The Social in Social Media

The Social in Social Media

As I become more of a coach and mentor, I recognize the need to step outside old boundaries and create new pathways of connection.  The first step in this journey has been to recognize the need for learning how to create a presence on social media.  In order to learn, I decided to take a Social Media Marketing Specialization from Northwestern University offered on Coursera.  I had no idea where this path was going to lead and in the brief time since I started this journey, it has taken me through the most delightful twists and turns.  At times, I feel I am in a magical wonderland of discovery.

For years, I resisted the idea of marketing.  I believed that marketing was a necessary evil in my profession.  In order for people to be aware of my capabilities, they have to know who I am.  But, I also hated the idea that I had to promote myself.  I felt disingenuous. I believed there was no room for genuine relationship and connection and no room for having honest communication. Over the years, I relied on the companies that appreciated my work and hired me again and again.  My business model was definitely not a growth model, but I was satisfied that it gave me an opportunity to give to my community as well as do meaningful work.

Over time, industries change.  Available work dwindles and the necessity for changing one’s way of doing business must change.  I found myself on the precipice of change and realized it was time to become more proactive and rethink my approach.  So, with that in mind, I enrolled in the marketing specialization.  The best way I can describe it is that I was blind to the realities in the field.  My preconceived notions of social media marketing were so far from the reality.  My eyes became opened.

Here are three lessons I learned:

  1. Social media marketing is not about being someone you are not. Yes, you are getting yourself out there.  Yes, you are branding.  But branding is identity and you choose how you build your identity.  You have control over the messages and they don’t have to be fake or disingenuous.  They can be real and honest and actually work better when they are.
  2. Social media marketing is about connection and relationships.  The new technology allows for an explosion of possibilities with regard to how you build connections.  And, it works best when you start to build relationships based on trust.  If you are a real person, you have the potential to be recognized far faster than if you are trying to be a persona.  I am not saying there are not those in the marketing sphere who don’t build a persona, I am saying you have the power to be who you want to be and that being genuine works more powerfully than being something other than who you are.
  3. Give to get!  Wow, what a saying! One of my favorites and my mantra!  This adage supports my belief that creating social connections is about giving and not finding a way to take.  I also believe that if we honor the exchange, we will be supported in the process. The biggest takeaway for me has been observing people on twitter, for example, who are willing to give unconditionally and who step forward and offer!  And, this giving leads to more connection and more opportunity in one form or the other.

The most exciting message I have learned since I entered the field is that the social in social media marketing is the most powerful marketing tool I know.  I recognize that this is my view and that it is skewed towards my own personal philosophy in life.  But, how does that matter?  The joy is in discovering that I can make this field work according to deeply held values and beliefs that are important to me.


Let me tell you a story…

Let me tell you a story — an example of all the good experiences I am having while learning social media marketing.  After all, these are the experiences that are going to propel me forward.  These are the experiences that support how I use social media and how I develop in social media.  Here is the story.

One of the habits I have developed is to reply to tweets that interest me or where the message is meaningful to me.  I schedule ten minutes a day to read and reply in this manner or to tweet something of meaning to me.  During one of my reading sessions, I replied to a tweet that really spoke to me.  I was in a playful mood and that mood was reflected in the playful way I answered the tweet.  That lead to a short, enjoyable conversation.  At the end of that conversation, however, I was invited to speak to an international group of professionals over a telephone conference.  The talk would be recorded and saved on a database which is promoted and accessed internationally.

The only thing I had to offer was my own experience and a slice of who I really am.  The only thing they wanted from me was to be open, honest and genuine.  The group of people attending the call was comprised of fascinating intellectuals with a passion for learning.  In the short week since I have met them, I feel I have gained a network of colleagues and friends from around the world who inspire me to do more!  The group who invited me to speak is called Project Starfish.  The program they run that invites speakers is called Sixty Minutes To Impact.

Here is an excerpt from Project Starfish’s website: “Project Starfish creates employable blind people. 80% of blind/visually impaired people are unemployed. We are trying to include them with mainstream businesses to experience real work and become employable. But we do much, much more than that…” They definitely do more than this and they work with multiple groups of disabled or disenfranchised people.

In fact, their Sixty Minutes To Impact mission statement says, “Our mission is to offer solutions where business value solves social problems for diversity employment.  We achieve this by creating knowledge ecosystems, relationships, workforce development/internships, which includes contemporary skill building, relevant work experience development and inclusion with businesses…”

Behind all of that though are the people involved.  The people are incredible representations of passion, poise, and power who inspire and motivate all who pass within their realm to do more and to be more.

And, this is the social in social media marketing.  I have not only marketed my own “brand” through the inspired moments of meeting incredible individuals but have also enhanced my world view.


The featured image in this post was taken by Samuel Zeller.  It is a picture of the Tate Modern Museum in London, United Kingdom.  The image is available on Unsplash.  I chose this image because it becomes the metaphor that represents closed thinking that starts to move towards the light. A “greater than oneself” feel is represented as one looks out the large window to the greater cityscape. 






Student and Instructor Interaction in an Online Mediation Course

Student and Instructor Interaction in an Online Mediation Course


Designing a course in online mediation is a daunting task.  There is much to think of and plan.  In the second week of “Becoming a Blended Learning Designer“, I had to think carefully about how to engage students of a mediation blended course.

It is traditionally thought that the skills of mediation are taught partially as concepts, but more importantly by observation and practice.  This makes a blended approach a challenge.  How does one engage students so they are getting the most out of the course.  There will be those who want to read and take the quiz, breezing through the initial learning with no thought of honing the skills.  These are the students to watch out for.

The skills of transformative mediation in particular require a honing that experienced mediators continue to do even after years of mediation.  I myself have been mediating for more than twenty years and am constantly updating and refining my practice.  So, how, in one online course are these values communicated to learners?

My thoughts are that this can be accomplished by making discussion part of the lesson.  That is, requiring a regular check in and reading of other students.  One process I have not seen in classes is an instructor summary of discussion comments.  I think that if the discussion is facilitated and then a review posted, it might provide a method for those students who are quick learners and prone to skipping past comments, an opportunity to engage and gain insights.  I will continue to think about methods and plans for making student interactive engagement meaningful to the students and instructors.


How do we assess students learning mediation in a blended environment.  How do we assure that the assessment we are doing will work?  These are key questions in the third unit of the course.

My thoughts are that blended learning can provide an improvement in learning key concepts because in an online format one can take time to digest the concepts and quizzes and assignments can support learning more effectively than a face to face training session.

That having been said instructors must keep in mind the key skills and assure that the face to face role play is effective and that the core skills have been learned.  This can be assessed through observation and discussion.  There may also be space to provide one on one coaching for students to help them perform in a competeThe finnt manner.


The delivery of content to students learning mediation is also important.  What balance of assignment to quiz will be necessary as well as the length and nature of the lectures. This is the emphasis of the fourth course week.

In my opinion, exercises we have done that lead to a discussion with a flip chart or newsprint can be done as a writing assignment.  The discussion forum can take the place of the debrief after the exercise.  I think this may be more effective than the face to face for some students because they will have the chance to reflect. It will be important, though, to prepare a handout or slide that illustrates the key learning points in case the online discussion does not fulfill the expectations.


The final week of the Blended Learning course covers assuring that your class is fully designed and ready to present to students.  How does one know that the design and content are right?

It is so important in everyone one does to assure that you have colleagues and constituents review the course and provide feedback.  It should be someone you trust to let you know honestly what they think.  Another key in this process is also to let your attachment to the design go.  Don’t get so attached that you no longer are able to make the changes others recommend.

And, one iteration is never enough.  Design innovation applies to blended learning as well.  In design innovation prototypes are constantly being updated, revised and changed in order to make the best final product.

Now it time to go forth and create!!!

This blog post was posted as part of a course in blended learning taught at



Using A Blended Learning Approach to Teach Mediation

Using A Blended Learning Approach to Teach Mediation

I have been thinking of how to use online learning to teach an important subject like mediation.  While it is easy to impart the underlying premises of mediation, particularly transformative mediation, it is difficult to assess how to do a good job of assuring learners have the necessary skills to be able to practice the model.  Transformative mediation (TM) requires a set of skills that are essential to success in the model.  TM is also a paradigm shift for most people as learning how to listen and support another person’s decision making and perspective is not natural to us culturally.

Recently, I enrolled in a  University of Florida Blended Learning Course through Canvas that teaches how to design and develop a blended learning approach.  The course teaches a blended approach using methods in online learning as well as face to face learning.  This blend of learning I think can be exceptional for teaching transformative mediation as it can provide learning opportunities that can be taught asynchronously according to the learner’s own style as well as include a face to face component that provides an opportunity to assess their learning and provide challenges for future learning.

Below are my initial thoughts on the blended approach after my first lesson.  It includes my vision for how a transformative mediation session may look like.

  1. A blended approach to mediation training would start with online learning of underlying principles and beliefs of transformative mediation, including the definition of conflict and what TM is.
  2. Online sessions can also include discussion forums and a place for online reflection that helps develop the understanding of the principles and practices.
  3. Online sessions would be followed up by face to face learning that would include observation of actual mediation, role play and skill building activities.
  4. After the final session, a regular one on one coaching session will help develop learners through a mentoring process that further enhances their learning.

As the course progresses, I will include more blog posts on what I think of the blended approach and my design for the course.  I may also explore other courses I would like to design and deliver.

How I Came to Love Learning With MOOCs

How I Came to Love Learning With MOOCs

I want to digress today to talk about the joy of learning!  I can’t say how satisfying it is to be able to take a course or two and to upgrade my skill sets. In a 2013 article in Forbes Monan Shah writes about taking a course on Coursera.  I have to admit, I am hooked on Coursera!  Through the myriad of courses I have taken, I have learned more about social media, psychology, philosophy, leadership, and the list goes on.  I am currently enrolled in more than ten courses and five specializations!  Every day I listen to fascinating lectures and write papers that help me gather my thoughts more succinctly.

Let me explain a little bit more about what a MOOC is.  MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.  MOOCs started before computer technology was available as distance learning programs.  The thirst for learning evolved and morphed into multimedia programs and then into online courses which is the state of the art today.  They exploded throughout Europe and the United States and are a very popular alternative for people who want to explore learning, but are not able to manage the time or place to take courses in person.

One of the advantages of MOOCs is that they can be taken by anyone anytime who has access to a computer.  They are often free or low cost.  Coursera‘s courses charge only to those who want to have a certificate of learning but are free to anyone who wants to audit them.  Other MOOCs that are popular are EdX, Udacity and FutureLearn.  Most partner with major Universities throughout the world to provide courses and certifications.

I have known about these technologies for a long time.  I took part in a massive exploration of online platforms for the European Union in the late 1990s or early 2000 (can’t remember exactly when).  My job was to facilitate learners as they explored three or four platforms and decided which one they liked best.  For me, to see this explosion into learning programs is incredible.

After facilitating the search and choosing a platform, I stepped away from online learning and into other pursuits in life.  I worked to create my own business in conflict resolution consulting and intercultural training.  I volunteered to develop programs in restorative justice for disadvantaged people.  Then one day a few months ago my daughter in law told me about a free course she was taking online in chemistry.  I immediately checked out Coursera and signed up for a course called Analyzing Global Trends For Business and Society offered by the University of Pennsylvania. The course has not been offered since I signed up in 2014.

Lessons I have learned taking courses:  so what have I learned in my year and a half of study? In all of these courses, I have learned a few lessons that I would love to share.

  • First, I strongly believe taking a MOOC is a worthwhile endeavor that helps anyone grow and develop. I highly recommend it.
  • There have been a few courses that I did not complete and did not do well on.  I learned to be more patient with myself, not to be too ambitious, and not to let one or two failures get in the way of all of the success I have had in other courses.
  • I have learned to pace myself, add my own learning style to that of the course. For example, I learn better by reading the material.  Some MOOCs don’t provide reading material.  If no reading material is available, I find an article or book online that will help me learn. I think anyone can adapt the material to their own style, including experiential, in order to get the most out of a course.
  • I have learned there is a community out there to share the learning!  Through the courses I have taken, I have met a number of wonderful people of all ages who are also engaged in the  learning.
  • Finally, I have become a more skilled professional and better person that I was a year and a half ago.  And that, after all, was the whole point!