Create a Branding Statement: 10 Questions and a Formula.

Branding relates directly to story – and personal story is something career practitioners are all about. The ability to succinctly articulate what one does and for whom is at the heart of not only branding, but vocational identity. We can help our clients clarify what solutions they offer to a potential employer through developing a branding statement. The questions below can help guide that process:

  1. What problem(s) can you solve and for whom?
  2. Why do you want to solve that problem?
  3. What message would you like to share?
  4. How would you describe your personality?
  5. How do people feel after working with you?
  6. How are you unique?
  7. Why do people trust you?
  8. What’s your story?
  9. Five words that describe you? Five words others would use to describe you?
  10. What are brands you admire? Why?

Certainly, there are additional questions out there that can stimulate thinking about branding, but these 10 should get the creative juices started. At the core, attempt to answer this question: What problem(s) can I solve and for whom? To help with this, try to complete the following formula:

FORMULA: I help ______________ do ____________________.

Some examples:

“I help high school students translate their dreams into reality.”

“Training the technologically timid.”

Challenge and a Question: Try your hand at writing a branding statement. If you get stuck, look over your resume, your calendar, your commitments and what they suggest about your brand. Questions: Do you like what it suggests? Is a change warranted? How does having a branding statement impact how you see yourself and opportunities around you?

What’s up with QR codes?

What are QR codes? According to that all knowing source, Wikipedia, QR codes are defined as “a type of matrix barcode first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached.” Usually, it looks like a box (although it could be a different shape) with black/white dots, lines and squares in it.

Aren’t they old school? Just a fad? Several years ago, I (Deb) was teaching a technology and counseling course, and showed my students how to create a QR code as the new, cool thing. I was seeing them around town as a fast way to get to information instead of typing in a long url – but you had to download a QR scanner app to your phone, and there were very few tools out there to create them. And then, they started to disappear.

Enter the pandemic-and the re-emergence. As everything went virtual, I started noticing those funky little QR codes popping up everywhere – advertisements, in church (“scan to find out more”), and eventually, in my students’ class presentations. When they wanted the class to play a game, use a collaborative tool such as slido or drive, or look at an article or website, they included a QR Code. They didn’t even bother with tiny url. Realizing that this was a way they preferred to get their information, at least in presentations, I started incorporating them as well.

How to create and access QR codes. Creating a QR code has become much more simple. There are many different tools available, but I use QR code Generator. You can make anything a QR code, such as text, a website, a picture, a link to a video, music. For this software, you put the website url, or whatever it is you want to create a QR code for into the box on the left, and before you know it, the program will generate a QR code on the right. At that point, I typically screenshot the box/code and then put it into my slide.

Accessing the QR code. Students with a smartphone can use the camera function and hold it up to the QR code, and the url will be suggested for them to click on and follow. Because not everyone has a smartphone, I also always include a tiny url, especially for a long website address. In the case below, I include the QR code, the original website (mostly to show it is a reputable source), and the tiny.url code.

Only time will tell if QR codes are here to stay, or just a passing fad. With creating and accessing them becoming such a hassle-free process, my bet is that they will be here for the long haul. Now, if we could just get some artists involved to make them prettier to look at, that would be awesome!

Polling in Zoom

Decided to mix it up a bit last week. I did still partner students in breakout rooms to come up with definitions and examples of assigned sampling modes, but wanted to have a quick activity that would require everybody’s involvement, so decided to go with a poll. The topic was using incentives in sampling. The results of some of the poll questions are below. As you can see, their results were split, which gave an opportunity to discuss (or not discuss, just tell) as time permitted.

I think it did what it was supposed to do, which was to gauge their knowledge, get everyone involved, and to mix things up in terms of how I was engaging them. We also used the annotation function in a poll way. See here:

I asked them to guess what the research says about characteristics of volunteers. So, a different way to poll them for their thoughts was to have them indicate on the slide above. That also worked well, and helped me to get through the points fairly quickly, just focusing on the ones where there was a split response.

Another way is to use the zoom tools in the participant area. You can ask yes/no questions (or true/false questions where true = yes; false = no). You could have them write in the chat as well, although, that’s a little harder to manage if you have a large group, doesn’t result in the concise data that the poll feature allows, and won’t work well with multiple questions. Still, it’s an option, and might be a nice way to mix things up a bit.

A low tech option for polling would be a thumbs up or thumbs down option, having participants hold their thumb up or down to yes/no questions.

One more cool tool for polling – 2 of my students introduced the class to coda.io, and one of their activities was a poll. The topic was on psychologists as academics, and more specifically, how to be culturally aware and respectful in the classroom. They created the poll below – and you can see that people had the option to add in their own ideas, too. I did, and immediately had several people give it an “up vote” or a yes. I like the interactivity/user ability to add to that this tool provides.

Would love to hear your ideas about how you poll your students, and process the results.

Outside the Zoom Room

This past week, I decided I’d try taking the class outside of the zoom room to create something collaboratively. So, in class, I shared a tiny url of a google document that I had set up before class (with permissions so anyone who had the link could edit). We were working on research questions and hypotheses for their research paper. I had created a table before hand with their names in cells in the first column, and an example of what I was wanting them to do in the first row.

I gave them a few minutes without interrupting them to write, but as each one would finish their row, I would start providing feedback on it. I told them I was going to start commenting in the comment boxes, and they could adjust them. You can see how this looked below.

It did get a little chaotic in that they did not finish in sequential order, so I was having to remember whose I had commented on, and whose I hadn’t. From time to time, when I saw repeat mistakes, I would say “I’ve seen this a few times – in general, you want to avoid…”. It took about 30 minutes to do the activity, but they responded well to it. I’ve gotten feedback that the students are learning a lot not just from hearing feedback on their own projects, but are learning from my feedback to other students and conversations with each other. Helping the students hone in on their passions and translate those into viable research projects is also personally fulfilling to me. It’s a lot like career counseling, helping people give voice to their dreams and then working with them to translate those dreams into reality.

Beyond the text tool in Zoom

Last week I gave myself 2 challenges for my teaching in Zoom. I accomplished one goal, but not the other. The goal I didn’t accomplish was having a large image for students to write into. One idea I had was a giant key that would stand for “key takeaways” from the day’s class. I just couldn’t find an image I liked, and I also ran out of time to get there. So I’ll try again this coming week.

I was successful with having students use the stamp function. The class was research and design; the topic was social significance and statement of the problem. After presenting what these 2 constructs were, I had the students refer to an article and evaluate the article for how well the authors addressed the key elements we had just discussed. I try to vary this – on example 1, I just asked 2 students to look at the article and give their thoughts. On example 2, to draw everybody in, I asked the whole class to make their mark. While I could’ve asked about individual ratings, it seemed like we were all around the same place, so I just noted that no-one said it was out of this world, and asked the class to comment what the authors could’ve done to push it closer to that ideal.

In a different class, we combined the table idea (which is typically my go-to) with the stamp feature on zoom. This is for an intro class on Health Service Psychology, so the students are learning about values of psychology. When in face-to-face class, I usually have this as a handout and have them self-evaluate. I really liked having this group activity via Zoom (So the challenge will be how to keep this when we do go back F2F). As you can see, students stamped how they felt about each one.

If you haven’t discovered this yet, when you finish your annotating activity, if you don’t erase it, it will stay there even when you move to the next slide, unless you erase it. Sometimes I forget and have to take a moment to erase it. For this activity, though, it was a bonus. I started by duplicating 2 slides in Powerpoint – one which was the simple table above for them to annotate, and the next which I had created beforehand that showed how the psychologists in the study rated. The “ratings” were purple stars. By keeping their ratings, we got to see in an instant how our group as a whole compared. This turned into a conversation about the comparison. As an aside, I was disappointed about the ratings on the value of career-related issues, but in the discussion, many explained that they were thinking about day-to-day services they would be providing, and to whom (many were interested in working with kids, or trauma) – so that made that rating a bit more acceptable. 🙂

So, two more Zoom teaching days in the bag. What’s on for next week? I’ll probably still seek to use the idea of an image to have them build on. Maybe I’ll play with the whiteboard function, although I also like the idea of being creative with the Zoom backgrounds. Just came across this helpful site with some innovative ideas that I’ll be considering. Good to have options!