NBC Learn Higher Ed Subscriber Spotlight: Cultivating Curious and Empowered Learners
“If my students are informed, curious about the world, and excited to learn, I have succeeded in my job”
Meet Beth Leishman, a history and literature professor at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Leishman, like many professors who teach freshman college students, inherits an eclectic mix of students with varying knowledge and skill levels. She calls these classes “one room schoolhouses” and explains that NBC Learn can be an important tool in leveling the playing field for her struggling learners.
Encouraging Participation: “Many of my students’ school experiences have not been great,” says Leishman. “They feel intimidated, discouraged, and that their opinions are not valued.” Leishman often shows the students a video and then breaks them up into groups to discuss. “The NBC Learn videos are accessible to students at any level and are communicated in a medium that they understand. They can see the pictures and hear the words, and this creates an encouraging learning environment. It truly builds a community in my classroom. The videos don’t talk down to students, but instead allow us to use them as a tool to discuss and learn from each other.”
“It makes me more credible as a teacher when I show videos that corroborate what I am teaching. My students see it in a larger context: not just as something my teacher is telling us, but they see people from popular culture that they recognize and trust. It gives my lessons a seal of approval and helps me open the door a bit more as a teacher.”
Creating Empowered Learners: Leishman specifically likes to teach through “case studies.” Two prominent examples that always excite her students are Pocahontas and Columbus. Many of her students are only aware of the popular culture or Disney versions of these famous characters, so showing videos about the true historic figures sparks their imagination and passion for discovering the truth.
Leishman explains that “our most important goal as educators is to ensure that our students become conversant, that they bring that conversation to their community or home and say: ‘Hey did you know …?’ The videos spark ideas and concepts they never dreamed of thinking about. It is such an important intellectual exercise for them.”