Teaching moments transform experience into practical knowledge
Assistant Professor Michael Meindl turns his diverse experience into professional training for students at Radford University.
The first-year assistant professor in the School of Communication adjusted to Radford as the new College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences building opened in fall 2016. Meindl’s journey to Radford has him teaching media performance and audio production courses, as well as others.
“This is a great opportunity for me to work with students to further the student-professor relationship for which Radford University is well-known,” Meindl said. “I look forward to contributing to the tight-knit community.”
Music and theatre was Meindl’s original calling, but his diverse interests drove his academic pursuits.
“I wanted to go beyond my previous studies,” Meindl said. “My Master of Fine Arts is in dramatic media. In a lot of ways, it is still a theatre degree, but I was able to explore different areas, including video and multimedia production, helping me to connect with the communication departments with which I later worked.”
These varying experiences allowed Meindl the freedom to work in a variety of capacities, including as a freelancer in New York City and ample experience working directly with clients, which he passes on to his students.
“One day, a student asked why we ever had to worry about compressing the size of our files since digital storage is relatively affordable,” Meindl said. “I had a client once that wanted to play a video on a small digital photo frame. The file he had given me wasn’t large in terms of storage space, but the video was having issues playing.
“I had to dramatically reduce the size of the video so that it would play on that photo frame,” Meindl continued. “I told the student ‘While yes, we don’t have to worry too much about file size in a lot of circumstances, but in that case I had to fit the project within the constraints the client had given me.’ It is important to pass that experience along to the students.”
Through experience, Meindl learned about the necessity to think on one’s feet.
“While in New York City, I honed my own skills of trial, error and problem solving,” Meindl said. “I want the students to be active learners and try new things without worrying about failure.”
Part of the collegiate experience is “learning how to problem solve,” said Meindl.
“It’s important to be able to problem solve on location,” Meindl said. “Things don’t always go as planned. It’s important to be able to develop their problem-solving skills.”
Another part of Meindl’s background – theatre – allows him to work hands-on with students with one of the most important aspects of a communication degree – speaking.
“My Media Performance course is focused on learning how to talk properly, use your body and breath properly,” Meindl said. “It can be a scary thing and students are often very hesitant. One of the most important things we can do as performers is to be focused and have an objective, which is something a lot of acting methods focus on. Having an objective allows students to become less hesitant because their thinking is focused.”