Augmented Reality to Boost local Economy in Italian Village

by Gina Marcello

Over the past few months I’ve been exploring how 360, virtual reality, and augmented communication technologies can be incorporated into the journalism and media production courses I teach at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey. While not every communication tool is appropriate to tell every story, the newer technologies offer promise. Most virtual, augmented, and 360 experiences are currently associated with gaming, but this is quickly changing. Journalists and newsrooms are exploring ways to use the technology to share immersive stories. The New York Times now produces one 360 news story a day and other major news outlets are following suite including the Washington Post and USA Today.

Scientific research in the field is scant but quickly growing as more people adopt and experiment. Those who research VR and augmented technologies believe these types of immersive experiences can create empathy in the viewer and provide a sense of presence not possible with traditional storytelling techniques. Continue reading “Augmented Reality to Boost local Economy in Italian Village”

VR Technology is a Modern Day Miracle

If you’re like most non-tech people you’re probably wondering what the big deal is with VR technology. I mean its just for gaming, right?

I’m going to make a sweeping generalization and say if you are still wondering what all the fuss is about you’ve not actually experienced it. Virtual reality using an Oculus Rift or Vive headset is a modern day miracle. You feel as if you are fighting the alien, flying over Rome, or running from the dinosaur. Okay, maybe those are bad examples.

Webster dictionary describes a miracle as an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.  This technology is going to change how we communicate. There are some who believe VR is the next mass medium. The technology provides us the ability to transport to locations limited only by the imagination. Once there we are PRESENT in the environment. Continue reading “VR Technology is a Modern Day Miracle”

Welcome to the future, 360 storytelling is more than just buzz

Over the past few months I’ve been exploring how 360 degree technology can be incorporated into the journalism and media production courses I teach. It seems as if the more I learn the less I know. To a casual consumer 360 degree, augmented, and VR (virtual reality) experiences are associated with gaming platforms. And while this is where the technology started it isn’t where it is going.

Welcome to the Future – On a daily basis another sector reports experimenting with the technology. Last week NASA aired the first ever 360 live shuttle take off and Facebook now offers 360 degree live streaming. In a relatively short amount of time journalists and newsrooms are exploring ways to use the technology for immersive storytelling. For example, the New York Times now produces one 360 news story a day. Other major news outlets are following suit including the Washington Post  and USA Today.  The way we tell stories is forever changing with 360 degree, VR, and AR (augmented reality). Continue reading “Welcome to the future, 360 storytelling is more than just buzz”

Immersive Storytelling to promote Ecotourism in Emilia-Romagna Region

FullSizeRenderLast summer students from the Department of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University spent three weeks exploring Italy.  The purpose of the trip was to “live like an Italian” and raise awareness of the Emilia- Romagna region.

This area of northern Italy offers beautiful landscapes, delicious locally grown foods, and many outdoor activities. Bedonia, a small hamlet located at the base of beautiful Apennine Mountains, is where the GCU group spent the majority of their time exploring and eating.

Towns like Bedonia are places where family, friends, and good food are at the heart of daily life. Residents are deeply concerned this way of life will become extinct if steps are not taken to bring visitors back to the region. “We are in a situation where the town is decreasing. Many members of the community are going away for work. We are looking for ways to keep them here”, stated Marco Mariani, a local resident and grocery story owner.

Active members of the community continue to explore ways to revitalize the economy.  A group of local business owners have unified their resources. Claudio Agazzi, President of the newly formed consortium states, “Love Taro & Ceno was created to improve this area of Italy. We have over 130 small companies participating to promote the valley and increase tourism.”

The region has so much to offer visitors. Travel to places like Bedonia typically do not make the list of places to seeGina Marcello, a Spring Lake resident, is trying to change this perception.  “I think tourists travel Italy and never really get to experience what being Italian is all about.  When you visit Bedonia, you meet the local residents, visit local shops, and experience what it is actually like to live in Italy. I want to be able to share this experience”.

13838330_10206590442895626_666489823_oDr. Marcello is returning to Bedonia this summer with former student Denielle Balint to continue the work started more than two years ago. This time will be different, however. Dr. Marcello is exploring how to use 360 degree video to create digital stories about life in the small northern town.

“When people are able to immerse themselves in a location using VR, I think it will inspire them to want to go there. Eco-tourism can greatly benefit from the new VR and augmented technologies. I hope to show through my storytelling why a 360 view can promote travel to a location you might otherwise never have considered”.

The pair will also shoot and edit video highlighting the region’s beauty using more traditional forms of storytelling. A multimedia exhibit is planned for the fall.


La Dolce Vita – Italy! Study Abroad 3 Weeks

Experience Italy Like the Italians. Learn About International Tourism. Visit Small Business. Be Part of an International Tourism Social Media Campaign. 

The Department of Digital Communication presents a unique, once in a lifetime experience to visit Italy, learn about tourism and develop a digital communication social media campaign for Bedonia’s Tourism Authority while experiencing the best of Italy. Space is limited, so if you are interested see Dr. Marcello as soon as possible. Must be a Georgian Court University student. The trip is open to all students in the GCU community with priority given to Digital Communication majors and  minors. Continue reading “La Dolce Vita – Italy! Study Abroad 3 Weeks”

Are you Gritty? Five Things I Want my Son To Know

Everyone desires happiness and success, but do you have what it takes?

More times than not people are all too willing to give up when the going gets tough. They stop, change direction, and quit. The road to success is a narrow one. It is narrow for a reason. Not everyone has the courage or the fortitude to persist when the going gets tough.

That said, I believe the real reason people fail is because they lack GRIT.

According to the experts, “The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.” 

What do gritty people know? How do they approach life? Here are the five things I want my son to know and do as he grows into a man.

1 . Success and Happiness: It’s A Marathon, Not a Sprint!

We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and easy results. Very few things in life really worth achieving or having happen quickly.  If you are not enjoying your life — your journey– it might be time to change direction. But, don’t stop prematurely. Many times the breakthrough comes when we are at the point of wanting to quit. You’ll want to quit. Don’t!

2. Accept Where You Are. It takes time and patience to achieve success. The first step is to acknowledge your starting point. You want to lose 10 pounds? Begin by accepting the process might take some time. You are more likely to lose the weight safely and keep it off. Only after you acknowledge and accept where you are can you set a realistic goal.

3. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others – We live in a world of social networks. It is entirely too easy to look at what your peers are doing and become depressed or discouraged. In fact research reveals heavy Facebook users are more like to report dissatisfaction with their own lives. Recognize what you are seeing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is only one small slice of a person’s life. It cannot and does not capture all of the ups and downs. Focus on your own journey. Do NOT compare yourself to others. Understand you are exactly where you need to be in this moment.

4. Never Stop Learning. Real success comes from a desire to always learn. The desire to want to improve yourself. No one can do this for you. The motivation to do better must come from within. If you lack sustainable motivation ask yourself why. Are you engaged in activities you really enjoy? While we are not going to enjoy every task we need to complete in order to achieve our goal, we should enjoy the overall process. What skills do you need to learn in order to keep moving forward? Go out and learn them!

5. Never stop trying  – Sister Catherine McAuley said it best, “Resolve to be good today, but better tomorrow”. If you are not where you want to be in life only YOU can fix it. Resolve in your heart and in your head to make it better. Enjoy your journey, do better tomorrow, and have fun!

I will leave you with one of my all time favorite movie speeches. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes and indulge. You might find a little inspiration too.


“Now, if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying: You ain´t what you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain´t you! You´re better than that!”

The Future of Media is Radio

Social media use among teens continues to outpace all other forms of media consumption. Except one. Radio.

Radio remains a staple in millennial media use. This might surprise you. Initially it surprised me. A lot. The more I thought about and discussed it with my university students in Communication Revolutions CM110, the more it made sense.

As the director of the Digital Communication major at Georgian Court University, I am now convinced university communication programs need to reinvent their radio stations and teach with and about radio. images-3

Here are the three reasons for why I think radio is the future of mass media.

It is simple. This can not be overstated. In a world where we are forced to learn a new technology on a regular (almost daily) basis, the simplicity of just turning a knob is quite alluring. This hasn’t changed since the early beginnings of radio in the 1920’s and remains true today.

It is easy. There really isn’t much skill involved in being able to listen to the radio. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the content being provided to you. You don’t have to think about anything – unless you want to change the station. Let’s face it, the world has become entirely too complicated. We live in a whirlwind of change. Radio is reliable. It is constant. It does not demand anything of you. And, there is no special equipment needed.

It is free. Very few technologies are free. Granted there is an initial price for the radio (or the car) but after it is purchased you’re done. This medium is so much a part of our lives we don’t even notice it anymore. We take radio for granted because it has always been there. A constant and reliable companion for us on long rides. 8886586953_e80ef8415f_b

As long as radios are sold with the cars we purchase, it will remain a staple in our daily media use. Even college students who are tech savvy, still listen to radio in their cars. My students even have their favorite programs. When we discussed what they listened to on the radio, the room erupted into laughter and classic radio pranks. They love their radio programming.

This is why I think radio is the future of media. It is simple, easy to use, and it is free.

Long live radio! And podcasts….but that’s for another post.

Why do grown-ups dress up? Cosplay at New York Comic Con

Ever wonder what is wrong with those people who dress up as their favorite movie, television, or comic book character? Ever think to yourself, are you freakin’ serious? You’re a grown man in a tutu. Get a life.

Yeah, well me too.

And like any good scholar, I decided I needed to try it out.

Why not?

I typically think this about most of the things I do. If you know me, you know I’ll try almost anything at least once.

Cosplay or Costume play is perceived as a fringe activity to most sensible, reasonable stuffy adults. While I don’t consider myself to be stuffy, I can get pretty serious. I’m learning to lighten up. It’s a process. And like any good process we need to reflect. Part of this process is learning not to take myself or other people so seriously.

This year I dressed up for New York Comic Con. I went as the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland. Why this character? My college students who joined me this year thought I would make a great Queen of Hearts (a grump old woman who yells “off with his head”). So like any sensible adult, I said sure.


Here’s what I learned:

  1. Attention Getting. Walking through the streets of New York in a costume actually does draw attention. A lot. People will stop, stare, gawk and then ask to take a picture with you. This happened. A lot. It was fun.
  2. Wigs itch but are necessary. My costume without my wig was lackluster. My son said, “Without the wig it doesn’t look like you’re trying”. As much as I hate to admit it he was right. I had two wigs. Both itched. As a side note: the orange/pink undertones of the wig really didn’t work with my skin tone. This probably irked me more than the itching.
  3. Because You Can. Dressing up as a character is one of those things to do because you can. It doesn’t hurt anyone (except maybe your pride) and really forces you to just relax. I mean how serious can anyone take you while you’re dressed like cartoon character?

Beside what I mentioned, I still can’t say I know with any certainty why grown ups cosplay. It was a futile experiment in ridiculousness.

Of course, I will try it again next year. This time I’m picking my own costume.  Harley Quinn, my new favorite comic book character, is on the top of the list.

If you’re interested, I interviewed the editor of Cosplay Magazine, Paul Gambino. He might have the answer to the question I asked but you’ll have to watch.

Periscope: On-demand Personal Entertainment and Why We Need It

Is it just me or does it feel like there is ALWAYS another new social media app to learn? If you work in public relations, social media marketing, promotions or journalism there is ALWAYS another app to try. Always.

Digital Communication StudentsIt can be overwhelming.

My job as a Communication professor is a never-ending process of discovering, testing, using and teaching new technology. I think deeply about the technology, how to use and why we would use it.  That said, this post is about why you should try Periscope. I know. Just bear with me.

Every tool of social media serves a unique purpose. If you were a carpenter you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to put a nail in the wall.  Although it can get the job done it will take a long time to accomplish the task. If you want to get the job done quickly, you should use a hammer. The tool created for the job.

Social media tools are not any different. The challenge is to identify how to best use the tool for YOUR professional and personal use. I believe we don’t always know how or why we should use something. Consider me to be a master carpenter, I’m here to provide you with my whys of Periscope.

Periscope is live video broadcast on-demand. The on-demand element is what makes it so exciting to use.

Authentic. Gritty. Real. Feel like sharing what you are doing or are seeing? Open your Periscope app and start broadcasting (it is slightly more involved than this but more on how to use it in my next post). The on-demand element will revolutionize backpack and citizen journalism. Events can be broadcast easily without the necessary news crews we were always so dependent upon. Granted the video is gritty and jumpy. It is authentic. It is IMG_0833real and we want more it. We are tired of the gloss of Madison Avenue. Gritty, organic broadcasts are what is hot right now. Sorry Don Draper! I’m sure this will change but for now it is what people want.

Want to provide your followers a sneak peek behind the scenes? Another really cool element of Periscope is viewers can experience aspects of life they may never have the chance to experience first hand. Interested in Italian? Open up the world map in Periscope and “peek” into the life an Italian living in Rome.

Periscope Map

Where ever someone is broadcasting on the planet, you can watch. We want to watch.
Maybe you are interested in a particular celebrity. Follow him and watch as he eats dinner. While this might not be the most exciting thing to watch, it turns out boring mundane tasks draw large audiences. I think it has to do with our sense of curiosity about other human beings. I like to think of it as the “train wreck” phenomena. We don’t want to look but we can’t help it. People will watch you eat your dinner. Personally, I don’t want people watching me eat my dinner but don’t miss the point. Periscope content doesn’t have to be exciting to draw an audience. It just has to be interactive. This brings me to my next point and the reason I think Periscope will become part of the fabric of our culture quickly.

Periscope allows the broadcaster to interact with the audience. To me, this is REALLY where Periscope offers something unique to the broadcast experience. It is exciting for fans to interact with the talent. We feel like we are a part of the action, part of the content. Our comments can effect a change in the direction of the broadcast. What I have to say, as an audience member, is important. At least it feels that way. And, we want to feel important. We need to feel important. Right?

Recent research reveals people feel more lonely now than ever before in human history. Even though we are more connected with technology, we feel lonelier. Periscope fills a basic human need of belonging and connecting with other human beings. Although the Periscope connection is superficial it definitely offers something many people want and need. It provides a sense of connection and community.

 I think Periscope will become increasingly popular because most people are lonely. It provides us the ability to connect and belong. On demand.

Periscope is the ability to tune in or broadcast to people across the planet. At will. On demand. It is the appearance of connection without any of the real demands of friendship.  In the end, this is why I think Periscope will continue to provide us with content. Lots and lots of content. Periscope broadcasts provide real interaction. A feeling that I am part of something larger than my everyday life. It is also fun. Entertaining. Interesting.

Well…what are you waiting for? Try it out. You just might learn something new.

If you want to follow me on Periscope, here’s my page