Digital Disruption & The Millennial Mindset: How Educators & Professionals Should Be Prepared

                 Weekly Facebook Live Show, #ClassroomWithoutWalls, hosted by  Ai Addyson-Zhang

                Weekly Facebook Live Show, #ClassroomWithoutWalls, hosted by Ai Addyson-Zhang

It is no surprise that today’s digital revolution has brought significant changes to many sectors in our lives. As an educator, the one single area that I am forever passionate about is education.

How is digitization disrupting the traditional education system? How is today’s hyper-connected world affecting people’s learning and information-seeking habits? How do millennials learn and prefer to learn?

With all these questions lingering in my mind, I had the great honor to interview Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz for a thought-provoking discussion on Digital Disruption and the Millennial Mindset. And of course, how can educators best prepare the next generation?

If you are an educator or a professional who has a passion for technology and education, this article is for you! Brian offered tons of valuable advice on digital disruption, education, and innovation.

Our original video interview so far gained 1.4K+ views13 shares, and 210+ comments. If this high audience engagement doesn’t convince you, click on the video below to watch the replay of our interview or read my recap here to draw your own conclusions. I promise you won’t regret it!

Let’s get ready for a power learning session with the one and only Brian Fanzo!

Kick off 2018 with my first live interview in 2018 with the one & only Brian Fanzo.

Brian is an international speaker, top social media influencer, podcaster, and founder and CEO of his own company.

Brian will join us and discuss "Digital Disruption & the Millennial mindset", and "How educators & professionals should be prepared" to educate the next generation.

Come join us on Jan 1, at 5 PM, EST, for a dynamic discussion with Brian. It will be an amazing chat.

Please share the information with friends who might benefit from the content. Thank you.

Who is Brian Fanzo?

Brian is the Founder and CEO of his own consulting company, iSocialFanz. As a top social media influencer, Brian specializes in teaching brands the power of digital storytelling by tapping into various emerging technologies. As a Millennial, Brian has established himself as a well-known keynote speaker who talks about building digital strategies to connect with Millennial and Generation Z audiences. Brian is also the host of his own podcast, FOMO, and the co-host of SMACtalk Podcast. You can learn more about Brian from his Website, and connect with Brian on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Everyone Can Be A Digital Storyteller

Brian made it clear that in today’s hyper-connected world, everyone has the power and ability to become a digital storyteller, as long as one has access to Wi-Fi, cellphone signal, and any digital media device. As Brian said,

It doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t matter who you know, what you know, where you’re from. You have the ability to connect with people that are like you, but you also have the ability to tell your story with very little limitation.

In fact, when the interview was conducted, Brian was in the US and I was in South Korea. The fact that we could connect so easily and share our stories with the outside world is both exciting and empowering. It illustrates how technology can bring people together to co-create content, to transform that content into knowledge and wisdom, and to share our learning with the outside world.

As Brian shared, his passion in life is to

Connect great people with great people to do great things.

To me, that perfectly summarizes the gist of social media and what social connections mean.

We Are All Teachers & Students At The Same Time

I have been teaching college students for more than a decade. One thing that I don’t like about the traditional education model is that we typically default to the teacher as the point of authority; we don’t prioritize the knowledge that students or others in our communities can offer.

However, our society’s technological innovation and advancements have fundamentally democratized information ownership and distribution. There are so many online learning platforms that allow people from all over the globe to learn, to freely exchange information and ideas, and to establish themselves as thought leaders within specific fields.

I love how Brian shared that he is constantly learning from his daughter. For example, if Brian were to design an app, he would think about how his daughter uses and holds her phone. This simple example taught me that no one is always an expert; instead we are all students in today’s digital age where things are being constantly disrupted and reinvented. As Brian said,

You can learn from everyone and from people of all shapes, sizes, races, and sexual orientations.

Amen! Don’t you just love that!

Have a learner’s mindset and be willing to share what you have learned.

Focus On Your Own Message & Support It With Ample Evidence

Brian offered a powerful perspective on this. He shared and encouraged people to question the fundamental “why,” why people are doing what they do? For example, in education, why are we teaching students the way we teach them? Why are we evaluating them the way we do? If the answer is because we have always done it that way, “we know that’s a problem,” as Brian sharply observed.

But opinions can easily escalate into ugly debates or even remarks of hatred, especially in today’s online and digital space. If you haven’t experienced it personally, you probably have heard of it happening to someone else. To this point, Brian also cautioned,

It’s okay to question why. But, it’s NOT okay to berate or bring someone down because they’re doing something different…. it’s a mistake we make because we disagree rather than telling people why we disagree. We often try to break people down and … that’s the easiest way to create conflict. It’s the easiest way to fail with teamwork.

Let’s all follow Brian’s sage advice here. Next time, when you disagree with someone, instead of questioning the person, make an effort to focus on your own message and provide ample evidence to back up your arguments or claims. As Brian said,

If you truly want to move the needle forward, you have to teach other people what to do, not just tell them what to do. If you believe your way is better, educate them. And that’s how true changes happen.

For educators, this is such an important and critical skill that we need to help our students to develop.

Digital Disruption & The Traditional Learning Environment

How many of you still look at the education space as online VS offline? I know I am guilty of this. As an educator for almost a decade, I have been conditioned by our current teaching models to perceive online and offline learning as as dichotomous as opposed to integrated. As Brian shared,

It is weird that we still look at education as online versus offline. When I look at digital, especially education, we have to look at it as online AND offline. It should be AND, not VERSUS.

This statement reminds me of how the Khan Academy has used video to flip the traditional learning model. Instead of having a teacher lecture on what the students are supposed to learn, the teacher asks the students to watch Khan Academy videos at home and then come to classes to engage in in-person discussions and coaching with teachers and students. I absolutely love this model and think about applying it to my own classes. If you are a student reading this, I’d love to hear your perspective on this approach. Please share your opinions in the comment section.

In addition, Brian shared another compelling point that being digital is NOT an either-or situation, either you are digital or traditional. Being digital doesn’t have to replace what we used to do. Instead, as Brian proposed, “how can being digital scale what you used to do traditionally? Can I reach more people? Can I do things at a faster pace?”

I cannot agree more with that. As someone who is an advocate of using social media & technology as a pedagogical tool, my argument is that technology cannot replace teachers in the classroom, but can substantially amplify what teachers can doI have witnessed and experienced how incorporating a digital dimension to my classes has enhanced student engagement and expanded their learning networks.

Being Omnipresent or Selecting a Niche

Do you suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? When there are new apps or tools come out, do you feel the urge to play with them immediately? I do! I suffer from FOMO, big time. As a social media professor and practitioner, one question that I frequently ask myself is,

Do I have to be everywhere to build my brand, voice, or authority?

According to Brian, the answer is NO.

The old way of thinking is that I need to be on all the platforms to understand them. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. If you have a niche, own that niche. Even if you don’t have one, you don’t have to feel that you have to be everywhere. Being everywhere gets overwhelming. You get burnout. As much as I believe, at one point, that I would never get burnout from social media, there are multiple times in the last 18 months that I put my phone into airplane mode.

Amen! Brian’s response spoke to my heart. I used to chase every shiny object that came out. I used to feel the pressure to be everywhere to build my personal brand. It was not only exhausting and overwhelming, but left me little time and energy to create original content. If you are a content creator, you know how important it’s to create original content. Ironically, my fear of missing out actually made me miss out on many opportunities to create high quality and original content.

So, what should you do instead? Here’s more sage advice from Brian.

Focus on where your business is today while listening to where your business and customers are going tomorrow. If you focus where your business is today, then you won’t get distracted by the shiny objects. But, you want to listen, and you want to learn about the Snapchat or the live videos or how people are using different ad platforms. Focus on business today. Listen to where good things are going tomorrow. You’ll never be behind. You’ll never fear missing out.

Invest in Your Community

My final piece of advice from Brian is “invest in your community.”

If you are starting out and if you are in education trying to grow your digital footprint, invest in your community. Give a lot more to them. Celebrate them before you start talking about ‘I’. If you are doing a lot more ‘we’ and celebrating others, when it is your turn to be celebrated, it comes right back to you.

I wholeheartedly believe that the same philosophy can be applied to classroom teachers. As teachers, we should make an effort to build our classes as communities by placing both teachers and students in the center of learning.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Brian Fanzo. I also hope that the content I shared here has deepened your understanding of social media, digital disruption, and education.

We have entered an era where the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Regardless you are an educator or practitioner or both, we all need to engage in lifelong learning, not just about content in our field but broader disciplines and fields as well.

Brian believed that

collaboration is the future of innovation.

I believe the same. Let’s all focus on “becoming a great ‘me’ first” so that we can then “be a part of a great ‘we’.” That’s how we move our society forward by becoming the best versions of ourselves.