Category Archives: Activities and Events

Watch my Internet Day 2018 keynote at the University of Aveiro Portugal

Recently, I had the tremendous honor of being invited to serve as the keynote speaker for the Internet Day 2018 celebration put on by the DigiMedia lab and the Department of Communication and Art at the University Aveiro in Portugal.

My keynote, titled “The Cost of Clicks and Shares: Questions on the Civic and Political Potential of the The Internet in the Attention Economy,” looked at trends in social media, politics and civics today. It drew, in part, on my co-authored research with Dr. Masahiro Yamamoto and Dr. Francis Dalisay on social media.

Highlights from the event can be seen in the video below.

Knowing that I would be speaking with researchers and graduate students who are working to design and create Internet-based solutions for today’s problems, I wanted to focus on the wider, often unintended ramifications on society that come from the decisions Internet architects make.

You can see the full speech, broken in to two slightly overlapping parts on Periscope:

The event was sponsored by the American Corners program through the American Embassy in Portugal.  Through this trip, I also got the opportunity to speak at the University NOVA Lisbon in the FCT library.

Poster promoting my talk at the University of Lisbon

I have to say that Professor Nelson Zagalo and all of the faculty and administrators at the University of Aveiro and the University of Lisbon NOVA were tremendously inviting and gracious hosts. I feel that I felt the experience having learned more than I gave. I was truly inspired by the work I saw in the DigiMedia lab from the faculty and the graduate students.

I had the opportunity to take a tour of the kinds of projects that the DigiMedia lab team was working on. The manner with which they intersected scholarly research with applied solutions to real-world problems was inspirational and motivating. Just seeing how dedicated and energized everyone was to work with government and corporate partners really left me thinking about ways that I can better use my position as an academic to seek out technological solutions to the problems we face.

The FAB Lab at the University of Lisbon NOVA and the awesome 3D printing that they were doing was incredibly cool to see.

In summary, it was an eye-opening experience to get the chance to interact with passionate, brilliant scholars across the ocean. The opportunity to discuss ideas helped me see new connections between my own teaching, research and global issues.

This was my first trip to Portugal. It is a beautiful country with wonderfully kind people, amazing history, and an awe-inspiring culture.

I want to express my sincere and humble thanks to everyone who made this opportunity possible.

I hope everyone is having a rejuvenating summer.

-Cheers

Matt

From Sydney Australia: Reflections on ICBO 2018 and my event app planning experience

The spring semester has come to a close!

I have recently returned to Shepherdstown from a 1.5 week trip to Sydney Australia. There, I had the amazing opportunity to execute the ICBO One app event experience for attendees to the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry event at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center.

The famous opera house in the Sydney Harbour near Circular Quay

The event app was a huge success, with 90% of attendees actively engaged on the app. So, our time promoting the 2018 ICBO event has come to a close. Over two years of work went into creating the ICBO One app. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to travel all over the globe to help promote the event and to provide the app to ICBO partner events in the U.S., Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Toledo, Spain, Vienna, Austria, and Sydney, Australia. I also got to travel to Budapest to help pitch the app and make it a reality as well as to Dubai to help promote the ICBO 2018 event.

The Sydney Harbour bridge. The opera house is in the background. Photo taken from ferry.

It has been a truly eye-opening, learning experience from event planning to digital communication strategy, to designing and executing a successful digital event experience, to working with sponsors, speakers, and event attendees from different cultures and countries. The professional development experience was truly one of a kind.  But, more than anything, I loved the opportunity to meet generous, kind, and motivated optometrists and vision therapists from around the world. As someone who is, of course, not in optometry myself, I learned so much about how much passion behavioral optometrists have for their field. I think it is fair to say I made many friends these last few years.

The walkway to Manly beach. Photos taken right before Anzac Day, thus the flags and signs. Pacific ocean in the background.

The ICBO One event app came out of my professional development experience at the ICBO 2014 event in Birmingham, UK. There, I created and executed the precursor, the ICBO Social event app.

The ICBO event apps are built on the Double Dutch event app platform.

Below are the main stats from the event. An additional 299 questions or comments were posted in the chatroom, which are not reflected in the data below.

An interesting trend, is that comments and updates were down slightly from four years ago, even when we consider the additional 299 chatroom posts. Part of this is likely due to the fact that attendance was down slightly (it is hard to travel to Australia) and we only created 1 account per exhibitor booth, rather than 1 account per booth attendee.  But, what’s interesting is the huge spike in likes. We can see that more than twice as many likes occurred this year than in 2014 (There were 13,812 likes in 2018 and 5,753 likes in 2014). I think this shows a larger trend in social media. Content overload has driven people towards greater likes and fewer posts.

With ICBO over and the 2017-18 academic year behind me, it is time to start planning for summer. Here are a few things I have planned:

  1. I am traveling to Portugal the week of May 14th to speak at 2 universities there. One of my talks will be at the Internet Day Celebration at the Universidade de Aveiro and the other at the Universidade Nova Lisboa. I am beyond honored and thrilled about this opportunity.
  2. Teaching an online summer class for the first time.
  3. Attending AEJMC in DC in August (and hopefully presenting a paper we submitted).
  4. Working on a few research studies, of course.
  5. Reading and writing.
  6. Working to stay current in social media trends and teaching
  7. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.
  8. Spending time with family.

With all of that said, I will be blogging very infrequently over the summer. As always, you can find past blog posts, assignments, and syllabi via the blogroll or the navigation menu in the upper right of this blog.

Have a wonderful, rejuvenating, and safe summer.

See you in the fall!

Missed the Social Network Analysis Basics Webinar? Here’s How You Can Watch It

Last Friday, April 13, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate with Kathleen Stansberry on a webinar about social network analysis basics.  The focus of the call was to introduce strategic communication and social media professors to social network analysis.

The idea for the call came out of a thread on my favorite resource for social media education: the  Facebook group  Social Media Professors Community Group.  (If you’re not a member, I strongly suggest joining! The people are generous, curious, and extremely supportive).  A member asked if anyone had insights on reading NodeXL network maps and the video conference call sprang from that.

Dr. Stansberry has some really impressive experience with social network analysis. As someone who considers himself a fan with much to learn, it was an honor to be invited to be on the call as a co-presenter with her.

I shared my knowledge of social network analysis basics and provided an assignment I teach in my Comm 435 Communication Research class. In that class, students use Netlytic.org, which is an accessible online social network analysis tool (See my blog post about the Netlytic assignment).

I learned a ton from Dr. Stansberry and was inspired to dig deeper into social network analysis so that I can bring my knowledge up and do more with this fascinating method!

If you missed the live webinar, you can watch a rebroadcast of it anytime in full [you may need to download a plugin].

Below, you can find the handout and assignment that I shared during the call and the slides I shared on the handout.

Thank you again to Dr. Stansberry for inviting me to participate! And a big thank you to Karen Freberg and the Social Media Professors group for hosting this call!

– Cheers!
Matt

Reflection on my first National Millennial Community Trip

Students and I in Lockheed Martin

Over spring break, I had an amazing opportunity to travel with 2 outstanding Shepherd University strategic communication students, Ellen Buchanan and Sarah Burke, to Philadelphia and Washington DC.  We participated in the National Millennial Community (NMC) trip, and met with executives from major brands such as Comcast NBCUniversal, Lockheed Martin, Nestlé, and WeWork, top agencies such as Tierney, Vault Communication, Burson-Marsteller, and government entities, including the White House, the RNC and the Office of Personnel Management.

The trip was an incredible learning experience for me. It was an intensive professional development experience. The opportunity to be exposed to the work these organizations and corporations are doing in the communication space helped in several key respects. Below, I will share some key reflections and takeaways from this amazing experience.

Group in Comcast NBCUniversal main lobby in Philly

This trip offered myself and our students a voice in helping bring positive change to the conversation around the millennial generation. We provided feedback on ways these organizations can better harness the talents of young people and helped to counter existing stereotypes. An executive in corporate communication at one organization said to me that she was very impressed by the millennial generation and their level of engagement and caring.

We learned by seeing the research and development phases of communication campaigns. These are skills that we teach our students. For example, in my research class, students learn to conduct interviews and focus groups. In my campaigns class, students conduct interviews and focus groups to test the messaging they are developing. It was insightful to see how different companies approached this process. We were able to participate in focus groups and brainstorming sessions with several of the companies that we met with.  We offered insights into the news and information consumption habits of millennials to help organizations better adapt to changing consumer habits and demographics. It was clear to me that the companies truly valued our feedback and planned to take it into consideration. To have that kind of input helped my students see how what they are learning is used in the corporate world and the impact these techniques can have.

Group at Burson_Marsteller

We were able to see how several of the organizations we met with were striving to address key social issues that we discuss in my classes. Having this exposure takes an abstract classroom concept and makes it real. I am able to walk back into the classroom and demonstrate how these issues are being tackled outside of the university setting. For example, two of the organizations we met with discussed the importance of bridging the digital divide and getting high-speed Internet access to low income and rural areas. One organization approached this issue from a corporate social responsibility standpoint and another approached it from an advocacy standpoint.

Also, my students were exposed to key life lessons in leadership and professionalism that one simply cannot get in the classroom. The students and I had several discussions about the leadership styles we observed from senior executives at various companies. Students received input from employees at various companies on tips for interviewing, finding a company that is a good fit, and professional development. In another case, we received advice from an entrepreneur we met at WeWork on ambition, seeking opportunity, and lifelong learning. In fact, he encouraged us to read two books that I am already using in my classes. (#ProfessorWin!)

Group on WeWork rooftop downtown Philly

Additionally, I can’t say enough about how impressed I was by all of the students I met from over 2 dozen universities from Alaska to Wyoming to Massachusetts. Each student was dedicated, passionate about the mission of the NMC, professional, and engaged. Everyone was welcoming and sincere and the entire trip was filled with an energy unlike anything I have experienced. I left the trip with an enormous respect for every student I met and for the hardworking people who made the trip possible.

I want to thank all of the companies, agencies and government organizations that took time out of their busy schedules to host us. I also want to thank the Shepherd University President’s Club for generously providing funding for this trip. And of course, I want to thank Eljay, Edith and Bill Imada for all their hard work in making the NMC and this trip a possibility.

I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity to participate in one of the NMC trips.

Oh, and #lifegoal accomplished! We got to go see the Rocky statue in Philly! Anyone who has taken a class from me knows what a big Rocky fan I am!

having fun at the Rocky statue in Philly

About the National Millennial Community

Founded in January 2016, the mission of the National Millennial Community is to change the conversation about millennials. The organization has 37 member colleges in 37 states plus the District of Columbia. The organization has taken 18 trips to visit with corporate, foundation, and nonprofit executives.

A Quick, Interactive Activity for Introducing the Concept of Digital Influencers

Last year I got the opportunity to present at the Accepted Student Day event at Shepherd University. This event offers students who have been accepted to the university an opportunity to visit our campus and get to know us better. As part of that, faculty give presentations on their area of expertise. Students and their parents attend the presentation that interest them.

My task was to inform the audience about some of the things we do in the communication department and give them a preview of what they can learn.  Naturally, I talked about professional communication and social media. Because the presentation needed to appeal to a wide audience, I presented on the broad steps anyone can use to build a brand on social media.

To get the students up and moving and to make the concepts come to life, I thought of an interesting and interactive activity that I’ll share below.

The purpose of the activity was to help someone who was not familiar to quickly become familiar with the concepts of 1) a digital influencer to see why influencers are an important part of any strategy, and 2) how information can spread via a social network based on ties.

Preparation

Before the presentation, I had 4 pieces of paper. Each piece had the name of a different pop artist on it. I secretly gave them to 4 different people in the audience and told them not to tell anyone that they had them.

The Set Up

When it came time to talk about influencers, here’s what I did.

I had a slide with the photos of each of the pop artists I had chosen. Above their photos was the question: “Which artist is the best?”

On the next slide, I introduced the set up for the activity, which was:

4 people have been secretly chosen to be “superfans” for each of these pop artists.

The purpose of the activity is to see which pop artist will become the most popular in the room in 30 seconds.

Then, on the next slide I showed the rules:

First, I told the audience to think of their network as consisting of anyone in the room with the same color on their shirt (Note: As long as they had the same color on some part of their shirt, they were in their network and thus people could be in multiple networks).

I told them to think of their network in this activity in the same way they think of their friend network online.

Audience members could only talk to people in their network.

Then, I explained the instructions:

Talk to up to 8 people in the 30 seconds, once the timer started. The goal is to become a fan of as many artists as you can.

Here’s how: Go around the room and ask people ‘who makes the best music?’

If a superfan is asked, she tells the person who asked her and the asking people become a fan. Once fans are asked, they too tell others.

If someone is asked who is not a superfan or who has not yet become a fan, they say “I don’t know.”

Non-superfans could become fans of multiple artists. So, once they became a fan, they could continue to try and collect more artists to be fans of.

Then, I started the clock and mayhem began.

What happened was, the more gregarious students who had been chosen as superfans were actively engaging with others in their network, spreading the information and becoming influencers. Also, networks that had more gregarious non-fans quickly became influencers, collecting artists to be fans of and spreading the information far in their quest to collect more artists. Thus, these non-fan opinion leaders tended to amass the most artists to be fans of.

Larger networks (shirt colors with more people wearing them) had an advantage, as well. This symbolized the idea that the superfan had a large online network.

Because the activity was only 30 seconds, the information stopped spreading. And, we were able to find out which was the most popular artist and trace it back to which superfan. We asked how many people became a fan by talking to that superfan. We also were able to see who collected the most artists. We then were able to ask these people who they talked to that made them a fan. We also looked at who never became a fan.

There was a good bit of diversity in terms of which artists became very popular and which did not, as well as who collected multiple artists and who did not.

The conversation could go on from there, and we could have discussed many concepts. But, this was just a quick activity as part of a larger presentation.

I told the students that, while this activity is a little simple and not a perfect illustration of the concepts, I asked them to think about why some artists spread a lot, and others did not.

Generally, now that the audience knew who the superfans were, the audience members would say things like: “The superfan for artist X was talking to a lot of people” or “the superfan was wearing the most common color, so she had the biggest network, that she could spread her info to.” Similar feedback came for those people who collected more artists by way of having multiple colors on their shirts (bridging social ties across networks) and/or who were more gregarious.

After the conversation, I reinforced some of the things we had discovered by bringing up a few concepts on the board. Also, I showed a simple network map to illustrate some of the things we saw.

Conclusion

This was a fun, simple, and interactive way to quickly introduce new concepts to a medium-sized audience (there was about 45 people, if I recall). An activity like this could be used as an introduction to build upon more nuanced concepts, such as in an introductory course. In this case, the prospective students seemed to enjoy it and I bet it stuck with them. We had an interesting discussion, and the presentation overall went very well.

If you wanted to try this with a smaller audience, you could reduce the number of superfans and the amount of time they had.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. There are lots of ways that this activity could be tweaked and built upon. If you come up with any, please share them with readers.

– Cheers!
Matt

 

What I learned from hosting a Facebook live interview

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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3 Ways to Use Slack to Foster Student Team Work in The College Class

I had a great time this past weekend presenting at the PRSA Educator’s Academy Super Saturday with Ai Zhang, Karen Freberg and moderator Kirk Hazlett.

If you missed our presentation, we covered how social media tools can be used to break down the classroom walls. #EdWithoutWalls

slack-logo-vector-download

You can watch a rebroadcast of the Facebook Live Stream that Karen Freberg did.

I had the opportunity to discuss my experience using Slack in education settings. I’ve used it both in the classroom as well as for student groups that I’ve worked with.

Because of time, I presented a short version of the presentation at Super Saturday. So, I’d I’d like to share with the unabridged slides on using Slack for student teams in class projects.

This presentation goes a little further into depth about chat bots, their rise, and their potential for educators/the classroom.

(See the presentation on SlideShare.net)

I got several questions and compliments  about the GIFs I made and used in the slides (note: The Slideshare version doesn’t show the GIFs. But, if you download the slides you can see them in presenter mode).

I created them using Recordit.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how to use GIFS to enhance your teaching if you’d like to learn more.

It was great to see everyone and make new connections. I learned a ton. I look forward to seeing everyone soon and continuing to learn from everyone as we all work to build and share knowledge in social media education.

-Cheers!
Matt

 

 

 

Summer Break Update

Summer is in full swing. And I’ve got a busy summer ahead. As always, during the summer months I will be toning back my frequency of posting on this blog. I do have a few things I’ll post here and there. Not to worry, I’ll be picking up full steam with my regular publication schedule of posting every 2 weeks during the academic year.

palmtreeoverlagoon_cookislands

This blog tends to get a lot of traffic in summer in relation assignments and syllabi  that I have shared over the years.

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.

A few Quick Updates

I am super excited to announce that I earned tenure and will be an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication this upcoming fall.  The adventure to earning tenure was a lot of work, but I had a ton of fun and made sure not to stress too much about it. I am excited now for the projects and opportunities before me.

What do I have planned for the summer?

Lots of things. As always, I’ll be tweaking classes and assignments here and there. In fact, I’ve already developed a new project for my Communication Research class in the hopes of enhancing the tie in of social media data and software into that class (I’ll blog about this in the spring when I teach the class again). A few highlights include:

  • Preparing my Persuasion and Message Design Course which I will be teaching for the first time next semester.
  • Traveling to Australia – I’ll be spending a few weeks “down under.”
  • Social Network Analysis class – I’m planning to work through this free online social network analysis MOOC by Leonid Zhukov and Dr. Ilya Makarov to enhance my knowledge of social network analysis.
  • Service projects – I’m working with a non-profit to assist them with a global digital communication project.
  • Research – Working on a small grant I got with research colleagues to prepare for our upcoming study of the upcoming presidential election. I’m also working on a few other projects.
  • Studying Spanish – I’ve always wanted to learn a second language and I plan to spend some free time learning a little.
  • Reading several books – mostly books of personal interest. But there are a few social media books have been recommended to me I’m hoping to get time to get around to.
  • Other creative projects? I’ve been bouncing around the idea of starting a podcast (I have a few ideas) or starting a separate blog for some area of personal growth (e.g., organization, productivity, or similar vein of self improvement), writing a book, or some other type of creative project. Feel free to Tweet your thoughts, feedback, or suggestions on these to me!

I hope you have a wonderful summer! I hope you get to both relax and work on the projects that fuel and inspire you!  Stay in touch! I’ll see you soon!

-Matt

Study Explores Hootsuite University in the College Classroom

Frequent readers of this blog know that I’ve been using Hootsuite University in my social media class for some time now.  But, how does using Hootsuite University impact social media learning?

hootsuitehigheredprogram

That’s the broad question I set out to explore in a research study co-authored with professors Emily S. Kinsky, Karen Freberg, Carolyn Kim, and William Ward.

Our study was recently published in the Journal of Public Relations Education, after being presented as the top teaching research paper in the Public Relations Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication last August.

Hootsuite summarized the article and its findings in a blog post titled “Social Media Education Empowers the Next Generation of Marketing Mavens.”

I’m honored and pleased with reactions to the study thus far.  To date, the Slideshare version of the article (embedded below) has received over 3,700 views since its publication about a week ago.

You can also read the study online or download the PDF via its page on Journal of Public Relations Education’s website.

Three Types of Goals Academics Should Set for 2016

As I look back, 2015 has been a great year for me professionally. I’m always amazed at how much can change in a year and how much we grow in our profession in such a short period of time. As our careers progress in academia, it is as important as ever that we set goals and use winter break to push ourselves forward.

I’ve always been one to set goals both for the short and long terms.  And I attribute a great deal of my productivity and success to goal-setting. Here are 3 types of goals I value.

How to set goals in academia

First, and often overlooked, are the goals that focus on process; the things we must do to achieve the desired results, Without these, we cannot achieve outcomes. But many people set goals focused solely on outcomes without thinking of the day-to-day things they must do to realize those outcomes. Second, are outcome goals – goals in our direct line of sight that focus on attainable outcomes.  They result from the processes we do. Third,  are bigger picture “dreams”; the sort of thing that you don’t quite have a plan for exactly but they’ve been in your mind and you feel like you are working towards them in one way or another. It is important to have long-term goals that extend beyond a year and/or big picture dreams, because without these we can lose sight of what inspires us. Put another way, the only way to “be big” (accomplish big things) is to “think big.”

In the spirit of new year’s resolutions, I’d like to briefly share examples of each of these types of goals that I have. I hope that by sharing these, they get you thinking about your academic goals for 2016.  Below are 2 process goals  – the things it takes to achieve our goals, 2 outcome goals – things I want to accomplish, as well as one “think big” goal that is rolling around in my head.

Process Goals:

  1. Staying Relevant As Social Media Matures – The field is constantly changing. It is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve worked hard this past year to make small adjustments to stay on top of things going on in the field as well as trying to take advantage of some of the amazing opportunities that have been presented to me. Often times,  the small changes are easier to realize than the big ones. But, that doesn’t’ mean small changes are easy to do.  Often time complacency is the curse of progress. We get comfortable where we are and before we know it, enough time has passed that we have fallen behind. As a professor, it is easy to look at the syllabus from last year and just stick with what we’ve been doing rather than updating. That is why I  feel it is a priority to be constantly scanning the environment and staying proactive in making these small changes – such as to my syllabi and course content. Doing so, means avoiding major problems down the line. I spent the first week of winter break working on updates and changes for next semester. Of course, I’ll share some of them this upcoming  semester on this blog. 🙂 One activity I’m really excited about is the BuzzFeed writing assignment we’ll be doing in my Writing Across Platforms class.
  2. Becoming More Effective With My Time – Productivity is something I think a lot about . As someone who is a bit of a workaholic, I’m never sitting still. I live on Wunderlist. I’m always thinking of things I’d like to or need to get done. There are so many exciting things to learn and do, and I like to think I’m interested in interesting things. 🙂 I feel I’m very good at completing tasks ahead of time, staying organized, and always doing what I say I will. But, with so many distractions today, I’ve found myself becoming less productive with my time. Time spent working doesn’t always equate to tasks completed. Too, I tend to focus very heavily on details and am a bit of a perfectionist – I think that’s the curse of being an academic. 🙂 So, the goal for 2016 is to use time more efficiently. If I can do that, I can increase productivity, opening time for new opportunities as well as to enjoy personal time. I’m exploring a few different ways to do this.  I read that one way to do this, is to track how you spend your time – the way you track your personal finances – to see where your resources are being spent. That way, you can get a baseline and see opportunities to optimize. So, I’m playing with using a time-tracking app such as Time Meter. I’ve also recently downloaded a fun little game called Forest that motivates you to not fall into the habit of ‘phone distraction.’  In recent months, I’ve gotten particularly bad at this. I think we can all benefit from taking back our time!

Outcome Goals:

  1. Maximizing Educational Opportunities for My Students  –  Related to #2 above, I’ve been very fortunate that some new opportunities have presented themselves. Continuing to grow and build connections, in the end, creates opportunities for students. And that’s what I’m all about. This past year, I improved on bringing in some amazing outside professors and professionals as speakers in my classes. I’ve continued to grow and build relationships for internships and hands-on learning opportunities here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. As our Strategic Communication concentration finishes out its first cohort of students this spring, I’m aiming to continue to build in this area. Next fall, I’m hoping to possibly teach a new class, thus deepening the education I’m providing my students.
  2. Tenure – This one is out of my hands at the moment. 🙂 I’ve already put in my application for tenure this past October. Needless to say, a long term goal for the past 5 and 1/2 years has been to earn tenure. This spring is when I’ll find out!

Big Picture Dream:

Finally, I spent a good deal of time this past semester thinking about that “next step” for the strategic communication concentration as it grows past the graduation of our first cohort this upcoming spring.

  1. A Social Media Listening/Command Center –  Picture a place where students can go to monitor social media, track trends, perform analytics and more. Think of your favorite brands. In all likelihood, they have such a command center.
    I would love to build a small social media listening or command center for the students here in our department. We currently use Hootsuite Universitiy for our Social Media class, which is an amazing tool for monitoring and scheduling social media. But, it is not a metrics platform. I’d love to add to that an analytics tool for looking at trends. Several larger programs have such command centers, such as Clemson and Illinois State’s SMACC (by the way, Nathan Carpenter who runs SMACC is amazing. He was so generous with his time telling me about their impressive initiative have developed programs like this. His energy, knowledge, and initiative are extremely motivating). We’re a small program and the biggest hurdle is access to metrics software.  And so it is going to take some creative problem-solving to make this listening center a reality for my students (I’m very open to your suggestions, ideas, or interest in this project – Tweet me). I wrote about the need to up our offerings for teaching metrics back in February and expressed some ideas and frustrations on the issue. I believe integrating a command center with classes and extra-curricular opportunities is a worthy, long-term goal that will have  an enormous impact on our students and our community.

The year ahead is filled with promise. And these are some of things I would love to accomplish. I hope this post helped you think about your process, outcome, and dream goals for 2016!

Let me know what your goals are in the comments. If you have suggestions on how I can optimize my goals, please let me know.

I hope your 2015 was amazing, productive, and rewarding. Best of luck in 2016!

-Cheers!

Matt

photo CC credits Celestine Chua