October 26, 2012 by amerciagazette
As a non-traditional undergrad/ grad student at Syracuse University, I have found my professors to be amazing teachers, but one stands out from all the rest -Anthony Rotolo. Professor Rotolo, aka “Rotolo”, has a unique and modern style of teaching that transforms his classrooms into an enriched learning environment. His use of technology and social media to engage students is unprecedented. To an outsider or someone not familiar with his teaching style, you may enter his class and see chaos . As an insider to several of Rotolo’s classes now, I have a sincere appreciation for him and his style of teaching.
Rotolo has very high standards for his students so don’t be fooled into thinking that because the students are having fun, they are not learning. It has been my experience that the opposite is true. The more fun, the more engaged the students seem to be. So what does happen in a Rotolo Class?
One of the first things you may observe in his class is the fact that you probably see a screen filled with streaming tweets on Twitterfall, as students engage each other and the professor via Twitter. You would see hundreds of tweets scrolling down the screen during a class. Sometimes, as all social media does, things get a little side tracked but inevitably always come back to the topic. It is Rotolo’s ability to be flexible and engaging with the class that creates an atmosphere of true learning. While some academics may not understand or agree with his methods, he is teaching these students the core of true knowledge, question everything and explore new concepts in-depth. His passion for social media and his students blend to create a dynamic atmosphere in which students are free to explore their world through social media. This class in particular is focused on the presidential election. Rotolo teaches political basics and educates students on the political process. The discussion about the debates, the analyzing of effects of social media use the debates and what that says about the candidate give the students a modern and in-depth way to understand elections.
Rotolo is not only lecturing about the election, he has directed the students to create their own mock election. It is based in a fictional country –“Amercia” based on the social media fail by the Romney campaign when they inadvertently spelled AMERICA as AMERCIA. The presidential elections in Amercia started with a primary and had 14 candidates vying for office. Each of these campaigns have gone through painstaking efforts to create ads, promote their candidates and present themselves in an open debate. This was no easy task! The students found out exactly what goes into creating and running an effect political campaign. I was truly impressed and amazed as I watched my classmates created the persona of a political challenger and the campaign to back them up. The graduate students in the class were required to blog about the election of Amercia and the real election between Obama and Romney. (That is how Amercia Gazette was born) Take a look at one of the ads from this class –
I wondered if I was experiencing this class differently than my younger counterparts, so I interviewed a few of them. The messages I received form them indicated ideas such as -“I never knew how much work went into a campaign.” “I have learned more about the political process in this class than I ever thought.” and “I can’t believe how much work this is.” Over all, the sentiment reflected that the students felt engaged in the learning process in a way that they would never forget what they have learned. I found this to be profound. Imagine, students having fun and learning. Students stating that they “will never forget” what they have learned.
In addition to the class campaign projects, Rotolo has the class do reading and then gives micro quizzes with the answers being Direct Messaged via Twitter. He also has had the class read an academic writing about “Obama For Amercia”. There was required paper due that analyzed the paper from the student perspective.
So don’t be fooled when you walk into a Rotolo class and it looks a little crazy, that’s just Rotolo’s way of teaching and helping students engage in the world of Social Media to enhance their knowledge and future.
Thank you Professor Rotolo for your commitment and compassion to the education of your students!