr. Amundson’s videos and have sent them to many of the students I work with as well as to my secondary and postsecondary connections,” said Nahum Kisner, director, Student Support and Retention. “Her creative and outside-the-box thinking is a great example of how our faculty at MSU Denver work hard to engage and connect with students so that they persist and ultimately graduate.”

Initially, however, there was a learning curve. Amundson lacked video-production knowledge, and developing her YouTube channel and content required personal time and personal funds. After seeking help from experts online, Amundson is now able to make the videos at home, upload them to her channel and then link them to her Instagram account.

It seems Amundson’s digital approach to student support is still rare. In her research, she found videos made by K-12 educators to support their fellow teachers but not many videos of educators supporting students at the university level. She believes her videos can benefit learners as well as other educators who desire to meet students where they are.

“My target audience is truly college students,” Amundson said. “But if (the channel) also benefits educators, that’s a bonus.”

Topics: Best practices, Community, Innovation, Student Success

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