Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2010

Faculty Award winner

Rudy McDaniel

 College of Arts and Humanities

 Digital Media

Father Guido Sarducci, a character famously portrayed by comedian Don Novello in the Saturday Night Live sketch The Five Minute University, makes the claim that the average college graduate remembers only five minutes worth of material five years after graduation. Rather than really learning, he says, these students cram facts and data into their brains that they then parrot back for exams and promptly forget. So, he suggests, why not reduce the entire university experience to five minutes and concentrate on the basics? Economics: supply and demand. Business: buy something, then sell it for more! As depressing as this idea is for teachers to contemplate, like most humor, it is funny because of its basis in truth. We do have a limited amount of time with our students, and they will only remember a tiny amount of what we tell them once they leave the classroom.

For me, good teaching in Digital Media boils down to two things: 1) recognizing the limited lifespan of information, and 2) engaging with students to make their learning experience memorable. My field changes at a rapid pace, so concepts and techniques are more important than specific tools and technologies. The discipline calls to both artists and technologists. My job as a facilitator is to bring these two groups together and educate students about the critical production and consumption of media. Flashy tools and interactive media are no substitute for careful planning, audience analysis, playtesting and usability studies, and communication skills. The five minute university version of digital media might be summarized as such: garbage in, garbage out!

In the grand scheme of life, we do not have much time with students. I aim to make the most of my time by acknowledging this and interacting with students in a way that captures their attention and makes the time we do have together enjoyable and memorable. Of course, it does not always work out exactly as I want, but I try. My ultimate teaching goal is a selfish one: making my class part of those five minutes they remember five years down the road.