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Statement of Teaching – Michael Wilder
At heart, I am an educator. Although my experiences have guided me down many paths
including online education and technology, it is teaching that forms the basis of my passion.
The conviction that I am making a positive impact on someone’s life through education
motivates me to choose this profession as my calling.
As an educator, my teaching philosophy is tempered by years of experience, mentoring, and
educational theory. From my early days as a high school English teacher in inner-city Los
Angeles to years providing mentoring and training in a university-level teaching and learning
center to my current assignments teaching higher education journalism courses at UNLV, I have
made a conscious effort to always improve my technique. I believe that teaching and learning
should be student centered, engaging, active, and personal.
My teaching philosophy is highly influenced by learning theory. I believe in following Gagne’s
Nine Events of Instruction during a lesson: eliciting prior knowledge, facilitating interaction
between all course participants, and providing students with opportunities to practice what
they have learned (with suitable feedback) prior to assessment. I believe in being aware of the
limitations of human cognitive architecture and designing instruction that is appropriate to
match these limitations. I also believe that teaching and learning is a social activity. We all
learn from each other.
My primary learning objectives revolve around 21st
century skills for contemporary learners:
collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, flexibility and adaptability, critical
thinking, and problem solving. I believe that while canonical educational content is important
for learners in order to be culturally and technologically literate, I also believe that the value of
knowledge is contextual and ever changing. Skills that provide students with the opportunity to
work together, to seek out relevant knowledge, to be prepared to evaluate the validity of that
knowledge, and to be able to apply that knowledge in novel ways, will prepare students to
adapt to the many changes that we face in contemporary society.
These core philosophies have influenced how I teach Interactive Media Design (both
introductory and advanced) for the UNLV School of Journalism. Instruction is scaffolded,
providing a framework that allows students to explore and seek knowledge that is relevant and
applicable to their professional area of interest. Once students become proficient with the
essential tools and techniques provided in the introductory course, they are given the
opportunity to select learning paths that are adaptive, active, and relevant.
Using multiuser blogging techniques, I have developed an innovative learning environment
where students are able to produce articles for online publication that encourages peer review
and collaboration. Students are provided with the tools to take ownership of their learning
environment, customizing it to suit their needs and abilities. Students have responded very
favorably in testimonials and in student evaluations. The structure of this course has received
the prestigious “Effective Practice” award from the Online Learning Consortium.