Thursday, June 17, 2010

Social Media as a School Subject: Guest Post from Ben Eubanks

The following is a guest post from Ben Eubanks.

Newsflash: social media still isn't being taught in college

Sure, some people get a little bit of education in that area, but most of us must go forward learning what we can freestyle. But just because I didn't get it doesn't mean nobody else should.

The changing (social) world
There are some different ideas that are changing our world on a daily basis. Here are a few that could be helped with some social media education.
  • Education is not over when you get a degree-it's just the beginning. Use social tools to continue a lifetime of learning.  
  • One of the greatest tools that hardly anyone is taught in college? Networking. And social media has completely revolutionized the arena of networking.  
  • Free is not going anywhere. For the most part, the available tools are completely free. You no longer have to have buckets of money to get access to top-shelf tech. 
  • Branding (whether corporate or personal) is one of the hottest topics today. Knowing how to use social media means you can significantly influence how people view you or your organization.

My Story 

Social media wasn't taught in my school. In one of my earliest posts I talked about how school didn't seem to teach me much about what a job in HR would be like. If they, as I mentioned in that post, didn't even mention some of the more traditional HR tools like the HRIS, ATS, etc., then they certainly didn't talk about innovative new tools and technologies like social media. 

When Mike reached out to me for this guest post, I was surprised. Why? Because I didn't have much to share on the topic. I didn't hear a single mention of anything social media related in my entire four years of college.

Since then, I have learned an incredible amount simply by allowing my natural curiosity and need to guide my exploration of the social tools available. I don't know how things would have been had I learned some of it in my formal education, but I think it's turned out pretty well so far.

What do you think? Should social media be taught in college? If so, should students be taught based upon their major/focus or just as a general group?

Photo credit: Oversocialized


Ben Eubanks is an HR professional from Huntsville, AL. He pretty much lives online, and you can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. He also writes a blog for the entry level pros, seasoned veterans, and zombies in the human resources space.

Ben Eubanks is the author of UpstartHR. He brings a new perspective to the field of HR.


Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Ben, thanks for a great post. I am of the opinion that schools are missing the boat by not teaching social media as a tool for the modern HR department.

One of the roadblocks may be "old" professors who don't understand it and don't know diddly about it. They feel that students already know about it. And indeed they may know about, but have never thought about it in terms of a communication tool for a business.

I encourage everyone whoever comes in contact with an academic to encourage teaching social media.

Drew Hawkins said...

I would have to say that I was one of the lucky few that had social media in school. It was more or less taught on the side by our teachers in the Advertising department of WKU. No formal classes. The faculty that I learned under was amazing at discovering emerging trends and keeping us up to speed before it was too late. They spoke of social media being a marketing platform as early as my freshman year.

However, as I've heard from people that I know still in school, there is now an official social media class being taught now. The school also offers a digital media degree as a component of its advertising degree.

So some schools are catching on!

Ben Eubanks said...

@Mike That was my thought as well. While students my know it exists, they never think of it in terms of the workplace until later. Get in early! :-)

@Drew That's awesome! But it sounds like that's all for a marketing-type degree, right? I love that, but I think it needs to be across the board for business professionals. Everyone at my school had to take a prereq communications class (booooooring). It covered how to write business letters and use phone etiquette. While that's okay, it skipped anything even remotely social. We need it and we need it now! :-)

John Jorgensen said...

Ben, my formal education came years ago before social media. Back then, my MA program didn't even address use of computers for basic stuff, except BASIC programming. That has turned out real useful. I think that HR programs now should include a course on HR technology. Maybe not on specific applications but how to evaluate, demonstrate the ROI of it and impliment. Social media might be best covered in workshops offered students outside of normal coursework.

Good post.