For Jacqueline Wanner, learning is a lifelong experience. She has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising Design from Wayne State University, an Associate of Applied Science in Website Programming from Macomb, and a Master of Science in Management from Walsh College. Currently, she is pursuing an online Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. “I’m already trying to plan out what I want to do next,” muses Wanner. “I’ve always been interested in education, even from my younger years in elementary school. I almost didn’t like summer vacations, because it meant I couldn’t be in school.”
Teaching would seem like a natural fit for Wanner, a self-proclaimed “fitness geek” and “full-time vegetarian” who enjoys technology and art, but it wasn’t her first choice. “I was going to be a graphic artist and I was in the industry for a long time. I went into web design.”
When presented with the possibility of teaching, Wanner thought she could never do it. “I can’t get up and talk in front of people. It scares me to death.” Within no time, those fears were allayed. “I slowly migrated to this in some weird way. I can’t imagine doing anything different.”
In 2009, Macomb hired Wanner, a proponent of online education, for a full-time faculty position. Her role blends the best elements of all her interests. “Take the passion of the industry and the creativity of the website design and development piece and bring it to the classroom for the students, and that’s what I love to do. I have the opportunity to hopefully touch someone’s life.”
What can students expect when participating in one of Professor Wanner’s classes? First and foremost, she wants to ensure they are taking advantage of available resources. “I’m not going to give you the answer right away. I’m going to make you think a little bit and develop the skills that allow you to research the answer and experiment.”
This approach recently led Wanner to cofound a makerspace at Macomb with Professor Martin Kohl. “It’s a space where students can dream big, make stuff, play, create, design and have fun,” says Wanner, “without worrying about making mistakes or failing.” She believes that it is through failure that students learn best. The makerspace provides students with access to all sorts of gadgets, including a Raspberry Pi, a 3D printer, virtual reality goggles and littleBits electronic building blocks. She hopes this community environment will instill confidence in students and possibly inspire the next generation of technological innovators.
“Maybe,” offers Wanner, “we’ll discover the next Steve Wozniak or Steve Jobs.”