Dr. Wendi Sierra prepares for an online semester with unique virtual experiences for her students

August 18, 2020

Honors’ newest faculty member, Dr. Wendi Sierra, comes to TCU with multiple years of experience teaching online and feels ready for the fall semester. She designed her course, “Games and Learning” to provide students with a unique virtual experience that she hopes will keep them both enthused about and engaged in the material.

Sierra plans to use Minecraft: Education Edition both to illustrate games as a learning tool and as a break from Zoom meeting fatigue.

The ghost of Banquo interacts with players in Minecraft: Education Edition.

Minecraft: Education Edition offers various pre-built words that tie into lessons. Sierra recalls one specific example of an early literacy world based on the Shakespeare classic, Macbeth, that allows players to explore the play’s landscape and talk to characters while the Ghost of Banquo gives important reminders about literary terms and techniques.

Minecraft also allows players to congregate in-game online, and Sierra hopes to hold some class meetings in this manner to help break up students’ Zoom fatigue.

In addition, she is excited about her students’ final project, where they will be tasked with designing a pitch for a learning game. “They will, in essence, write a grant proposal and give a short [recorded] presentation that will be judged by a panel of professionals in the industry,” she said. “In this case, the online environment actually works much better.”

Dr. Wendi Sierra

As Sierra prepares for a virtual fall semester and reflects on what she’s learned from her previous experience in teaching remotely, she remarks on two key takeaways– consistency & compassion.

“Because you don’t have the innate check-ins [online] that you have in an in-person class, you want to consistently have the same types of assignments due at the same time each week,” she said.

She also emphasized that “Compassion is the most important thing at the end of the day. You have to have compassion for yourself and for students and what they’re navigating right now.”

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