Reflecting on a semester

I’m assigning myself the same assignment I give to my students in most of my classes at the end of the semester: Write a reflection on what you’ve learned, what you liked, what you didn’t like. What could be better in this class? Students also fill out confidential evaluations, but I ask them to be candid in these blog posts.

I really enjoyed this semester. It was a little rocky at times because I was on sabbatical in the fall. Getting into the academic rhythm again was tough. At times, I felt a step or two behind. Now I can hardly believe the semester is over. My classes range from one that focuses on international mass communication, including freedom of the press and human rights to social media and entrepreneurial media.

Photo of social media class with pie.

Julianna Zieno and the rest of the social media class like pie.

What I learned:

  • My students are doing some pretty amazing things. For the social media class, students develop an analysis and strategic social media plan for a client. I ask them to choose a student organization or a small business that they know something about. I have students who ride horses, ice skate, skateboard down mountains. They developed plans for a tanning salon, insurance agency, nail salon, wedding gown store, dogwalker, art and sip shop, Grants Farm, contractor, fitness studio, community garden,a restaurant, Creighton’s rowing team and for the off-season of Creighton men’s basketball. There were plans for the Creightonian, New Student Orientation, DoIt for Students, Skutt, a boutique, Creighton Students Union, a group promoting designated driving and a dentist. And while some may scoff at a class requiring students to be on Twitter and Pinterest, the social media plans were strategic and included metrics and creative ideas.
  • Requiring an elevator pitch strikes terror into the hearts of my students, but they generally rate the experience as one of the best learning moments of the semester.
  • Local entrepreneurs are incredibly generous with their time. Thanks again to Creighton Otter of White and Blue Review, Andrew Norman of Hear Nebraska,  Steve Gordon of RDQLUS, Josh and Nick of MTRL Design. JMCAwesome alums Brittany Mascio, Bridget McQuillan and Peter Freeze talked to us about life at startups. And Danny Schreiber of Zapier talked to my Social Media class about content marketing. In these fast-evolving worlds, it’s great to have people on the frontlines offering advice and encouragement. I heard so many great pieces of advice but two stick with me. Steve Gordon told them to live big. And Andrew Norman: “Don’t be afraid to be afraid.”
  • Focusing on genocide at the end of the semester can be depressing, but students see the arc of the international class and reflect on why we have to value human life everywhere on the planet.
  • Bringing in pie is very popular.



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