Where Does Social Media Belong in Higher Education?

This is an honest question: what does an education in social media look like? Put another way, if you were to get a degree in social media, what would the curriculum include? I’ve been thinking about this lately and have come up with the following list, please let me know what you think.

First, I think we could probably divide it into three very separate sections:

  • Core Skills: These are the basic things that someone in the social media management profession needs to know. Before they type a status update, a blog post or a tweet, what skills should they have ahead of time?
  • Technology: Professionals need to know the difference between the different social media channels—blog posts and comments, social networking sites and tools, video sharing and hosting, etc. They need to know when to use which, how it works and how it affects their message.
  • Applied Disciplines: Social media management can be applied to many different disciplines. Here, students will apply the skills they’ve learned to those different areas.

In each of these we’d see the specific areas to focus on:

Core Skills

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Audience awareness and analysis
  • Cultural awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Visual communication
  • Organizational & personal communication
  • Research
  • Customer relationship management

 Technology

  • Syndication
  • Aggregation
  • Curation
  • Blogging
  • Social networking
  • Webhosting
  • Content management systems
  • Media creation (video, audio, image, written)

Niche Application

  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Business communication
  • Technical communication

I think there’s a real possibility that we’ll begin seeing options in—or whole degrees in—social media management. Right now there are a few graduate degrees, most specifically in PR or marketing, that emphasize social media. However, I see this coming at the undergraduate level, especially as more and more professors—like me—begin integrating it into their existing classes.

Let me know what you think.

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