Monday, September 10 | 1:00PM–2:00PM ET | Online

ELI Webinar | How a Free Online Class Saved a Program in Crisis and Raised New Questions About How Instructors Teach

In 2016 a perfect storm of budget cuts, faculty exits, and dwindling enrollments placed the anthropology program at Kansas State University in a precarious position. In response, Professor Michael Wesch and his colleague Ryan Klataske launched, a free online hub for cultural anthropology featuring a free textbook and original video content in an innovative online format. As a true "classroom without walls" the "lectures" (more like minidocumentaries) are filmed all over the world, TAs are paid in travel funds and run discussions from every inhabitable continent, and students are asked to do 10 "challenges" out in the world and share their results on Instagram. In two years, the course has produced over $500,000 and reached over 2 million people and has exposed the instructors to new questions about what, why, when, where, and how they are teaching.


  • Explore the benefits and challenges of an open online class hosted across multiple social media platforms
  • Explore a unique budget model that seeks to produce revenue for the university while lowering costs for students
  • Discuss the challenges of teaching to a politically polarized public and the need for exploring heterodox teaching methods


  • Michael Wesch

    Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University

Resources & Downloads

  • Slides

    9 MB, pdf - Updated on 1/22/2024
  • Transcript

    55 KB, docx - Updated on 1/22/2024
  • Recording

    Updated on 1/22/2024


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