Teaching Students to Create an Online Personal Branding Strategy

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Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about Mark W. Schaefer’s new book: Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age. For example, Ai Addison Zang reviewed it.

I haven’t read the book. But, after reading those reviews, it’s officially on my Christmas list.

[Read book reviews I’ve written about Schaefer’s other books: Return on Influence and Born to Blog]

With all the buzz about personal branding online, I’d like to share a personal branding assignment I started incorporating in my Public Relations Principles class last semester.

The assignment is based on the assignment Dr. Karen Freberg presents in her book A Roadmap for Teaching Social Media. But first, some thoughts.

[Read my review of Dr. Freberg’s book]

My Struggle in Teaching Personal Branding

Personal branding is something I’ve struggled to successfully bring into my classes. When I first started teaching social media at Shepherd University, I had a personal branding project. In short, students developed a personal branding plan. Then, throughout the semester, the students worked on executing the plan. For example, one student started a video gaming blog focused on retro RPGs. At the end of the semester, students  presented their outputs and their results in brief presentations.

I loved the idea. But, I found that students didn’t take too well to it. Most students didn’t put the time and concentration into the project that I had hoped. A number of students didn’t do much of what they planned to do such that at the end of the semester they didn’t have too many pieces of content – whether that was video posts or blogs – to show for it. I wanted to know why the project didn’t succeed as I had hoped. So I asked. Several students expressed some skepticism as to the value of what I was trying to get them to do. And, some simply didn’t want to have an online presence.

That was in the fall of 2012. After that experience, I pulled back quite a bit on online personal branding. And I’m sad to say that, perhaps out of fear of it not going well again, I stopped requiring my students to do online personal branding. I didn’t so much as require students to participate in a Twitter chat – though I certainly encouraged it as extra curricular activity.

In all honesty, when I reflect on my teaching over the last 5 plus years here at Shepherd, I think that not emphasizing personal branding in my classes is the one thing I wish I did better.

Steps Back into Personal Branding

After reading Dr. Freberg’s book, I got the bug again about teaching students personal branding. I decided to start small with a project in my Public Relations Principles class. I first gave this assignment last spring as a final project in the class instead of the paper I used to have them write.

As I noted above, this project is an adaptation of the assignment Dr. Freberg puts forth in her book. I modified it down. The purpose of this project was for students to strategize how they would build their personal brands online.

The assignment is broken down into a few parts.

First, I provide students with Dr. Freberg’s checklist for personal branding. I encourage students to work through the list.

Next, I require students to identify a job or internship that interests them and answer some questions about how they relate to the position.

Then, I have students map out their personal brand. Lastly, students must create a LinkedIn or About.me profile branding themselves.

Because I gave this assignment late in the year, I did not ask students to build out a plan for building their personal brand nor did I ask them to have executed one. Rather, I asked them to start taking little steps towards executing a personal brand and provide me evidence that they are moving in that direction.

I’d like to grow this into something more where the students need to go out and truly prepare a detailed strategy and execute it for weeks or a few months  – similar to what I was originally doing in my social media class. I’m not sure where I’d fit this in as my social media class is pretty packed right now. But, I’m going to think about it further this summer, read Schaefer’s new book, and see what I can come up with.

If you’ve got tips or examples of how you’ve gotten your students to find success in personal branding, I’d love to hear them. Tweet me @mjkushin or comment on this blog.

You can see the full assignment below.

  • Cheers!
    Matt

What I learned from hosting a Facebook live interview

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This year, the social media committee of the Public Relations Division of AEJMC wanted to make some changes in how we conduct our interviews with senior faculty and practitioners.

For several years, interviews have been published on the PRD blog in written format. We thought it would be fun to put a fresh spin on things.

Ai Zhang, who hosts an awesome Facebook Live show “Classroom Without Walls: Using Technology to Reimagine Education,” suggested using Facebook Live to conduct the interviews.

So, we came up with the PRD Ask Me Anything (AMA) series with Senior Faculty and Practitioners. Based on the popular AMA format on Reddit, we solicited questions from PRD members to then pose to the interviewee during the live interview. The interviews are hosted live on the AEJMC PRD Facebook page at a publicized time.

I recently had the honor of hosting our first ever PRD AMA with  Dr. Tiffany Gallicano, past head of the PRD and faculty member at UNC Charlotte.

If you missed it, the interview is full of wonderful advice from Dr. Gallicano on how balancing work and family life, preparing for tenure, keeping one’s research current in an ever changing media landscape, and more. I was particularly inspired by her advice to focus on teaching preparation as a new faculty member, which to me demonstrated a thorough and passionate commitment to pedagogy and to her students.  I also was very impressed with how Tiffany manages to find a unique work/life balance as well as how she harnesses her energy to maximize her productivity.

You can watch the full interview below. If the embedded player does not load, you can find the PRD AMA interview with Dr. Gallicano here.

 

Having never conducted a Facebook Live interview and having only gone live on Facebook one time before, I had a lot to learn. Here are 4 things I picked up in preparing for my interview:

  1. If you want to grow, you must take the plunge.

This first thing I learned is really a reminder/advice to myself.

I’ll admit, I was rather nervous to conduct the interview. I’ve always seen myself as a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of person. That is, I like promoting ideas and people. But,   I’ve always been a bit camera shy.

Thus, I have been reticent about using Snapchat and about entering the livestreaming era of social media. In this way, I have limited my own growth in the social space. Said another way, as the social media landscape and culture has changed towards the self-facing camera, I have studied it, taught it, and kept up to date with it. But, I haven’t much participated in it.

I wanted to do this Facebook Live show because I wanted to give myself a reason to take the plunge and get in front of the camera.

I’m glad I did. I found the experience  nerve racking but exhilarating.  As soon as I got off the call, I started brainstorming ideas for my own Facebook Live show.  Hopefully, I’ll find the time to put it together and make it a reality. No matter what, I’m going to force myself to get in front of the camera more often.

2. Get on the call with your interviewee 30 minutes in advance.

Dr. Gallicano was kind enough to get on the call with me 30 minutes in advance to prepare for the call as well as to test and make sure everything was working correctly. We noticed that the sound was lagging. So, we tried to close some programs on our computers in the hopes that it would speed things up. When that didn’t work, we both restarted our computers and got back on the call. This took a bit of time and, had we not had the 30 minutes, we would have had to start the call late.

2. Prepare talking points. And print them.

I wrote out an outline of the call, which I shared with Dr. Gallicano.

In addition, I had a basic script of what I wanted to say and highlighted specific sentences I wanted to make sure I said exactly right as well as the questions that I had received from PRD members.

I had the script up on my computer. But, I also printed it and posted it on the cork board directly behind my computer just in case. I didn’t want to have too many windows open on my computer and be navigating around while on the call.  In the interview, there was too much going on on my screen to pop back and forth between the BeLive software and my notes. Thus, I ended up relying on the version I had printed. If you look closely to the interview, you can probably see my eyes looking slightly above my camera when I was looking at the script directly above my computer.

4. Be prepared. Then, be prepared for little things to go wrong anyways. AKA, expect the unexpected.

We used BeLive to conduct the interview so that the split screen interview could be done via desktop computers.

I spent a good amount of time playing with BeLive on my own, watching interviews others had conducted on Facebook Live, and learning everything I could about live streaming to Facebook. I even did a brief promotional Facebook Live video a few days ahead of time so that I could have experience going live with BeLive on Facebook Live before conducting the interview. But, when we did the actual interview, something went wrong and I didn’t notice it. For some reason, the first few seconds of the interview worked and viewers could see and hear us. Then, immediately following, the screen was black and we could not be heard by the audience on the PRD Facebook page.

Unfortunately, I had not loaded the PRD Facebook page so that i could see the Facebook Live interview from the viewer’s perspective. Thus, I was not aware that this was happening. I had been concerned about feedback from the live interview playing on my computer while I was trying to conduct the interview. Because BeLive said that we were live and I could see we had a few viewers, I assumed everything was working just great. It wasn’t until a viewer commented that she could not see or hear us, that I realized what had happened. I had to close the Facebook Live broadcast and restart it. Fortunately, everything worked during the second time around. But, during the time that the audience couldn’t see us, Dr. Gallicano had given a wonderful answer to the first question I had posed to her during the interview. And, no one got a chance to hear it. Fortunately, Dr. Gallicano was very gracious and repeated her answer to the question during the second broadcast.

Next time, I’ll be sure to load up the live interview to make sure it is working, mute it, and keep an eye on it. 🙂

In summary, I had a lot of fun conducting this interview with Dr. Gallicano. Dr. Gallicano is one of the most generous, gracious, knowledgeable and passionate educator/scholars I have had the opportunity to speak with. I learned a ton from her. If you haven’t yet checked out the PRD AMA with Senior Faculty & Practitioner series, you can find the other interview that has been hosted thus far. It is with Dr. Denise Bortree, PRD past head and associate professor at Penn State, by going to the PRD Facebook page or by clicking here.

 

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My Public Relations Class Participated in the Ketchum Mindfire Challenge. Here’s How It Helped.

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Last semester, my Principles of PR class had the opportunity to participate in the Ketchum Mindfire Challenge for the first time.

The program was a great learning experience for students and a ton of fun. From what I understand, the program has been around for several years. But, after slowing down for a few years, Ketchum has been working recently to re-build it.

Still, I haven’t heard many professors talking about the program. So I want to give an overview how it works and how I used it in my class last spring.

What is Ketchum Mindfire?

I first heard about Ketchum Mindfire during a presentation at the PRSA Educator’s Academy Super Saturday last year in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, I don’t recall who was talking about it. But I was intrigued by the possibility of students coming up with creative solutions for real-world clients.

The Ketchum Mindfire program crowdsources university students in public relations courses to come up with creative solution to the needs of Ketchum clients.

Students submit their ideas through an online portal. There, they can see the other ideas that have been submitted. The winning ideas are chosen by the client. The students who win get recognized through the program and receive a prize. Persons who get honorable mention are also recognized.

It is my understanding that, by participating in the program, Ketchum can use the idea the student submits in working with the client.

The challenges are sent to the students through the portal on a regular basis. The challenges we had last semester provided students with a variety of opportunities to come up with creative campaign ideas. The students submit a summary of their idea, explaining how their idea addresses specific requirements from the client. The background for a challenge might include a brief overview of the company (or it may describe the type of company it is but omit the company name), the problem or opportunity the client is facing, the goal, and important contextual factors such as audience, market conditions, etc.

The program is described on the Mindfire portal website this way: “When you share ideas on Mindfire, you receive career coaching and training from Ketchum, along with other prizes and compensation if your idea is selected.” You can read more about Ketchum Mindfire.

How I Integrated Mindfire into my Public Relations Principles Class

One objective I had for improving my PR class was to get students a taste of the sort of client needs that they might face in their careers. I felt that the class had a lot of information about what PR was, its history, what working in PR could be like, and so forth. And I had created small activities and large assignments to try and emulate what the experience of PR work might look like. For example, I gave students a mock PR problem and had students work on a solution which they would pitch to the class as a large project.

Still, nothing prepares students to understand what a career in PR might be like and the types of creative problems they may be tasked with solving than seeing first hand what the real problems an agency is working on.

So I jumped at the opportunity and got my class signed up.

Here’s how I integrated the program into my class:

At many of the universities that participate in the program, the students work individually on their ideas and submit them to the Mindfire portal.  Students come from a variety of different classes at these universities, from intro classes like mine up through senior-level campaigns courses.

Because my students work in teams all semester on other activities and assignments, I wanted the students to work in teams on the Mindfire challenges. I also thought that, because the students were all new to PR and probably hadn’t worked on coming up with creative solutions for clients like this before, the students would learn a lot from brainstorming with one another. And I think that teamwork aspect really helped. There were those students that ‘got it’ quickly and those that needed to observe their teammates to understand what we were trying to accomplish with each new challenge.

On the days that students would work on the Mindfire challenge, we would work in the computer lab. We’d start the class with students reviewing the challenge and identifying the due date. Then, I’d give students 20-30 minutes to work on the project and provide them a little guidance where needed. It was important to me that I did not provide the students with ideas because I’ve noticed that students have a tendency to think that the professors idea is the ‘good’ or ‘right’ idea and they end up going with that. Instead, I would nudge them or give them things to think about with their ideas.

Once time ran out, students would have to work on the challenge outside of class if they weren’t done so they could submit their proposed solution by the challenge deadline.

In terms of the graded assignment, I required teams  to complete 5 challenges over the course of the semester.  This number was chosen based on the amount of time in class I felt we could reasonably set aside for the project and my expectation that there wouldn’t always be a challenge each week. I was flexible with how I set aside class time as I found that some weeks there were several and some weeks there was one challenge and a few weeks there weren’t any available during the times I had classes.

Additionally, I wanted to encourage students to also go out and complete challenges themselves individually. So, I provided an extra credit opportunity for students wanting to go above and beyond. Students could do an extra 8 challenges on top of the 5 from class.

In review, I think 8 was a bit too many. In the future, I will cut it down to 5.

I’ve posted a copy of the assignment below.

How It Went

I was super excited and proud when I found out that one of my students won one of the Mindfire challenges in our first semester ever participating. Sophomore Sarah Burke’s idea was selected from over 1,000 participating students at over 50 universities. She won first place for her idea in a paint challenge for a major brand.

Several weeks later, another student won honorary mention for her idea in a different challenge.

I believe the project brought a creative and competitive atmosphere – an energy – to the class that was not there in past semesters. Having students get recognized in the program helped the entire class see the merits of their work and what they as students are capable of.

In closing, I believe participating in the Ketchum Mindfire program made a big difference in helping my students understand what working in PR can be like. The project showed students how exciting and creative the job can be. The students seemed to enjoy working on the challenges and I got the sense that they felt closer to and more familiar with the field than any group I’ve had in that class before. I’m looking forward to participating again next semester when I teach the PR principles class.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it. It helps a lot.

The assignment is below. See all of my assignments and syllabi on SlideShare.net/profkushin

-Cheers
Matt

 

 

How to use Melwater social intelligence software to teach social media listening

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Last week I wrote about the social listening activity and the social media audit that students in my social media class (2017 syllabus) conduct. Both the activity and the audit assignment are done this year using Meltwater.com social intelligence software.

If you have not done so, you may want to first read about the Meltwater university program in my first post.

In the below post, I will briefly share how students in my social media class will also be using Meltwater to do some social listening for our class project. The class project involves taking on our department as a client and managing the department’s social media.

As part of that project, students are in charge of monitoring the conversation around our department’s social media. Last year, my students used Microsoft Social Engagement which is a great piece of software that we also use in my Comm 435 Communication Research class (all posts about that class). This year, my social media class students will use Meltwater to do the social media listening.

I will keep this post short because you can read the full blog post series that I wrote last year about how students are taught to do metrics and social listening in my social media class. Please note that the below post can be seen as an update to the second post in that series, “How to use Microsoft Social Engagement software to teach social media listening (Post 2 of 2).

Social Listening with Meltwater

Students in my class use this spreadsheet to track metrics and do conduct their social listening. I’ve updated it from the 2016 spreadsheet to correspond with Meltwater.

Students will use Meltwater to work on the “social listening” tab of that spreadsheet.

The other tabs in the spreadsheet are about tracking our own performance. The social listening tab is for seeing what is being said about our brand every week. So, students go into this spreadsheet and fill out the below questions from weeks 9-15 of the semester. Specifically, the spreadsheet asks the students to answer 5 questions each week. I modified the questions slightly from last year because the last question from last year could not be answered with Meltwater. You can see this year’s questions below. A hint is provided to students on where to look to find this answer by mousing over each question.

Click to enlarge

Even though students will have experience using Meltwater by the time we start doing the social listening about our brand about 8 weeks into the semester, I created a lab guide (about lab guides) to help students walk through the steps of answering these questions. My hope is that after they use the lab guide once, they’ll know what to do to be able to answer the questions.

The lab guide is linked in the spreadsheet. You can also access it directly here. If you are new to using Meltwater, the lab guide walks you through how to do some basic social listening. I encourage you to check it out.

In summary, I’m super excited about the growing opportunities my students have had to work with industry software like Meltwater and Microsoft Social Engagement to get real world experience with social listening. I know many of us have worked hard in the last few years in seeking out opportunities like this. And I am extremely pleased that companies like these are making their software solutions available to our students.  It matters a lot! I know that my students will leave Shepherd with hands on experience using the same industry software used by many of the largest brands.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you did, please share it. It helps a lot.

– Cheers!
Matt

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Using Meltwater for a Social Media Audit Assignment in Social Media Class

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In my previous post I talked about how my social media class will be participating in the Meltwater university program this fall. If you missed that post, check it out. It contains more info about the program and the Meltwater software.

In the below post, I will discuss my current plans to use the Meltwater media intelligence software in a 300-level strategic social media course.

First, some background:

Most of my students have searched social media sites for their own personal uses. But, before taking my class, few have had to put themselves in the seat of an organization that wants to see who is talking about them.

So, to get students thinking about why an organization would want to monitor the conversation about its brand and the sort of things the organization would want to monitor, I start students out with a brief lecture an a simple in-class exercise.

In the past, my social media students have used a slew of free tools to complete some of the early social media listening activities that I like to assign to get students thinking about the value of social listening.

This semester, students will use some of those tools. But, we’ll be adding Meltwater to really round out these activities.

Using free tools is fraught with dangers. The two biggest dangers are 1) the possibility that the free tool will be here today and gone tomorrow (think topsy.com) and 2) that they tend to be limiting. It can also be frustrating when using free tools because each free tool only provides so much.

So the chance to use real, industry software in my class this year for these activities is a huge leap up.

The Set Up

After the awesome training that Carol Ann Vance provided our students last Thursday, my students were given the following homework: Watch the training videos on the Meltwater platform (see image below) and to create a new dashboard for a social media search of interest to them.

The Activity

Now that the students have played with Meltwater a little, I then provide them with a more structured activity using the software.

After a lecture on the importance of social listening along with some tips, the plan is to get the students using Meltwater for an in-class activity.

The in-class activity asks students to do some basic social listening for a brand. I choose Burt’s Bees because its a brand many students are familiar with that meets a specific niche: environmentally-conscious health and beauty products. Many people love Burt’s Bees, health & beauty blogs and YouTube channels are a big thing and Burt’s Bees is sometimes featured in videos by influencers in this space, and Burt’s Bees makes a variety of products. I also choose Burt’s Bees because some people have complained about allergic reactions to their products and because I know that they have received some backlash when they were bought out by Clorox several years back( the company was seen by some as selling out to their antithesis, a company that creates products using harsher, less environmentally-conscious chemicals). Of course, you could do this exercise with any brand.

I’m hoping that the students will uncover a diversity of sentiments about the company by doing this activity. And often times, the students aren’t aware of the negative feelings people have towards the company until they do this exercise. So it’s eye opening for the students to see how much they can learn with some basic social listening.

The activity takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. During the activity, I go around the room and help students use the software and make sure everyone has a grip on it. Afterwards, we discuss what the students found and look for themes.

You can access the activity through the following Google Doc. Feel free to make a copy and save it to your own Google Drive account.

https://goo.gl/qtHnYF

What comes next? Social Media Audit & Meltwater

The activity is not too complicated and fairly easy for the students to pick up. But it is a great way of getting students’ feet wet. Using analytics software can feel intimidating at first. So this is a nice, comfortable experience for the students.

The students are now prepared for the social media audit assignment. In that assignment, the students use Meltwater and free tools to conduct a social media audit of their client as well as 2 of their client’s competitors. Dr. Gallicano has some great examples of social media audits completed by students on her blog here. You can see a few of them cited in my social media audit assignment below. The students compare and contrast the client to the competitors and look for recommendations to the client on how they can improve their social media. The client in my social media class is our department’s social media, but you could apply this to any industry. (Read more about how I set up our department’s social media as the class client). The assignment is a group assignment with some time given to students work in class.

The assignment is the first major assignment students do in my class and is the foundation for creating the strategic briefs the students create after that.

You can see a copy of the social media audit assignment below or on my SlideShare.net account. Specifically, you can download the social media audit assignment here. In the next post, I will discuss using Meltwater to do social listening about a class client over the course of many weeks during the semester.

-Cheers!
Matt

 

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What’s Changing? Bringing Meltwater Social Media Listening Software into the Social Media Class

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Today is the first day of the fall 2017 semester.

As many of you know, this past summer was an especially exciting and busy one for me with the birth of my daughter!

Since becoming a dad, I’ve learned a ton about time management and still have a ton more to learn. I know it is going to be a bit more of a challenge to keep up with this blog in the semester ahead. But I am going to work hard to keep the posts coming. I have a lot of ideas for posts that I didn’t get to last semester, including discussing Ketchum’s Mindfire program, a personal branding assignment based on Karen Freberg’s book “A Roadmap to Teaching Social Media,” an exercise I did about Katy Perry and influencers, and the new message map activity my campaigns students did last year.

For now, I’d like to stick with a tradition on this blog by provide a brief overview of some new plans for the upcoming semester. Here’s a look at my social media class [all blog posts about that class] for fall 2017.

Meltwater social media listening software

The big change that I am very excited about this year is that we’ll be adding Meltwater to my class. If you’re not familiar, Meltwater is a media intelligence software platform. While the software offers media relations tools, we’ll be focusing on its social media listening capabilities.

Meltwater has recently launched a university program providing educators and their students free access to their software in PR, social media and marketing programs. I’m excited and thankful that my students at Shepherd University will be among the first universities to be participating in this program. Programs like these are important for our students to gain hands-on experience with leading industry tools.

I had a tour of Meltwater this past summer and immediately had several ideas on how it could be very valuable to my classes. But, with so much going on, I’m going to start this semester with using it only in my social media class.

Inside the Meltwater software, one can find a slew of training videos to quickly learn how to use the software. I personally found it pretty easy to pick up as much of it is self-explanatory.

Participation in the Meltwater university program provides access to training videos, an assignments portal and in-class training via video lecture.

Carol Ann (Funkhouser) Vance, director of university relations for Meltwater, will be Skyping in with my class on Thursday to give us an intro to the software and provide training to students.

In the next post I will discuss how we’ll use Meltwater in my social media class.

Before I provide the syllabus to my social media class, I’d like to mention a few more quick notes about the syllabus. I am very happy with the book choices from last year. I will be sticking with them. Students will be reading:

Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing” by Carolyn Mae Kim and “Likeable Social Media” by David Kerpen.

Also, we will be continuing to participate in the Hootsuite university program, which is now part of Hootsuite Academy.

I’ll be offering extra credit to my students who choose to complete a Facebook Blueprint assignment I created. In short, this assignment asks students to complete several but not all of the Facebook Blueprint lectures. I do not ask students to complete all of the lectures or to complete the certification as it is rather expensive. With paid being an important part of the social media mix, it is important for us to offer our students more experience.

I offered Facebook Blueprint as an assignment in my writing across platforms class last semester. But I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to go in another direction. So, I want to provide students an incentive still to get this education.

Okay. Here’s my social media class syllabus.

I hope everyone has a wonderful semester!

-Cheers!
Matt

Meltwater logo is copyright of Meltwater.

 

 

Summer 2017 Recommendations

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This post is a quick reminder that, as always, during the summer months I will be toning back my frequency of posting on this blog. But don’t you worry! I’ll be picking up full steam with my regular publication schedule of posting every 2 weeks during the academic year.

The streets of Toledo, Spain in May 2017 during my trip to the SIODEC conference.

This blog tends to get a lot of traffic during the summer with readers looking for assignments and syllabi as they work on updating courses for next academic year. So I’d like to point out a few resources below. But first…

A few Recommended Blog Posts, Content & Articles

Summer Reading Suggestions

App Recommendation (to Get Motivated)

A few Resources From this Blog for Summer

Assignments:

If you are looking for assignments and syllabi, you’ll see that I’ve written about many of my assignments and included the assignment documents themselves.

To access those select the green menu bar at the top titled “Blog topics” -> “Teaching Social Media” -> “Classes” and then select the class.

Syllabi:

Syllabi can be accessed either via the “Syllabi” menu at the top of this blog and selecting the course, or by selecting the “Teaching Materials” menu and navigating to an external document repository to access all my uploaded syllabi.

If you have questions about any of the assignments or syllabi, please do not hesitate to send me a Tweet. I’d be happy to chat.

What’ll I be doing this summer?

Let’s just say it’s going to be a life-changing summer. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter to find out. 😉

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A Social Media Education Blog by Matthew J. Kushin, Ph.D.