Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang is a self-described “Disruptive Educator.” After achieving her career goal of teaching at the college level, she became disillusioned with our education system, and came to the conclusion that her only choice was to get out … altogether, and start educating from a completely different angle, from a “Classroom Without Walls.”  

Dr. Ai reports, “My childhood dream was to become a college professor. After receiving my MA from Syracuse University and then Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, I officially began my teaching career as a proud Assistant Professor.

“Everything seemed going well until March 2015, when I got my first wake-up call as a college professor of Public Relations and Social media.

“I read in a good student’s paper that he had never heard of ‘Pinterest’ and didn’t even know how to spell the word. He discovered this during an informational interview that I assigned my students to do. The same student also wrote in his paper that my teaching was too “dry” and too theoretical.

“I felt hurt. But more so, I was shocked that the student had never heard of the term “Pinterest”. It turned out that this student was not alone.

“It seemed that my students were far less digitally savvy than I had assumed. I started asking questions and doing formal and informal research. I discovered that while students are quite adept at using social media to consume content and connect with their friends and family members, they knew nothing about using social media as a content creation tool to build a brand for themselves, to share stories, and to inspire social movement and positive social changes.”

Read our interview with Dr. Ai, and feel free to comment below with any questions; I’ll pass them along to her. 

You can watch the video interview above with or without subtitles, or read the transcript. (All done watching? Watch part 2 of the interview.)