Resources for University 2.0

by Shannon Paul on February 2, 2009

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:

Why blogs matter
Why communicators should get to know SEO

Five very official tips for building an online presence

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.

[vimeo 2465069]

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
Bookmark and Share

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to subscribe for regular updates!

InstapaperLinkedInSphinnPosterousMixxStumbleUponGoogle ReaderNewsVinePrintFriendlyTumblrSave and Share
Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

February 2, 2009 David Brim 1

I feel it is essential for today’s students to understand new media and how to utilize it’s tools to research, communicate and collaborate.

One problem with higher education (which I’ll soon be writing a post about) is that in the real world things are changing very quickly as a result of the internet. Many teachers are teaching things out of the textbook that are outdated by the time the students learn them.

Social media can help by enabling students to stay updated on trends from thought leaders in a field as well as learn from the collective wisdom of the crowd/group or community.

My start-up focuses on collaborative learning and is another great resource for today’s students.

Great post


February 2, 2009 nicklucido 2

I’m in a class through MSU called the “New Media Drivers License” taught by Derek Mehraban. So far, it has been an extension of your PRSSA workshop! Unlike the tradition classroom model, we meet twice a semester and all our assignments are submitted through our blog. So far, we’ve explored Google, AdWords and we’re moving to more cool stuff.

Check out the details here:


February 3, 2009 Shannon Paul 3

Nick, I had no idea Derek was teaching at MSU! He’s a great guy. I’ve checked in on your blog, but it’s good to know others from the group are staying on top of this stuff. Kudos to MSU.


February 3, 2009 DaveMurr 4

First off – that picture is amazing. When I was in school it was all pens, notepads, and the occasional audio recorder. Looks like every student has a mac book? Crazy!

Online reputation and taking advantage of the new resources available to obtain employment are subjects that I feel students should be aware of.

Thank you for sharing all these resources – very helpful.


February 5, 2009 y* 5

This is awesome! Just looking at the attendance and the gadgets they were all carrying, I could imagine how psyched the students were to have you as a guest lecturer.

Back in my college years, my 67 year-old neuroscience professor had expressed the interest of modernizing his teaching methodology. I was impressed at how forward thinking he was at that age, however, the idea didn’t fly as you might have expected due to school politics/regulations.

I’m so glad to hear that some schools finally started to put the learning of the social web on their syllabus. I’m assuming most professors wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching the material that’s why they shy away from the subject matter. (Dr. Ward is the few exceptions of course:) Nonetheless, they could invite thought leaders like you to talk about the new media and encourage students to share their knowledge in the classroom. Like what we constantly reinforced in the community, teaching could also be a two-way conversation.

School is a sanctuary of shared knowledge, it’s very crucial that the modern day academia equip those curious brains with all the powerful tools to continue their journey of sharing.


February 7, 2009 Stacy Lukas 6

You have no idea how happy reading this post makes me, finding out that there are indeed professors trying to integrate social media into their classrooms. This is a subject that is on my mind constantly, and it worries me that many universities aren’t including this in their communications curricula, because let’s face it — today, people need to know this stuff.

Like most of us reading this, everything I know re: social media and the internet in general is self taught. I was THE person to go to when my com profs had any sort of internet-related questions, and when I graduated a couple years ago, the majority of the students at my alma mater were on MySpace, but that’s all they knew of social media, if they were even familiar with the term at all.

Knowing that their communications curriculum is outdated, I recently approached a couple of my former professors and explained to them that they really should integrate social media into their classrooms, but their lack of understanding of SM led them to tell me to contact their new journalism chair (?!). I feel like banging my head against the wall on this one.

My curiosity led me to ask a couple college students (at different schools) I know if any of their profs (or if they knew of any) were incorporating social media into their syllabi/curriculum, and again I was met with, “What do you mean?” and looks as if I was from another planet.

I know that this is an uphill battle but reading this post was reassuring that there are some schools/professors that do have a clue right now. I believe that eventually, integrating social media in curricula will be universal, but it’s still relatively new and it will take time. How much time, though, remains to be seen.


February 9, 2009 Karen Russell 7

Shannon, thanks for including me on your list. Before I forget, Barbara Nixon started a list of tweeting PR profs: and I have a bunch of PR educators who blog, including some outside the U.S., on my blogroll.

Lots more PR faculty are into social media as compared to when I first got into it (about 3 years ago). I think many others are interested but don’t know how to get started — in fact, the best way to get started is just to jump in.

At UGA we’ve hosted several conferences that help faculty integrate social media into the PR curriculum; check out the most recent one at We’ll be holding another Sept. 18-19, 2009, and interested students, educators, and professionals can get updates by following @UGAconnect on Twitter.

Oh, and thanks to you and people like you who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with students!


February 10, 2009 Jose Carlos del Arco 8

Dear Shannon,

I have created a Wiki about U2 resources (Spanish language):

My delicious:




{ 2 trackbacks }

  • Is there really a text in this class? | DogWalkBlog February 3, 2009
  • Is there really a text in this class? « Rivershark, Inc. February 5, 2009

Previous post:

Next post: