WELCOME to the Global Seminar Series #3

Social Media 360: The Unsung Hero or the Insidious Villain?

Why is Tik Tok so addictive? Do you want to explore the evolution and explosion of social media? Are you curious about its impact on society, in your country, and around the world? More importantly, do you wonder what impact social media use has had on girls globally? Do you want to become informed and empowered to use social media as a tool for positive change?

You are invited to participate in Miss Porter’s School’s new Global Seminar Series, “Social Media 360: The Unsung Hero or the Insidious Villain”. Miss Porter’s School is excited to partner with News Decoder, a global educational news service for young people, to offer this Seminar Series. In this four-week series, you will explore social media by learning about the financial structure and business models of various platforms, some alternative structures, the mechanics of algorithms, social media’s impact on society and girls in particular as well as individual, corporate, and government responsibility. Our Seminar Series will meet one time per week for four weeks, with 1-2 hours of asynchronous work between sessions. Each live session will be interactive and include at least one expert in the field. Students will participate in a Challenge by Choice group activity, collaboratively generating ideas and finding solutions to some of the problems that they have identified during the four-week Seminar. In the last session, each student group will pitch their ideas and receive feedback on how to make their ideas a reality.

Whether you use social media or not, join us to analyze and reflect on our constant and ever-changing interactions with social media.

Session 1: The Structure & Mechanics of Social Media Platforms

Schedule: February 20, 9:00-10:30am EST

  • Introduction & Icebreakers
  • Introduce Challenge by Choice Activity
  • Round Table Discussion with Experts
  • Small Group Work and Discussion

Essential Questions:

  • Who are you: the consumer or the product? 
  • How do we usually consume content on social media? 
  • How do social media companies monetize the product?

Sam Ahn

Sam Ahn is the Director of the Institute for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at Miss Porter’s School. He holds two master’s degrees in education and technology and currently pursuing a doctorate in Instructional Technology and Media at Columbia University. His research includes using game mechanics and dynamics to increase learner engagement and motivation. Sam is also an entrepreneur and he has worked with various global education and technology companies from multiple countries. Sam enjoys using human-centered design to design learning experiences that are highly immersive and experiential. He teaches Digital Marketing and Game Design and has in-depth experience and knowledge of social media platforms.

Session 2: Social Media’s Impact on Society

Schedule: February 27, 9:00-10:30am EST

  • Welcome & Connection Activity
  • Data Collection Activity & Introduction to Challenge of the Week
  • Roundtable Discussion with Experts
  • Small Group Discussions & Collaborative Work

Essential Questions:

  • What is social media’s impact on activism and how can social media be used effectively?
  • How does social media impact small businesses and entrepreneurism? 
  • How does social media affect our mental health?

Ashley Olafsen

Ashley Olafsen is a two-time published author, TEDx speaker, and social entrepreneur who is passionate about building inspiring businesses.
Ashley accidentally became an entrepreneur at the age of 16, when she gave an empowerment workshop to a group of 8th grade girls. After realizing her passion for helping others, Ashley co-founded MOVE, LLC, through which she has directed over 100 workshops and 6 week-long summer programs for teenage girls, focusing on self-esteem, body image, leadership, and more. During college, Ashley created an online video series focusing on the same topics, for students. The 10-part online workshop series, titled ‘Let’s Talk About It: The Workshop Series For Students’ is implemented in wellness and guidance curricula all over New England. Today, Ashley is a StartUp Coach at IFundWomen. Ashley has been featured in Forbes, is a 2019 VS PINK GRL PWR Project winner as sponsored by Victoria’s Secret, and Vital Voices fellow.


Naima Small

Naima is a current high school student living in Connecticut who is passionate about issues facing Black women, particularly colorism. She aims to increase awareness and discussion around these topics through her writing. She started the blog and Instagram page Dear Dark Skinned Girl to share the voices of black girls, because they are so often spoken over. Dear Dark Skinned Girl now has 13 writers and contributors from across the United States. She is always trying to educate herself on the world’s issues, and loves journalism because it allows her to do so.


Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience of Asia, covering politics and business in the region for the BBC World Service, Thomson Reuters, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Far East Economic Review. He has been based in London, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore. Since 2000 he has largely focused on writing about technology. Between 2000 and 2007 he wrote a weekly column for the WSJ and FEER called Loose Wire, which focused on making technology interesting and practical. He now works as a consultant to companies and executives on understanding and communicating technology. Jeremy has a MA from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a BA in History from the University of Exeter. He lives in Singapore with his family.

Session 3: Individual, Corporate, & Governmental Responsibility with Social Media

Schedule: March 6, 9:00-10:30am EST

  • Welcome & Connection Activity
  • Roundtable Discussion with Experts
  • Small Group Discussions 
  • Challenge of the Week Share Out

Essential Questions:

  • What are the responsibilities of corporations and governments in using data from social media for the greater public good? 
  • How do the ideas of “the greater good” and “the power of data” intersect? 
  • What is our responsibility as individuals when using social media?

Vanessa Otero

Vanessa is the Founder and CEO of Ad Fontes Media, a leading news rating company. She is also the original creator of the Media Bias Chart®, the viral image that prompted many lively discussions around the internet about where people get their news She founded Ad Fontes Media in 2018 to fulfill the need revealed by the popularity of the Chart—the need for an easy-to-understand, reliable news rating system. Vanessa is a native of San Diego, California and currently resides in Westminster, CO. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA, a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and is licensed patent attorney. As the founder of Ad Fontes Media, she seeks to help all stakeholders in good news media do their part to improve our information ecosystem.


Laura Tierney

Combining her standout sports leadership experience with her career managing social media for world-class brands, Laura Tierney is driven to help teens navigate social media positively and thoughtfully. As Founder and CEO at The Social Institute, she bridges the gap between adults and students as one of the nation’s leading pioneers in positive social media education. Prior to launching The Social Institute, Laura managed social media strategy at ESPN and at the award-winning advertising agency McKinney. During the 10 years she worked in social media, she helped build strategies and campaigns for leading brands including Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, Samsung, Coca Cola, Travelocity, Oakley, and Disney.


Caroline Amaba

Caroline Amaba is a Staff Software Engineer at BuzzFeed. She has been a web developer and software engineer for almost 10 years. Currently, Caroline works on the AdTech team and has been focused on advertising for the past 8 years (previously at an advertising agency). Aside from developing new products and tech strategies for the media company, Caroline also helps develop team culture and advocates for women of color in Tech.


Nelson Graves

Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder, a global educational news service for young people. He is an experienced educator and administrator. Graves was a correspondent, Bureau Chief and regional managing editor at Reuters for 24 years, holding posts in Washington, Paris, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Milan and Tokyo. He later served as Admissions Director at Johns Hopkins University’s graduate program in international relations.

Session 4: Challenge by Choice – From Villain to Hero

Schedule: March 13, 9:00-11:00am EST

  • Welcome & Connection Activity
  • Group Presentations
  • Awards
  • Closing

Essential Questions:

  • How can we as girls make an impact?
  • How can we inspire and motivate others to become informed about social media and take responsibility for their actions?
  • What are we going to bring back to our friends, families and communities from this experience?

Speakers: TBD

Join Us

Registration is closed. Stay tuned for more details on our Global Seminar Series #4 launching on April 24, 2021!