MF 160 : Moving Forward in a ‘Classroom Without Walls,’ with Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang
Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang is a professor of communications and a social, digital media consultant. Today, Ai will share how you can move forward as a lifelong learner with social media, both as a consumer and a creator.
Successes at a glance:
Professor of communications
Social and digital media consultant
Featured in Forbes
Contributor to Medium and Hubspot
Host of the Facebook live show, ‘Classroom without Walls’
Ai has a lifelong passion for education, going back to when she was a child in China. Ai describes her early education as heavily exam-based. While Ai loved education, she shares that years of school eventually “killed” her love of learning. By the end of high school, Ai rebelled against her parents and didn’t want to go to college. Despite this rebellious period, Ai did end up continuing her education, coming to the US where she earned her MA and Ph.D.; eventually becoming a professor in communications. Looking back, Ai, somewhat ironically, sees her youthful rebellion as planting a seed for education. As Ai continued her education, she also started getting immersed in social media. Like many of us, she started as a consumer, watching cat videos posted on YouTube and Facebook. Eventually, she connected the dots between the power of content and education to discover her big why.
Ai’s big why:
Ai’s mission is to bring education to the 21st century by harnessing the power of social and digital media. Per the name of her Facebook live show, her big why is to cultivate a classroom without walls.
Biggest challenge today:
Ai’s biggest challenge is overcoming self-doubt. Ai traces this back to her early education and parentage in China. Ai didn’t grow up in a culture of recognition or acknowledgment. This led to a lot of self-doubt and imposter syndrome later on.
Moving forward past that challenge:
Be a lifelong learner. Ai uses social media to learn and forge connections that develop into relationships. Through this constant process of moving forward, Ai is slowly but surely overcoming her fears and doubts. One great tip that Ai shares is to join a mastermind: a community where like-minded individuals can share resources as well as be supportive of one another.
Best advice for someone who wants to take their social media presence to the next level:
Start with a self-audit: examine your strengths and weaknesses.
Get started! Ai used to be scared of blogging, scared of public speaking and camera shy. Today, Ai does all of these masterfully but it didn’t happen overnight. She acted on her fears, starting with the first step, and building from there.
Start with baby steps. For Ai, it was Snapchat: snapping short clips to a few friends. From there, she expanded to other media and content, including Facebook Live. This helped Ai get over her camera shyness.
Favorite app, website, or productivity practice for moving forward in writing:
Evernote: organize and share content.
Daily gratitude lists: helps Ai stay present, spiritual, and appreciative.
How Ai is moving forward today:
Traveling. Ai no longers see herself as purely Chinese or strictly American. She is a blend of the best of both worlds and traveling helps her keep that perspective.
Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audiobooks:
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Who is Ai in five years?:
Ai will continue to be an educator and lifelong learner. One of Ai’s goals is to start an education program for homeschoolers, inspired by the Khan Academy. Ai wants to integrate just-in-time content with experiential learning to truly create a classroom without walls.
“Just get started. Many of you have dreams, wishes. The only way to overcome our fears is to act on our fears … Take baby steps. If I can do it, you can do it too!”