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Most Wednesday evenings, Dustin Loeffler, JD, associate professor and director of Maryville University’s cyber security program, boots up Battlefield 1, the latest entry in the Battlefield video game series. Set in World War I, players can compete online with other gamers from around the world, teaming up to win the battle (and hopefully the war). But these particular games played by Loeffler are not ordinary — they double as student advising sessions.
In addition to holding traditional on-campus office hours, Loeffler plays video games with students from 8 to 10 p.m. every Wednesday night.
Loeffler has a world of home electronics at his fingertips: an 80-inch 4K television, 7.1 surround sound speakers in the ceiling and as many as 10 different video game systems — from early Nintendo offerings to the latest Xbox One S.
“Students like to play games online and professors like to play games, too. So, we meet our students where they’re at,” Loeffler says. “Our gaming sessions turn into advising sessions, discussions of internship opportunities, career advice — mentorship of all sorts.”
Other Maryville faculty and staff members typically join in, including Dustin York, EdD, assistant professor and director of the undergraduate communication program; Chris O’Connor, PhD, assistant professor of biology; and Brady Griffith, life coach. On a recent gaming night, they were joined by six Maryville students and a high school senior considering attending Maryville.
The Maryville team says it’s a great way to hang out, develop teamwork skills, discuss campus life and build camaraderie with the students and each other.
Loeffler points out this is yet another way Maryville breaks away from traditional models of higher education. “The role of faculty is changing,” Loeffler says. “Professors are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge. And yet, we need to be even more accessible to our students. Online gaming sessions are one innovative way we’re doing that.”
Watch the Facebook Live video below to learn more about this innovative advising technique.