Category Archives: Tech Trends and Analysis

My Analysis on Social Media and Technological Trends

Now, More than Ever, We Must Teach Skills and Abilities. Here’s a Quick and Easy Framework for Doing So.

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Chapter 3 of the 2017 report on undergraduate public relations education published by the Commission on Public Relations Education examines key skills students need to succeed in entry-level positions. When it comes to skills, practitioners rated social media management and research & analytics skills in the top five, alongside writing, communication and editing (see page 49). Yet, these same practitioners rated entry-level practitioners as not having these skills to the extent that they were desirable.

The survey results indicate that more than knowledge, the industry today seeks skills and abilities, suggesting “that the labor market is most concerned about what entry-level practitioners can do and produce when they are in the market.”

What abilities were most sought after by employers? Creative thinking, problem solving, and critical thinking top the list. Yet again, employers perceived that entry-level practitioners did not have these abilities to the extent that they were desired.

Clearly a gap exists between what students are learning and what employers are looking for.

It is hard to prepare someone to succeed in a rapidly changing landscape, where an increasingly wide and constantly shifting range of skills, abilities, and knowledge are needed. This problem is compounded by the fact professors often have limited or no access to the tools and resources available to the industry.

Fortunately, a growing number of companies are offering social listening, social media management, and analytics software for free or at discounted prices to university classrooms. Examples include Meltwater, Hootsuite, Microsoft Dynamics, and HubSpot. There are also many free tools that professors can use, including Twitter Analytics, Instagram Insights, and Facebook Insights for metrics. Free certification programs through Hootsuite, HubSpot, Google, Cision, and others provide industry-leading knowledge and case studies to help students prepare for their careers.

The good news is that the tool you use to teach the skill isn’t as important as what is gained from using the tool. Skills and abilities are flexible and adaptable. They can be upgraded from a free tool in the classroom to enterprise level software in the workplace.

Yet, access to industry software and educational materials alone are not enough to bridge the gap. It’s not what you teach. It’s how you teach it.

A Framework for Teaching in the Age of Experimentation

I have found that I am most successful when I use a simple framework for teaching and making connections between knowledge, skills and abilities. If you have taught before, chances are that you are doing several of these steps already. But by codifying the process, we become more mindful and efficient educators. Think of this framework as a shortcut for quickly mapping out a lesson.

The approach is: What, Why, How, Do, Reflect (WWHDR).  

Here’s how it works. Start by establishing the learning goals. That is, what are the knowledge, abilities, and skills that you want the learner to learn? Don’t rush this. If you don’t know what you want someone to learn, chances are they won’t learn it.

Example: I want my students to know what social media listening is. I want them to apply their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to determine what conversations they should monitor for our client. I want them to learn how to set up a search and monitor the results to identify who is talking about our client.

Notice that above I have a goal for knowledge, one for abilities, and one for skills.

Once you know your goals for the lesson, begin planning the What, Why, How, Do and Reflect portions of the approach.

  1. What – What is the topic that you are teaching? This may be delivered in a brief lecture with background information, key terms, examples or case studies, and so forth.
  2. Why – Why is the learner learning this? Here you explicitly connect the subject with the purpose for the learner, often as part of the brief lecture. Perhaps you have examples of positive or negative consequences you can share. By telling the learner why they are learning the topic, you are beginning to build a connection to application. Plus, you make the lesson more personally meaningful to the learner.
  3. How – Here the learner learns how they will apply the knowledge. This may include tutorials, hands-on guidance, and conversations about important considerations the learner should keep in mind when doing the task. However you deliver it, be sure to include important skills and information the learner needs in order to do what you are asking. I’m a believer in offering multiple modalities and allowing the learner to choose from the resources given based on their comfort level. For example, a tutorial may be sufficient for some while hands-on help applying the new skill may be needed for others.
  4. Do – This is the all-important activity time. It often coincides with the How stage. The learner puts the lesson into practice. The more opportunities the learner has in this stage, the better. This should combine abilities – such as problem solving – with application of skills. Let the student do the work. When they struggle, ask them guiding questions.
  5. Reflect – Unfortunately, this important part of the framework is often skipped. Here the learner is asked to reflect on what they did, with a goal of getting the learner to make the connections between what, why, how and do for themselves. It also provides opportunities for the learner to make improvements. This can be done through discussion with a learning partner, with a group, as well as through a written or quantitative reflection.

This framework is flexible and can be applied to lessons that take an hour or lessons that take a month because it can be broken down and repeated in stages in order for one to learn mastery. For example, you can create a lesson to teach basic skills and then build on it with another lesson, and another.

To use this framework, no software is needed. It can be used to teach knowledge, skills and abilities in most any subject. For example, in my persuasion class I use it to teach students persuasion theories, critical thinking skills and ethical decision making around those theories, and then, how the students can apply those theories in the real world through a component I call “persuasion in action.”

Get started. It’s easy. Take a piece of paper and write out your learning objectives at the top. Divide the rest of the paper into sections of What, Why, How, Do, Reflection. Begin planning your lesson; just be sure to keep all 5 stages in mind. You got this!

Update: 8/14/19

The WWHDR framework is discussed in detail in my new book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love.

-Cheers!

Matt

Photo public domain via Lennart Kcotsttiw.

Recommended Readings for Academics This Summer

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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.

Continue reading Recommended Readings for Academics This Summer

Where is the missing Google Cardboard Photo Sharing App?

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Everyone seems to be talking about VR these days.

For Christmas, my brother gave me a Google Cardboard. It took no time for me to see why VR is all the rage and is set to take off in 2016.

Simply put: Google Cardboard = Amazing.

Continue reading Where is the missing Google Cardboard Photo Sharing App?

Top Journals in Communication According to Google Scholar in 2014

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If you are a lover of Google Scholar like me (I’ve written a few posts on becoming a G Scholar power user, in case you’ve missed them) you may have seen that the 2014 Google Scholar Metrics are out.

Continue reading Top Journals in Communication According to Google Scholar in 2014

Facebook’s Controversial Study: Some Thoughts and Teaching Opportunities

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By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the massive study conducted by Facebook, titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” and published in the June Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences.

Continue reading Facebook’s Controversial Study: Some Thoughts and Teaching Opportunities

ICA Conference Panel: Social Media Data

I’m back from a great trip to ICA! The conference was filled with inspiring and informative panels. And it was great to see colleagues and friends!

I want to take a quick minute to share a post summarizing a great panel I attended. Since Mary Joyce (@MetaActivism) summarizes the post here and the capabilities of the software, I thought I’d just let her do the talking. 🙂 But first, a quick overview.

The panel was “Integrating Social Media Data Into Communication Research Using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).” I attended it Friday morning and was fortunate enough to get a chair. The room was packed with dozens of people sitting on the floor or standing in the back or along the wall. It seems interest in social media data in the field of communication research is on the rise.

Here’s a great summary of the presentations by Mary Joyce over at Meta-Activism.org.

Web Round up: Tools, Academic News, and Zuck’s status update on Web Freedom

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Wow! Spring break has flown by! I can’t believe it is Friday already! While my spring break has been mostly dedicated to catching up on work or trying to get ahead on projects, I took some time to relax and got out and hiked with Scout on Tuesday during our first day of truly nice weather this year (Instagram photos below and to the right of course 🙂 ).

Today’s post is a quick look at some great articles from around the web I’ve been reading over the past week or so that you may have missed.

Thanks so much to the wonderful people on Twitter who shared many of these – you are my go to source for news!

Social Media Tools:

29 Social Media Tools Recommended By the Pros by the always instructive Social Media Examiner

50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management by Social Media Today

The (Potential) Pitfalls of Social Media Tools

Duck Dynasty, Amazon Show The Pitfalls Of Big Data – Highly recommend! This article cautions us about relying too much on the info we gather about audiences on social media tools when it comes to informing our decisions. We forget that the audience on social media is not representative of the wider population, and more specifically, our target audience. Reminds me of a lesson I learned in my first research methods class about sampling. 🙂

Academia News and Issues

Lost faculty job offer raises questions about negotiation strategy – Super interesting look at job negotiation and the issues surrounding it. This article tells the story of how negotiating a tenure-track position for one faculty backfired when a university pulled the offer. With job negotiating such a complex and difficult task, this is certainly worth a read.

What Should Students Call Their Professors? – This one raised quite the discussion on my Facebook page among faculty friends. The opinions were diverse. I think the article makes a great point that many students simply don’t know what to call their professors due to the wide array of persons teaching them, from graduate students, to MAs, to Ph.Ds., and so forth.

Zuckerberg on Internet Freedom

Lastly, Mark Zuckerberg posted the following on his Facebook page as a status update I thought I’d share. Though it doesn’t relate to the above, it is noteworthy. Reactions have been mixed, with some calling Zuckerberg a hypocrite given his company’s focus on collecting and using information to market to individuals. Here is his status update (I copied and pasted it):

As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.

The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together.

To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That’s why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people’s services.

The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.

This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.

The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.

I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.

So it’s up to us — all of us — to build the internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I’m committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.

 

I hope you’ve had a great spring break!

-Cheers!

Matt