At UC's Raymond Walters College (which became UC Blue Ash College in 2011), Michael Sanders works with recent high school graduates, as well as with adults who have significant life and professional experience. "One of the things I firmly believe is the need to respect students' experience and ideas, whatever their age," the electronic media communications director says.
Professor develops Electronic Media leaders
When Sanders came to the University of Cincinnati branch campus nearly 21 years ago, there was not even one computer lab; he began the Media Services Center shortly afterward. About a dozen years later, he founded the electronic media technology program and recently became founding director of the college's highly respected electronic media communications department.
"I have a very experiential approach to learning," the professor says. "I try to push students outside their usual comfort zone to where they have new things to figure out." He teaches 11 courses, from animation fundamentals to video production.
"I put students in a place where they have problems to solve, where they have to apply information and knowledge. I can point a direction for them, but learning is their own responsibility."
The owner of his own media services business even before entering academia, Sanders challenges his students to think of themselves in professional terms, whether they are earning associate degrees, certificates or taking individual courses. Accepting an evaluation of their work by their peers may be one of the most difficult tasks for some.
"I do try to direct the focus of any criticism away from the person, to let the work speak for itself," he says. "In addition, students are assigned to write down their feelings in a journal three times a week. They know they can speak frankly to me there and what they say will not affect their grade or undermine their standing in the class."
Among the honors Sanders has received at UC is the George Barbour Award, which is presented to a faculty member who "effectively fosters good student/faculty relationships." Only students and alumni may nominate a professor, and there is only one recipient a year.
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