Institutions of higher education are now preparing students who will enter a rapidly changing professional world. As the job market evolves, higher education needs to evolve with it and these schools are forced to adapt their approach and their curriculum.
While this presents a challenge for many institutions, it shouldn’t be looked at as a negative. Social media is a powerful tool to enhance existing programs and better prepare the next generation of employees.
Here are 3 ways professors have started using social media in the classroom to strengthen higher education.
Teaching Marketers To Execute, Not Just Plan
Marketing students often spend years in school developing marketing strategies, but how many of them are given the opportunity to execute these plans from start to finish?
This was the goal of Jamyn Edis, a professor of New Media Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Students will come up with these great ideas for a digital campaign but have no idea how to execute them. They can’t speak the language of the technologist,” he explained.
Edis designed and implemented his course in 2009 with the belief that students will be most successful when they can understand both the strategy and implementation. Hoping to help them become more complete marketers, he sought out to teach his students both coding and social media skills — increasingly valuable skills across all departments in the enterprise — with the help of Codecademy and HootSuite University.
As social media becomes tightly integrated into marketing campaigns, Edis knew it was essential for students to understand how their idea for a campaign would be executed. “Not all of my students will become social media marketers, but it’s great to be able to tell them, ‘You are now certified in this tool that you will use in business, and this isn’t taught in any other course,’” he said.
Creating a Personal, Professional Brand
How do you give students an advantage over their competition once they enter the job market? Help them create their personal brand while they’re still in school.
Karen Freberg, Ph.D. teaches Social Media & Mobile Technologies in Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville, where she instructs students on how they can use social media strategically for public relations and communications.
Freberg emphasizes hands-on training in her class, and has students working with real clients to gain the experience needed to enter the workforce and secure an internship or future job. Every assignment that students complete in Freberg’s class is designed to help them build their online presence and create a portfolio of work to demonstrate their expertise and knowledge to future employers. Students create and maintain a personal blog, write about social media and the public relations industry, and earn their HootSuite Certification.
“I wanted to have students create campaigns for actual clients so they could go to employers with the training from this class in social media, but also show them an initiative that a client actually implemented,” explains Freberg.
Christina Morgan, a professor of Social Media at Point Park University, shares Freberg’s goal. Morgan prepares students for the world of citizen journalism and teaches them the practice of using social media in a professional manner.
Morgan isn’t only teaching the next generation of journalists how to report the news, she is teaching her students the social media skills they need to compete in a constantly changing job market.
As the role of journalists evolves, professors are faced with the challenge of educating their students about best practices that are constantly changing. HootSuite University’s Social Media for Journalism Curriculum teaches students how to create and maintain a professional presence on social media to enhance their reporting, build their personal brand, and drive traffic to their stories.
“Having a relationship with Hootsuite University provides current resources to my students that give them a leg up over the competition at graduation,” Morgan said. “Through the courseware and one-on-one video tutorials with CEO’s of the world’s leading social media networks, Point Park University students are now equipped with the hands on practical skills to enter a digital position with confidence.”
Building on Traditional Techniques With New Technologies
Traditional marketing isn’t dead, it’s just evolving. Rather than teaching old and new marketing techniques separately, David Altounian, a marketing professor in the Digital Media Management program at St. Edward’s University, decided to combine these approaches. He sought out to teach traditional marketing techniques while integrating digital components.
“I use an academic framework to talk about digital technology. For example, when we talk about the 4 P’s of marketing, we also use the 7 C’s of consumers, and then apply them to digital properties,” he explains.
Altounian’s undergraduate class creates a Tumblr blog about a subject they’re interested in, and markets it as a product over the course of the semester, with students conducting market research about customer segmentation and finding appropriate audience distribution channels. Students then use HootSuite as a way to collect information about their customers, find content they’re interested in, and publish and drive awareness about their product over social media.
“HootSuite is great because social media management tools are really important not just for digital marketing, but also traditional marketing. I use HootSuite to teach a lot of fundamental marketing concepts in different ways,” Altounian said.
In today’s increasingly demanding and digital workforce, these professors are staying up to speed and arming their students with the skills they need to succeed.
Are you a professor looking to prepare your students with digital skills? Apply for HootSuite’s Higher Education Program and gain access to free teaching tools and resources.