Is there really a text in this class?

I read Shannon Paul’s blog this morning where she was invited to speak at a class at Ferris State University on using social media tools in marketing research. While she did not share the entire content of the class on her blog, she alluded to the gist of it in her afterthoughts and with the question: “How do you prepare communications students for a world where no canonized body of work applies?”

But the fallacy that there is “no canonized body of work” is not entirely accurate. There are huge volumes of works that study human behavior. The problem I have with social media classes like this is they study the medium rather than the text. It is the same issue I have with business and social media experts who attempt to sell an ROI of social media.

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4 Replies to “Is there really a text in this class?”

  1. Ahh..you hit it on the mark: “The problem I have with social media classes like this is they study the medium rather than the text.”

    In Shannon’s post she mentions how “many of us blog, at least in part, to help others learn how to navigate the social web”…not true at all. Like you said, understanding how to use social media both for personal and business is understanding human behavior. Social media should be discussed and dissected from a sociology perspective. It’s people behind the method and their motivations that will drive the evolution of social media.

    Social media should be looked at from an organizational behavior stand point – just replace the ox with Twitter and the worker with a Marketer.

  2. I agree that learning to adapt communications to social media is about human behavior, however, mastery of the tools required for communication lets us forget that we’re using it — that’s the point. Once people are confident enough to communicate along these channels, they forget about the channel. Then they can focus on the human interaction.

    It may be unfortunate that teachers need to spend time familiarizing students with the tools, but it’s necessary if they are going to be successful marketers and communicators one they graduate. Believe it or not, an adolescence spent on Facebook does not prepare students for a career in digital communication. Hawthorne may not have had an introductory course to “the role of ink in paper writing” but I’m sure someone in his childhood taught him to make letters on a page and most of us struggled with typing in the beginning. At some point, the tools need to be addressed.

    You’re right to point out that technology changes, but I think people also change… there was a time when having a big, brand with a lot of power behind it meant a lot more to consumers… now it’s about small, personal interactions. I can envision a time in the future when our children get tired of the dialogue and yearn for a static ad that makes no attempt at a garnering feedback.

    The teachers who are even addressing new forms of communication in the classroom are in the minority and I know how difficult that can be inside a large organization. The post was in large part an attempt to applaud their work.

  3. @Shannon My larger point was about the role of education at the university level in general. It is shameful that we allow students in who are woefully ill-prepared to perform at even remedial levels. On the employment side, it is equally shameful that a college degree means as an employer, I have to spend time training basic phone skills to recent college graduates.

    The more teachers compensate for their students, the less they will do on their own. While that may seem like a good thing in the short view to advance an agenda that is more urgent than important, in the larger picture, it will produce adults who eventually will not be able to think for themselves outside of what they have been told by others.

    People do not change. We are driven by the same flaws of the human condition as we always have been. Crack open a copy of Canterbury Tales and tell me otherwise… 🙂

    Save this post and look at it again in 20 years. Drop me a whatever-mail and let me know if doing for their students what they should do for themselves was a smart or dumb thing these teachers did. In the meantime, have a crack at Freakonomics

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