Innovative UQ lecturer uses TikTok teaching to engage students

University of Queensland lecturer Stuart Middleton is happy to be “a bit of a goose” in an effort to engage his students.

The award-winning senior lecturer in Strategy at the UQ Business School has been creating “pretty corny” TikTok videos to help students understand key messages about business management in less than 60 seconds.

“We have to get students interested and engaged; that’s the main thing for me because it’s so easy for them to fall through the cracks otherwise,” Dr Middleton said.

He said his efforts to teach differently were brought about by COVID-19 but were also an attempt to capture the imaginations of a changing generation of students.

“The TikToks are 60 second re-enactments of famous movie scenes where I talk about strategic management,” he said.

“They were getting about 450 views and I think the students appreciate when they see somebody of my age making an effort around these things.

“I was hoping it would make me more approachable to the students if they saw me being a bit of a goose.

“Basically, I’m trying to keep it fun, that’s the deal.”

Dr Middleton’s unique methods to engage his students were recognised with a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning at UQ’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning this week.

Teaching and Learning Week 2021 is celebrating inclusion and student belonging.

“I’m trying to mix things up but it’s hard when students are in different time zones and different countries, facing all those big things in their lives that the world is dealing with at the moment,” he said.

“I even had a student from Burma this year who was about to be cut off the internet because of a military crackdown, so there have definitely been challenges recently.”

With learning moved online due to the pandemic, Dr Middleton said he needed to change the way he thought about teaching.

“I’ve got students everywhere at the moment; I had one yesterday on a cattle station out west of Mackay, I had another one who came to UQ for two weeks and has been locked out in NSW with her family ever since,” he said.

“I have a student trying to keep up with a job while working from home in lockdown in Sydney, and another in Broome working for an oil and gas company.

“They’ve all got a lot going on and in a lot of ways are separated from what they’ve ever known and I’m conscious of that in my teaching, in trying to give students a sense of meaning and belonging.

“We really need to think about their greater wellbeing.”

Late last year, Dr Middleton was awarded the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management “Innovative Management Educator of the Year’ award for 2020.

Dr Middleton’s TikTok’s can be viewed here.

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