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Social Media in the Classroom

With social media becoming an essential part of corporate communication strategies, there is no question that social media use should also be taught in the classroom. It is quite normal to hear a professor ask students to put away their phones or to exit out of their social media, but asking students to take out their phones or log in to their social media profiles could easily become a normal classroom activity.

Service learning classes, such as advertising and public relations campaigns classes, also force students to address and use social media for their clients. There are even opportunities for students to use social media to interact with their classmates. "I'm in a service learning class taught by Professor Karen Mallia, and she encouraged us to make a Facebook group for our year-long group project. It's been the best way to stay in touch because, let's face it, college students check Facebook incessantly," said Haley Rabic, a sophomore public relations major.

"There is still a lot to learn; no one really knows social media," said senior instructor Doug Fisher. "Over the next era or ten years, we are going to see even more of an evolution of social media." Fisher incorporates social media learning into all of his classes and teaches aMaymester course called "Creating and Maintaining an Online Community" that is solely focused on social media. Fisher recognized early on that the news wire was pretty much the beginning of social media. He started teaching about texting in the classroom when he found that one South Carolina newspaper would sometimes send out text messages when a main story was filed. "I figured that if editors are going to start having to deal with that, I might as well start teaching it," Fisher said.

Social media has evolved so much that it has created a new line of work. Many companies and organizations have positions strictly for managing social media. "Social media is extremely important, not just in journalism but in every field, because it is affecting everyone," said Mandi Engram. A 2003 public relations graduate, Engram holds the newly created position of social media strategist for the University of South Carolina. She is also a founding member of the Social Media Club of Columbia. "A lot of employers are expecting young people, who are text heavy and right out of school, to be social media savvy just because they maintained a personal presence online," said Engram. But that doesn't necessarily say that they have experience from an organizational standpoint.



Reprinted from InterCom, the college alumni magazine
Story By: Adam Knight & Design By: James Chamberlain


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