In his classes, Michael Scantlebury uses 'as many avenues as possible' to reach students online

Michael Scantlebury makes a point to start his Hospitality and Tourism Management classes with music, anything from world music to pop. That custom has continued this semester with his online classes.

"I find that music sort of sets the energy for the class and it gives a little bit of a lift, not just to me but to students as well," said Scantlebury, associate professor.

"I think given the current situation, you’ve got to try to use as many avenues as possible to reach the students."

Scantlebury and fellow faculty members have found myriad ways to optimize the learning experience and connection to students as they conduct classes virtually. GVNext will be showcasing their stories.



Watch Michael Scantlebury discuss how he connects with students in an online setting

For Scantlebury, his approach to connecting with students ranges from the before-class music to simply checking in with them. He strives to find ways to keep positive interaction with students in an online setting.

One avenue for that interaction emerged through the course content, which deeply explores heritage tourism. He described one discussion about culture and food in which students talked about their own personal culinary cultural traditions passed through generations.

"I'm trying to intently reach out to them and connect them to the material in a much more personal way," Scantlebury said.

A key feature in online pedagogy for Scantlebury is interspersing class discussions with short videos to help enhance what students are learning.

Recently he took students around the world, sharing his experiences from the Aruba Carnival to Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations in San Francisco while also showing videos to help spur discussion. While he has plenty of stories from working in the travel and tourism industry since 1985, he said he knows the videos also help keep students engaged in the online setting by breaking up the lecture.

He said he is grateful for professional development he has received through Grand Valley to explore ways of compressing extensive ideas when presenting material. 

While Scantlebury laments that he won't be able to hold his customary semester-culminating events, complete with food, he said it is always fulfilling to see students' academic growth.

"What I recognize is that students get so close to the material, they don’t recognize how much they’re learning," he said.