The Case for College Curriculum on Social Media

Thu, Nov 21, 2013

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

Dr. Tammy Lynn Woody
Director of Continuous Program Improvement, School of Education, American Public University

My inbox was recently inundated with headlines focused on the “clumsy” remarks of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding critics of the Common Core state standards initiative. In this age of social media, everything is captured and broadcast to a much larger audience more quickly than ever before in history.

The use of social media has become deeply ingrained in the daily lives of most Americans. This made me consider the impact social media has on our professional lives. How many of us have seen (or posted!) rude comments on Facebook about a co-worker or boss? Delving into the comments on LinkedIn or the Chronicle of Higher Education, for example, I am often dismayed at how disrespectful the “discussions” are between members who have differing opinions.

As an instructor, I have a responsibility to model and discuss the appropriate use of social media with my students. One of the more commonly acknowledged goals of higher education is to prepare students for responsible citizenship. More recently, there has also been a greater focus on teaching the digital literacy skills needed to navigate in the 21st century. For me, the intersection of these two goals is social media.

To date, I’m not aware of any standard college curriculum in the U.S. addressing best practices in social media. Educating students about the potential pitfalls of immature and inappropriate uses of social media could prevent damaged personal and professional relationships and facilitate greater discernment and diplomacy, much-needed skills when individuals can publish themselves 24/7.

Conversations with my colleagues reveal discrepancies between the perceived need to incorporate social media training into current curricula and the resources and tools available to help accomplish that goal. There is also confusion about how involved we should be in monitoring and evaluating student use of social media.

Some educators feel that social media is used primarily for recreational purposes and doesn’t fall into the purview of higher education. Others feel the appropriate and judicious use of social media is a form of professional communication skills and should be assessed, particularly for graduate students.

Given that it is becoming the norm for employers to use social media to screen prospective employees, I feel it is important to discuss the consequences of abusing social media, while touting the potential for social media sites to be used for advocacy and positive change. Pointing out and demonstrating how to harness these tools as a catalyst for change and the common good creates responsible social citizens; in turn, members of society are better- equipped to contribute in healthy, productive ways.

I would love to hear your suggestions or examples of creating social media awareness activities for college students.

About the Author

Dr. Tammy Lynn Woody is the Director of Continuous Program Improvement, School of Education at American Public University. She has been with APUS for more than five years and has functioned in a variety of roles including: certification officer, field experience coordinator and school counseling program director. Prior to joining the APUS team, she served in numerous capacities in PreK-12 education including: lead preschool teacher, substitute teacher, and professional school counselor. Her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction was completed through West Virginia University while she was a member of the Eastern Panhandle doctoral cohort. She currently holds professional school counselor certification in both West Virginia and Virginia and serves on numerous regional educational and counseling boards in leadership positions.


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One Response to “The Case for College Curriculum on Social Media”

  1. Hello there! This article couldn’t be written much better!
    Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept talking about this. I’ll send this post to him.

    Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

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