Keeping college students engaged can be a difficult feat for teachers, especially in a remote learning class. But Ryan Ball, an accounting professor for The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, found a new way to make class a little more fun in what's now turned into a viral video that's been viewed more than 24.9 million times. What exactly did he do? He turned himself into a potato.
Well, not literally. But thanks to a spud-tacular Zoom filter, Ball appeared as a potato to his graduate students, who found the stunt hilarious. His eyes and mouth appear on the potato which bounces around the screen.
"I did it with my undergraduate class on April 1 of 2020, right when we first transitioned to Zoom," Ball told The Today Show. "I'll do anything to keep their attention. Within, like, 25 minutes I learned how to use the snap filter on a desktop and I actually had to start class 10 minutes late. To me, the best part is I did it the entire time."
The filter was such a hit for Ball's undergrad students, he decided to try it out this summer on his master-level students. Luckily, the joke was a hit and one student filmed the lecture and posted it in multiple TikTok videos, where each video has amassed millions of views.
"Once you are the potato, you can’t get it off without closing Zoom," Ball says in the video. "You’re stuck with me." He then proceeded to teach the entire lesson as the spud.
During the review session, Ball says he needs to check on his family and pulls up a photo of baked potatoes. Then, it’s time for the review session to get serious, so he changes his background to a more appropriate and professional setting — the potato sitting in an office chair.
If nothing else, this video proves the age-old adage that accountants aren’t funny is absolutely untrue!
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