Last week, the Telegraph announced that Birmingham City University will be offering a one-year social media master’s degree.
According to course creator John Hickman:
“During the course we will consider what people can do on Facebook and Twitter, and how they can be used for communication and marketing purposes. There has been significant interest in the course already, and it will definitely appeal to students looking to go into professions including journalism and PR.”
Though the course sounds exciting, I have the same concerns that many students are already buzzing about. Namely, whether this course dives deep enough beyond the tools. In my mind, this is the wrong approach for integrating social media into the University learning process.
Consider the fact that social media is already a standard process by which college students communicate online. They already get how to use the basic tools. If anything, I would think that social media would be filtered under a regular undergrad communications or PR/Journalism degree that addresses the larger scope of new media communications and online marketing strategies.
I’ve previously outlined what I believe to be important skills for PR/marketing folks looking to get an edge on the competition. In the same vein, I could see colleges creating a series of integrated courses that help develop each of these skills from both a strategic and tactical approach. Such a large part of online success relies on creative, targeted content, that goes way beyond basic understanding of tool utility.
Furthermore, you’ve already got the “tools expertise” of folks such as Lee Aase, chancellor of Social Media University Global, a mere click away. Not a bad alternative to paying $6,239.
I’m quite curious to see how this course goes. What’s your take? Is this the right move for integrating social media into the world of academia?
Well, it really depends which books the teaching personnel will include in their curriculum. If they will build the course on teaching and holding workshops around books/e-books/blogs by Brian Solis, Mark Deuze, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li, Jeff Jarvis, Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky (well, you get my point) – they might have a good shot in crafting great future communicators.
I think the biggest challenge in integrating social media into the academia lies in aligning the old school with the new one (there is a balance to be achieved), and getting global academic accept and respect for mediums like blogs and wikis.
Just showing students the tools, which as you point out, they are already familiar with, is pointless.
Thanks for your input Helena, much appreciated.