Courtesy of Jason Howie

Tweets, likes, shares: social media in the classroom

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Social media is becoming an important aspect of today’s business world. A basic understanding of how it works is more necessary than ever to the success of young professionals.

As a result, several classes on Lehigh’s campus are introducing social media to their curriculum to adapt to its growing influence in the professional world.

Business 001, a class taken by all business school students, requires every student to create a LinkedIn profile as a part of the course.

“Everybody in the business world knows LinkedIn,” Trevor Wood, ’19, said. Wood took Business 001 with professor Joseph Molinari.

Although LinkedIn is becoming an important aspect of networking in the business world, some students question if it’s the professors responsibility to teach it. Ben Teeple, ’19, said he thinks a briefing in social media is an essential part of the business curriculum.

“It’s necessary to teach us how to use it in a business and professional way because it’s becoming almost commonplace,” Teeple said.

Creating a LinkedIn page was one part of a three-part assignment in Business 001 that also consisted of making a cover letter and crafting a resume. Cover letters and resumes have always been necessary staples of finding a job, and now LinkedIn has been added to that list.

Engineering 005 is another course that is attempting to introduce social media use to the classroom. Students are required to compose a weekly “super tweet” that is assigned on Monday and posted by 10 p.m. on that Thursday.

“The aim is to encourage activity and meeting deadlines even for relatively trivial assignments,” Engineering 005 professor Keith Gardiner said.

JT Freed, ’19, a student in Gardiner’s class, said the teaching assistant will pose a question that the tweet will be based on, such as “What greenhouse gas is affecting the atmosphere the most?” The students then need to write about the topic in a condensed format.

Entrepreneurial communication for creative industries (Entrepreneurship 040) is a class that revolves around the use of social media.

According to the course description, Entrepreneurship 040 focuses on exploring the growing social media culture and using it in relation to communication strategies and analysis.

“We have often had guest speakers in, including Ben Youngermen from ArtsQuest and (George Wacker) who runs Lehigh Valley with Love,” Grace Kim ’19, said. “We’ve also done case studies of how local organizations use social media, such as Bethlehem PD and Bethlehem Food Co-Op.”

Kim believes understanding social media is necessary for any business student today. It is the easiest way to reach people, and establishing a presence on social media allows a business to engage with new and current customers.

Andrew Gibson, ’19, had to make a CourseSite profile for Engineering 010.

“The profile included a professional head shot and a biography that consisted of where we’re from, what we did in high school and links to your Twitter and Facebook page,” Gibson said. “CourseSite is like a specialized form of social media that allows students and teachers to interact.”

Despite his positive experience with social media thus far, Gibson is a little skeptical about whether or not established professors are the right people to teach the topic. Gibson said although professors have witnessed the evolution of social media, Lehigh students have grown up with it.

He said great engineering professors might not be qualified to teach the ins and outs of social media, but small inclusions like Gardiner’s “super tweet” are a reasonable step forward into the important world of social media education.

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