This month we sat down with our “remotest” employee, Joel Webb. By the time we make it into the Baltimore or McLean offices, he’s already put in a day’s work—all the way from Madrid, Spain. Joel works his magic from across the globe, transforming educational products into masterpieces with flair. (What makes you Wisewire? Use #iamwisewire for a chance to be featured next!)

At Wisewire I… 

Work as a Learning Editor, primarily in humanities and English language arts. I have a love of history, and frequently edit US history, social studies, and world geography, as well as ELA digital, print, and interactive products.

As an instructor I’ve…

Designed and taught courses on Modern European History, the History of Spain, and the History of Technology in Europe. The most valuable takeaways from my teaching experience are the considerable insights into how learning products are used, both in and outside of the classroom. Now that I’m on the other side of the equation, I can use these insights to inform my approach here at Wisewire. Likewise, I’ve also incorporated some of the techniques we use on projects here into my classroom approach. It’s a cycle of constant learning and growth.

My best advice for teachers is … 

Take every opportunity to incorporate multi-media resources into classroom instruction. Students today expect to be stimulated with video and music in the classroom, even when the content doesn’t seem to demand it. And with the equipment available to instructors, there is no good reason not to indulge their expectations. Videos, recordings, and slideshows are great resources to engage students when introducing topics and themes. Once they’re hooked, students can explore further through readings and lectures. Multi-media can’t become the instruction itself, but it’s a fun way to liven up discussion and increase engagement.

When I’m not at Wisewire you can find me… 

Joel Webb in front of a structure at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The real Joel at Angkor Wat

On the road. I caught the travel bug rather young. At 19, I took to the road on an old Honda motorcycle to travel from Baton Rouge to Alaska in search of adventure (and to cash in on the lucrative Northwest Salmon fishing industry). Tragically, my bike died in Seattle, leaving me stranded for nearly two years. Although I never made it to Alaska, the experience proved formative, and I haven’t stopped since. I’ve spent five of the last fifteen years living, working, studying, or otherwise vagabonding in about 50 different countries on five continents. Once, I traveled 8,000 miles by land and sea, making my way over three months from Seoul to Dublin by way of Mongolia and Siberia.

My latest adventure was to Spain for a six-month research trip. My wife and young daughter traveled with me to Madrid, so I could take my time combing through Spanish railroad archives. I returned with (I hope!) enough information to finally finish my dissertation, “Iron Monsters in the Spanish Garden: The Railroad in the Nineteenth-Century Spanish Imagination,” and complete my doctorate in history. But my travels certainly won’t end here.

My time overseas has most directly influenced…

My research interests as a graduate student of history: the topics I study and publish on, the questions I ask, the sources I look for, and which theoretical approaches I take or ignore. I’m expected to cultivate a broad base of historical knowledge to serve as an effective assistant for tenured faculty who work in a great variety of theoretical and geographic fields. This knowledge base has proven especially useful in working on world history projects where we as editors move blithely between a diverse assortment of topics.

Last question… a penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

“¿Qué rollo con el hoyo?” [Translation: What’s goin’ on?]

Have questions (or travel destinations) for Joel? Let us know in the comments!

 

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