As a science teacher, I realized very early on that it comes down to relevancy. As an instructor at Hillsborough Community College, Floyd College (now Georgia Highlands) and as the director of the introductory biology program at Appalachian State, I was always looking for resources to make biology content relevant to students who are not biology majors. After all, I always found science to be cool, and I recognized that students actually like science – when they can relate to it. As a science writer, I was fortunate to attract the attention of McGraw-Hill Education, who placed me as lead author for the Mader Biology series of textbooks. As I worked on this series I integrated relevancy into both the print and digital aspects of the texts. But I was always looking for a way to introduce new content to the science education community more efficiently.
For years I developed animations, virtual lectures, podcasts, and tutorials for my students. Some worked, others didn’t. The scientist in me (my background is in molecular evolutionary genetics) was motivated by those that didn’t. I challenged myself to build the best resources for my students. Luckily for me, my partner, Sandy Windelspecht, was an experienced instructional designer (Lowes Home Improvement, Microsoft, etc). So we started a company, Ricochet Creative Productions, to start building multimedia assets not only for my classes, but also to support the Mader/Windelspecht texts. Here is an example…
Very shortly after that we realized that we should be sharing these resources freely across the science education community. We experimented with a series of blog sites before settling on our Ricochet Science site. Is this site perfect? Probably not, but neither were my lectures when I first started, it was only through feedback and continuous development that I achieved my goals in the classroom. The same applies for Ricochet Science. This is a constantly evolving, adaptive site that strives to serve those who are interested in, and engaged in, science education.
I am very lucky to be working with McGraw-Hill Education, Area9, and Inkling as corporate sponsors over the past few years. These partnerships allow me to experience some of the cutting edge resources in higher education, and, for you, develop resources that can easily be integrated into those platforms. No more searching frantically for articles for your flipped and hybrid classes, chances are we are developing them here, and they are free for you to use.
I am also lucky to have working with me a tremendous collection of talent. As I mentioned Sandy Windelspecht, is the co-founder of the company and lead instructional designer for the material you see here. Her task (a formidable one sometimes) is to take my ideas and make them educationally useful and visually appealing. I have also recruited some of my previous colleagues (Betsy Harris) and graduate students in biology (Krissy Johnson, Alex James, and Michael Duus) to act as instructional designers. Each of them holds a masters degree in biology, and a record of successfully teaching in the introductory science classroom. Much of what they do is behind the scenes – but very much appreciated. Finally, I have some wonderful subject matter experts that I call upon regularly to make sure that I get the science right. So, you can see, this is a team of science educators producing science materials for the science classroom.
STEM education is one of my most important professional goals. Starting a few years ago we started recruiting high school seniors and college freshman to work on science communication projects. These students not only learn about multimedia development using state of the art tools, but also gain experience in photography and video production. A few of these students have specialized in social media, and work on our FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest sites. Others have started to contribute short articles to this site. We are very interested in expanding this project, so if you are an educator with a passion for science communication, and have an idea of how we can participate, then please let us know.
So what about this site? Some time ago I realized that I needed a way to highlight my work in education, and my thoughts on how education needs to change. My educational philosophy can be summarized in a quote by R. Buckminster Fuller:
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete
Want to know more about me? Then please visit the What I Do pages at the top of the site. Want to partner with me? I am always looking for the next challenge – so drop me an email.
Michael Windelspecht, PhD
Ricochet Creative Productions LLC
As an educator, Dr. Windelspecht has taught introductory biology, genetics, and human genetics in the online, traditional, and hybrid environments at community colleges, comprehensive universities, and military institutions. For over a decade he served as the Introductory Biology Coordinator at Appalachian State University, where he directed a program that enrolled over 4,500 students annually. He received degrees from Michigan State University (BS, zoology–genetics) and the University of South Florida (PhD, evolutionary genetics), and has published papers in areas as diverse as science education, water quality, and the evolution of insecticide resistance. His current interests are in the analysis of data from digital learning platforms for the development of personalized microlearning assets and next generation publication platforms. He is currently a member of the National Association of Science Writers and several science education associations. He has served as the keynote speaker on the development of multimedia resources for online and hybrid science classrooms. In 2015 he won the DevLearn HyperDrive competition for a strategy to integrate student data into the textbook revision process.
As an author and editor, Dr. Windelspecht has over 20 reference textbooks and multiple print and online lab manuals. He has founded several science communication companies, including Ricochet Creative Productions, which actively develops and assesses new technologies for the science classroom. You can learn more about Dr. Windelspecht by visiting his website at www.michaelwindelspecht.com.
For more information – visit the What I Do page on this site.