Social Media in Higher Education: Interview with Professor Bill Handy

billandchaseToday we have an interview with Bill Handy who is a professor at Oklahoma State University, and has been working hard to educate his students in social media. He was kind enough to share with us how his school has incorporated social media.

1) How is social media being taught in your school? How do you teach it?

I can’t speak for the entire school but in the Journalism and Broadcasting school it is now being taught as a standalone course but is covered in a variety of other courses. We cover the following: history, ethics, legal, philosophy, measurement, strategy and tactical tools. This includes case studies and outside presenters. Interesting to point out, the original concern was not having enough content to fill a traditional 16 week course. My challenge now is having too much.

2) Have you faced much opposition in incorporating social media into the curriculum from the administration or other professors?

Not really but we have a fantastic department head which gets the implications of this new found awareness of two-way symmetrical communications to mass communication, journalism, PR, etc. The greatest challenge I find, and this pertains to professors as well as industry professionals and the general public, is what to do with these new tools and how to use them strategically. Way too much ready, fire, aim with regards to social media. As a side, I teach sm as a strategy and tactics course and remind my students that sm has no place in the goals or objectives section of a strategic communication plan.

3) What isn’t your school teaching or doing that you think they should be, in terms of social media?

Great question – I think we are doing a good job including it in our curriculum, making sure our students knowledge of these tools will be an asset to their future employers. Let me add a twist to your question though – I would like to see sm taught in every school/college not just with regard to how these tools could/would benefit their industry but also used within the curricula to benefit the student’s classroom engagement and learning opportunities outside the classroom. The opportunities I see could revolutionize how we teach/learn and how we look at advanced levels of education. I could talk on this one for hours…

4) Have you taken on any projects to incorporate social media your school?

Lots and lots of ways to incorporate. Some started by me, other just grew up organically. Have a great case study of how our library is using twitter – scanning for key words within a radius then reaching out to those folks – genius. Students in my class are creating a sm site (using ning) for the JB school. Totally from the bottom up, not even sure other faculty are completely aware. There is a possibility we will be working with our State NPR station – but more on that later, hope to make a splash with what we do.

5) Freestyle:

Here is the bottom line, there are all kinds of things you can do with social media. What I/we encourage is to use it for good, not evil – no stunts (i.e. skittles). Treat this new found power of symmetrical communication with the respect it deserves. Let’s look at all the challenges we have and figure out ways to combat them with the collective knowledge sm offers and the ability to reach out to everyone in need or who can help.

I’d like to thank Bill for sharing with us how social media is being taught in his school. You can find his blog at www.billhandy.com and if you’d like to follow his students and sm class on twitter, you can find them by searching the hash tag #jb4520. (awesome idea)

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