I recently saw this post Eric Stoller shared about how teaching might be more important than research for universities. I do think there are some arguments that would either support, or even disagree, with this statement, but I would say teaching and research are both essential parts of higher education.

We are both educating the future generation of scholars, practitioners, and researchers, but we are also contributing to the practice and body of literature with research. I think one of the arguments that can be made here is we need more applicable and practical research that ties into answering questions arising from the field, and being able to balance both theoretical and practical contributions.

This has been one of my goals as a professor is to maintain this balance in my own work. I tell my colleagues I am much more of an “applied” researcher and professor. Yes, I do see the beauty that comes with theory development and implementation. However, if Godzilla comes to downtown Louisville during the Kentucky Derby, I am not going to sit back and say – Gee! Which theory could I use in this situation? Theories are roadmaps to better understand a given situation, concept, or issue – but unless we understand how to apply these principles and findings strategically and effectively, then we only have part of the equation.

With Eric’s point here, I think this is where my research into teaching social media pedagogy comes into play here. I have framed it being tied to my other line of research, crisis communications, by stating that higher education is indeed in a crisis situation. We are seeing this throughout the news, articles, and even from professionals. However, teaching research allows us to explore what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be addressed in and out of the classroom.

So, how can we, as professors and professionals, address this growing need? Here are a few suggestions I have based on my own experience and teaching social media specifically:

  • Partner with brands and organizations. I have had the pleasure and honor to be able to contribute on projects with many brands, but most recently, I was able to help out with the new Hubspot Teaching Social Media resource for professors.  Hubspot (and Isaac Moche) have been SUPER supportive for educators and they want to be part of the conversation in and out of class. I will be using Hubspot for my new advanced social media strategy class.

Over the years, I have been able to work with some other great brands (Hootsuite for my social media class and Meltwater for my PR and Crisis Comm class), and what educators need to be aware of is the fact there are many great brands and organizations out there who want to partner with us.

In addition, I have had a great partnership and relationship with Adobe and their Education team and community (they are amazing!) and they have been really supportive in helping all of us integrate their tools into our classroom, but they are also there for support and continuing education into these emerging trends . By doing this, we are coming together – education and practice- to help our students be prepared for what they need to know as they enter the business and social media landscape. These amazing brand partnerships are out there – we just have to take the first step.

Thank you to Hootsuite, Adobe, Meltwater, and Hubspot for all of your help and support for all of us in the education space. Means the world to all of us! Plus, major thanks again to Isaac and all of the professors who contributed to this great HubSpot resource! I hope you find it useful for your classes!

  • Being a true educator and sharing your ideas with others. I feel this is very key here, and that’s where social media comes into play. We have to be able to share with others what we are doing in and out of the classroom as far as research, but also in teaching. Being transparent on what you are doing and what are some of the projects you are working on is going to go a long way.

This is where having a hashtag for your social media class can come into play here – it provides a window into your classroom community so you can see what is being taught, what is being covered, and see the students transform their understanding of the field in a period of time.

  • Providing substantial social proof of your work. The days of providing research and teaching materials are so 20th century. We have to make sure we are providing evidence we know what we are doing, and are contributing to the field, industry, and community. This means getting acknowledgements and even press to help build our reputation in the field.

However, what we do online is just PART of the equation we have as professors in higher education. The ultimate proof we have as professors to showcase our work is not a tweet or even an article / feature online about our work, but the results we are able to provide with our contributions in the classroom – and that is the impact we have on students and what they have been able to do based on what you were able to give them.

In summary, I think what Eric said does present an interesting discussion for all of us in higher education. However, with all potential challenges we face in the industry, this is something educators and professionals can come together and see if we can solve it together. I do believe with partnerships, building substantial communities, and show the results we are providing in our evidence based practices in teaching and research, these are good starting points for all of us to consider.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,