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Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Helps Faculty Thrive Online

April 29, 2020 | McNeese Public Relations
Buckles headshot

As McNeese State University classes transitioned online in March, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of music Dr. Michael Buckles has worked to create a catalog of helpful videos for faculty members who are looking for ways to promote student engagement in their online classrooms.

“With more than 50% of our faculty members going online for the first time, I wanted them to know that they were not alone and to not worry,” he says. “What fundamentally matters is keeping our students engaged and I believe that by sharing what is working for some faculty we could potentially help others.”

Currently, 15 videos are available to faculty through Microsoft stream. In these videos, Buckles interviews faculty members to gain insight into methods that they use to encourage student-faculty connection online. These methods range from short lectures in mp3 format, asynchronous and synchronous videos, social media pages specifically for student groups to simple email and phone communication.

Among these discussions, Buckles has met with assistant art professor Tom Galmarini on using technology like QuickTime Player to give students feedback, Dr. Muhammad Haque, professor of sociology, on the advantages of having students work in digital groups and art professor Heather Ryan Kelley on how she uses uplifting language and her own personal experiences on Moodle’s announcement board to connect with her students.

“These videos are excellent and inspiring,” says Corliss Badeaux, director of the Write to Excellence Center. “I am mindful of the different circumstances our students are in and it’s nice to find more ways to help them.”

 “One of my discoveries is that there is no one particular way our professors engage with our students,” Buckles says. “Their engagement is diverse as the people they are and the students they serve. Finding what works is, in many cases, an organic, 365-degree process that students and professors are discovering together.”

Buckles says that he has been impressed with the versatility, innovation and dedication to students that faculty members have demonstrated.

“As I witness this unfold in real-time, I am reminded that Excellence With a Personal Touch is not only what happens inside the classroom, but is also frequently what happens outside of the classroom. Especially now, connecting with our students means connecting outside of traditional learning experiences.”

Buckles received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, his Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University. He has been teaching at McNeese for 18 years. Before working in academia, he was a professional violinist and symphony musician.