The Roving Reporter: Use Technology and Social Media to Make Every Lesson a Field Trip

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

Often we emphasize content of a lesson without considering the location of its delivery. See how one Instructor breaks through traditional classroom walls.


Thom is a graduate of Hofstra University (1981) and Hofstra Law School (1984). After 14 years in the private sector, Thom began teaching for Greenfield Community College (1998), and was hired full-time in 2000. He Co-Chairs the Business Department, and continues to teach a wide variety of courses ranging from Sports Economics to Introduction to Fashion & Textiles. He is one of the institution's pioneers in delivering courses in an online format, advises the Business Club, and serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the Grinspoon Foundation, providing seed capital to student entrepreneurs. Thom is an active member of the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, with duties at Boston Lighthouse, Fire Island National Seashore, and Narragansett Bay. His other interests include musical theater, bodybuilding, marksmanship, and Professional Soccer. He lives with his partner Danny Tyrell in Shelburne Falls, MA.

Extended Abstract

In a traditional face-to-face delivery format, the richness of our content is often dulled by the sameness of the delivery locus: the same classroom, two or three times a week, all semester. When a course is adapted for online delivery, we easily fall into the same pattern; even our creation of videos tends to echo the ësameness' of the classroom locus as we tape our classroom lectures.

But technology - and the ability to deliver courses remotely - gives us incredible opportunities to make every single lesson a new field trip. Rather than lecturing about product differentiation within a business...why not take a video camera directly to that business? By making a series of "on location" videos, a Greenfield Community College Instructor has created a catalogue of videos that include interviews with business owners, surveys of business operations, and on-location lectures ranging from the Press Box of a Professional Hockey Team, to the floor of a working Brewery, to the sewing room of a Fashion & Design Company, to a Raft set loose on Massachusetts' Deerfield River.

Leveraging students' familiarity and embrace of social media, Thom has expanded his approach to include both his and his students' Live Blog Posts, which cross-post to news services such as Reddit. The results of this approach are courses that bring online students into the real world, so that lectures become as near as possible a ëhands-on adventure' into the discipline, and feedback is immediate.

Consistent student feedback - and objective assessment of student outcomes in both the ëtraditionally delivered format' and this ëRoving Reporter' approach to course delivery - shows increased student engagement and grasp of the material with this approach.

In this workshop, Thom will explain his evolution of thought and walk you through a series of video clips and blogs demonstrating this highly successful and innovative approach to distance education.