Michelle Barrett Ferrier, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Communications
Elon University, Elon, NC

For more than twenty years, Dr. Ferrier has been experimenting with and developing content for a variety of digital platforms. She has been a beta tester and early adopter of such technologies as listservs, page layout software, direct-to-plate printing, early CD-ROM development, early website development, online communities, online education and other digital communication technologies.

Twenty years ago, before the world wide web, Ferrier was developing and distributing content via early listservs on the Internet, most notably HandsNet, an early human resources network. She was one of the site architects and content developers for the National Education Association's first online presence on America OnLine (AOL), developing a format called FastFacts that embodied early web writing style. She developed a computer simulation project called SimSchool while at the NEA to bring together educators, parents, legislators, school board members and other stakeholders in decisionmaking about education reform.

In 2002, Ferrier debuted one of the first multimedia communications courses offered in mass communications programs at Emory & Henry College. She launched one of the first independent online student newspapers in the country after 9/11, that still remains active today. During her time in Virginia, Ferrier also launched one of the first hyperlocal online community experiments called Highlands Family, a hybrid print and online project. She also beta tested early content management systems that were later adopted by newspapers in the region. Ferrier expanded her interest in digital technologies during this time by attending the first national conferences on asynchronous learning. She launched the first hybrid online course at Emory & Henry College in 1999.

Ferrier continued her interest in online communities by developing and managing the first online community for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, while also writing as a columnist for the newspaper. She developed online training for the newspaper's editing and pagination staff while working as a night news editor for the newspaper.

She completed a Ph.D. degree in Texts and Technology at the University of Central Florida. As a research associate, she helped architect a new digital media curriculum for 2- and 4-year colleges and universities in central Florida.

Ferrier now teaches at Elon University in the School of Communications. Her students developed the virtual International Civil Rights Museum on Second Life. She created and runs LocallyGrownNews.com, an online community about local food, sustainability, local economies and related issues. She continues her research and development on this proprietary content management system and other integrated social media skills.