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Michigan Teacher’s TikTok Videos As Potato Go Viral

You’ve heard of the lawyer who argued a case via Zoom as a chat.

It’s the story of a humorous accounting professor who taught a virtual classroom like a potato.

Over the past few weeks, Ryan Ball – who holds the very long and sultry title of Coopers and Lybrand, Norman E. Auerbach assistant professor of accounting at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan – has gained Internet fame by as a talking potato.

Ask anyone on campus. It has been more contagious than the coronavirus.

Last month, NBC “Today” program featured clips from his class, stating that “accounting lessons have never been so fun!” In its light online report, the news program included a sort of trigger warning: “Prepare for a lot of potato puns.”

And earlier this week, the university’s internal news release, the university file, wrote of his notable action, calling him a “local celebrity” and “star of viral TikTok videos.” One video, according to the report, now has 49 million views.

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What makes the videos so fun is this: who would expect a teacher to appear onscreen as an animated potato, especially the one from Ross School, who is hailed as the one of the best business schools in the country?

On top of that, accounting and pleasure are two words that don’t naturally go together.

The Ross school tried to capitalize on attention. Its writing is more what you would expect from a bunch of academics. This online article calls the video a “creative online classroom experience” to “help combat” zoom fatigue “that can occur during virtual lessons.”

According to UM, here is the deal:

Ball used a filter – a Zoom feature that allows users to appear on screen as a potato, cat, or whatever – to teach a 2-hour review session and a half. He tells the students in the session, “Once you’re the potato, you can’t take it off without leaving Zoom, so you’re stuck with me.”

“I taught the entire two and a half hour review session like the potato,” Ball said, quoting Ball. “The point is, people were paying attention, and that’s all I care about. It’s hard to get people’s attention on Zoom.”

A student in the session recorded part of it and shared it on TikTok, so it went viral.

The clip is above. Ball comes across as a potato with jock jam, and “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!” He also tells a few bad jokes: “Let me check my family first,” going from a photo outside Ross School to four buttered baked potatoes.

“My baby!” he says.

Rolling eyes, anyone?

This is not the first time that a Zoom filter has attracted national attention.

In February, Rod Ponton, a Texas County District Attorney, drew unwanted attention when he was unable to close a cat filter during a Zoom appeal hearing in district court. The result took off online. Partly because it was fun.

The New York Times, which wrote of the call, suggested the video, which was less than a minute long, “offered a harmless injection of levity as many people go through a rough patch – and Mr. Ponton took her in a good mood “.

Ball told the Record he played a prank on students with a filter in 2020, after the university took distance education.

His ratemyprofessors.com the score is 5 out of 5.

One reviewer said he “is the best teacher I have ever had”, praising his “unique, organized and effective teaching style” which “made me laugh and enjoy every class session”. Another, well, the only other on the site for him, said he was “the most engaging and entertaining I can imagine.”

Balls online biography for UM says he studies how “high frequency economic activities affect and are deferentially affected by low frequency accounting information using a mixed data sampling approach.” Whatever that means!

He also taught at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, another great B.

And the biography also states that he is “a three-time recipient of the Neary Teaching Excellence Award from the Ross Business School as well as the first Ross professor to receive the Golden Apple Teaching Award from the University of Michigan in 2016”.

But he should really also mention the question of the potato.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected]


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