Limed: Teaching with a Twist – Episode 5

Derek O’Leary from Virginia Commonwealth University teaches advertising, a field known to require collaboration and cooperation with diverse teams, often remotely. David Buck, Gianna Smurro, and our producer Dhvani Toprani consider how to create an authentic group work experience in a remote setting. The panel provides advice on creating groups, providing support, and assessing group work.

This episode of Limed: Teaching with a Twist is hosted by Matt Wittstein and produced by Dhvani Toprani and Matt Wittstein in collaboration with the Center for Engaged Learning.

View a transcript of this episode.

About the Guest

A light-skinned man with a beard and glasses stands in front of greenery.

Derek O’Leary is a full-time advertising instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He is in his third year of teaching creative and strategy advertising classes, having previously worked in the advertising industry for ten years as an experiential director. Most of his classes are working with seniors to create work and build portfolios to build skills and impress their future employers. In addition to teaching, Derek helps run the school’s Virtual Mentorship Day, In-person Portfolio Show and co-chairs the Assessment and Accreditation committee. He loves the challenge of finding ways to use new tools in his classroom like Figma, Notion, Blender, AI, and Augmented Reality tools. He runs a small design business with his wife that sells at local Richmond stores and on Etsy: O’Fung Studios

About the Panel

Headshot of a light-skinned man wearing a plaid shirt

David Buck is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Elon University. He teaches courses on research methods and social psychology, and he has long been interested in using empirical research as a tool for informing pedagogical decisions. Trained as a social psychologist, his research is broadly focused on intergroup bias and social cognition. As a former CEL Scholar, he conducted research on the use of collaborative projects and assignments as high-impact practices.

A light-skinned woman with medium length dark hair sits at the base of an outdoor, stone stairway.

Gianna Smurro is a second-year student at Elon University studying Journalism and Cinema & TV Arts with a minor in Political Science. As a CEL Student Scholar, she is providing a student perspective on a three-year research seminar on Work-Integrated Learning. She is also a Communications Fellow at Elon and a communications and editorial intern for Bringing Theory to Practice. 

A headshot of a woman with medium-light skin tone and medium length dark hair

Dhvani Toprani is an Instructional Technologist at Elon University with a PhD in Learning, Design, and Technology. She believes in technology’s ability to transform teaching and learning if we learn to effectively collaborate with and around it. Her research focuses on integrating technology in learning environments to promote collaboration, design thinking, and other higher-order thinking skills. Her work at Elon University focuses on building digital fluency among university’s faculty and staff to support the design of technology enabled learning environments.

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