Colleges Teach Social Media

By Briana Vannozzi

Among all U.S. adults nearly three quarters use social media in their personal and professional lives. It’s become so inherent in daily life, some universities are now offering it as a major.

“The more popular these websites get, the more relevant it becomes to actually become a college class,” said Montclair State University Television and Digital Media Major Kristie Keleshian.

While New Jersey schools haven’t hopped on board and devoted an entire undergraduate degree to the topic just yet, almost all colleges now offer some form of it or incorporate courses as part of a larger concentration.

“There’s been enormous growth in teaching various social media skills. Our view is that it’s a core part of everything students learn. Especially in a communication school but also in other programs. If you’re going into business, you’re going to need social media skills,” said Montclair State University School of Communication and Media Director Merrill Brown.

Brown says no matter your major, social media is a driving force in just about every career.

“Everybody needs to have a bit of this in order to get internships these days. It’s a core question when they’re applying for internships or full-time positions,” Brown said.

But how do you teach social networking as a platform?

“Understanding it as a marketing tool, as a way of branding, that’s really what’s crucial I think,” said Drew University Writing and Communication Studies Professor Sandra Jamieson.

Drew University also offers a digital media major. Jamieson teaches a course called Blogs, Tweets and Social Media.

“What we do in that course is think about how you create a message for a particular audience to achieve a particular purpose and then how would you craft that message in a different way if you were say tweeting rather than writing a blog or a newspaper article?” Jamieson explained.

The key to making such that major successful she says is incorporating graphic design, marketing, basic communication and writing courses.

“Every single day you hear more about what this person did on Facebook, now Facebook seems to be like a source for news and it just shows how many people actually go on the website,” said Keleshian.

But those in the education field caution not to get drawn in just by the flashy name.

“I don’t think we’re at a point in time where social media major is a requirement for an important university program. I think teaching social media both in terms of its impact on the world we live in and on the skills required to succeed in business is absolutely mandatory,”said Brown.

“It’s changing so fast I can’t imagine teaching something now that students would still be using in five years time,” said Jamieson.

And Jamieson adds don’t discount those hashtags and likes, it could one day be vital to landing a job.