Higher Education graduation


“Everybody needs education and training…because I can send a message on Snapchat, it doesn’t make me, you know, a business mogul, or good at branding or marketing, or good at customer service or support, data analytics.  All those things that go around a social skill set aren’t inherent in people so they have to be educated in how to do that.” –Dr. William J. Ward, a.k.a Dr. 4Ward

In my last post I introduced to you a new kind of college professor,  Syracuse’s Social Media Professor, William J. Ward, known to his students and online audience as Dr. 4Ward.  In this post we continue our enlightening conversation via Google Hangouts and delve deeper into where higher education fails at social media and how it could do better.

Young People Need Social Media Training Too!

First, let’s address this misperception. Young people are not inherently social media savvy when it comes to business! If you’re 25-years-old or younger I’m not throwing shade your way! I am, however, challenging the popular notion that because you’ve grown up in a digital age, you know everything concerning social media and digital marketing.  Such thinking has lead to disastrous results. After reading this post, check out, Time.com’s “10 Social Media Blunders That Cost A Millennial A Job.”

Social media job descriptions seeking recent college grads are proof of this thinking too. With only minimal experience in digital and social media marketing some companies want young applicants to be responsible for the business’ online reputation. Even worse, they want their young hire to report social media ROI with little know-how.  Did I mention there’s no mention of on-the-job training?

So is it the faculty’s responsibility to train students in social media for business? If so, who’s training the faculty?  In my chat with Dr. 4Ward we discuss just whose responsibility it should be and why this is such an issue.  Take a listen!



Don’t Lecture Them About Higher Education and Social Media, Engage Them Instead.

If we’re honest we’d say most lectures have a tendency to be boring. So with all the digital tools available to us, isn’t it time the traditional lecture got an update? It’s one more area where higher education fails at social media.

On such campuses of higher learning, could not the old school lecture get a remix with live streamed video or tweet chats to make it more interactive? Could not smartphones and iPads become tools of instruction instead of distraction, so that additional teaching materials could be viewed on-the-go?

Says Vicki Davis, writer of Edutopia.com’s “A Guidebook for Social Media In the Classroom”:

The myth about social media in the classroom is that if you use it, kids will be Tweeting, Facebooking and Snapchatting while you’re trying to teach. We still have to focus on the task at hand. Don’t mistake social media for socializing. They’re different — just as kids talking as they work in groups or talking while hanging out are different.

What we’re defining is not the classroom of the future; it’s the classroom of the present as colleges and universities prepare students for real world experiences. Less lecture is more, especially when a class is interactive.

Dr. 4Ward shared a similar thinking in our Google Hangout, but not everyone agrees. Listen as he explains why there’s so much “push back” on doing things a new way.


Learn How To Be Social Online, Not Just In Class!

Getting a passing grade in social media will mean being more active online.  Understandably, for many teachers and other educators being too accessible online and off is a concern.  That’s why office hours are in place, right?

But how much time and energy could be saved if students were allowed to submit their questions outside of class via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or even a messaging app? Yes, they could still email or voicemail them, but honestly what’s your response time using them?

I know you’re probably thinking, “But what about privacy Issues? I don’t want to be friends with my students on online!” Well, professor, teacher, or admin they probably don’t want to be friends with you either! So you’re even!

It’s not about being friends per se, it’s about communicating. You can do that without being BFFs online. Consider using a Facebook group for a class.  As a teacher, you could submit assignments, answer questions in real time, and students can help each other within the group. They’re talking online with one another anyway, so why not use social media as a communication tool to talk with them?

You’re email inbox may thank you! However,  social media should not be a replacement for face-to-face conversation when its needed between professor and student. It should be a complement to it.

Still, if you’ve avoided being social online this way of connecting with students can be daunting. Listen to Dr.4Ward as he explains his reasoning for using social media to communicate with his students.


A Shift is Coming So Prepare For it!

In order for higher education to truly succeed at social media a paradigm shift must occur. The use and knowledge of social media by students and faculty must be taken more seriously.  It must not be seen as just a tool for university recruitment and marketing. It should be incorporated into the curriculum.

So are there resources available for educators that want to learn to use social media better? Yes! Hootsuite offers a certification program that’s worthy of looking into.  Dr.4ward plays a major role in helping the social media management tool provide it. Students can take other Hootsuite courses too.

My entire conversation with Dr.4Ward concerning higher education and social media can be viewed on Sheer Social’s YouTube channel.  Throughout our conversation we discuss the shift of thinking that’s needed to get social media training to those who need it most in higher ed.

Those who embrace such a shift will become leaders in higher education as institutions evolve to meet students’ needs and demands. Those who shun and avoid it will most likely appear antiquated and out of touch. To appear that way, however, is a matter of choice!

Comment below on how you think colleges and universities could better prepare students and faculty to use social media professionally.

Image source: College of DuPage 2014 Commencement   By COD Newsroom. Licensed Under CC By 4.0