Mobility & Connectivity:
Shifts in Teaching, Learning, and Providing Live News
J. C. Barone*
Western Connecticut State University
- *Corresponding Author:
- JC Barone
Department of Communication and Media Arts,
Connecticut State University,
181 White Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
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Acknowledging and incorporating ways to develop novel ideas and methods is a core skill for students. An interdisciplinary course was developed using a didactic approach that combined emerging digital technology, social media, and traditional media into an interactive learning environment to produce and disseminate live, public, regional election coverage. Questions facing the course: Can a high quality, election news program be produced despite limited resources using emerging and traditional media and successfully delivered in real time to a diverse audience? How well will students of various interdisciplinary majors work together under the stress of a high stakes project and will (their civic understanding and engagement be increased? Unsolicited feedback during and shortly after the live broadcast, student written course evaluations, live audience attendance, and student grades suggest positive results. Challenged with limited resources and facilities, within the context of a live news production class of 30 undergraduates, a technological mash-up maximized experiential learning and produced a valuable public service to a potential audience of 60,000. Studio anchors, six remote field teams, a virtual set with polling data and social media were employed. Using smartphones for cameras, Skype, digital switching equipment, and cable access television, four hours of live election coverage successfully broadcast November 6, 2012 and simultaneously aired over TV, FM radio, and the Internet. The program won two media awards.
mobility, connectivity, connectivist learning, media, politics, election
coverage, technology, news, journalism, social media, web, Internet, streaming video,
simulcasting, audience interactivity, video production, interdisciplinary, teaching across
the curriculum, experiential learning, distribution, limited resources and funding,
traditional media, emerging media, synchronous communication, participatory education
The Changing Face of News Production and Creation
News and political information impact our lives directly and indirectly. Such information
affects how we think of ourselves and those who share or disagree with our worldview, our
perceptions of issues, policy, government leaders and government. We have witnessed
fundamental changes taking place in our consumption of media and news. The Pew Research
Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (2012) reported these changes.
In 2011, the digital revolution entered a new era. The age of mobile, in which people are
connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. More than four in ten
American adults now own a smartphone. One in five owns a tablet. New cars are
manufactured with Internet built in. With more mobility comes deeper immersion into
social networking (http://stateofthemedia-2012.org).
By 2013, Pew Research Center reported that over three cable channels, coverage of live events
fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and
can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%.
This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover
stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public
is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet
because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to
Whether news media have undergone a revolutionary change or are merely adapting
existing practices is being debated (Alysen, 2009). But there is no debate on changes in
professional practice in four areas: (a) production technologies, (b) distribution technologies, (c)
economic restraints, and (d) changing audience tastes and expectations (Pew, 2012; 2013;
Mitchell & Rosenstiel, 2012; Atkinson, 2013). News organizations around the world have
witnessed shrinking budgets and fewer field offices (Barone & Swan, 2007). Reporters have had
to do more of the production work including shooting and editing, and more of their work is in a
“live” environment (Alysen, 2009). The public has become a player in agenda setting by
focusing attention on issues and supplying news organizations with content through various
means on websites, text messages, blogs, Twitter, emails, personal cameras and mobile phone
Fourteen years ago Tickle and Keshvani presciently noted:
The discrete roles of broadcast journalist, print journalist, editor and producer,
once bounded by news product specificity, task differentiation and analogue
technologies, have inexorably merged as have the digital technologies and
applications now used to gather and produce the news… Used in conjunction with
established communication and information technologies (such as broadband
access to the Internet and one of its applications, the World Wide Web), these technologies enable single operators to gather, produce and transmit an electronic
news product globally in a matter of minutes (1999, p. 2).
They encouraged those of us who were teaching media production and enjoying the
digital technology tsunami taking place in the 1990s by saying, “There is no room for
technophobia in the future of electronic newsgathering and journalists will be expected to
interact with their audiences in ways they have not been required to previously” (Tickle &
Keshvani, 1999). We have taken their advice. As McNeal and van‘t Hooft (2006) note, much has
been written about the potential for mobile technologies for education. We have witnessed the
blurring of professional, prosumer, and consumer production that was predicted by Toffler
(1980) as the rise of a prosumer market brought about by the commercialization of technology.
The result was a shift in the 1990s with the democratization of low cost equipment and software.
That shift continues to manifest in various personal mobile devices.
Mobile device advantages include relatively low cost, ease-of-use, networked
communication, interactivity, and connectivity. They allow users to go beyond space/time
limitations of traditional bricks-and-mortar teaching and learning.
Individuals are able to collaborate, create new knowledge, and share information through text,
images, footage, and sound immediately with one another or the Internet, synchronously or
asynchronously. Using mobile phones as cameras to shoot live events and interviews takes
advantage of this trend, and acceptance by an audience for viewing such sound and images in
lieu of more traditionally produced media only normalizes such use. Judging by number of hits
YouTube videos and web links are getting that deal with using smartphones for filming, a global
public is becoming accustomed to the idea of using and consuming content created this way. Hall (2013) notes, “Despite groans from professional and the present (although evaporating) stigma of
shooting ‘film’ with a mobile device, it’s happening. It is rapidly re-constructing markets,
industries, business models and relationships around the world.” Cameron (2007) adds, “The
mobile telephone has become a significant instrument in the development of this journalistic
form” (p. 1). The International Conference on Communication, Media, Technology and Design
notes advantages of connecting course content in a digitized professional work environment to a
“connectivist” approach (Boers, Bilgiç, Rinsdorf, & Vaagan, 2012).
Using hands-on learning and real-world resources in the classroom can make education
more meaningful and relevant to learners. Incorporating emerging technology, mobile phones,
and social media into learning and professional training responds to this need. The disruptive
innovation (DI) theory developed by Christensen and Bower (1995) has been one of the most
influential concepts regarding technology and markets in recent years. Christensen (1997) states
that disruptive technologies have features that customers value. Products based on disruptive
technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use (p.
xv). Berenger and Taha (2012) remind us how other disruptive technologies have had profound
effects on knowledge, geographical boundaries, social interaction, and delivery of information.
In his book The Mobile Wave, Michael Saylor (2012) describes mobile media as “disruptive” and
revolutionary, fundamentally changing our lives and having the ability to alter education. He
calls this transition to mobile devices, “the fifth wave of computing — the first was the main
frame, the second was the mini-computer, the third was the personal computer (PC), and the
fourth was the Internet-linked computer (Miller & Chapin, 2012).
The following questions were explored: (1) Can a high quality, election news program be
produced despite limited resources using mobile phones, traditional media and social media to
create a seamless production? (2) Can the program be successfully delivered in real time to a
diverse audience of university students, faculty, and the larger western Connecticut region?
(3) How well will students of various interdisciplinary majors work together under the stress of a
high stakes project? (4) How will the course participants adapt to unforeseen events (the first
year, Hurricane Irene barreled through the region, taking out scheduled and necessary dress
rehearsal). (5) Can student civic understanding and engagement be increased through such a
Thirty-one students, 22 males and nine females, were registered in COM 298 Faculty
Developed Course: Broadcast News and Politics, all from the School of Arts and Sciences.
Students ranged from freshmen (1), sophomores (7), juniors (10), and seniors (13). Student
majors in the course were media arts, 22; political science, 4; communication, 2; English, 1;
professional writing, 1; exploratory studies, 1. An Informational Technology student volunteered
to participate on election night. Two additional students from theater arts (School of Visual and
Performing Arts) participated without receiving academic credit on set building. Twenty-seven
students from COM 270 Fundamentals of Radio Broadcasting, and 15 students from MKT 301
Principles of Marketing (School of Business) assisted with promotion. Twenty-three student
senators from the Student Government Association assisted with a “watch party” on campus
(two Senators proposed the watch party, 21 approved the motion). Two hundred fifty attendees
were estimated to be at the campus-held watch party during the live broadcast. Faculty from Communication and Media Arts, Political Science, Business, and Justice & Law Administration
volunteered to anchor and work with students, and from Theater to design the news set built
from theater department wood scraps, borrowed classroom stools, and purchased materials.
COM 298 Faculty Developed Course: Broadcast News and Politics was created to
provide local, state, and national election coverage to an underserved area designed to give a
local and regional perspective. The undergraduate course objectives incorporated pedagogy,
media production, design, communication, social science, news, computing, basic civics, and
technology. The inner lens focused on accurate and compelling storytelling, breaking news,
ethics and adaptability all within the context of television production and public service.
The course was designed to produce a live four-hour news and election coverage over
Charter Communications “Community Vision” cable access television channel 21, while
simulcasting the program over the Western Connecticut State University’s college radio station,
WXCI-FM (91.7) and sending a live video web stream on WCSU’s webpage
(www.wcsu.edu/live). Preparation for the live broadcast began months in advance, building on
the school’s historical first election broadcast in 2011. Students and faculty from over 10
different academic departments and offices were involved including Communication and Media
Arts, Social Sciences/Political Science, Professional Writing/Journalism, Informational
Technology, Theater, Business Administration, Marketing, Justice and Law Administration,
Graphic Arts and English.
In addition to participating in lectures and discussions during the five-hour class, students
in COM 298 were required to research, write, record, and edit stories (news packages) beyond class time. By week four, the class was focused into two main groups: those who worked in the
field, and those who worked in the studio. Everyone was assigned a position, including faculty
who worked on the project: producers, directors, live room techs, audio, camera, anchors,
The goals of course were to:
• Produce live election coverage programming, using various production and
postproduction skills: field reporting, TV studio news production, editing, virtual
environments, graphics and set design/creation.
• Teach current news production theory and practice.
• Incorporate ethical practice and professional standards.
• Provide for a strong course meta-structure, with clear task goals, with both “soft” and
“hard” due dates for specific tasks.
• Provide rewards for tasks done early and/or very well.
• Provide flexibility and expect personal responsibility within individual and 2-3 threemember
• Teach basic concepts in civics and government and relevant current political news.
• Investigate various emerging technologies as an educational tool.
• Provide an interactive learning experience.
• Provide a form of live, inexpensive video recording on location field reporting.
• Provide a way to inexpensively transmit field reporting back to a TV studio.
• Provide a way to disseminate live election coverage to both a large, established audience
and a new audience.
• Include various relevant academic departments, students, faculty and university staff.
• Give students the opportunity to work with local and state government leaders,
politicians, and media industry professionals.
• Provide a valuable community service by offering live, locally situated, regionally
focused election coverage.
• Provide an interactive news program.
Course assessment for reaching these goals included the actual live broadcast (and recorded for
review), attendance at the live “watch party,” comparison of test scores over the semester,
student evaluations and unsolicited feedback from viewers. Reaching these goals required facing
On November 6, 2012, live election coverage was produced and delivered from 8 p.m.-
midnight. In Connecticut commercial television stations are in Hartford (WFSB, WTIC), New
Britain (WVIT), New Haven (WEDY, WTNH), Norwalk (News12), and Norwich (WEDN), but
there are no dedicated commercial television stations that focus primarily on local needs of
western Connecticut. The course and production goal was to address that need by covering
important events in American history, including a presidential election and local and state
elections and issues. The broadcast was simultaneously aired live through cable television, FM
radio and video steamed via webcast. According to Greg Van Antwerp, Community Access
Supervisor at Charter Communications, the program could reach a potential audience of over
60,000 TV households (personal communication, October 4, 2012).
Use of Smartphones. Unlike many academic disciplines, television production is
traditionally dependent on having expensive technology and equipment. Transmitters needed to broadcast signals are costly. One way around this is for colleges and universities to be affiliated
with, or re-transmit, public broadcast station (PBS) TV signals. Another way is for a school to
have its own low-power television station and transmitter (LPTV). Having neither of these
options, we were faced with other limitations: no campus TV studio from which to produce or
disseminate the program, no remote and field equipment, production vans, or satellites to report
from various locations and very limited funds for a news set and desk. Here’s where mobile
phones factored in. And determination.
Taking advantage of new technology, one of the more intriguing facets of the live
program was the use of Smartphones for live, video field reports from students strategically
placed in various towns to cover political races, polling results, analysis and interviews. In the
past, extremely costly news production trucks with microwave satellite technology and receiving
broadcast towers were needed for such live reporting and news. We were interested in breaking
tradition (instead of the bank) by using the phones mounted on tripods as field cameras. We
added adapted audio gear and sent out teams of two consisting of a reporter and a camera/audio
person. Students reported live from Hartford, Torrington, Stamford, New Haven, Waterbury and
Danbury, from various Republican and Democratic Party headquarters in Connecticut.
Program Details. Despite some on-going, sideline nay saying, through months of
meetings and managing state, institutional and bureaucratic hurdles, a negotiation was finally
reached for collaboration with a neighboring cable company, Charter Communications in
Newtown, CT, just days short the fall semester start. After 18 months of planning and with 30
students hanging in the balance, it was a bit of a cliffhanger. Persistence and support from the
University and Charter became crucial. Charter allowed us to use their public access TV studio.
For months before the live program, field crews worked on gathering research, interviews
and images related to various news stories or “news packages,” while the studio crew also
worked on news packages, graphics, the news set and virtual environments to be shown on
election night such as the green-screened virtual set and superimposed polling graphics. As
election night neared, studio rehearsals were needed to obtain program flow and technical
operations worked out. A major and exciting part of the live component was the creation of a
“live” room in which several linked switchers and routers brought in six different feeds from the
various field crews positioned around the state. A team of four students worked the room; two IT
personnel were on hand to assist in case any technical issues came up. The Charter staff was also
on hand but did not have to intercede at any point. They watched the show from another room.
In the TV studio, two moderating anchors discussed various topics and issues throughout
the evening. Throughout the live four-hour broadcast, eight rotating anchors were brought in,
appearing two at a time, for a total of four anchors at any given time (two moderators, two
guests). Care was given to feature faculty and student anchors who would bring diverse
perspectives to the table.
News Packages and Topics Discussed. “News packages” are prerecorded stories on
relevant issues. Twelve prerecorded news packages provided visual and rhetorical context to
issues, allowing anchors and field reporters to comment on, and react to, how those topics were
covered. The four hours of live coverage 8 a.m. - midnight. In addition to following various
local, state, and national political races, the following topics were discussed:
• Hurricane Sandy
• Youth Vote
• Electoral College
• Energy: (Regional) Connecticut Gas Prices
• Energy: (National/Global) Climate Change
• Supreme Court and Implications of the election results
• The Fiscal Cliff
• Campaign Finance Reform
• Health Care Policy and Reform
• Women’s Health
• Role of Women in this election, media portrayals, voting
• Decline of the Middle Class
• Income Gap
• What You’re Not Reading About: Immigration
• Jobs, Unemployment
• The Recession
• Banking Reform
• The Economy and candidate comparisons
• Global Comparison: US vs. Other nations (education, health, employment, etc.)
• Voter Fraud vs. Voter Suppression
• Super PACs
Since there were no breaks in the live coverage, in addition to assisting anchor
commentary, disseminating important information and engaging the audience, news packages
were used to cover switching studio anchors. Four of the eight anchors were seen at any given
time, seated at the news desk in the studio. Anchors were chosen from Communication and
Media Arts, Social Sciences/Political Science, Justice and Law Administration, and Business
Administration. Six were faculty, two were students. The two moderating anchors brought
experience and professionalism to the program from having appeared (and continue to appear) as
experts on various commercial television networks (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.).
Intermittently throughout the night, a second area in the television studio featured a political
science student who gave polling updates and covered political races while appearing in front of
the virtual set of superimposed polling numbers from various races. Next door in the control
room, a student updated those numbers using Live Text, software that worked with switchers in
the control room. The control room was filled with various producers, directors, audio, graphics
and technical personnel most of the time, with several talking at once, shouting out orders for
shots, audio cues, remote feed inserts and the latest polling data. Producers guided the live show
content. The two moderating anchors were constantly receiving cues and information about
where to go next from the director in their respective ear pieces, or “interruptive feedback”
(IFB). The field crews were communicating with the “live room” crew who patched in their
respective feeds when the show would go live to them. The three rooms at Charter—control
room, live room and studio-- resembled a very active hive, live with action, dialogue, electronics
and social media.
The anchor desk and set were designed by an Emmy Award-winning scenic designer
Professor Liz Popiel, Art Director on weekends for Good Morning America (WABC-TV- NYC).
Two theater students built the set and desk, using existing and new materials.
Additionally, a “Watch Party” organized with support from Student Government was set
up in the campus Westside Ballroom to allow students and members of the community to watch
the live broadcast on large wall mounted monitors. Students were able to interact with the show
through Twitter and on-camera interviews with on-site student reporters. More than 250 people
attended, according to faculty member and radio station advisor Tom Zarecki. Updates were
periodically shared on the mood of the room, energy and interest in civic engagement.
Refreshments were provided to help fuel the attendees over four hours. The room would erupt
when certain races were called. A partial list of attendee names and emails was gathered as a
source for feedback and future election show updates and promotion.
The technology mix: Collaborating with Charter Communication was successful,
mutually beneficial and rewarding. Last year, Charter competed against major networks and
submitted our 2011 election coverage in the Education Category for the coveted Beacon Award
from the Association of Cable Communicators. Charter was a national finalist for that award.
Our collaboration also offered a significant challenge, however; this one, technical in nature. To
accomplish the goal of providing the live field reports was not possible without adding two
additional video switchers from WCSU, which allowed for creating virtual sets and incoming
web-based signals, mixed with traditional studio sources (cameras, graphics generators, audio,
etc.) to form a complete synchronized signal for broadcast, cablecast and webcast
simultaneously. There was still one problem: how to record those field reports Smartphones provided the answer, along with some additional technical adaptations provided by our IT
Our technology “cocktail” grew. The use of virtual news sets was incorporated along
with actual physical sets and a news anchor desk. Class file sharing was used via a dedicated
server for uploading and downloading audio, video, and graphic files for prerecorded segments.
Text messaging, “the currency of modern conversation,” (Sutter, 2012, paragraph 3) was used
throughout the semester to give students class and news story updates, as well as for
communication between Charter’s control room crew and students in various locations in the
field. A RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed, which allowed for regularly changing web information
to be received, was set up to aggregate news and gather headlines from Reddit. That was fed
into Live Text and used to update the crawling feed at the lower third of TV screens during the
A Face Book page was created for the program along with a Twitter account to assist
with promoting the show and keeping a running record of progress from various stages of
production and during the live show. Promotional information on the show before it aired was
also sent to Instagram. A phone number was given to the audience to call into the show while it
was in progress to talk with anchors. A traditional landline at Charter was input to the audio
board. We also set it up in case any of the smartphones used as field cameras went down. If this
happened, a reporter could call in, and a still picture of them (taken ahead of time with a
smartphone) was on file with the switcher, to accompany their live voice call-in. At one point, a
professor from the School of Business called in and wanted to talk “live” to the anchors about an
issue. Students in the control room immediately brainstormed, then flew into action, obtained his picture from Facebook, downloaded it, imported it into the video switcher’s computer, brought
in up through a split-screen image with one of the anchors and brought in his live landline phone
call for voice-over, patched into the audio mixer. This was all done within minutes, behind the
scenes, without any discernible break in live program flow as the producer and director were
communicating with studio anchors via ear pieces, and anchors spoke to the audience and with
one another. Being able to listen to directions from one person and hold a conversation with
someone else at the same time is a skill in itself. The anchors did it well. It was pre-show “what
ifs” preparation that helped problem-solve this particular challenge. The audience had no idea of
the various levels of controlled chaos and communication that was taking place, during this and
throughout the entire show. And they should not, of course.
Personnel requirements: Support from University IT in the form of personnel and
equipment was essential. Additional support from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and
Learning, various faculty, departments and university offices such as the Publications and
Design, University Relations and Administrative Services was vital. Sustaining these working,
supportive relationships is critical for the success of such a large endeavor, especially one with a
public face. Maintaining faculty with passion and expertise to manage and participate in such an
operation is essential. Interdisciplinary cooperation and teamwork are vital.
Curriculum: A course proposal has since been approved at the departmental and
institutional levels. This will facilitate curriculum stability, better consistency in election
coverage, improved enrollment, and audience building.
Facilities: The facilities used were ten miles outside of campus in Newtown, CT, with
limited hours of access. Future collaboration with regional cable and media companies should continue. However, a dedicated campus television facility is very strongly recommended.
Students need to be able use all of the equipment, not just some equipment, to learn and use.
Students need to have more and easier access to the control room, audio booth, live room and
studio. Having an adequately equipped, fully functional campus television facility will allow
Use of Equipment: Additional improvements include a computer generated map of
election races included for the virtual set. Limitations existed with getting multiple graphics
simultaneously on the screen such as polling results, Twitter feeds, virtual sets and names of
anchors. This is something for the instructor and students to figure out—a good challenge for the
next show. Planning for such an improvement should start immediately and may require
assistance from the department and/or information technology (IT) professional on campus.
Better feedback planning and means: Better means are recommended for gathering
student input at future watch parties. This year, it was done as a last minute thought.
Additionally, a survey sent to the university community within 48 hours after the election is
suggested. A draft of that survey, to be offered through Survey Monkey, is included in
Appendix C, Election Connection Survey.
Future research: For research purposes, preparation for obtaining additional, relevant
participant information is suggested. Designing the course with the inclusion of a pre-/post-test
would allow for measuring student performance in certain areas such as current affairs
knowledge, civic understanding, interviewing skills, trouble-shooting, and news production
procedures. Such a study requires IRB approval.
Four tests were given over the semester, ending with a cumulative final exam. Test scores
for the class improved from the first test to the final exam by an average of 8.61 points.
Unsolicited Email and Text Feedback
Feedback sent to the producer’s WCSU email was positive. All of the email responses are
attached in a table in Appendix A: Unsolicited Email and Text Feedback. All original emails
have been saved for examination. Names of senders were removed and may be requested upon
receiving the individual’s permission to share it.
Approximately 250 students were estimated to have shown up at the Westside Ballroom
according to Communication Professor Tom Zarecki and a student election reporter who were in
the Ballroom (email communication, December 20, 2012). Students stayed throughout the
broadcast and could be seen when the program went “live” the Ballroom, to the reporting student
and professor. Names, year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), and major were gathered from students
who entered the Ballroom during the first hour and submitted to the Communication and Media
Arts Department and the Office of the Provost.
Student Opinion Surveys
Data was collected at the end of the course through course Student Opinion Surveys and
showed an average rating of 4.67 out of 5.00 for 15 items that dealt with evaluating the course
(Appendix B). Rating on individual items ranged from 4.31 (“The class was well organized”) to
4.88 (“Instructor encouraged me to think independently about the material”). A general item,
“Overall, this was an excellent class,” showed an average of 4.85.
Broadcast Education Association Panel Presentation
Additionally, shortly after the election an invitation to present the course and broadcast was sent
to industry professionals and educators:
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 1:23 PM
Subject: BEA 2013 Panel Submission
Congratulations! Your panel submission to the Broadcast Education Association division
of Interactive Media and Emerging Technologies has been accepted for the BEA 2013
The Broadcast Education Association is the professional association for professors, industry
professionals, and students who are interested in teaching and research related to electronic
media and multimedia enterprises.
Lastly, the live program, “Election Connection 2012” was submitted to professional
media competitions. It won two awards, a prestigious Telly Award, and the International
Academy of Visual Arts’ Communicator Award of Distinction.
The following areas were explored: (1) Can a high quality, election news program be
produced despite limited resources using mobile phones, traditional media and social media into
a seamless production? (2) Can the program be successfully delivered in real time to a diverse
audience of university students, faculty and the larger western Connecticut region? (3) How well
will students of various interdisciplinary majors work together under the stress of a high stakes
project? (4) How will course participants adapt to unforeseen events? (5) Will student civic
understanding and engagement be increased?
Success of the course was assessed from four sources: (1) test scores over the semester,
(2) unsolicited email feedback during and after the show, (3) attendance at the campus “watch
party,” and (4) student opinion surveys from the course.
The live broadcast was carried out for four hours as planned. Original graphics were
professionally crafted. The news desk and set belied its humble origins of discarded wood from
the Theater Department, the rotating faculty and student anchors delivered poignant commentary
and analysis live, uninterrupted from 8 p.m. until midnight EST. The student positioned in front
of the studio polling data virtual set delivered polling numbers and commentary, the six remote
field teams located throughout the State delivered informative political party headquarters
information, “mood of the rooms,” interviews, and analysis. A live call-in was included in the
show. Tweets and Internet research and polling data were continually updated on the lowerthirds
graphics at the bottom of the screen. Prerecorded news packages on topical issues were
interspersed throughout the program. There were no breaks, commercial or otherwise. No loss of
transmission occurred during the broadcast. A DVD of the entire program is at WCSU’s Haas
library and online at: https://vimeo.com/67361002 Election Connection 2012.
The live program, “Election Connection” won two prestigious awards in professional
competitions. Feedback indicates audience members included students, faculty and members of
the community. The campus watch party had approximately 250 students attend throughout the
evening. A 15 item student opinion survey yielded positive results with an average course rating
of 4.67 out of 5.0, and specifically on the item , “Overall, this was an excellent class,” 4.85.
Moving beyond digital distraction, mobile devices are being used to engage, teach, and
learn. The EDUCAUSE 2012 Horizon Report cites flexibility, mobility, collaboration, cloud and web-based learning and more emphasis on “challenge based and active learning” as emerging
technologies areas to enter mainstream use over the next five years (Johnson, Adams, &
Cummins, 2012). Training Tomorrow's Television Journalists: In the Trenches with Media
Convergence (Tanner & Smith, 2007) studied the practices of news workers in the top 50
television media markets and below, markets in which journalism students usually obtain their
first jobs. Data revealed nearly 70 % of respondents personally performed convergent tasks (p.
The media landscape is changing due to emerging media: mobile communication, social
media and networking, virtual environments, and easily purchased cameras and audio gear. Jobs
lost in print media are being picked up by electronic media, “the first time we’ve seen this kind
of substitution,” states Pew Research Center’s Project for excellence in Journalism in their
annual report, the State of the News Media (2012, para. 12). The International Conference on
Communication, Media, Technology, and Design state,
The consequences of convergence for journalism are obvious: distribution channels like
radio, television, online and print are no longer separated. Established workflows, which
focus only on one channel, are no longer suitable. They have to be replaced by new forms
of cross-media production which consider the multi-channel-perspective from the
beginning. Journalists and media marketers have to cope with some challenging tasks on
their way to convergent products and production workflows (Boers, Bilgiç, Rinsdorf, &
Vaagan, 2012, p. 229)
Smartphones and Internet-based laptops made this project and live, mass audience
program possible. We tapped into the fourth and fifth waves of computing, Internet-linked
computers, and mobile devices respectively (Miller & Chapin, 2012), on several levels, from various studio and field production activities, GPS, social media, and the interactive live watch
party. Smartphones played a significant role, and no surprise. Not only were they useful, but we
love our phones, our “phantom limb” (Sutter, 2012); 68% of us sleep with them at our bedside
and three-quarters of Americans feel that constantly connected by technology is helpful
(Qualcomm & Time, 2012, http://www.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,2122187,00.html).
While commercial and non-profits are still figuring out the best way to manage, produce
and disseminate local news, the Pew Research Center (2012) found that one of major trends in
news media is that “local news remains the vast untapped territory” (para. 20).
The use of emerging technology must be factored into teaching and learning more—or
educators will be left in the dust as learners take learning upon themselves. Add to this the fact
that today’s undergraduates are working more hours while attending college, an average of 10-15
hours a week fuels this need. Today nearly one in ten full-time, traditional-age undergraduates is
employed at least 35 hours per week (AAUP, 2010). Institutions are not always willing to change
or able to adapt quickly. In many ways the manner of teaching has not fundamentally changed in
over 100 years. We are well into a new paradigm of learning and living brought about by the
digital wave. Will there still be a need for brick-and-mortar campuses? Perhaps. There are good
reasons to do so. Changes in scale and purpose will likely occur as blended synchronous and
asynchronous teaching and more independently based, pedagogically guided learning takes off.
With this converged project we jumped on and rode the wave.
- Alexander, B. (2004). Going nomadic: Mobile learning in higher education. EDUCAUSE Review, 39(5), 29-35. Retrieved September 27, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0451.asp?bhcp=1
- Alysen, B. (2009). Reporting in the Ã¢ÂÂNew MediaÃ¢ÂÂ environment: How todayÃ¢ÂÂs television journalists are recycling work practices of the past. Global Media Journal, 3(2), 1.
- Atkinson, C. (2013). The new cable guy: CBS chief Moonves takes pay-TV tack. New York Post. March 1, 2013. Retrieved from http://www. http://www.smartbrief.com March 3, 2013.
- Barone, J. C. & Swan, K. (2007). Effects of Media Framing on Beliefs and Values Concerning Detainees, Civil Liberties, and National Security after 9/11. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 3(1), 13-22.
- Berenger, R. & Taha, M. (2012). Technology disruption theory and Middle East media. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Chicago Marriott Downtown, Chicago, IL
- Boers, R.; BilgiÃÂ§, E. E; Rinsdorf, L.; Vaagan, R. W. (2012). From convergence to connectivism: Teaching journalism 2.0. International Conference on Communication, Media, Technology and Design. Online Journal of Communication & Media Technologies, 2(4), 229-232.
- Bower, J. L. & Christensen, C. M. (1995). Disruptive technologies: Catching the wave. Harvard Business Review, (73)1, 43-53.
- Cameron, D. (2007). Mobile media and the journalism curriculum. Unpublished paper. Retrieved from http://22.214.171.124/faculty/arts/commun/research/cameron_mobile_07.pdf
- Christensen, Clayton M. (1997). The InnovatorÃ¢ÂÂs Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
- EDUCAUSE 2012 Horizon Report. (2012). The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/hr2012.pdf
- Hall, B. S. (2013, April 23). The next Steven Spielberg uses a smartphone. [Online blog]. Retrieved from http://readwrite.com/2013/04/23/the-next-Steven-Spielberg-uses-asmartphone.
- McNeal, T; van Ã¢ÂÂt Hooft, M. (2006). Anywhere, Anytime: Using Mobile Phones for Learning. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, 2(2), 24-31.
- Miller, K. & Chapin, K. (2012). Innovation hub of 12/29/2012: The storytelling animal' and 'the mobile wave.' WGBH News. [Online news hub]. Retrieved from http://wgbhnews.org/post/innovation-hub-12292012-storytelling-animal-and-mobilewave.
- Mitchell, A. & Rosenstiel, T. (2012). The state of the news media 2012: An annual report on American journalism. (PEJ State of the News Media Report, 9th ed.) Retrieved from Pew Research CenterÃ¢ÂÂs Project for Excellence in Journalism website: http://stateofthemedia.org/overview-2012.
- Perna, L. W. (2010). Understanding the Working College Student. Academe, 96 (4). Washington, D.C.: American Association of University Professors. The Pew Research CenterÃ¢ÂÂs Project for Excellence in Journalism (2012). The State of thenews media: An annual report on American journalism. Retrieved from http://stateofthemedia.org.
- Qualcomm & TIME. (2012). Your wireless life: Results of TIME's mobility poll. [On-line. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,2122187,00.html
- Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.
- Roush, W. (2005). Social machines: Computing means connecting. Technology Review, 108 (8), 45-53. Retrieved from http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=14664&ch=infotech
- Saylor, M. (2012) Everything. Philadelphia: Vanguard Press
- Sutter, J. D. (2012). How smartphones make us superhuman. CNN.com [On-line]. Retrieved from www.cnn.com/2012/09/10/tech/mobile/our.../index.html.
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- Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave. London: Pan.
- USNPL. (2012). [On-line]. Retrieved from http://www.usnpl.com/tv/cttv.php
Unsolicited Email & Text Feedback
Student Opinion Surveys
Election Connection Survey
[SURVEY PREVIEW MODE] JC Barone, PhD/ Dept. of Communication & Media Arts
1. Prior to the election on November 6, 2012, did you hear or see anything about
WCSU’s live election coverage, Election Connection?
2. If yes, do you recall how? (Check all that apply)
• Face Book
• Lawn signs
• Read about it
• Word of mouth My professor Other (please specify) ______________
3. Did you watch or listen to WCSU’s live coverage on election night?
4. If so, how did you experience Election Connection? (Check all that apply)
• mobile phone
5. How would you describe WCSU’s live election night broadcast? (Check all that
• Variety of viewpoints & perspectives aired
• Well-crafted news stories and interviews
• Professional graphics
• Good reporting
• Good analyses
• Timely and reliable polling results
• Other (please specify) _________________
6. What did you like the most from watching or listening to Election Connection?
(Check all that apply)
• Live reports from various locations
• Important issues covered
• Studio anchors and discussions
• Twitter comments and updates on the screen
• Up-to-the-minute polling results for local races
• Up-to-the-minute polling results for Connecticut state races
• Up-to-the-minute polling results for the presidential race
• Professional graphics used
• Quality and professionalism of student reporters and crew
• Connecting to the live WCSU Westside Ballroom viewing party
• Other (please specify) ______________________________
7. How long did you watch or listen to Election Connection?
• Off and on throughout the four-hour broadcast
• Less than 30 minutes
• About an hour
• About 2 hours
• About 3 hours
• The entire show
• Did not watch or listen to the program
8. How likely are you to watch or listen to WCSU’s Election Connection live
coverage in the future?
• willing to check it out
• looking forward to seeing it next year
• won’t watch or listen to it
9. How do you usually follow election coverage and results? (Check all that
• Mobile phone
• From other people
• I don't watch or listen to elections
• Other (please specify) _______________
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about WCSU's live election