If you didn’t notice, students have been back in the classroom for nearly two months. Often I wonder what schools are teaching people these days, particularly with the rapidly growing crop of “open” university courses that seeks to democratize learning for nearly everyone (Internet connection required of course). With social media, which takes place on the aforementioned interwebs, does it make sense to pay to take a social media course at university or college?
Social media, by it’s very moniker, is social and thus suggests that it is dynamic, changing, evolving, and so forth. The people who claim to be social media experts certainly must continually learn about this medium. What advantages do Social Media courses provide compared to the plethora of free resources available online (i.e. mashable.com)?
Having tweeted with a couple of students taking social media courses at George Brown College in Toronto (@GBC), I’ve gathered that for some folks it’s about the classroom experience and having a dedicated instructor. According to @laurietan who’s taking social media courses with instructor @amandabella at George Brown College:
Online resources are helpful too. But in a class you can have discussions, ask questions, learn from others experiences…
However, I can have discussions, ask questions, and to a certain extent learn from others experiences on social media platforms — ahem, Twitter, cough, Quora. Certainly Twitter and Quora are not direct supplements for face to face conversations, and I suppose that is what makes taking a real-life class valuable for some people. As long as your class isn’t full of slackers taking the class for an easy credit or folks forced to be there by their managers.
Overall, most social media course descriptions emphasize that students will learn how to design effective social media marketing strategies. Of the courses I looked at (George Brown College, Seneca College, Humber College, and Ryerson University), there are usually practical assignments where students can test out their strategies over the duration of the course. This is a great way to get your feet wet, receive feedback from both your audience and the course instructor, and see results:
Currently I’m in two different courses, learning about 8 different platforms. Learned a lot about how to market on Twitter. @RightToPlayGBC
Granted you could do this on your own without the grading scheme, but you just won’t score the A+, receive a teachers’ feedback at the end of the semester, and guaranteed guidance along the way.
So, should you take a Social Media course? Consider how much you value the following:
- Guaranteed evaluation and feedback from an instructor (who knows what they’re talking about – at least we hope so.)
- Having the information you need given to you, instead doing your own research
- Guarantee that someone will answer your questions or help you find the answers
At the end of the semester, you need to realize that not everything can be learned in a classroom, and this is true for everything in life, recall sex-ed class if you don’t believe me. To truly learn about Social Media, you need to practice.
What questions do you have about taking Social Media courses? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll get some of the great folks I was chatting with to help answer them.