Side Hustle

My advance copy of Chris Guillebeau's new book - Side Hustle.

My advance copy of Chris Guillebeau's new book - Side Hustle.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chris Guillebeau. I started following his blog The Art of Non-Conformity years ago and have been inspired by his work ever since.

Guillebeau is a New York Times best selling author and today he is releasing his newest book - Side Hustle. I was fortunate enough to receive and review an advance copy of this practical guide on how to transform your skills and drive into a supplementary income source.

As y'all know... I've been hustling for years as a freelance designer.

What excites me most about this book is its practical approach to brainstorming, vetting, executing, and growing a profitable idea, all while holding down a day job. This is the first of Guillebeau’s books that targets this specific demographic. It speaks to the hardest working part of me that loves my teaching gig, but still wants to do more.

One paradigm shift presented early in the book is that “the side hustle is the new job security.” This idea echoes my firmly held entrepreneurial belief that a strong sense of self-efficacy is fostered when you’re able to leverage your talents and follow-through to generate income. 

As a faculty member at Full Sail University I have the privilege of working with eager millennials looking to enter the world of media communications. In essence, this book is the "how-to" they can turn to as they navigate this fast paced and ever-changing industry. It offers another path to security, teaching them how to earn a living, even when no one is hiring.

In short, this book offers a step-by-step, actionable guide for anyone looking to transform ideas into income.

RISE Digital Poster

RISE Model for Peer Feedback by Emily Wray

I recently gave the following presentation in the Higher-Ed Digital Poster Session at the Apple Distinguished Educators' Academy. Speakers were given three short minutes to share an idea or an approach they use in the classroom.

Imagine if every time you clicked the Facebook like button you were prompted to justify your reaction with a “WHY” or a “BECAUSE…” - Many of us would just keep scrolling because that kind of public articulation can be risky. What if our well-meaning comment is misunderstood or comes across as offensive? Several years ago I realized this is how my students felt when asked to perform peer critiques.

To help guide my Media Communications students through the intimidating peer feedback process, I developed a tool called the RISE Model. The four tiers of this framework align with Bloom’s taxonomy and support students when building these constructive analyses.


The first, most basic, level of feedback is REFLECTION. Evaluative comments, such as “I LIKE...” are welcome here, but should be elaborated on with a “BECAUSE...” that's rooted in a concept or technique from the course.


The second level is INQUIRY. Here students are prompted to ask thought-provoking questions that might lead to a new perception or clarifying questions to develop a deeper understanding of the intent of the work.


The third level is SUGGEST, where students introduce ideas for improvement of the current iteration of a project. These are specific considerations to help fulfill any stated requirements in the assignment description.


The last level is ELEVATE, which is where students are asked to imagine the potential of the project beyond the confines of a rubric and share ideas for expansion into future iterations.

Years later and the RISE Model has been adopted university-wide at Full Sail and in countless other classrooms throughout the world. 

Here’s what’s working…

The Structure

Students appreciate the framework - it gives them something to build on. And rather than generic or canned language, the prompts give students several angles from which to consider their response.

The Permission

RISE helps alleviate the anxiety and fear of peer critiques. Students learn how to not make or take constructive feedback personally.

The Mentorship

RISE gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of course content as they coach fellow students. In the process, relationships are strengthened through collaboration, rather than competition.

As we continue to immerse ourselves into this digital world, exploring the possibilities of and determining best practices for our connected classrooms, the RISE Model is a simple tool to help students have positive, productive conversations about their growth and development.

More information and implementation resources can be found at

From Sophisticated to Simple

What happens when you ask media communications students to abandon their mighty MacBooks and sophisticated software to try out a new mobile app?

Full Sail Media Communications Student Astha Shrestha

As it turns out… a lot.

I recently challenged my students to tell a story using the new Clips app from Apple. I asked them to reflect on their experience in the course and to demonstrate the various features of the app using a rich combination of images, video, and audio.

Sounds simple, right?

I knew my students would be challenged with this exercise. You see, as part of their tuition, Full Sail students are given a MacBook Pro and all the industry standard software they need to tote around a professional studio on their backs. They’re used to applications that perform infinite functions and allow a granular level of control over their creations.

With such robust functionality, what’s the benefit of going from sophisticated to simple?

The answer, we found, was speed.

Using a mobile app with limited presets forced my students into a rapid prototyping experience. Instead of debating typefaces and colors or auditioning endless soundtracks, the students could very quickly execute their ideas.

One of the major benefits of using a simplified app was the ability to focus on articulating and communicating a message without getting distracted by an overwhelming amount of bells and whistles. 

Another benefit of using the app was the intuitiveness of the interface. Editing programs like Final Cut Pro or Premiere can be intimidating and have a pretty steep learning curve. In contrast, my students were able to download Clips and create a relevant, reflective piece having no prior experience with the app.

We did face some challenges along the way. Not every student had a iPhone and many of the ones that did needed an IOS update to run the app. These minor hiccups added an unintended, but valuable layer of teamwork and problem solving to the activity.

Most students embraced challenge, but a few felt their creativity was handcuffed by the limited presets available in the mobile app. As we debriefed the experience, students shared they appreciated the ability to give life to an idea quickly and then allow that momentum to propel them to their next best step. For some that meant revising their first draft and for others it meant starting over completely, but with more intent. For all it was a valuable exercise in the simplification and distillation of a concept.