Who’s in your Top Eight? Even though MySpace is basically obsolete (and I never had an account anyway, so it’s not like I ever had to deal with that), the social network has essentially been replaced by many accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, among others.
Generation Y is unique in that we have grown up with the Internet as a household norm, and social media really emphasized that once we entered junior high and high school. It’s no question that social media plays a huge role in our everyday lives. But do classes in social media seem to be that necessary right now?
Some colleges think so. According to an article in USA Today, there are at least two universities that have developed MBA programs specializing in social media. Is that the new way of the world?
I don’t think it should be. Social media is still new. Even though it has been around for the latter half of our lives, it is still growing and developing. And I don’t think that the professors who are teaching these courses have the experience necessary for a productive class.
I mean no disrespect to these professors, but really, I can’t see how they are qualified to teach social media classes. They have had about the same amount of exposure to social media as we have as students. They don’t have over 20 years of research going in to the matter where they can lecture about what went wrong in the beginning and what went right. Social media is still developing. Even with Facebook developing hashtags a couple of months ago, and now the established “trending” list to show the top hashtags, it is apparent that these networks are constantly changing.
This same article stated that Ohio University is offering a social media certificate program, which focuses on critical thinking and understanding that the networks change. To me, this seems like a waste. Critical thinking should be applied in most college courses and should not be limited to this certificate program. Additionally, having a class that talks about how social media is changing seems like it will constantly need to update its materials. I understand that many courses have to be updated from semester to semester, when new discoveries are made in the field or new rules are established, but I feel like classes that work on understanding how social media is changing will constantly be a step behind. The changes are happening much faster than the semester curriculum would be able to adapt.
If anything, I could understand possibly having an introductory course on how to use social media professionally. Often, people use Facebook for staying in touch with friends and not as a professional tool. Twitter, on the other hand, can be used professionally very easily. However, having courses in how to make students’ profiles professionally appropriate seems partially like common sense. Don’t have pictures online that you would not want your parents or future employers to see. Basically, make that your rule of thumb for all posts online, even if you have privacy settings (which everyone should, at least to some degree). For these reasons, I say it could be an introductory course or at least an addition to some sort of freshman seminar class that most students are required to take when they first come to college.
Down the line, I could see social media classes being useful. When our generation is in its 40s (or maybe even its 30s), we could probably teach courses in social media usage since we will have been experienced for a number of years in using it and seeing the developments. But right now, there does not seem to be a difference in the levels of understanding between the professors and the students, so it seems like a waste of time, money and other resources, and I’m glad that Illinois State has not made adjustments in its curriculum to allow for such programs when there are other aspects to worry about first.
Grace Johnson is a senior English major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.