Engagement and Learning Styles: SuperHero strategies to engage both online and off

Engagement and Learning Styles: SuperHero strategies to engage both online and off

Today’s teachers are finding it increasingly challenging to engage students. Considering the unique learning styles of our students and catering teaching techniques to support these styles can improve student performance (Dunn, R., Beaudry, J.S. & Klavas, A., 2002) and increase student engagement.

Research indicates that learning styles are the result of many influences including biological, sociological and cultural characteristics. Within each culture, class bracket and classroom ‘there are as many within-group differences as between-group differences. Indeed, each family includes parents and offspring with styles that differ’ (Dunn, R., Beaudry, J.S. & Klavas, A., 2002, p.88). Studies have found the closer the match between a student’s and teacher’s styles, the higher the grade point average (Dunn, R., Beaudry, J.S. & Klavas, A., 2002). It’s important to remember that no learning style is BETTER or WORSE than another and each style has similar intelligence ranges. “Most learners can master the same content but HOW the master it is determined by their individual styles” (Dunn, R., Beaudry, J.S. & Klavas, A., 2002, p.89). (more…)

Chipotle #Scarecrow Campaign: Advertising or narrative and WHY it worked

Chipotle #Scarecrow Campaign: Advertising or narrative and WHY it worked


by Lisa Peyton

‘Chipotle’s latest marketing campaign has gone viral’ reads the headline of one of the many articles buzzing about this 3 minute video simply called ‘The Scarecrow’.

Since first hearing about the video over a week ago in a newsletter I subscribe to, I have been bombarded with references to the campaign in almost every facet of my life. My digital marketing students a Portland State, my social media clients, my connections on LinkedIn, the girl at the gym, strangers on the streetcar – everyone, it seems, it talking about it.

Chipotle has managed to trigger a wide range of responses; outcries of hypocrisy from vegans on the left, protests from conventional farmers on the right and angry fans on Facebook who  demand The Scarecrow app promoted by the video is available on Android. The Scarecrow video has garnered over 6 million views on YouTube with the final count likely to be much higher. So WHY did this video manage to cause such a stir and get so much attention? There are several factors that have contributed to its rapid proliferation.

Empowerment Marketing

The Scarecrow video is the poster child for what Jonah Sachs calls Empowerment Marketing. In his book called ‘Winning the Story Wars’, Sachs describes a new breed of advertising that ‘inspires action by painting a picture of an imperfect world that can be repaired through
heroic action’ (Sachs, J. 2012). Sachs was tweeting about The Scarecrow campaign himself, shooting out a link to an article interviewing the animation’s creator, Moonbot Studios. According to Sachs, there are three tactics that can separate empowerment marketing from more traditional marketing messages. (more…)

A Defense Against the Negative Effects of Technology

A Defense Against the Negative Effects of Technology

by Lisa Peyton

In the past, I have not been a HUGE fan of social media. I don’t spend hours a day on Facebook or any social media platform and I have often pondered how this new media will impact our psyches. My recent media psychology work has forced me to take another look at how I view digital media and how it may be effecting us. Nancy Baym’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, outlines a NEW way to approach digital media. Her dissection of how media is perceived by the public alerted me to my own biases and helped to hone my critical eye when reading articles on the subject.

By defining and giving examples of technological determinism (‘machines change us’), SCOT or social construction of technology (‘people have the power’) and social shaping and domestication of technology, she built a solid case defending technology from those that are fearful of its negative effects (Baym, 2010). It is historically apparent that new methods of communication have always been feared initially, until these new methods have been so widely adopted that the masses simply take them for granted.

As she outlines, the Internet is one such recent example, where in its early days many thought that it spelled the end of blissful interpersonal relationships, as husbands and wives were sucked into ‘cyberspace’ (Baym, 2010). Today, the Internet has been widely domesticated and many of its early skeptics would concede that they can’t imagine life without it.

As new means of communication and media are created, this technological determinism and its resulting rhetoric can be easily spotted on such publications as the New York Times, The Huffington Post and various other online news publications. Texting has become a modern form of communication adopted by teens and young adults and serves as a good example of this phenomenon. Headlines such as ‘Experts Agree Text Messages are Bad for Interaction and Health’ and ‘Let Your Smartphone Deliver the Bad News‘ link to articles chock full of rhetoric bemoaning the fear that texting will turn us all into flakes (Tell, 2012. New York times) or create problems in relationships and hinder activities of daily living (Simo, 2012. The Daily Journalist).

Another more recent example of this approach was published on The Verge. Their article entitled ‘Facebook isn’t making you depressed but the internet is’ , uses the same tired rhetoric. The post garnered many interesting comments, including one of my own:

I applaud your efforts to debunk the thin research citing the negative effects of Facebook. The daily show’s Jon Stewart took a few swings at the researchers himself, you can read more about that here: http://www.lisapeyton.com/jon-stewarts-satire-rightly-counters-facebook-addiction-fears/.

HOWEVER, your title BLAMING the Internet for depression is just as unfounded as blaming Facebook. The Internet use has all the same complexities surrounding usage as Facebook does. Framing the article around how digital media EFFECTS us disregards how WE effect media. We have created Facebook and the Internet because there was an unmet psychological and social need. As you say, blaming Facebook and the Internet for our psychological woes is not only scapegoating but oversimplifying an extremely complex issue.

Less easy to spot are those adopting an alternate viewpoint or one that more closely aligns with social shaping and eventual domestication of these new technologies. Despite the reactionary title of the article, (Experts Agree Text Messages are Bad for Interaction and Health), the first quoted EXPERT has a much more balanced view of texting and its potential harms. Simeon Yates, Professor of communication and technology at Sheffield Hallan University, is quoted as saying that texting is nothing new in the world of communication, “but another process of social interaction.” He continues to explain, “We did the same with the phone, or letters etc. Managing face to face is a key part of all social interaction and texting is just another medium/option available to us.”

So where then IS the expert that AGREES that texting is BAD for interaction and health? Lisa Merlo, Ph. D. in Psychiatry of University of Florida, is cited as believing that texting “can create problems in relationships.” However, this is only part what she has to say on the subject. She also is hopeful that eventually the trend of NOT interacting face to face will fade and that people will rediscover the value of in-person interactions. The article does continue on to quote other experts but by only referring to the negative comments provided, the title creates an inaccurate representation of the article’s content.

I’m excited to continue exploring public perception of new media as filtered through the lens of these framing techniques. My own beliefs and biases have been uncovered based upon Baym’s point of view. Now maybe I can help you uncover your own.


Baym, N. K. (2010). Personal connections in the digital age. Cambridge, UK: Polity press.

Simo, J. O. (2012). Experts agree text messages are bad for interaction and health. thedailyjournalist.com (http://thedailyjournalist.com/theacademic/experts-say-text-messages-are-bad-for-interaction-and-health/)

Tell, C. (2012). Let your smartphone deliver the bad news. The New York Times. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/fashion/let-your-smartphone-deliver-the-bad-news.html)

Data, Technology and the Psychology of Social Behaviors: How Obama 'socialized' politics

Data, Technology and the Psychology of Social Behaviors: How Obama 'socialized' politics

by Lisa Peyton

WHY was Obama’s campaign SO effective? I recently ran across two quotes that answer that question and have much broader implications for the future of digital media.  The first was from Pamela Rutledge, in her article ‘How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential campaign’. She summed it up this way, “An effective social media campaign is based on the psychology of social behaviors NOT the current technology” (Rutledge, p. 2013). Mybo.com was able to take advantage of new technologies surrounding online social networks in order to enable Obama supporters to connect and build social relationships. The second quote was from the Handbook of mobile communication studies, chapter 17 by Howard Rheingold. He eloquently puts it this way:

Communication technologies and literacies possess a power that has, on many occasions, proven mightier than physical weaponry — the potential to amplify, leverage, transform, and shift political power by enabling people to persuade and inform the thoughts and beliefs of others.

Obama recruited a variety of tools that allowed his supporters to easily find and inform undecided voters. (more…)

The Power of Narrative in Advertising: Brands that tell stories and win customers

The Power of Narrative in Advertising: Brands that tell stories and win customers

We have all seen the power of storytelling in action. Stories most likely have even contributed to our decision to make a purchase, wear a particular item of clothing and drink a certain beverage. Narrative has become a weapon in the ongoing battle of the brands. The companies that are coming out on top have captured our imagination and won over our hearts NOT our head.

So what IS a story and why are they so powerful? Simply put a story can be broken down in to four elements (Fog, K., Budtz, C. & Yakaboylu, B. 2010):

Message – WHY are you telling the story?
Conflict – No conflict, no story
Characters – Protagonist and antagonist
Plot – The progression of the narrative

These items may make up the structure of a story but in order to win over consumers, brands need to engage a much more complex strategy. They need to ensure that their target audience can RELATE to the hero or antagonist and the problem or conflict (Fog, K et al. 2010). The brands outlined below and the campaigns they developed attempted to do just that. Let’s take a look at how some of the most memorable advertising campaigns of the last century used the power of story to move product.


1) Nike  Consumer = Michael Jordan

Nike has done an outstanding job of creating stories that star YOU – the consumer. In their latest ‘Just do it’ spots seen here: http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/just-do-it, Nike has juxtaposed regular people with sports superstars. The heroes of the Nike story are competitors everywhere trying to be better. The conflict is man overcoming his own limitations and self-doubt and transforming into someone better, someone who can change the world. Nike products HELP the hero make this journey from average to superstar. (more…)

Social Self: Self-presentation in the era of the Internet

Social Self: Self-presentation in the era of the Internet

Online environments have thrown a new light on self-identity and the degree with which we can control impressions other people form. Impression management or self-presentation refers to the process of influencing the impressions an audience forms about oneself (Joinson, A., McKenna, K.Y.A., Postmes, T., 2007). Internet relations have several differentiating factors that impact
self-presentation, they include (Joinson, A. et al., 2007):

  • Greater anonymity
  • Diminution of the importance of physical appearance
  • Greater control over the time and pace of interactions
  • Ease of finding similar others

The Internet and online social networks have laid the groundwork for users to have greater control over how they present themselves. This freedom has been fertile ground for research and new
discussions around WHY and HOW identity is shaped.

According to Mark Leary (1995) there are two processes that aide with impression management, impression motivation and impression construction. There are three primary factors that impact  impression motivation and help to determine WHY users want to create a particular impression.  These factors include “the extent to which the desired impression will contribute to the
attainment of a goal, the value of that goal and the discrepancy that exists between the desired  image and the image the audience already holds (Joinson, et al., 2007, p.225).”

Social Self: Self-presentation in the Internet era

Online social network users can have unique goals for each social channel, thereby strategically crafting their presented self to help attain that goal. This ability to have multiple selves  across many different platforms was explored by Sherry Turkle in her book ‘Life on the Screen’.  She compared these multiple selves to windows, stating “windows have become a powerful metaphor
for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The self is no longer simply playing different roles in different settings at different times. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time  (Turkle, S., 2011, p.14).”

When examining my own social media profiles and online behavior, the concept of windows really resonates for me. I have different facets of myself that are visible across many different ‘windows’ that are operating all at one time. Each of my social profiles helps me attain a  different goal whether it be finding work, connecting with friends, learning about new restaurants or seeing beautiful images. These goals have helped to shape my online profiles, often unconsciously, and allowed for increased self-expression and self-exploration.


Joinson, A., McKenna, K. Y. A., Postmes, T., & Reips, U.-D. (Eds.). (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Turkle, S. (2011). Life on the Screen. Simon & Schuster.