Christopher Clarke Wins 2021 MMI Innovative Teaching Award

Christopher Clarke Christopher Clarke, Instructional Assistant Professor of Economics, won a Media and Moving Images (MMI) Initiative's Teaching Prize in May 2021.  The MMI prize recognizes innovative use of media-related teaching adaptations to the teaching challenges posed by this year’s shift to remote online, HyFlex and socially distanced learning. The MMI teaching awards fall in three categories—full-time faculty, part-time faculty, and graduate student teaching fellows.  Dr. Clarke won one of two full-time faculty awards.

The MMI jury praised Dr. Clarke by writing his "bold foray into the sphere of social media captured the attention of the 550 students in his Principles Macroeconomics Class. His TikTok Channel is filled with videos in which he tackles such topics as How Does the EITC workMarx's Influence on Western Economics, Why Is Lumber So Expensive? Each week, he also presented three 20-minute videos that could be binge-watched in this asynchronous course. Plus, he held twice-weekly livestreams to address current events and student's questions. Congratulations, Professor Clarke."

Dr. Clarke has a history of pursuing innovative teaching methods.  In the Fall of 2019, he moved a large face-to-face Principles of Economics course to an asynchronous online format.  His strategy to create video lectures was to employ high energy, complementary visual support coupled with fast-paced video editing. To help with the production value of the pre-recorded lectures, Wayne Thomas of CLASS's Office of Educational Technology, assisted with camera and microphone work. In post-production, Professor Clarke edited 35-minute videos to  17-minute lectures. For samples of his video lectures, see the discussions of moneygas prices, and inflation.

Professor Clarke reports that his video lectures are more informationally dense than his traditional face-to-face lectures. Students’ time burdens are reduced: the total student required viewing time is 2 hours per week, rather than the 3 hours in a face-to-face class. The student response to his efforts has been quite positive. One student wrote in a course evaluation, "This is one of the coolest online classes I have ever taken." 

Finally, if those short lectures were not sufficiently short, in Spring 2021, Professor Clarke began a TikTok channel: The one-minute videos force greater precision of the thesis when presented to a more general audience. Already his channel has grown to 5,500 followers, with over a half a million views spread over 120 videos.