Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Acceptance into Fulbright Specialist Program

I’ve been accepted for admission into the Fulbright Specialist Program, which is part of the larger Fulbright Program. It offers year-round project opportunities for qualified U.S. academics and professionals of two to six weeks in length with host institutions outside the U.S. (primarily universities). These institutions look to Specialists to deliver seminars, trainings or workshops; consult on faculty or workforce development; develop academic or training curricula and materials; lecture at the graduate or undergraduate level; and other complete other related activities—all of which support the host institution’s priorities and goals. 

Now that I’ve been accepted into this program, I am eligible to be matched with approved projects designed by host institutions in over 150 countries. My next step, therefore, is to apply for specific projects that fit my geographic interests (Europe), academic discipline (business), other qualifications, and availability. It’s a two part-process, in other words. My appointment is for four years. 

I’ve had serving as Fulbright Specialist in my sights for many years, so this represents a significant professional achievement for me. I look forward to sharing with you details on projects I’ve been matched with over the months and years to come. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

"Special Act Award" Received for My Curriculum Planning Contributions

I recently received a "Special Act Award" for my work at the Naval Postgraduate School, as follows:

"This special act award recognizes Senior Lecturer Friedman for his personal initiative and leadership in developing an interdisciplinary certificate delivered jointly by faculty of the NPS (Naval Postgraduate School) Computer Science Department and GSDM (Graduate School of Defense Management). Mitchell worked extensively with Computer Science faculty members to ensure that a robust level of managerial communications material was included in the certificate curriculum, and he provided sound advice and recommendations on the certificate structure and delivery, which will help ensure its appeal to a broad range of NPS students. Mitchell's efforts are the epitome of and set the standard for the type of interdisciplinary collaboration and coordination envisioned in the NPS mission. This certificate will have lasting significant benefit for a broad range of students and DoD (Department of Defense) components."

I received two "Special Act Awards" in the past, the first in 2019 for my contributions to the school's strategic communications planning, and the second in 2020 for my achievements in transitioning from face-to-face to online learning during the pandemic. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Rethinking Networking through the Lens of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM): Reflections After Five Weeks

Since the last update about my experience in Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course, I've done more thinking about the course content than actual hands-on effort in completing different activities. No doubt I'm resisting, at least a bit; that said, I'm attempting to integrate the course principles with what I've already done, what I currently am doing, and and what I would like to do (as opposed to what I need to) do. I'm committing to coming up with what's at least a first start on what Jarche calls a "sensemaking practice"--even if it's bare bones--and sharing it here. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I've found the PKM philosophy seeping into my other work. Take, for example, a talk on networking I'm giving this Friday, May 21 on behalf of the Public Relations Society of America/San Francisco Bay Area chapter.  I completed a graduate course on networking, have read numerous books and articles on the topic, have taught it, and have attempted to model "best practices" throughout my career. Indeed, I wouldn't be overstating the case to say that I owe most professional opportunities I've had to my willingness to reach out and connect with others. Many students I've worked with over the years have benefitted from my guidance in this regard.

But the kinds of networking I practiced no longer fit my current professional (and personal) life. The relative isolation of the pandemic no doubt has largely inspired this thinking. As I think about the subject and plan my talk this Friday, I keep coming back to PKM's emphasis on learning as a social activity. Learning serves as the point of connection, in other words. That might sound basic to most, but to me it's a concept far removed from my prior networking activities. I'm now feeling that what I want to learn should inform my networking--not the other way around. As I enter the latest phase of my career, simply meeting people for the purpose of meeting people doesn't excite me as much as it once did (it still does, mind you). I best identify my learning goals first, and then align with them whatever subsequent action I take, and where I choose to direct my energies, whether that's on Twitter, LinkedIn, face-to-face, and/or in any other venue I seek out.

I know I'm attempting to change a lifetime of behavior when it comes to networking. I also recognize that the return to "normal" in the post-pandemic world will be gradual and uncertain. That said, I feel like I'm in the midst of a sea change in my perspective. I'll share more about that in the brief time I'm allotted this Friday, May 21. I invite you to join me then. 


Friday, May 7, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Reflections After the First Four Weeks

It's been almost two weeks since my last update about my experience in completing Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course. During this period I've struggled to complete some of the suggested activities, despite avidly consuming the posts and related articles. That's not to question the relevance and importance of said activities; instead, my appetite for the course content, alongside my reluctance to apply what I have been learning, has given me pause. 

I returned to my original motivation for taking the course: to develop greater clarity, focus, and purpose in terms of what information I captured, how I captured it, and then what I actually did with it. I've been inspired to expand the scope of what I routinely consume to include more blog posts, newsletters, and podcasts. I still feel overwhelmed by the volume at times; that said, I feel much more confident that I'm expanding and deepening my perspectives on topics that interest me. 

I've tried using some of the tools recommended to facilitate the seek-sense-share model outlined in previous lessons (e.g., Feedly) while I'm hesitant to revisit my past use of others (e.g., Diigo, Pocket). None has stuck so far. Yes, I've expanded the number of sources of information I routinely consider but that's where I've hit the wall. I find many things interesting and worthwhile; the challenge then becomes, what to do with them?

For one, I've learned I can do a better job at staying current on issues related to my job. That's been a significant, positive outcome for me so far from the PKM course. I can see my learning curve is steep, without an end in site; my challenge has been (and will continue to be) identifying the best sources to keep me moving ahead on the path. On occasion I feel it's appropriate to share what I learn with my colleagues but by no means is there a steady stream of information in either direction. 

More broadly, as I noted in a tweet yesterday, I've discovered I'm motivated to learn when I have a specific purpose for doing so: a class I'm scheduled to teach, a workshop or webinar I'm scheduled to deliver, etc. I'm far less motivated, and tend to drag my feet, when I don't either have a clear deadline for a project (like for an article I'm writing) or a specific tangible, assured outcome (like teaching a class). For example, I've been inspired by the PKM course to return to the field of European history I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student many years ago. Yet that inspiration has yet to translate into consistent action. I'm not scheduled to teach a class in the field, nor do I have any other outcome associated with this learning experience. So I've come to the realization that I best put the interest aside, at least for now, until such an opportunity presents itself (i.e., either I make it happen, or it is presented to me via other unknown means). 

Yet I continue to face the challenge of what to do with information I find that may either relate to something I'm working on now or could relate to a future project--but which I don't use or need right now. I hope to make some progress on this front over the next few weeks, by revisiting the lessons I've learned in this course. 

Indeed, as Harold Jarche noted in his lesson entitled "Seekers and Catalysts," learning on one's own can be difficult and lonely. That's especially true for me given that my primary learning mode for much of my life has been solitary, i.e., read the books, articles, etc., then write the paper, deliver the speech, etc. Overcoming that mindset has been difficult, even given the inspiration the course provides. I feel like I've tried many times over the years to foster the kind of professional and social connections to make a more collaborative learning effort possible, but even so I've been stymied in this arena more than I feel like I've made much progress. I can't put my finger on who exactly my "fellow seekers" would be at this point in my life as I often feel my professional journey is far too convoluted to make it anything other than a solitary trip. But I haven't given up entirely. In the past few months I've uncovered renewed energy for fostering such connections via Twitter (thanks to this course) and in a professional organization's special interest group I joined earlier in the year. So I remain hopeful.

What I've been longing for for a long time--for my entire career, in fact--has been a sense of community. A place where I can be myself. A forum for sharing my ideas, getting feedback on them, and receiving support, guidance, and even "tough love" at times (which I know I need at times, as much as I resist it). Whether what I'm looking for incorporates PKM's concepts of "challenging assumptions" and "sharing complex knowledge," I'm not totally certain. But I believe that's my personal holy grail here and it enables me to acknowledge my own resistance, while at the same time pledging to see the process through to wherever it takes me.  



Sunday, April 25, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Reflections After the First Two Weeks

I've complete the first two weeks of a forty day course on Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM), taught by Harold Jarche. Check out my four previous blog posts on this experience here, here, here, and here

As I've read course materials, completed the exercises, and thought about the course content, a number of points come to mind. They are as follows:

  • PKM is a process that takes time to fully understand, embrace, and practice. It takes effort. It offers neither a simple nor easy path. It's unreasonable to expect to achieve anything close to mastery in forty days. 
  • PKM requires proactivity. I can no longer sit back and accept whatever information comes my way, much less where I obtain it from. 
  • PKM requires vulnerability and an appetite for risk taking, seeing how I'm sharing what I do, how I think about it, and my experiences in applying new ideas, among other activities.
  • PKM is about social learning, which is very much the antithesis of my largely solitary learning experiences as a student and practitioner from the earliest part of my life through the present day.
  • PKM changes for each of us over time, as we learn and change and as new tools and options emerge to help us "seek, sense, and share" information.
  • There's no "secret sauce" or formulas to "achieve" PKM. It requires methodicalness, patience, and persistence.
  • There's no guarantee of any specific result or outcome through the practices associated with PKM. 
  • PKM isn't about achieving "social media influencer" status, acquiring a certain number of Twitter followers, number of retweets or page views, or any other such metrics typically used to currently assess Internet behaviors.
  • PKM isn't one size fits all. It's up to me to determine how I can best apply the lessons I'm learning. I'm eager to see how others apply course concepts while at the same time I remind myself to adopt only what I works for me. 

No doubt I'll glean additional insight about PKM in the days and weeks ahead, which I will continue to share here. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Days 5, 6, and 7

We’ve looked at two topics during the last three days of Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery course: narrating one's work and the "seek, sense, share" framework. Here are my related thoughts:

Narrating one's work: Narration here refers to writing about what you do while reflecting on the experience. That means you identify challenges, glean insights, etc. It's a two-part process that doesn't come naturally to me. 

First, I rarely consciously step back from my work to think about what I do, how I do it, and why I do it. I tend to take for granted, and even trivialize, what I know and do. I short-circuit self-reflection that stokes curiosity and with it a desire for self-improvement. 

Second, such narration is written. I can draw on more than 20 years of personal journaling, so it's a muscle I've developed and used on personal matters. My challenge: cultivate a regular writing practice on professional issues that can make narration insightful, rewarding, and enjoyable. 

"Seek, sense, share" framework: After clarifying what to learn, one must identify and gather related information, hone in on what's most relevant and interesting; interpret/analyze/"add value" to it; and share it with others. 

As I noted in my post about the first day of this course, I find the initial task (seeking) extremely challenging. Instead, I find it easy to let my mind wander in varied, different directions (e.g., European history, language learning) to the detriment of real insight into topics that matter most in my work every day. So, I'm taking it one small step at a time, by focusing on one work-related subject at a time. I've made great progress in focusing my efforts on Twitter so they're more in line with what I'm working on. I've also resumed using Feedly and Google alerts to collect a consistent stream of information on relevant topics. 

I'm struggling with the "sharing" component, as it requires "knowing when, with whom, and how, to share." Indeed, these are acquired skills that run counter to the “share often about anything” mindset that dominates social media. I'm mulling over Harold’s guidance on this matter: to identify what people need and want, first and foremost. Then, share it via a blog post, as it can be sought out at one’s convenience (or shared when appropriate). That approach fits how I’ve attempted to use my blog over the past decade. That said, I hope that time and effort in cultivating a PKM mindset will translate into more consistent posts on important issues.  



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Days 3 and 4

 The next section of Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course covers using Twitter. The bigger purpose is to build professional community. I’ve been using Twitter for twelve years, so I didn’t need to start from scratch. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to review how I use Twitter. I’ve challenged myself to determine how I can better use it to serve my learning and professional relationship-building goals. 

What I’ve learned as I’ve reviewed who I had been following has been astounding. First, approximately a third of these accounts had not posted recently (in 2021, that is)—and quite a few had not used Twitter for more than five years. I recognized many of these accounts as belonging to former students. That by itself didn’t surprise me, given how I urged them to use Twitter for educational and networking purposes. That most of them had ceased using Twitter left me little reason to continue to follow them. That said, I’ll admit that I experienced a brief moment of regret in doing so, i.e., how could I unfollow my students?

I was surprised to find in this group of quiet accounts a good number that had ceased using Twitter in early-mid 2020. I suspect that decision in some way related to the pandemic and its negative impact on organizations and individuals alike. That is, certain activities had to fall by the wayside with Twitter use being one of them. Some of these accounts had an impressive number of followers (10,000 plus), moreover. 

I identified a second group of accounts that I couldn’t determine why I was following in the first place. My guess is that they came across one of my tweets, followed me, and I felt obligated to reciprocate. I’ve dropped most of these accounts.

A third group of accounts consisted of several categories. The first were “digital marketers” or “social media consultants.” There are an awful lot of people who describe their work in these terms. The second category consisted consultants and coaches active in areas I’m interested in (e.g., leadership). The third category included what I call one-way tweeters. These accounts share information that's largely marketing oriented, but haven’t responded to my past questions or comments. I’ve pruned this group considerably, one account at a time, after reviewing some of their recent tweets. I’ll admit that in doing so I felt a pang of remorse—i.e., they’d take it personally and unfollow me. Yet I know it’s time to clarify why I’m using the platform, and I simply can no longer follow accounts that don’t relate to my interests.  

That leaves me with about half as many accounts to follow as I had at the start of this week. And I’m still going through them, one by one, as I get clearer why I follow who I’ve been following and why I plan to continue to follow them.

The 1,170 accounts I’m following at present generally fall into the following categories:

  • My employers (universities) and related entities (e.g., public affairs at these university)
  • Public relations practitioners, as I remain active in the field even though I’m not currently practicing
  • Public relations academics, as I have written and done research in the discipline
  • Academics representing a broad range of fields
  • Higher education administrators
  • Teachers in higher education, as that’s my primary occupation
  • Adult learning

The vast majority of accounts I follow are US-based individuals and organizations. I want to do more work internationally, so I plan to follow additional accounts from outside the U.S. in one of the categories I’ve identified above. 

No doubt my assessment of Twitter will continue throughout this class, and well into the future. Stay tuned for my further thoughts on the topic. 




Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Day 2

I'm into the second day of the 40 day course on Personal Knowledge Mastery, led by Harold Jarche. Our first assignment was to map and visualize our network, initially by completing a "Network Mapping" to identify people I most readily seek out for support, guidance, and insight when tackling work challenges.

Observations

While spending time completing the "Network Mapping" worksheet, as well as some of the other optional exercises designed to help one analyze social media networks, I observed the following:

  • In terms of me doing my primary job (teaching), I rely on the same 3-4 people at my institution who are in my department (business school) to help when needed. We're about the same age and work in the same physical location. 
  • By and large, I work alone with little support or guidance in terms of preparing for classes, teaching, etc. My institution provides opportunities for faculty to gather to discuss topics of mutual interest. I attend some of these, and have even spoken at them. Outside of these gatherings, I occasionally have conversations about teaching with 2-3 colleagues I've come to know and like. These colleagues teach business classes, but not the ones I teach. 
  • I tend to rely on a small group of people (3-4) for advice/guidance on career-related matters. None of these individuals works in academia, or in business for that matter. 
  • I have frequent contact with professionals who practice public relations (as I once did) and teach public relations (as I do now), primarily through Twitter, a Facebook group, and my service on the Board of Directors of an industry professional association. 
  • In addition to public relations professionals, my Twitter feed consists of individuals who work in higher education (where I've worked for 14 years) and a mix of professional speakers, trainers, coaches, and consultants (roles I've also filled at different times over the last three decades). 
  • I was inspired to being to prune my Twitter feed, seeing that a lot of people I was following have not been active. In many other instances, I'm following people who followed me but for no other apparent reason.

Takeaways and Challenges

Jarche's narrative challenges class participants to ask network-centric questions (about what you're learning and who you're learning from) as opposed to hierarchically-focused questions (i.e., what do you do for a living). To focus on learning in networking never occurred to me. 

I've also prided myself on having a broad, deep network (especially on LinkedIn), which I've used over the years to connect students with employers, recruit organizations to work with students in my classes, etc. I'd characterize such use as largely transactional. Knowledge creation and sharing has never been part of the equation, for the most part. 

In short, I'm facing a sea change in terms of how I think about and practice networking. The timing is ideal for me to tackle this domain.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Day 1

I've signed up for Harold Jarche's 40 day Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course. Jarche defines PKM as a set of processes to make sense of our world so as to work more effectively. 

I only learned about PKM and Jarche's work ten days ago, in the process of listening to podcasts related to higher education. I was captivated by an interview with him, and quickly felt a sense of "this is exactly what I need, and now." I'll elaborate.

I often feel I'm spread pretty thin professionally, not to mention intellectually. I'm one of those people who easily can get lost chasing a variety of topics on the internet. Fortunately, I've curbed this behavior of late although focus and a broader purpose continues to be a challenge in my daily work.

Second, I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information I come across during my own browsing (not to mention what people are sharing in my social network feeds). I tend to ignore, rather than attempt to make sense of, this information. I'm hopeful that the course will help me to tackle this challenge head on, and in turn broaden my knowledge base and hone my insight into key challenges I face as an educator. 

Third, while I've developed some relationships born out of professional interests via social media, I continue to feel like I'm floundering around in an echo chamber. I'm inspired by what I've been reading/listening to regarding sharing knowledge and building community in terms of an "outcome" of PKM. 

Finally, I simply love learning about how people get and stay organized. I've read a bunch of "here's how I used PKM" pieces on the Internet and I found each fascinating, informative, and (here I go again with the word) inspiring. You can check some of these out here, here, here, and here

Our first activity is to visualize our network. I'll share the fruits of my labor on this assignment here in the coming days.

Friday, March 26, 2021

March 26, 2021 Paper Presentation: What about the Client in the Public Relations Campaigns Course? A Look at What the Literature Tells Us


This morning, at the International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD) Annual Conference, I presented a paper entitled "What About the Client in the Public Relations Campaigns Course? A Look at What the Literature Tells Us." It's based on my review of scholarship on the public relations campaigns course, which I've been teaching most recently for University of San Francisco's MA in Professional Communication program. An abstract of the paper follows. I intend to submit it for publication in the near future. 

The public relations campaigns course serves as the “capstone,” or culminating, experience in undergraduate degree programs. It bears the weight of expectations in terms of preparing students for professional practice by providing them with opportunities to complete projects for real organizations (“clients”) (Aldoory & Wrigley, 2000; Benigni & Cameron, 1999). The needs of educators and students dominate the extensive literature on the course (see for example Farmer, Perry, & Ha, 2016; Harrison & Bak, 2017; McCollough, 2018; Muturi, An, & Mwangi, 2013). What is far less developed is the profile and motivation of clients, which are often community-based nonprofit organizations as the campaigns course has become a model for incorporating service learning into the public relations curriculum (Allison, 2008).  

Rogers and Andrews (2016) argue that the relationship between faculty, students, and clients calls for further analysis. To that end, they explore nonprofit organization communication needs and expectations of working with public relations students.  Elsewhere, Rogers and Andrews (2013) consider organization recruitment, selection, and retention, subjects also addressed in more broadly framed research on the public relations campaigns class (see for example Benigni, Cheng, & Cameron, 2004; Benigni, Wood, & Cameron, 2007/2008). This paper will review what the literature tells us about the client in the public relations campaigns class, and in the process will suggest issues and/or variables that might merit further inquiry in support of the work of faculty teaching the class. 

References

Aldoory, L., & Wrigley, B. (2000). Exploring the use of real clients in the PR campaigns course. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 54(4), 47-58.

Allison, A. W. (2008). A Best Practices Service Learning Framework for the Public Relations Campaigns Course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(3), 50-60.

Benigni, V. L., & Cameron, G. T. (1999). Teaching PR campaigns: The current state of the art. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 54(2), 50-60. 

Benigni, V., Cheng, I. H., & Cameron, G. T. (2004). The role of clients in the public relations campaigns course. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 59(3), 259-277.

Benigni, V.L., Wood, J.C. & Cameron, G.T. (2007/8). A sense of agency: Utilising firms in the public relations campaigns course. Prism, 5 (1&2): http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/prism_on-line_journ.html

Farmer, B. A., Perry, L. G., & Ha, I.S. (2016). University-Community Engagement and Public Relations Education: A Replication and Extension of Service-Learning Assessment in the Public Relations Campaigns Course. The International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 4(1), 235-254.

Harrison, G. B., & Bak, E. N. (2017). Service-Learning in a Public Relations Campaign Class: How Contingency Management Supports Positive Outcomes. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 8(2), 79-91.

McCollough, C. J. (2018). Competition and public relations campaigns: Assessing the impact of competition on quality of projects, partners, and students. Journal of Public Relations Education, 4(1), 25-48.

Muturi, N., An, S., & Mwangi, S. (2013). Students’ expectations and motivation for service-learning in public relations. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 68(4), 387-408.

Rogers, C., & Andrews, V. (2013). Coorientation theory and assessment of the RFP solution to client/service learner matchmaking. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 68(3), 242-254.

Rogers, C., & Andrews, V. (2016). Nonprofits’ expectations in PR service–learning partnerships. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 71(1), 95-106.