Discovering the Roadmap in Teaching Social Media

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A Guest Post By Karen Freberg

Karen Freberg, Author of a Roadmap For Teaching Social MediaI have always been very passionate about social media, but when it comes to teaching social media, there is nothing more rewarding. I have been teaching my social media class for the last three years and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a professor.

How did I get started teaching social media? In 2011, I was hired at the University of Louisville as an assistant professor in strategic communications and one of the main tasks I was asked to do was to create a new social media class to offer not only to our students in our department but for the university as well. This was a blank slate for me and I was beyond thrilled for the opportunity to be able to create one of these on my own. However, before coming to UofL, I had a chance to be a TA for the University of Tennessee’s first social media class (with Courtney Childers) and I knew what worked, what were some things to revise, and had a list of ideas I really wanted to try out for my class at UofL.

Along with creating a new structure for the class, I realized there was the question every professor teaching social media has: What book do you want to use? I went through several books and provided my reviews to each of the authors. All of the books I have used over the years in my class have been very informative, but after every review, I would ask myself the same question: How would I integrate these insights into an assignment for my students?

That was a challenge for me as a professor. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be if  there was a book that provided not only additional resources on how we can create assignments, exercises, or exercises, but really showed you what you need to know to teach social media. This class is unlike others in PR, Marketing, and even Advertising classes. It’s a constant prep, and the level of engagement, currency in topics and trends, and expectations students and the community have of you is huge.

This has been the primary reason why I decided to self-publish my own book on the roadmap to teach social media. This is not a textbook – it’s a guidebook for professors and students (who do not have the opportunity to take a social media class at their university) to learn about how to teach social media and have specific assignments to test and apply their knowledge in social media.

What should you expect to see in this book? Here are some of the things I have specifically outlined in my book:

  • Sample exercises and assignments. I wanted to make sure I was practicing what I have been preaching. I have included in my book my assignments and exercises I have used in my class for the last three years. These can be applied and integrated not just in social media classes, but introduction courses, writing, management, and even campaign courses.
  • Rubrics and feedback forms.I am a big believer in providing thorough feedback and guidance for students, so I wanted to make sure I shared some of these new rubrics I have created for these various assignments. I have feedback forms I give back for my students with their social media strategic campaign assignment.
  • Truly embracing what it means to be a “social media professor.” I think my experience as a student-athlete at Florida and USC made me really value this as a professor. I have found certain routines, strategies, and daily activities you can do to not only teach social media, but truly live and breathe it as a professor. I share some of the things that have worked for me over the years.

Also, I think this is a resource for everyone who is involved in social media, not just in academia. I can see this being used not only in the classroom, but for internships as well to help frame certain projects that may be relevant to help a brand, organization, or even a sports team. I can see internship supervisors looking at these exercises as a way to help screen applicants or even possibly incorporate them into the internship experience.

I would love to hear what you think about the book and if you have any suggestions or feedback!

Karen Freberg is an assistant professor in strategic communications at the University of Louisville as well as an adjunct instructor for the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Graduate Online Program at West Virginia University. She is actively involved in research in public relations, reputation management, social media and crisis communications. Karen is also the author of A Roadmap For Teaching Social Media published in August 2016.


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