I have been teaching social media courses for about two years now, but I have always considered myself to be a student of the field even after I got my PhD. This is a field that continues to evolve and change over time, so you have to be present and up to date when it comes to emerging technologies and tools to use both in practice and in research.
I am going to be part of a great higher ed panel session in a few weeks at the upcoming UT Social Media Week in Knoxville. It is going to be great to be back in Knoxville and present again at the University of Tennessee.
When I was thinking about the various points I wanted to note and share during this panel session, one topic seemed to come up over and over again for me, and that was involving myths pertaining to social media. I’m not talking about myths specifically when it comes to social media, but focusing on what it means for professors who use social media in their classrooms.
Are there certain rules or expectations for professors to have when they engage and interact with their students in the classroom? What are the best practices to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment? These questions resulted in my topic I wanted to cover in my session at the upcoming UT Social Media Week.
I would love to hear from fellow professors on what are some myths they have faced while teaching social media at their respective universities, but I wanted to share with you a few myths that I have run into since I have started teaching in this area:
- There is only one way to teach social media: There are many ways to teach social media. There’s no right way to go about it in my opinion. Social media is part of so many different disciplines so there is no universal way to teach the course. Psychology teaches it one way as well as Marketing and PR. We have to adapt and tailor the course to fit the foundation we have in our profession to apply it strategically and effectively for our students.
- You can use the same syllabus and materials from last semester for class: If you wanted to be viewed as not credible in the field, then do this. Teaching a social media class does not only have to be updated every semester, but you have to give yourself at least a few weeks during the semester to go over what is relevant and happening at that exact moment for your class. I have a few days dedicated in my course syllabus for new emerging trends – which gives you some flexibility for what you need to add and discuss for your class and share with your students.
- No one wants to see what you are doing in the classroom as a professor on social media: Excuse me? I actually heard this at one conference and had to take a deep breath. All I have to say is that those who are in agencies, businesses, and other aspects of the workplace who would most definitely want to see what is going on in social media classes. I have shared my hashtag for my social media class with others so they can see what we are doing so 1) they know what conversations we are having online, 2) what topics and assignments we are covering, and 3) reading about what the students are writing about on their blogs and potentially strike up a conversation about possible opportunities in terms of internship and jobs.
- There are no opportunities for sharing content with others on social media for professors: This is the beauty part of what social media is – it’s social! It’s all about networking, sharing, and reaching out to others to talk about what you are doing in the classroom. Spending the time to do this not only for yourself as a professor, but think about the opportunities and doors that will open for your students if you do this. Wow! I can name several cases where I have done this that has benefited my students in terms of having features, internships, and even job opportunities offered to them. Social media is a wonderful and powerful networking tool to formulate these wonderful professional relationships.
- You have to have certain assignments for a social media class: Who made up this rule? I have been told over the years that all social media classes need to have a blog or podcast component. While these are important – are they required? Maybe, but maybe not. It really all depends on how you are going to use and apply these platforms in your class. Will students just write blog posts for the sake of writing blog posts? Or will you give them an opportunity to apply what they are learning and create their own online persona in the areas they are passionate in along with social media?
In summary, my goal for my presentation is to showcase some of these myths but offer some best practices along the way that I have learned through teaching a social media class for a couple of years with others. It’s about sharing these points of information and knowledge to not only help fellow professors, but also rising young professors and students who are interested in the field. We all need to know what are the expectations of a social media professor today.
I will make sure to post my full PowerPoint deck after the conference for you all to review. I would be interested as well to see what other myths and best practices you all have when it comes to teaching social media for professors.
Hope you all are having a great day!