“You and your group are walking in the woods when you find a bloody, unconscious young woman. You look through the backpack, you discover a two-way radio and a gas-mask. Her arm is wounded and looks badly infected but from this distance you can’t tell if it’s a bite or not. She’s starting to wake up. Work with your group to decide what to do.”
At the recent Online Learning Consortium International Conference in Orlando, Florida, I got to that point in the day where I didn’t want to listen to another session on faculty development, new technology or objectives. So I gravitated towards the wild card on the program list – A Disruptive Innovation: MSU’s Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse – Are You Ready to Survive a New Way of Learning? When the session started with the above assignment, I knew I’d made the right choice.
The session, chaired by instructor Glenn R. Stutzky, focused on Michigan State University’s fully online course “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior” and included assignments from the course, presentations from the Instructional Designer and discussion about the inclusion of Zombrarian (zombie librarian) in the course.
The trailer above is representative of the high quality production value applied to the material in this course. The acting (only a little campy), the design of the D2L site (unrecognizable from ours!) and the marketing poster (what a concept), all echo this and add to the slick feel. The polish of the design however, does not take away from the learning focus of the course, which explores human behavior in disasters and is offered by the School of Social Work.
I was immediately captivated by the course, the process and the innovation the group were showcasing in the course. But with that came a heavy dose of jealousy. We also have a wonderful Zombie course on our campus, and a Dr. Who course, and so many other exciting classes. Why have we yet to fully leverage the expertise of our staff to support our instructors’ passion and teaching? The obvious answers are money and workload but it seems that a campus culture that actively promotes, supports and rewards innovation and collaboration could go a long way.
In the meantime though, remember there are a lot of people on campus that would love to help you innovate in both small, and large ways. Whether it’s online, hybrid or face-to-face, technology-based or pedagogically-based, zombie-focused or otherwise, contact CATL to find out how we can help!