My digital communication education journey or how to survive a pandemic from home

One more course and this journey towards a Digital Strategy and Communications Management certificate will be under my belt. Who knew I’d be taking online classes to formalize and to update what I know about something that I used to do as part of my job back in the day when I was a journalist for a daily newspaper. “Make sure you Tweet,” my editor hollered on the phone as he sent me to a new assignment or after seeing the Tweets of other reporters covering city council meetings.

It was due in part to the pandemic that my interest to take courses on social media management was piqued. Most of us were forced to work from home and I needed something to pass the time other than perfecting the next batch of sourdough bread. I was only going to take the foundational courses because at first, I just want something to fill my time with. Before I ventured into taking online courses, I took on a new hobby of sewing which again was necessitated by the need to have masks or facial covering to go out shopping for groceries. There was a mask shortage and toilet paper was scarce. Gosh! That was so 2020.

Designing your own clothes and sewing them provides a distraction as the pandemic rages on.

Sewing was fun. It occupied my time. I made a couple of shirts with matching masks. I even tried to make shorts. But I knew that when the 2020 camping season hit and the weather got warmer, my sewing machine and yards of fabrics I scored from the local store would take second fiddle to finding the closest lake to canoe in and the next available campground to pitch my tent in. I still have a couple of unfinished shirts hanging with no buttons and buttonholes.

By the time summer was over, the excitement of simultaneously taking two online courses from the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies took hold. Foundations of Project Management occupied my time after work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I joined a class of 40 students to take Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy & Social Media. They were both interesting and fun. The courses involved working on group projects with classmates from across the country. Well, mostly from Vancouver and Kelowna on project management and Toronto and the GTA on social media.

Mid-semester I knew I was going to take more courses on communications and social media. That’s my jam: telling stories. I even managed to drag my partner into participating in one of my course requirements. He gamely sat for interviews and videos so I could produce this blog called Brown and White, which tackled our personal experience as an interracial couple. I learned a lot with both courses which in a way intersected with each other. Both courses tackled SWOT analysis and SMART goals and other practices. By the time I was ready to hand in the final requirements for my social media class I was enrolled in Social Media Strategies for the Enterprise.

Social for the Enterprise was a whole new experience. I was introduced to many things I didn’t know before. All kinds of social media listening and assessment tools I never heard before were put on my plate to chew on. And chew I did. The class became a laboratory for a small business that I have been meaning to start. As the class progressed, I gained a client and by the time it was over I found another one. And so, I thought, why not keep going. I’m sure there’s so much to learn about this business and how to do things right so my clients’ current and future would be served well.

Another camping season will soon start. I am pretty sure the new course I am taking won’t be set aside like the sewing machine and the fabric of spring 2020.

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