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”

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”

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.

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

Find Your Passion in Three (not so) Easy Steps

It always surprises me when I ask students what they are passionate about and I receive a blank stare. Instead of enthusisam, I receive a stare filled with confusion and conflict. In a split second the student experiences an existential crisis of sorts. “Passionate? Interests? What do you mean, Dr. Marcello?”

Knowing what you are passionate about is not very common. Maybe because there is no right answer. Maybe because no one ever asked. Perhaps because we haven’t the courage to ask ourselves and really listen to the answers. Identifying what makes you come alive isn’t something many people do. It isn’t a luxury to ask yourself the questions. I think it is a necessity. 

As an educator, I want my students leaving my classroom with a better understanding of those things which bring them joy and happiness. Those activities which make their spirits come alive. 

The world needs more people who are passionate about what they do each and every day. People who are dedicated to creating a full life for themselves. Because when we are fulfilled and happy we positively influence everyone around us.

What this looks like will vary considerably from person to person. 

Finding your passion means taking responsibility for your life. There are many people who have no desire to do take on this challenge.  But, if you are tired of being tired with life, begin by asking yourself three really important questions:

1) What do I want my life to look like?

2) What contributions can I make?

3) If I only had five years to live, what would I want to do everyday?

Time is an illusion. We do not know how long we’ve got. Life is short. Don’t let it pass you by without activity being involved.

Over the years, I’ve noticed some students resent the prodding, the questions. Who cares, they think. I just want a grade. I just want a paycheck. Tell me what to do. Tell me how to do it. I don’t have the time or energy to think about it.

I have discovered in order to identify what I truly love, I needed to spend time alone and with other people. I need to reflect but I also need to share. Becoming quiet and reflecting is more important now than ever before because of the incessant hum of technology.

Equally, sharing with others brings forth new ideas, new dreams, and new possibilities. 

Start today by asking the important questions and listen to your heart

When do you come alive?

When are you excited with possibility?

The answers just might provide you a glimpse into what your life can be. A tiny glimpse into the kind of life you can create. And believe me, you can create it. I know because I did. Anything is possible.

You just have to BELIEVE.

Remember: the smallest step in the right direction just might change your life.

Podcasting in 12 Steps

Podcasting in 12 Steps

Podcasting is an exciting tool of communication. However, like any new toy we get distracted by the shine. I’m here to provide a little perspective about podcasting for the beginner. If you are a student taking a class where you will learn podcasting or if you are an instructor teaching podcasting for the first time, there are a few things you should know BEFORE you begin. 

1. Identify a topic you are passionate about. 

Simple, right? Ummm. No. This is not as easy as it sounds. In order to identify a topic you are passionate about, you need to figure out what you deeply enjoy. Suprisingly students struggled with identifying their interests. I don’t think my students are unusual. 

What to do? Encourage students to share. Provide examples. Students identified topics including: the impact of cyberbullying, challenges in raising hens, what it is really like to live at the Jersey shore, and sports. In the end, most students identified topics deeply important to them. It took more time than anticipated. Time well spent resulted in engaging content. 

2. Listen to podcasts related to your area of interest

While I assumed students listened to podcasts on a regular basis, they do not. In fact, we had to discuss how to find podcasts, platforms for listening to podcasts, and different genres. If you aren’t already following podcasts, start doing this immediately. The more you listen the better your own content.

3. Evaluate podcasts

Using your knowledge about radio and television coupled with your knowledge of superior oral presentations, identify what works and what doesn’t in a variety of podcasts. Discuss why the techniques engage or alienate listeners. Use principles of public speaking as a starting point. Identify organizational themes, use of repetition, introduction (setting the tone), conclusions (wrap up). Just name a few.

Continue reading “Podcasting in 12 Steps”

Omega Nu Welcomes New Members, Guest Speaker Karen Dushnick

Communication Honor Society Welcomes New Members and D-Squared Founders

LPH LogoThe Department of Digital Communication at GCU welcomed new Lambda Pi Eta members into the Omega Nu Chapter of the National Communication Association Honor Society. Samantha Mancino, the newly elected president, was pleased to be inducted. Mrs. Karen Dushnick, founder of D-Squared a local safe ride program, presented the keynote address.

“Sometimes, we are asked to travel a road we never anticipated traveling. But in the worst of times, my faith has been my greatest gift. Religion has given me my foundation and my spirituality has given me my wings” shared Dushnick. The keynote address challenged students to continue to strive for academic excellence and to make time for reflection.

The Dushnick’s (center) with (left) Dr. Gina Marcello, MC Robinon and Ashley Flach (right)

Dushnick’s non-profit D-Squared provides free transportation home for 18-to-27 year-olds who live between Belmar and Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The safe rides program was created in memory of Stephen and Michael Dushnick, Karen’s two sons whose lives were taken by a fatal vehicular accident in April 2013.

Mrs. Dushnick graciously gifted the graduating seniors and the newly inducted with a copy of The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. She concluded, “Approach every step of life with excitement and always nourish your spirituality.”

The ceremony took place in the elegant McAuley Chapel on May 2, 2015.

Donations to D-Squared can be on the website

Digital Journalism: the Pros and Cons of Mobile

Teaching Digital Journalism this semester was an experiment in mobile technology, patience, and making do with what you’ve got. Using only iPhones and laptops, students gathered the news. The idea to “go mobile” occurred to me after completing a MOOC (Massive On-Line Course) offered by The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas this past summer. The five week course presented the how and why of mobile journalism. I was convinced it was a great way to teach my students how to report in the field using simple tools. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded. Sound Quality – We did have challenges with the technology.  The quality of the audio was poor when using only the microphone purchased with the mCam Lite. Hand held microphones are a necessity. Every mobile journalism student should have a good quality microphone. Period.

Digital Journalism students were mobile all semester. Editing and shooting from their phones.

Video Quality – The video quality was less than adequate at times.  Reasons for the poor video quality varied, and I’m still trouble shooting reasons why. I think sometimes it related to the uploading procedures, other times it was an editing issue, and other times it was clearly operator error.

Lack of Resources & Making Do – Of equal import, all students do not own iPhones, iPads or laptops. Like many small colleges we do not have the budget to purchase all the equipment I would need (or like) for each student to have their own. To solve this problem, students worked in teams. We shared personal equipment. While this was an issue we did overcome, it needs to be taken into consideration for assignments.

The Upside of Mobile Technologies – Mobile journalism content is useful in instances when a news crew can not get to a specific location. It is also a relatively inexpensive way to teach students about the basics of mobile reporting. Overall it was an excellent experience for the entire class. Students tell me they learned a lot. A few of them shared with me they’ve been offered jobs to shoot and edit videos. This was a crowning moment for me. One of the best examples I can share with you is Denielle Balint’s Mobile Journalism report. Denielle Balint

There are so many factors to take into consideration when your are responsible for writing, shooting, and editing your own work. It is not possible to cover all of the content in any one course. Trust me. I tried.

In the spring, I’ll try again.

What do you think? Have you experienced similar challenges using mobile technologies as a student, teacher or journalist? I would like to hear from you.