Professor aims for innovative classroom

Professor and chair of the legal studies department Sam Hodge sits in his office. | Tanvir Saurav TTN
Professor and chair of the legal studies department Sam Hodge sits in his office. | Tanvir Saurav TTN

When approaching large lecture-style classes, Samuel Hodge thinks of a specific word: edutainment.

Edutainment – a sort of mix between education and entertainment – is what Hodge works to achieve in his classrooms. Hodge utilizes animations, songs, visuals, prominent guest speakers and technology to create what he calls a “flip classroom” – what Hodge said is the largest ever attempted at the undergraduate level at Temple.

A flip classroom is a combination of online learning, lecture-style teaching and hands-on experience. Hodge’s flip classroom is the Legal Environment of Business, through which he teaches roughly 400 students.

“The idea is trying to do something that is more practical oriented that you use instead of just going to the classroom, instead of just teaching theory,” Hodge said.

One day per week, Hodge connects with notable guest speakers.

Speakers this semester include state and federal judges and former CNN political analyst Alex Wellen. Hodge uses Skype to communicate with guests speakers from locations around the country – he even reached out to several Supreme Court justices, though each declined the offer.

Hands-on learning is a huge element of Hodge’s flip classroom, he said.

“You’re … applying the knowledge they learn, but then taking it the next step by having them apply it in a practical way,” Hodge said.

To engage students, Hodge uses animations that he designs and voices himself.

In one animation, an Egyptian figure introduces the beginnings of law in society. In another, an animation of Willie Nelson plays guitar and sings to explain criminal and civil cases through Nelson’s own experiences with the law.

Animations in Hodge’s class are not just fun and games, though. One review video includes an animation of Hodge singing to the tune of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” while Hooter the Owl holds up flashcards of review terms.

Hodge also invented an animated family to use in the course. The family appears throughout the semester and solves various problems.

Though technology is essential in his classroom, Hodge said it also proves to be the greatest challenge. The clickers, remotes that students use to buzz in answers to questions, that he uses during quizzes and tests were a “disaster” at first, he said, because a large number of students were struggling to use them.

Because Hodge also teaches anatomy courses, he is able to take students to the Temple Hospital to witness dissections.

All of the material Hodge teaches in his classes is meant to be both relevant and non-traditional, he said.

“I’m trying not to do the traditional things in the classroom so that the students are able to get this other perspective and to have fun,” Hodge said. “But it’s not all just games, they’re learning how to do this stuff.”

Vince Bellino can be reached at

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