I teach Marketing and Public Relations courses. My students often misunderstand the concept that “social media” is not a tactic; it is the umbrella term for all the types of platforms that exist on the internet as potential marketing communication tools and vehicles available to communicate with customers and clients.
On an exam, if they are asked to write about tactics, they will often write “social media”, and I cringe every time I see that because of the number of times I have stressed that social media is not a public relations or marketing tactic. It is the umbrella term. Sigh. There go those marks.
I tell them to think of one of those big red toolbox chests that might be in the garage or basement of your mom or dad’s workroom. If you walked up to the toolbox, and pulled out a drawer, you may find a bunch of screwdrivers. At first glance, they all look the same. But, when you look closer, they all have different tips to them. One is flat, one is star-shaped, one is cross-shaped, and so on. In the same way, that toolbox chest is the Marketing Communications Toolbox. Social media is just one of the drawers in the chest. If you open that drawer, in it you will find all the tools that are similar, but different enough, because they can be used for slightly different needs and jobs: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube. While they all may be on the internet and digital, they may have different audiences and approaches, and as marketing communication experts, you need to know which one works best for your target market and project.
Just in case you’ve been wondering where I had gotten to more recently, I’ve spent the past year teaching at Conestoga College. Professor Diana Degan. And I am loving it!
I started about this time last year taking the six mandatory workshops they ask their new part-time professors to take within eight months of starting to teach; I couldn’t fathom stepping into the classroom without that extra support behind me. How do you teach if you haven’t done a teaching plan for the class or figured out how to use the tech that’s in all the classrooms these days?
I started off with one class of international students teaching them the writing essentials necessary to excel in Marketing Communications today; 33 students all from India. I quickly decided that I was going to expand my learning by taking the Intercultural Teaching Practices Faculty Learning Certificate that Conestoga offers. It was an invaluable wealth of information for me.
Within five weeks, I was asked to pick up a second class, Ethics & Issues, essentially Crisis and Issues Management. It was a busy semester, but it was just my training ground for what was to come! I taught at both the Kitchener Doon and Waterloo campuses.
Winter semester I taught four public relations classes to business administration and marketing students. And it was a full semester! I had classes that were completely international students and others that were a mix of domestic and international. I went back and forth between the Doon and Brantford campuses.
And then Covid-19 hit. We went from face-to-face classes to remote learning. I had to learn how to deliver my class in a completely digital manner to students who were trying to learn, study, deliver group projects without meeting face-to-face, scared, worried about money, many by themselves with no family.
And I took more workshops that taught me how to teach online and remotely. I monitored what was happening very closely and met with my students through Zoom.
I had two students who actually got Covid-19; one I contacted after a group meeting and said I’m concerned about that cough. I think you need to get that checked out.
This summer, or as it is called Spring Semester, I was supposed to teach another four classes, but Covid-19 saw that reduced to just one. Many students just weren’t able to be in the country as they were scheduled to be or opted out and classes were cancelled.
Covid-19 has completely rewritten how we are delivering our classes, making us think about what we need to do to ensure we get the information to our students in a way they can understand and still feel connected. Remote delivery is much more tiring than in-class delivery for both students and teachers.
There were a number of new workshops offered to faculty by Conestoga as the new semester was getting under way and I signed up for as many as I could, eager to learn new methods and techniques. In the past year, I have now taken 66 workshops. (That doesn’t count the two courses I took this Winter Semester — Digital Photography and Romance Writing — courses that I have been wanting to take for a long time, and a third course that a colleague was teaching, so I audited, Creative Strategies: Multi-Media Digital Tools. )
One of the really interesting workshops I took recently was a program called Ontario Extend, Professional Learning for Educators. You work through a series of six modules, learn by doing activities and you earn badges as you complete each of the modules. Shades of being a Brownie again! A group of us at Conestoga, lead by the wonderful Educational Technology Officer Jesslyn Wilkinson, worked on the Technologist module together. I am proud to say that I completed my activities and received my badge last week!
I have made the decision to continue working on the other modules myself and to go for the ultimate goal of being an Empowered Educator. There are currently 35 in the province.
So, don’t be surprised if I share more of my activities here. The information is fascinating!