“To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student.” — Søren Kierkegaard

Inspired by the quote above (which is the anchor of my teaching philosophy), I have been learning while teaching for a decade. Ten years ago today — on Monday, June 18, 2007 — I began my career in academia when I started teaching COM 120, Effective Persuasive Writing online at what was then called Axia College (University of Phoenix‘s online junior college).

It’s hard to believe that much time has passed; it feels like just yesterday when I began my career in academia after having previously consulted and worked in marketing. Technically I started teaching on September 2, 2006 when I taught my first traffic school class, but this was my first academic course. Since that first step I have embarked on a much longer journey. I have had the opportunity to teach and learn with more than 4,500 students in over 80 classes — in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and online.

Acting as a “guide on the side” and not a “sage on the stage,” I combine learning with laughter and encourage students to pursue their individual ideas. Having taught students of various ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, I am especially sensitive to the diverse challenges with which my students might be contending.

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I join with my students on a journey of generative learning. Sensitive to the unique experiences, challenges, and learning styles of adult learners, I assign projects relevant to their personal and professional perspectives. Believing education should create community, not competition, I combine learning with laughter to construct a collaborative classroom. Interdisciplinary, I welcome varied viewpoints and encourage my students to own their education.

I have been fortunate to have taught for numerous notable educational institutions including American University in the Emirates (AUE), Jumeira University, Musicians InstituteNational University, Strayer University, UCLA Extension. and UC Santa Barbara Extension. Actively involving myself in higher education, I have embraced academia as both my vocation and avocation.

I have spoken at academic conferences; written a book, a book chapter, and several scholarly papers; conducted corporate training seminars; appeared on three podcasts; and made a 1.5 second appearance in Star Trek Beyond as an extra! I was also honored with an award from AUE recognizing my program development efforts for the College of Business Administration.

The past 10 years have been filled with personal growth and professional development; I have improved as an individual just as I have expanded my abilities as an educator. I look forward to many more years of continuous improvement in both areas.

These years have not been without their challenges and setbacks, but I remain grateful to my colleagues, friends, family, mentors, and students for the chance to help shape the lives of others, while giving my life greater meaning.

The Pod(cast) people have returned!

satisfactionistThe second part of my appearance on The Satisfactionist Podcast with Ben Olmos has been published. Be sure to also read the blog post about my first appearance.

Once again it was a great experience and, it appears Ben and I might collaborate on future episodes of the podcast; more to come soon!

This is the second of two podcasts in which I will appear (the previous podcast was published one week ago). My interview begins at 22:58; listen to it on SoundCloud below or you can also hear it on Stitcher.

Topics tackled in this episode include:

The “Gig Economy” and my “minor league pitching” experience teaching traffic school where I developed my classroom management skills. This lead to my adventures as an adjunct instructor for 9 years — during which I have taught 3,000 to 4,000 students in 70 courses (with numerous sections) at 16 different universities in 2 countries.

This lead to my work designing curriculum and developing courses that I taught and those I was specifically contracted to create without teaching them. We chat about my favorite word — rubrics — although, as an instructor, I am careful about when I use them to limit students from obsessing about matching their rubric to a specific grade.

We then discuss how I found my way to Dubai where I have been teaching marketing and management courses since September 2014. My expat experience was inspired by the possibility of my participating in a program with UCLA Extension in which I would teach for 30 day cycles in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, that opportunity never came to fruition, but it did make me realize there was an entire world of opportunities outside of the United States — including two opportunities in Kabul, Afghanistan that I decided to pass on.

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We then explore my exceptional experiences living and working in Dubai where I have been widely welcomed by the local population and individuals from elsewhere who call UAE their home. I share details of driving the roads and roundabouts — including some Google Map misadventures!

I discuss the surprisingly temperate weather during the winter months (mid-October to mid-April) along with other aspects of daily life, including the impressive integration of SMS functionality and mobile phones into everything from paying speeding tickets to paying to park.

I also elaborate on my admiration for my students and the effort they invest into their education; they take their role as the next generation seriously and are focused on being prepared for the responsibilities with which they will be entrusted.

Notably, a large percentage of students at my current university — American University in the Emirates (AUE) — are Emirati (approximately 70%) and most of the remaining percentage are from other Arab countries or elsewhere in the world. In total I have students with 30 different nationalities here. It’s a wonderfully worldly experience!

Although it is challenging to be so far from my 10 and 12-year-old sons, traveling 8,000 miles from the life I had known to finally find a foothold in the life I had fruitlessly worked towards in the United States.

Similarly, contrary to the absurdity of the current election cycle in the United States, my experience in Dubai has been a rewarding and enriching one; I am grateful for this unique opportunity and am making sure to maximize the moment.

edx_logo_finalLastly I introduce and explain the ways my book, edX E-Learning Course Development, can be used by teachers and trainers to prepare, produce, and promote a course on edX or Open edX.

I explained my unique approach to starting each chapter with an anecdote, quote, or pop culture reference, additionally outlining how I worked from edX technical documentation, rearranging and re-imagining it in a way that aligns more accurately with the way an individual would create or convert curriculum.

We then boldly go on to discuss my experience as an extra on the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie where I was on set for 17 hours straight!

Beam me up!

Serendipity+?

Yesterday I recorded a video for my online UCLA Extension Social Media Marketing course (MGMNT X460.398A) in an area under construction near my apartment in the Sports City area of Dubai, UAE. I’ve been living her shortly after I started teaching for Jumeira University this September.

Designed to mirror the content of Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, the course challenges students to create a content marketing plan for a product, service, individual, or organization of their choice.

google+-auto-backupThe theme of the week for which I recorded the video is “Embracing Emerging Options.” As presented in the Round (Chapter) 8, Opportunities in Emerging Networks, the emerging social networks include LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, and Snapchat.

While today and even when the book was first published in November 2013 these platforms weren’t “new” in the literal sense none had yet achieved critical mass.

That said, Snapchat has quickly gained momentumVine has seen impressive growth,  LinkedIn has aggressively evolved from its initial role as an “online Rolodex,” yet the role and relevance of Google+ continues to fluctuate.

I was invited to join Google+ three years ago, early into it’s Beta launch. In the more than three years since I am still not quite sure what to do with it nor have I seen tremendous engagement on it, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Speaking of which, if you’re not already doing so, please stop by my Google+ profile and follow me; I will do the same and, together we can enhance our experience on this platform with potential.

However, I actively use the Google+ Auto Backup feature and continue to be amused by the Google+ Auto Awesome functionality for photos and for Google+ Auto Awesome for videos as well.

And so it was remarkably coincidental (and strangely sentient) for Google+ to “Auto Awesome” my UCLA Extension video that included content about Google+ just a few hours later. It includes footage from the video I shot plus still shots I also took (yes, including a selfie; for shame).

Interestingly, it removed the actual audio track and made it more of a montage. More intriguing was the awkward yet entertaining  1980s sitcom style music Google+ added to the video!

So, without further delay, I present to you my Auto Awesome video:

Have you ever been Auto Awesomed?

A classic proverb states that two heads are better than one, so in that same spirit, two songs must be better than one. Accordingly, today’s Music Monday presents a double header.

David ByrneToday’s first selection is “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads. This was chosen to celebrate the 60th birthday of David Byrne (who co-wrote it with Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth).

Originally released on February 2, 1981 as the first single from the Talking Heads’ fourth studio album Remain in Light (Affiliate Link), the song has since received critical acclaim. Notably, it was named as one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by National Public Radio (NPR).

The song is existential in meaning, especially with the main refrain asking “And you may ask yourself / How do I work this? / And you may ask yourself / Where is that large automobile? / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful house! / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful wife!”

I believe this song tells the story of a man finding himself a foreigner in his own life; having having accumulated a certain degree of wealth and comfort, yet feeling fundamentally unfulfilled.

At the same time, it is also a recognition of that discovery and the possibility of progressing towards a positive change it represents.

For quite some time I related to the first part of this song — I felt like that man. But then, after some self discovery, I took responsibility for my choices and changed the direction of my life. As a result, I am now heading positively “into the blue again/after the moneys gone.”

In an unrelated yet equally interesting TEDTalk, Byrne discusses the influence of architecture on musical composition. He offers compelling examples of various types of music throughout history such as African music, classical music, opera, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and nature itself.

Today’s second selection, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” by The Beatles, celebrates the 28th birthday of Facebook Chairman and Mark ZuckerbergCEO Mark Zuckerberg. The song was featured at the end of  the Facebook-inspired movie The Social Network (Affiliate Link).

Long before Facebook was programmed the song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded on May 11, 1967 (45 years and 3 days ago). It was originally released as the B-side of the single “All You Need Is Love” and was also included later that same year on the US album Magical Mystery Tour (Affiliate Link).

Beyond the convergence of Zuckerberg’s birthday to today’s date, Facebook is representative of my aforementioned change of course and journey into the blue again (see Once in a Lifetime).

Personally, my life has been both challenged and enriched by Facebook (and social media in general). Professionally, now almost all of the courses I teach include elements of social media directly or indirectly.

One course — MGMNT X 460.394, New Media Marketing at UCLA Extension — provides an overview of leading social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.  If you’re interested, an online offering of this course begins on July 5, 2012 — you can enroll online here!

Fittingly, and in thematic accordance with this song, later this week, once Facebook’s IPO takes place, Zuckerberg will need an even bigger brown bag in which to keep all of his money. Netting at least $21 billion in stock might just be the best birthday present ever!

Although Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, whose struggle with Zuckerberg was portrayed in The Social Network (Affiliate Link) and who has renounced his US citizenship, might just get the last financial laugh as his renunciation of his citizenship will likely save him tens of millions of dollars in capital gains taxesor will it?

Baby, those are rich men!

Is social media the new resume?

Chris Hutchins thinks so. On Friday, May 1, 2009 I caught up with Chris, the founder of Laid Off Camp during a meeting of the networking and collaborative career resource at Blankspaces. I invited him to expand on a statement he made during an interview with Leo Laporte on  the March 8, 2009 TWiT.tv “This Week in Tech” show (where he was joined by Brian Shaler):

“Social media is the new resume.”

In response to his statement, I asked Chris the following questions which he answered in the video below:

  1. Why is social media the “new resume?”
  2. Does social media help represent a candidate in a more three dimensionally way? Can it give employers a fuller sense of who a candidate really is?
  3. Have you had an experience with a recruiter using 1.0 tools who could not adapt to the 2.0 landscape?
  4. Have you had any experiences with a firm that made an effort to understand you as a person, but were still ineffective?
  5. Are there certain industries for which social media is naturally a better fit?
  6. Is there greater risk or reward with using social media to reveal the “real you?” What is the role of an employer in that risk or reward?
  7. What is your long-term vision for Laid Off Camp?
  8. How can employers participate in and benefit from Laid Off Camp?

Chris was gracious enough to spend some time with me and very candidly addressed each of my inquiries:

With the passage of time, Chris is now working for Milk — a mobile application development company based in San Francisco, CA  — although Laid Off Camp remains a proud part of his professional past.  Update: On March 16, 2012 Chris announced via his Twitter account that Milk, and it’s staff, had been acquired by Google; Chris is now a product manager at Google.

Speaking of the passage of time, since this interview was originally recorded, social media has continued to evolve as an exceptionally viable means by which individuals can market themselves and secure full-time employment and/or contract work — in social media or other industries.

Notably, according to a recent LA Times article, a growing number of employers are hiring people to mange their social media presence. If you are curious to learn how businesses are using social media to recruit candidates, you might find this infographic from Mashable of interest.

One particularly active resource for social media positions is the crowdsourced Social Media Jobs Group on Facebook.  Another resource includes the Social Media Jobs account on Twitter.

Mashable also offers helpful advice about how to get a job using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. If you’re not sure where to start, this Mashable article will teach you how to create an online resume with a website, videos, documents, and LinkedIn.

One recent humorous take on using social media to find a job involved Matthew Epstein donning a fake mustache in a creative and compelling effort to land a job at Google. Although his initial goal was not realized, his campaign garnered significant attention and helped get him hired as a product marketing manager at Sigfig, a web-based investment and financial management service.

Ironically, some criminals are also finding “jobs” using social media, so please be careful what you share online! Personally, I have been actively using social media since roughly November 2008 (I actually created my Facebook account a year earlier, but didn’t begin using it immediately).

Since that time the various social media tools and platforms — including Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn — with which I have experimented have helped me find several adjunct teaching opportunities.

I also launched a personal website with which I have consolidated my social media profiles while also offering a centralized resource through which I communicate who I am and the value I can add to any organization.

Additionally, this blog also provides a platform with which I can share knowledge while also promoting my skills to potential employers. Without question, social media has been a tremendous career enhancing tool!

In one such example, I was hired to teach marketing courses at UCLA Extension almost entirely because of a referral from Beverly Macy. Beverly is the CEO of Gravity Summit, a professional speaker and co-author of the book “The Power of Real-Time Marketing” (affiliate link). She also teaches a social media marketing class for UCLA Extension.

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

I first came to know Beverly on Twitter (in late 2008 or very early in 2009), just prior to the first Gravity Summit conference at UCLA in February 2009 (which I attended). Beverly and I later connected via Facebook in August 2009 and, in July 2010, she referred my resume to her contacts at UCLA.

After several months of administration and preparation I finally began teaching online the first of two courses with which I am now entrusted: MGMT X 460.394, New Media Marketing (Online). In the fall semester I added MGMT X 460.300, Consumer Behavior (on campus), to my repertoire. I anticipate continuing to teach these two courses for the foreseeable future and am very grateful for the privilege to do so.

Were it not for Twitter, I would have never come to know Beverly, and had I not come to know Beverly, I would have never had a chance to teach these classes.  I am forever grateful to Beverly, Twitter, and social media in general!

In what ways has social media played a part in your own career development and/or job search?

If you consider that gravity is a natural force which causes two separate particles to accelerate towards each other then the inaugural “Gravity Summit,” which was held on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at the UCLA Faculty Center, was perfectly named.

Attracting a sold-out crowd of senior executives and decision makers from over 60 Fortune 500 companies and small businesses — more than 120 social media leaders and learners in all — the event gave attendees a forum through which they could share knowledge in person. It also gave attendees an opportunity to create new online connections following the event using the Gravity Summit network on Ning.

Gravity Summit seminars are designed to educate, inform and empower marketing professionals, small business owners, advertisers, and c-Level executives about social media.  Matthew Gilbert and Rodney Rumford at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

This unique educational event was launched by Rodney Rumford (author, consultant and CEO of Gravitational Media) and Beverly Macy (the managing partner of Y & M Partners and a UCLA Extension instructor specializing in social media classes).

“The goal of Gravity Summit is to help bridge the gap between the new social media marketing tools and the business community, “ Rumford explained. “And we continue to educate and share information with our Gravity Summit alumni through an exclusive online social network community where they can continue sharing and building on the relationships that formed at the event with trusted peers and industry thought leaders.”

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009This was the first of several similar events to come that will take place on other college campuses nationwide. At each event individuals representing top brands are invited to speak based on industry expertise and their potential to provide unique insights into their social media marketing strategies.

Speakers at the UCLA event included:

  • Rodney Rumford, CEO, Gravitational Media
  • Beverly Macy, Managing Partner, Y & M Partners
  • David Reis, CEO, DEI Worldwide and Founding Member of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association)
  • Justin Goldsborough, Social Media Manager, Sprint
  • Ann Glenn, Senior Web Producer, Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive
  • Tony Adam, SEO Manager, Yahoo
  • Ricardo Bueno, Blog Director, Real Estate Tomato
  • Renée Barrett, Principal of Awareness, Action, Accountability
  • Karl Kasca, CEO, Kasca & Associates

Of those listed above,  PowerPoint presentations are available online from the following individuals (via SlideShare):

Beverly Macy, Managing Partner, Y & M Partners

Rodney Rumford, CEO, Gravitational Media

David Reis, CEO, DEI Worldwide and Founding Member of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association)

Justin Goldsborough, Social Media Manager, Sprint

Ann Glenn, Senior Web Producer, Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive

Tony Adam, SEO Manager, Yahoo

365 Days: 87/365 (February 25, 2009) [Matthew Gilbert and Justin Goldsborough at UCLA Gravity Summit]The event presented a tremendous opportunity for attendees to learn with and from each other.

I actually tweeted a good portion of the event live as it happened while sitting alongside Justin Goldsboroughfrom Sprint who was doing the same (as were several other attendees — all using the official Twitter hashtag: #gravsum).

This generated complimentary online discourse while the presenters simultaneously shared their information in person. Warren Sukernek of Radian6 engaged me at one point and I also connected with Carol A. Stevenson, a public relations professional and fellow Santa Clarita, CA resident who introduced herself to me from across the room!

By all accounts, the inaugural Gravity Summit was considered a great success — especially by co-founder Beverly Macy.

“We were able to build a brand in 60 days,” she noted. “We started planning the Gravity Summit event in late December 2008 and after the event we were quoted in the Wall Street Journal online. That’s the power of social media and specifically Twitter.  We ‘tweeted’ our way to the Wall Street Journal.”

Ricardo Bueno and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009The next Gravity Summit will be held on May 5, 2009 at Stanford University and another is in the works for Harvard University in the fall.

Notably, the Stanford event was originally planned for June but it was moved ahead one month due to significant demand.

“At the conclusion of the UCLA event, we realized the overwhelming need for social media marketing thought leadership in the business community, so we moved the date up by one month,” Macy added.

Importantly, registration for the Stanford event is extremely limited: less that 100 registrations will be accepted. However, a new option for this session is live online participation!

For more information and to register for Gravity Summit Stanford go to http://gravitysummitstanford.eventbrite.com. And, for additional information about Gravity Summit in general, please read the following articles:

In closing, I feel quite fortunate to have attended this event. Although I had to leave early at 3 p.m. to teach a class at DeVry University in Bakersfield (a three hour adventure), the learning from this experience continues online and in the personal relationships that I created.

I also want to personally thank both Rodney and Beverly for making special accomodations so I could participate despite some significant personal limitations. I am definitely looking forward to future Gravity Summit events!