Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to talk to a group of students in Dr. William Ward‘s class at Ferris State University about using social media tools in marketing research.
Since visiting the class, I’ve been thinking a lot about how educators deal with the challenges of teaching students social media in the classroom.
Dr. Ward, @DR4WARD on Twitter, encourages each of his students to participate in several ways on the social web. This includes teaching them to read blogs, understanding things like RSS feeds, and how to get involved in other social networks like Twitter.
How do you prepare communications students for a world where no canonized body of work applies?
Granted, this question doesn’t just apply to the classroom — many of us blog, at least in part, to help others learn how to navigate the social web.
The notion of “digital natives” is a bit of a fallacy. While millennials may not be shy about finding their way around a computer or mobile device, parents and teachers have been telling them that online social activity is for play. Getting many of them to make the leap in understanding how all of this can be applied to business is just as much work as it is for anyone else.
Teachers, in many ways, face the same challenges in the classroom as social media advocates face in the business world. There is no empirical evidence and the traditional media as we knew it for the last 80+ years is on the decline. The tried and true methods no longer apply and the mental flexibility necessary to adapt is something that can barely be explained much less demonstrated in a classroom environment. I’m sure many also face internal resistance to the implementation of social media in the classroom from administration officials as well.
While there are a lot of questions around this issue, I stumbled upon a syllabus for Dr. Stacy Spaulding‘s online schedule and syllabus for a class at Towson University called Writing for New Media via an incoming link to this blog.
The resources she’s gathered to share with her students offers a wealth of information, but I can’t possibly tell you how shocked (and honored) I was to discover that univeristy students were now required to read something I wrote here.
If you’re curious, the three posts I wrote that she included in the schedule for the class are:
There are also plenty of nuggets from other people you may already know:
Chris Brogan -27 Blogging Secrets to Power Your Community
David Armano -Influence Ripples and Social Media Fragmentation
Steve Pavlina – How to Build a High Traffic Web Site or Blog
Frank Rich – Why I Link
Another great resource she includes is this video in which David Ardia, director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard, talks about CDA 230, the section of the Communications Decency Act that provides some protection to people who run websites.
Whether you’re a beginner to blogging of you’ve been at this for awhile, Dr. Spaulding’s syllabus is a great place to start.
Other educators I know of that are implementing social media into their classrooms:
- Robert French Auburn University on Twitter as @rdfrench
Robert also has a list of his students’ blogs and Twitter accounts
- Karen Russell University of Georgia on Twitter as @KarenRussell
- Barbara Nixon Georgia Southern University on Twitter as @BarbaraNixon
Dave Fleet also pointed out some educators in his post of 40 PR-Related People to Follow on Twitter. You can also follow Dr. Spaulding on Twitter @DrSpaulding.
Aside from the many resources listed here and on Dr. Spaulding’s classroom schedule and syllabus, how do you teach others about blogging, writing for new media and implementing social media into even the most traditional spaces?
Photo by luc legay
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