SKIP navigation
news & events.

Relevant links:

Tony Vincent
photo by Tim Fitzgerald

Vincent Empowers Teachers, Students With Technology

by Wendy Townley

Click over to the iTunes Music Store, the online music retailer and brainchild of Apple Inc., and you can download thousands of podcasts on countless topics and trends from around the world.

A podcast is any file, commonly saved as an MP3, which features the spoken word and can be cataloged and downloaded via the Internet. Think of it as a favorite radio talk show available for listening, often times for free, using a computer or MP3 player (such as the iPod) at any time.

UNO alumnus Tony Vincent discovered the allure of podcasts in late 2004. He often grew bored listening to music while exercising at the gym and found that listening to the dialogue-driven content passed the time much more quickly.

At the time Vincent, was a fifth-grade teacher at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha. Vincent was already a technology savant and primarily self-taught in areas such as desktop publishing and Web design.

"When I started teaching, I remember it started out being able to take an image from a Web page and putting it into a word processing document. That was so cool," Vincent recalled.

Vincent began teaching with technology at Willowdale, in the Millard Public Schools district, by creating worksheets with kid-friendly graphics. Web pages followed for Vincent, who, in 1999, created a Web page for his students. (Today the Willowdale Web site can be viewed at

Next Vincent used technology to create his well-known Roving Reporter project.

The Roving Reporter was a brainchild project that Vincent developed in 2001 to improve his students' writing skills. Each day he assigned one of his students the title of Roving Reporter. The student would take copious notes of the day's lessons and activities. That evening the student would write a report of what happened in the classroom. The next day Vincent would review the paper with his student, adding photos and graphics, and post it all online.

Vincent said he found the students' writing skills changed dramatically during the course of the school year, as each student served as Roving Reporter about six times over the course of nine months.

"By the end of the year, we'd have a log of what we did every single school day," Vincent said. "But some of the students wanted to rewrite their old work, because their work had improved so greatly over the year during the Roving Reporter project."

The Roving Reporter project did more than just improve student writing. The yearlong assignment, Vincent said, improved communication between the students and their parents. Parents, on a daily basis, could check in on what their students studied in the classroom.

When summer vacation rolled around, Vincent created a CD for his students that contained each of the Roving Reporter projects for every school day as a souvenir and reminder of their work.

Google searches by teachers and students around the globe brought more attention to the Roving Reporter project, as Vincent's Web page was discovered and viewed countless times during the school year.

"We had readers from all over the world seeing what was going on in our classroom," Vincent said. "Teachers would email me (about projects), or students would e-mail me to reach my students about things they were working on. My students had a worldwide audience."

Vincent also shared his Willowdale Web pages at educational conferences, thereby expanding the project's exposure to an even larger audience.

In 2004 Vincent transitioned from fifth-grade teacher to Willowdale's technology specialist, a full-time position that provided the opportunity expand technology's reach inside (and outside) the school.

While the Roving Reporter project only showcased his students' written skills, podcasts, Vincent envisioned, would take the "reporting" work one step further. Podcasts would allow students voices' to tell their stories.

Once students drafted written reports on any number of classroom topics or projects, Vincent would record the students reading their reports and posted it online.

Using audio editing equipment on his school computer, Vincent brought the students' voices to life online, now available to the global community. Vincent named the podcast Radio Willow Web, borrowing from the school's name.

"It turned out great," Vincent said of the first episode of Radio Willow Web. "It was by second-graders who used part of their language arts center time to write and record the project."

No teacher voices appear on the Willowdale podcasts. Only students host each podcast and narrate the segments, which today are focused on a specific topic for every new episode.

Riddles and quizzes related to the topic (the U.S. Constitution, for example) are also a regular feature on each podcast.

When Apple Inc. added podcasts to its iTunes Music Store in 2005, only two podcasts were available in the K-12 section.

Radio Willow Web was one of them.

"(Radio Willow Web) was an early template for a lot of podcasts," said Vincent, who later created a detailed resource packet on producing podcasts for any teacher interested in adopting his project. "We have a lot of imitators, but we don't mind that at all."

Neal Grandgenett believes Vincent is the ideal educator who teachers should imitate when introducing technology in the classroom.

"He's an innovator who inspires," said Grandgenett, who is a professor in UNO's College of Education. "He's just the sort of teacher who inspires anyone who works with him to push the envelope and reach for excellence in ways other people maybe haven't considered."

Last year, after eight years with Willowdale, Vincent left teaching for the consulting world. Today he travels around the country, speaking to educators and school districts about technology in the classroom. He documents all of his work on his Web site,

"He really strives to help people get to where the technologies are being used and where they will be used by being really forward-looking," Grandgenett added. "He's a catalyst for good things to be happening in education."

Undergraduate education students at UNO have studied Vincent's work in the classroom and have benefited greatly from the experience, said Neal Topp, a faculty member of the Teacher Education Department at UNO.

"He has a really good idea on what's going to work in regard to technology and how we can help kids learn," Topp said. "Some people in technology are really good with the technology but have trouble getting to the idea of how to get kids to learn. But Tony figured that out."

Topp said Vincent has unveiled the mystery behind teaching technology, both to students and teachers.

"(As educators) it's part of our job to make sure everyone can use (technology)," Topp added. "One thing Tony has said over and over again is if he can help teachers use technology to help their students, they'll use it. Tony doesn't just teach technology, but how we apply it in our classrooms, as well."

Vincent doesn't have summers off anymore, but he loves his work nonetheless.

"I miss being in the classroom, but I love what I do now," he said.


October 2012 > A Closer Look at IS&T's NUCIA

October 2012 > UNO Engages Students, Community for 2012 Elections

October 2012 > National Cyber Security Month Highlights UNO Programs, Research

May 2012 > Dan McDermott Named Employee of the Year at UNO

December 2011 > Conference Tags

September 2011 > Roskens Hall: An Educator's Dream

July 2011 > Arts and Sciences Hall: UNO's Cornerstone

June 2011 > The ABCs of the Alumni House: From Adolf Storz and Mary Shirley to William H. Thompson

June 2011 > The Strauss Performing Arts Center: Making Music for Decades

May 2011 > The Durham Science Center: Theory Put Into Practice

May 2011 > The Gene Eppley Administration Building: Philanthropy at Work

April 2011 > Milo Bail Student Center: From Snack Shack to Student Center

April 2011 > UNOCCC: Twenty-Five Years of Caring

March 2011 > UNO's Libraries: A History

March 2011 > The Henningson Memorial Campanile

February 2011 > Mammel Hall

February 2011 > The Sapp Fieldhouse

January 2011 > Heydays of the Hayden House

December 2010 > UNO Faculty/Staff Earn WELCOM Light of Wellness Team Award

October 2010 > New children's financial literacy book supported by UNO alumni

August 2010 > Anna S. Forman Commencement Remarks

May 2010 > John Treinen Commencement Remarks

March 2010 > My Ties and Cliff Hillegass

January 2010 > Megan Schuster Commencement Remarks

December 2009 > Man Killed by Pheasant

November 2009 > New Molecular Modeling Lab Key to Chemistry Research Work

September 2009 > Midlands Voices: Goals of liberal arts college remain vastly important

September 2009 > Technology and Term Papers – A Photo Essay

May 2009 > USSTRATCOM Commander Hears UNO Intern Ideas on Cyber Security, Global Stability

March 2009 > Early Usage of the Kerrey Bridge: Some Empirical Findings and Thoughts on the Future

March 2009 > The End of an Era - UNO's Public Intellectuals and the Omaha World-Herald, 1997-2006

January 2009 > Going Green on Campus: Kathy Hartle Evokes Her Recycling Charge at Work

October 2008 > Zero to 65 in 80 Semesters

October 2008 > Embracing tests UNO should be praised for bucking establishment, scoring well

September 2008 > H.RES.1372: Celebrating the 100th

September 2008 > UNO Researcher Spotlighted

March 2008 > Culture on Campus

February 2008 > In Her Own Words: Technology is crucial to spurring growth

December 2007 > Pacific Street Memories

November 2007 > WISE Women

October 2007 > Vincent Empowers Teachers, Students With Technology

September 2007 > A Model of Success: UNO-Western Hills Partnership Thrives at Six Years

August 2007 > Orientation Leader Represents UNO with Exuberance

August 2007 > In His Own Words: On Summer School

July 2007 > Changing Faces

June 2007 > MVHC @ 50

May 2007 > In His Own Words: My Fulbright Year in Leipzig

February 2007 > At Your Service

December 2006 > A Job Well Done

September 2006 > Australian Finches Aid UNO Professor's Research

July 2006 > Finding His Way

May 2006 > Calming the Anxious

April 2006 > The Kid's Doing All Right

March 2006 > Shot of a Lifetime

March 2006 > Going for Four

February 2006 > Standing Tall with Sierra

January 2006 > In-Your-Face Geology

January 2006 > Religion Meets Film

January 2006 > Finding a Home Port

December 2005 > Man of the Cloth

November 2005 > Volunteer Field Work

November 2005 > Charting the Unknown

October 2005 > Developing Business Overseas

October 2005 > After The Storm

September 2005 > Building Better Officers

September 2005 > Saving the Planet

August 2005 > Making the Abstract Tangible

August 2005 > Helping Neighborhoods Help Themselves

July 2005 > Improving Health through Technology

July 2005 > Reading the Signs

June 2005 > Small Steps to a Better Life

April 2005 > Women's Walk Brings the Benefits to UNO Student-Athletes

April 2005 > Honest Art

March 2005 > Sharing The Wealth

March 2005 > Engineering His Own Masterpiece

February 2005 > Native Daughter, Native Dreams

February 2005 > Puck Stops Here

January 2005 > Stressing the Familiar

January 2005 > Connecting the Community

January 2005 > Ticket to Cooperstown

December 2004 > Spirit of the Season

December 2004 > Nicholas Stergiou: Research in Motion

fall 2004 > Alzheimer's: Caring for the Caregiver's

fall 2004 > Part of the Heart & Soul of Our Community: A message from Chancellor Belck

fall 2004 > David Hawk: All In

fall 2004 > Anadelia Lamas: Planting Roots

fall 2004 > Dean Olson: Assessing the Threat

fall 2004 > Student's Wireless Application Earns Him $25,000 Price from Microsoft

fall 2004 > Tom Warren: From the Chiefs to the Chief

fall 2004 > UNO Theatre Graduates Start Companies in Their Community

fall 2004 > Host Families Provide Welcoming Environment for Afghan Guests

fall 2004 > CADRE Project Celebrates 10 Years of Preparing Effective Educators

fall 2004 > Business Owner Raises Awareness, Funding for Real Estate Program

fall 2004 > Media Executive Chooses Omaha as Place to Build a Career and a Life

fall 2004 > UNO Partners with Metro, Takes STEP to Grow Science-Related Degrees

fall 2004 > Art Meets Technology in PKI's Student Multimedia Lab