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Headshot of Andrew SmockFor University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Radio TV Film (RTF) Professor Andy Smock, the “aha moment” is his favorite part about teaching.

“In the production courses seeing it click and someone’s piece coming together is just fun to sit and watch that happen to see all that hard work they’ve been doing over the course of the semester pay off,” Smock said.

On the lecture side the “aha moments” happen a little differently

“An example is during a lecture on a fairly complicated theory on human behavior and social media and I wasn’t getting the best body language and then a student posed this question to me, ‘Will this help to explain…’ and then she gave this great example and ‘aha moments’ started to happen all over the room just because they came at it from a little bit different of a direction, which is a great thing,” Smock said.

Smock has taught at UW Oshkosh since 2011 and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication technology from Eastern Michigan University and a Ph.D. in media and information studies from Michigan State University. Smock’s research focuses on the social impacts of new media.

“I really focus on human behavior component—trying to understand the motives for using different kinds of media platforms,” Smock said. “Very recently I’ve been working with colleagues to look at this concept called context collapse.”

Context collapse occurs in a social media environment, such as Facebook, when users have audiences typically never together—parents, grandparents, high school friends, college friends, coworkers and acquaintances.

“With all these different audiences in one place and we are looking at what do we do as communicators do in those situations to deal with it—how do we craft the messages that we post knowing that we have a very, very diverse audience,” Smock said.

Smock teaches courses in new media production and theory, and served as adviser for an honors thesis for an RTF student who had focused her time primarily on script writing.

“I was a little thrown off at first because she spent most of her time in our program focusing on how to become a good script writer, which is something very far outside of what I do,” Smock said. “I do social media and analytics and I was puzzled and said, ‘OK. Why?’ And it turned out she had written this Web series and wanted to produce it and distribute it digitally as part of her thesis and then collect all of the analytics data from YouTube and Facebook about engagement with the property, crunch those numbers and figure out whether or not it was a viable way for student media to be distributed.”

The project recently won a first place award for Best Webisode from the Broadcast Education Association.

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