Archive | September, 2010

Social Media – Why aren’t teachers and students learning it??

14 Sep

Oops. Remember that time I was doing Blog Every Day in August? Then the day I got to England for the rest of August I suddenly stopped? My bad. It was just too much. In ANY case, since then I’m home, had a great trip (videos coming soon) and am back in classes for my final year of my B. Ed. studies.

Today my university retweeted a link to the following article and my immediate reaction was YES! THIS IS SPOT ON! and I know I’m not the only person who must feel this way, so I thought I would share the blog post and my response. (To view the original page with all comments click here.)

A Firsthand Look At How Social Media Is (Not) Being Taught In Our Classrooms

I am an April 2010 public relations graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which has the only four-year PR degree program in Canada. However, while I really did get a lot of value from my education and enjoyed the process,  please don’t take the next few paragraphs as bashing my school because that certainly isn’t my intent. I just want to demonstrate from my own personal experience what I see as the lack of practical social media training in communication and public relations degrees.

Over the past four years, my professors continually reinforced that social media and web communication would be the wave of the future. However, I believe the future is now! You would think that being the only school offering a four-year PR degree in the country it would be on the cutting edge of technology and be the leading the way on social media instruction. That just wasn’t the case. You couldn’t even access the Internet in the classrooms!

Although my degree highlighted the importance of using social media as a method of communication, not one of my professors knew how to use Twitterfoursquare or any other tool except for Facebook. It wasn’t until just last year that they introduced a social media course as an elective. It was essentially a 13-week course on how to build a wiki, which to me does not constitute a ‘social media course’. Granted, they did explain hashtags, but that was the extent of it. Now, I have to admit that I myself did not take this elective because of the introductory nature of the course, but I have very close friends who did, and I haven’t heard anything positive about it.

In my opinion, there really needs to be more emphasis put on actually demonstrating the functionality and value of social media, rather than just telling students how important these tools are. We know they are vital to deliver our messages, but how do we use them to our advantage? If our educational institutions are training the leaders of tomorrow, why are they themselves five years behind? They’re certainly on the path to tomorrow, but at the moment … tomorrow isn’t soon enough.

Are you a recent graduate or current undergrad who has similar or different experiences? Please provide your comments to this post!

My response:

I am currently a second year B. Ed. student at the Mount and I am having a similar experience in some instances. I elected to take a course in Critical Media Literacy this year, as media is something I really wish to incorporate into the classroom when I am teaching on my upcoming practicum, and in the career to follow. I was however very disappointed to find that the topics, concerns, and areas of focus for the course are the same as they could have been a decade ago: advertising (largely print) and newsmaking, as well as the corporate agenda within media.

Now, these are certainly important topics, and most definitely have a place, but I don’t believe that place is in a course to train teachers who will be working with media immersed teenagers. I don’t understand why we’re not learning NEW and SOCIAL media and current trends that our students will engage with and relate to, and in turn be a springboard for innovation and creativity.

I know this isn’t a problem that plagues only the Mount. It’s hard to stay current within the standing university structure, having professors with tenure who have been there for years and are great, don’t get me wrong, but perhaps a little out of touch with the existing world of what it is in which they’re supposed to be the experts.

As for myself, I’ve been proactive in learning about social media and researching ways to use it in the classroom, but I’m only one person of many that are about to go into the school systems without having been required to think too much about new media and its value, uses, and significance in an educational setting, or at all, really.

I do what I can to share these resources with colleagues though chatting and presentations but I totally agree with you. Can we really be confident that we’re guiding our students to success if we’re ignoring such an important element of living today?

So where do you stand on this? There are a lot of differing arguments and opinions out there. What’s yours? Vote below and eave a comment if you feel so inclined 🙂

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