Teaching the World through Open Learning

Michael BusbyMichael Busby is working hard to teach the world about geography through open, online learning. Michael has a degree in Geography from Central Missouri State University and a master’s degree from Murray State University with a specialty in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He now teaches multiple geography classes and is an administrator at Murray State’s GIS lab.

“I was working for Murray State when a faculty member had serious health complications,” said Michael. “Due to his condition, the faculty member could no longer teach. The university asked me to take over his world geography class because of my passion for the subject. It worked out so well, I’ve been teaching world geography classes ever since.”

Michael has now broadened his teachings to three community colleges in addition to Murray State: West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Hopkinsville Community College and Madisonville Community College.

“It sounds kind of crazy to people when I tell them that I usually teach five to seven sections a semester — but that’s my part-time job, believe it or not,” said Michael. “I am still employed by Murray State as the university’s GIS administrator running their GIS lab, which is used for research.”

So, how does he manage a full-time job while teaching multiple courses?

Building a virtual classroom with Camtasia

Many of Michael’s students also have full-time jobs and take courses as they have time, often online. Michael needed a cost-effective solution that would give students the experience of being in the classroom through online courses. So he started recording his computer screen along with instructional audio (also known as screencasting) for students to watch as they have time.

Michael creates videos for his students with TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, which allows him to create high-quality videos without the learning curve of complicated video editing software. Because he is teaching online courses, Michael is able to create course content as he has time and upload it to YouTube, which he then embeds in the school’s learning management system (LMS).

“I’m pretty barebones,” said Michael. “I basically use myself, a microphone, PowerPoint and Camtasia. I don’t have a lot of hardware or software, which is good because I am using my own money for this. I am using what I have and am still able to produce a great product.”

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Passion for open learning

While Michael can produce videos quickly, he chooses to add as much depth and information as possible to mimic the traditional classroom experience for his online courses.

“The bottom line of all this is that I want to show my students how Geography plays a role in their lives,” said Michael. “There are a number of online tools that allow me to find real examples of geographic principles my students run into every day.”

Michael spends approximately five to seven hours researching a topic and creating PowerPoint presentations to be used in his lecture. And because these videos include so much information, Michael is able to reuse them year after year, making minor updates as he sees fit.

Michael’s overarching goal is to create a wealth of open, online educational content, and he is very passionate about free-flowing knowledge. Michael is a huge proponent of education and believes it should be available for everyone, which is why he makes all of his videos and PowerPoint presentations available on YouTube.

Michael often relies on Twitter because it helps him connect with people from around the world quickly and easily. A lot of his class content is inspired by what he finds and the people he interacts with on Twitter.

He also gathers information from podcasts, National Geographic, National Weather Service, Google Earth and TED Talks. Michael uses his camera phone to capture ideas and topics throughout his day to later include in his class as proof that geography is everywhere.

“Most of my videos have been received well by my students,” said Michael. “I have also received emails from people from around the world who have watched my videos. The international feedback has helped validate that there is a global desire for open knowledge and open learning opportunities. And I’m able to offer learning opportunities to those who want them by sharing my Camtasia videos online.”

To learn more about Michael, geography, and everything in between, visit Michael’s website and his YouTube channel.