As I have mentioned in several posts, I have been working on a social media syllabus for the University of Louisville for the last couple of months. It’s been a fun process and I have had some great conversations with fellow professors, students, and practitioners about the class.
However, when I was looking at all of these questions and comments – I realized that many universities are trying to establish a social media class of their own.
I have also shared my syllabus with others to see what they think (both professors and practitioners) here in Louisville as well. I started a conversation with Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer (one of the leading social media practitioners presently) after meeting him at the Emerging Media Summit, and I received this very cool tweet from him on Twitter. I am very excited to have Jason as a guest speaker for my social media class in the Spring!
When creating a social media class, there are several things to think about. From what I have experienced, it is good to know where to go for inspiration as well as think about how you want to make your class standout on its own. Here are some things to think about as you are constructing your social media class and syllabus:
- Reach out to practitioners at local and national level: Definitely chat with local professionals in the area of social media to see what they are looking for young professionals to have in terms of skills and knowledge in social media. Invite them in for a guest lecture presentation or bring them in via Skype or Google+. This would be a great way for students to hear from leading experts in the area on what they are doing and what their best practices are in the area of social media.
- Share your syllabi with practitioners: I have been working my syllabi for my social media class for several months now, and one of the things I wanted to do is to reach out to practitioners to see what they think of the topics, assignments, and other suggestions they may have. So far, I have gotten some great feedback and comments, which makes me excited!
- Look at what others in PR have done with their courses: One of the great things we have in our profession are some professors that are leading the way in this area in teaching. I would say Marcus Messner (VCU), Corinne Weisgerber (St. Edwards), and Dr. Ward(Syracuse University) are ones to look at for strategic and insightful social media syllabi.
- Recommend not only required books, but also books to add to the social media library: This is something we need to be aware of for PR classes. Students want to learn as much as they can about social media, so we have to let them know about other books they may want to revisit that may help them along with their work in the class. However, while it is good to see what other professors are using for textbooks, you may want to explore and see what works for your class.
- Create a social media resource list for students: One of the things we have noticed in social media is once it is printed in a book, it goes out of date pretty quickly. So, it is key to have a working social media resource document listing these websites / documents for the students to have so they can keep up with what is being shared and posted on these sites not only for this class, but for the future.
- Expand on Social with Mobile: Focusing on social is good to a certain point – but what about mobile technologies and other emerging platforms? This is where you want to make sure to have at least a couple of classes / weeks dedicated to this area in your syllabus. For me, I have several weeks dedicated to social as well as two assignments. The world is becoming more transdisciplinary and we have to make sure our messages are seamlessly integrated across multiple mediums and platforms, including mobile. There will be different resources here for mobile compared to social media.
- Discuss theory, but focus on application in social media topics and exercises: When it comes to social media, provide students with theory, but focus on the strategic application of the tools and platforms as how they work within PR practices. Theories are good to have a clear understanding of, but make sure to have a balance between theories and application in your class.
In summary, creating a social media class on your own can be hard and overwhelming at times, but at the same time – it can be very rewarding. I have found that I have learned a lot about how I would want to share this content with students next semester. Will keep you all posted on how it goes!
Hope you all are having a great day!