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Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Interview with Ai Addyson-Zhang - Entrepreneurial Social Media Educator | Inside Higher Ed

Thanks to Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang for taking the time to participate in this interview. For more information about Ai's work as a digital learning consultant and educator, please visit her website.

"Using social media to bridge the gap between teaching and practice" according to Eric Stoller, higher education thought-leader, consultant, writer, and speaker.

Photo: Inside Higher Ed (Blog)

Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang is an Associate Professor of Public Relations at Stockton University and a Digital Learning Consultant, Blogger, Speaker, and Live Streamer. 

Keeping up with everything that Ai is doing within the education space is almost a full-time job in itself. She is a top writer on Medium and has recently been featured in Forbes

Recently, I had the chance to ask Ai some questions about using social media for teaching and learning:   

Does social media connect learners and educators in a more relatable way?
Today’s students are digital learners. Mobile phones and numerous digital media devices have become an integral part to students’ educational and learning experience. Contemporary students consume content on the go and rely heavily on social media and digital media devices to connect with their peers. Emojis, for example, have almost become a default language to today’s students... 

How can social media bridge the gap between teaching and practice?
One of the challenges facing higher education is a gap between what students learn in the classroom and what they are expected to do in the industry. Before I embarked on my social media and entrepreneurial journey, I struggled to identify ways to bridge the gap between what I taught in the classroom and what my students needed to practice in real life. I oftentimes read in my course evaluations that my courses were too theory-based and did not have sufficient real-life implications. It was hurtful to read these comments. However, I didn’t know how to improve the situation. 

Later, through self-directed learning and intentional networking in the digital space, I discovered that I was the missing link in the disconnect between classroom teaching and real-world application. That realization brought me into a new world to me. I myself decided to become a practitioner. Today, I am a proud blogger, speaker, host of a weekly Facebook live show, and a digital learning consultant. I no longer struggle with identifying ways to interlink the two camps of teaching and practice. Instead, I have a wealth of professional networks and resources to share with my students. Playing the dual-role of being an educator and practitioner familiarizes me with both the academic environment and day-to-day practice; it helps transform my classroom teaching. Everything I do outside the classroom has made me a better teacher inside the classroom in numerous profound ways. 

For example, for my Social Media class, I now have content from my own Facebook live show to share with my students. On my show, I interview leading industry professionals from all over the US and the world to discuss topics related to social media marketing and communication. Many of the guests on my show are sought-after industry speakers; and their depth and breadth of certain subjects have far surpassed my understanding on these subjects. For example, on September 19, at 5PM, EST, I will have Cathy Hackl on my show to discuss Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. Cathy is a highly established industry expert and sought-after speaker on these topics. Her insight will be much more valuable to my students than what I could tell them based on my own limited understanding of these topics.
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Source: Inside Higher Ed (Blog)