Classroom Without Walls

Classroom Without Walls

Knowledge | Life Literacy | Mindset
New Media Knowledge | Life Skills | Mindset


Dr. Ai's Official Media Bio

Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang is an educator and an entrepreneur. She received her MA and Ph.D. in Communication from Syracuse University and the University of Maryland. Dr. Ai is the founder of Classroom Without Walls, an education enrichment company to help teens and young adults become career- and future-ready. Dr. Ai is also an Adobe Insider, Adobe Education Leader, TEDx speaker, and HubSpot Academy Instructor. As a thought leader in online education, Dr. Ai specializes in incorporating social media and creative technologies into traditional curriculum to enhance student engagement and acquire 21st-century skills. Dr. Ai’s work has been featured in Glamour Magazine, Forbes, Katie Couric Media, Inside Higher Education, Pearson Education, Entrepreneur, The Today Show, & others. Additionally, Dr. Ai hosts a popular live streaming show, where she interviews industry leaders in Business and Education, such as Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Dr. Ai additionally serves as a SEMrush Webinar guest and host. Dr. Ai frequently speaks at academic and industry conferences including Inbound, VidCon, SEMrush Global Marketing Day, Social Media Day, Social Media Week Lima (the largest social media marketing conference in the midwest), and others.


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 theoretically. 

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. 

students need lots of training from qualified teachers when it comes to using social media as a professional and strategic tool. 

But before we can train students to be digitally competent, we first need to have qualified teachers who can train students. 

That realization hit home for me.

It motivated me to bring some much-needed radical changes to my classroom teaching. 

I told myself that if I wanted my students to become savvy and strategic public relations and social media professionals, I had to embrace these tools myself. 

I, finally, started to practice what i was teaching in the classroom. I started to do everything that I required my students to do, such as blogging, creating content, and developing a professional brand for myself. I also became a student. I started to educate myself on emerging trends in social media marketing, education, and what it takes to help young adults become ready. 

Back then, the intention of practicing what I teach and embracing social media was so simple. I wanted to be a better teacher. However, little did I know that simple decision to become a better teacher literally CHANGED my teaching and professional career. 
Overcoming my own fear of the unknown and learning to walk my talk were uncomfortable, yet they were the best decisions that I have ever made in my professional career. It has made me a better teacher, professional, and human being. 

Today, I have become a thought leader in alternative education. My work got featured in Glamour Magazine, Katie Couric MediaForbes, Entrepreneur, Inside Higher Education, Pearson Education, and numerous other publications, podcasts, and books. I have also become an Adobe Education Leader, Adobe Insider, and HubSpot Academy Instructor. I also host webinars for SEMrush regularly and speak at their Global Marketing Day. I frequently speak at industry and academic conferences on social media marketing and the future of education.

After resigning from my Associate Professor position in May 2019. I have fully devoted my time to building my own education company, Classroom Without Walls. 

At Classroom Without Walls, we work with teens and young adults to help them become career- and life-ready using our own tested and proven curriculum. You can read lots of our success stories on this page here
As Mark Twain says, "Don't let schooling interfere with one's education."

At Classroom Without Walls, we are on a mission to align education with schooling. 

We help young adults become FUTURE-READY by teaching them what schools are NOT teaching them. 

I invite you to join us on this movement. 


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For any inquires, please email: Ai@ClassroomWithoutWalls.ai
Dr. Ai is a Professor turned entrepreneur. She taught in the classroom for 10+ years before she resigned to build her own school, Classroom Without Walls. Dr. Ai has helped more than 2K students achieve career success.
I go LIVE every Tuesday (Noon ET), Wednesday (5pm ET), and Friday (Noon ET) to teach beyond the walls or interview leading industry professionals . Watch previous interviews here on my YouTube channel. 
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