To outsiders, Las Vegas might seem like a sunny, party destination consisting of mega resort-casinos, but Bill Doyle wants his students to know that the city they live in is so much more.
“I still remember seeing my first tumbleweed and roadrunner and coyote, not on a hike, but running errands and attending outdoor events around Henderson,” Doyle said. “I want my students to be ready for, remember, and write about moments like these in their own lives.”Even before earning his Ph.D., Bill Doyle’s teaching has emphasized the importance of student discovery and exploration of their community. Now at the UNLV Honors College, Doyle considers himself to be a “tinkerer" with technology and teaching. He encourages students to think differently about the writing process.
“It's part of my teaching DNA to experiment with these technologies and encourage students to try these tools as well,” he said.
From encouraging his students to explore digital environments, interview Florida food bloggers, and record vlogs on their UNLV honors DIY field trips, Doyle continues his exploration of new, exciting teaching methods.
With the transition to online learning, Doyle’s goal was revamping traditional “stand and shuffle” PowerPoint presentations. UNLV's Makerspace and Multimedia Studio inspired Doyle to implement student-created podcasts into his courses.
“I was surprised by how many students chose the podcast and then produced interesting, creative work,” Doyle said. “One group, for example, created a simulated radio call-in show that blended details from course readings, outside research, and personal examples. Another group created a mock interview/chat show with several classical thinkers.” The students responded positively to the podcast-based presentations, demonstrating success for all involved.
Doyle’s unique approach to teaching is one of 35 currently being presented at UNLV’s annual Best Teaching Practices Expo. Hosted by the UNLV Faculty Center, the event highlights research-based ideas for improving teaching across campus. The event culminates on Feb. 12 with a virtual discussion with distinguished panelists that celebrates the achievements of faculty’s Teaching Practices while featuring the top four.
Doyle commends the Faculty Center stating that, “beyond webinars on online teaching, I have found the annual Best Teaching Practices Expo helpful in terms of learning what works for faculty and students across UNLV.”
Doyle sums up his teaching beliefs by stating the importance of finding the right balance of knowledge and creativity, “while I definitely want students to develop content-knowledge and feel comfortable and confident with developing their writing and critical thinking skills, I also want them to enjoy and engage with the ideas and questions we explore.
“Designing creative approaches to assignments is one way to help make this happen. A formal assignment like the podcast helps bring play, creativity, and learning together. Ultimately, I want to find the best techniques and tools to help students feel connected to one another and the course content.”