My Social Media Journey as a Public Relations Professor
March 2015, one week before spring break, I received my first wake-up call as an educator who teaches public relations and communication courses at Stockton University in NJ, US. I noticed that my students are not digitally savvy at all. Maybe this is no news to you, but I was shocked by it. I had always thought that my students are more digitally advanced than me! However, I was wrong. Some of them have never heard of Pinterest, social influncers or even used Twitter. When I heard that, I realized that there is a hole in my teaching. I need to fix this if I want to train my students to become competent players or even find jobs in today’s increasingly competitive (digital) market.
The first step that I took was to train myself to become more tech savvy and overcome my own fear of the unknown! I have long been interested in topics related to social media, technology, pedagogy, and education in general. But, that’s about it. My interest stays at a superficial level. So, I asked myself, if I don’t become technologically savvy myself, how could I expect my students to be? It’s time for me to walk the talk! I chose to work on my twitter account first.
I had about 300 followers on my Twitter account in March 2015. I decided to build my twitter followers by being more engaged as we hear so much about engagement in PR and marketing! I picked up Twitter chat. I did participate in a few twitter chats here and there before, but never ventured into any in-depth relationship building or discussions. So, I started with #Raganchat first and loved every single chat. Then I didn’t participate in any until the spring semester was over (end-of-semster craziness)!
Then, over the summer, I went nuts about Twitter chats. I don’t even recall how many PR/marketing-related twitter chats that I participated, such as, #Sproutchat, #Bufferchat, #MeasurePR, #PRProChat, #Hootchat, #PRStudChat, #Pichat, and too many to be listed here. I cannot express enough how much I LOVED all the chats and how much I have learned and grown my Twitter followers (gained about 800 followers). This shows the importance of engagement and the amazing power of social media for professional development.
As an educator, I am constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve. For example, for the Fall semester, I am experimenting with lots of interesting things, google side (a class website), google slides, Pi App , about.me , and GIFs and emojis in lecture notes and assignments. I am loving every single change that I have made along the way. There is still so much for me to learn and I truly believe that we should all be lifelong learners in this journey called life. Finally, I want to give a big shoutout to Karen Freberg for her inspiration and dedication to social media and PR. I have learned SO much from her!
What’s your experience with social media and digital tools as an educator?
Ai Addyson-Zhang is a professor, speaker, live streamer, social media expert, and digital learning consultant. She connects the dots between social media and education. Ai is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram @AiAddysonZhang. She’s the host of a weekly Facebook live show, Classroom Without Walls — Using Technology to Reimagine Education, on every Wednesday at 5PM, EST.