Social Media And Education: The Whole Unit

I keep reading about schools adding social media degrees and about new courses in social media being offered from schools all over the country lately. Whether they are a local college like Southern New Hampshire University or Harvard Business School, the news makes me cringe.

You’d think the news would make me happy. The more social media is accepted as a profession the easier it should be to do my job, right? Wrong! Social media is not a profession, a discipline or a vocation and it is not where the focus of my work lies. It is only a part of the whole picture of being a full-stack marketer. Teaching it as separate encourages wrong-thinking about what it is and how it should be used.

Social media (and again, I prefer to call it adaptive media) is a whole business solution. It can not be separate to find success, especially in a small business environment. To teach that it is a stand alone thing in our schools is doing us all a disservice.

Social Media is only a versatile tool, not a discipline or vocation.

Social Media is one part of a whole business and education solution.

Social Media implementation must be shared across departments and integrated into classrooms – it is not it’s own silo.

The first place to teach social media as a part of a whole business is to implement it in action in every classroom and administrative department and teach by doing, using the whole set of tools as they evolve instead of parting out the process and isolating it, which goes against the grain of what these tools are great for – building bridges, connecting and collaborating.

For more on social media in the classroom, see this post with slide decks and more information.

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  • Just playing devil's advocate to generate discussion…

    Don't you think that Social Media is a tool suite for collaboration? If so, then wouldn't it be logical that education providers would create a special area of study for it like digital artist can specialize in Photoshop or managers can specialize in Project Management? I've seen an increasing need to specialize as my career progresses. It's no longer acceptable to be a “jack of all trades” because the competition is fierce and companies often hire to supplement their weaknesses, not to hire a generalist who understands the big picture.

  • Couple of things…

    Re: collaboration, from the post above notice: “using the whole set of tools as the evolve, instead of parting out the process and isolating it, which goes against the grain of what these tools are great for – building bridges, connecting and collaborating.”

    Re: your comment “It's no longer acceptable to be a “jack of all trades” because the competition is fierce and companies often hire to supplement their weaknesses, not to hire a generalist who understands the big picture.”

    In my opinion, having a social media degree is like having a degree in Microsoft Word or, depending on what tools are part of the program down the line, Lotus Notes 😉 The curricula process can't keep up with the changes in tools to keep a broad degree relevant. Unlike Photoshop, which is one tool that always does the same thing but changes features every few years, social media is comprised of hundreds of tools, and new ones added daily, that all do different things and would be appropriate for different things in a business, with a few umbrella tools than can help connect the dots and break down silos.

  • Thanks for breaking it down further. I think the specialization is the mental model these institutions have. It will be interesting to see if it evolves as their understanding deepens so they don't make it a specialization in the future.