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When Social Media Joins the University Classroom

Social Media + University Classroom =  Perfect Combination

This semester, Brigham Young University’s Department of Communications decided to, for the first time, offer a social media marketing class.

Everyone pulled out their laptops and learned how to tweet. For those of us who were more familiar with Twitter, we helped our classmates follow others, taught them what a retweet was, and talked about how lists make everything more organized. This is social media education at its finest.

Although schools like Georgetown and Syracuse are known for social media programs, I feel like there is a long road ahead when it comes to integrating social media into the university classroom.

Cory Edwards, head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence:

“The issue is not whether social media courses are couched within PR stud­ies, mar­ket­ing, or busi­ness but if uni­ver­si­ties offer them at all. Many schools are begin­ning to inte­grate social com­po­nents for their exist­ing courses, but few are solid­i­fy­ing full semester-long courses that focus entirely on social.”

Universities are all about providing their student body with the opportunities to grow and be prepared to enter the workforce.

As the need for more social media savvy practitioners continues to grow, I encourage universities to consider the following levels of social media integration:

Level 1: Basic (Integrate Social Media into Existing Classes)

At the very least, universities can begin integrating more social media into their classes. Twitter is a great way for students to stay up-to-date on news events and also encourage conversation with an entire class, especially if there are any shy students.

For universities who want to start here, I recommend that they keep it simple. They should not feel like they have to use every social media network in order to be effective. Pick one or two, and they can go from there as time progresses.

The guiding question educators should ask themselves is, “How will I use this social media network to further my course’s objectives and goals?”

Level 2: Intermediate (University is ready to have its own Social Media class)

These universities understand the value of social media, but lack the resources to have an entire major/program dedicated to the topic of social media marketing. I feel that most universities fall into this category. Many have social media certificates or a class of some sort, but nothing more than that.

It is important that the university have their social media class open to all students and not just limit this essential 21st century skill to communications professionals. Universities may want to consider in having this class as a general, and therefore, make it mandatory for all students to take it.

Level 3: Advanced (University has a major, or equivalent, in social media marketing)

In the not too distant future, I hope to see universities offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in social media marketing. Like anything else in life, it is important to plan for the future. I encourage university administration to consider how fast social media is growing and to start by creating a comprehensive plan.

Universities have the opportunity to distinguish themselves from other schools if they do establish some sort of social media marketing degree before others.

Despite which level the university you go to, went to, or will go, is on, I hope more universities will embrace all the power that social has to offer and prepare students for their professional careers.

Do you feel that universities should offer social media classes? Why or why not?

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