Social Media Goes to College


February 24, 2013 by karamcaulay

Proteus as envisioned by Andrea Alciato

Proteus as envisioned by Andrea Alciato

University of Toronto has a brand new Certificate in Digital Strategy & Communications Management – and I’m fully immersed and loving it! Since this is a truly protean industry, some say it’s almost impossible to teach digital communications in an academic setting.  Martin Waxman and his collaborators: Diane Begin, Marcus Daniels, Cyrus Mavalwala and Eden Spodek held a session at Podcamp Toronto on Feb 23, 2013 to discuss whether or not social media and digital strategy can be effectively taught in a college or university.

Social Media Class

Before we get to what was discussed at the unconference, some context to the course:  Our class challenges the academic framework in many ways!  Firstly, we are permitted and encouraged to tweet during class!  I told my teenage daughter about this, who was quite dismayed as she’s not allowed to do this during her classes.  Then the reaction, “Wait Mom, you’re going to school?  Aren’t you too old to be going to school,” she quipped as she left me pouring over my Clay Shirky e-book.  That’s not all – we watch Harlem Shake videos in class too – in fact all current media phenomena.  Martin Waxman presents the latest social media crazes, gadgets, apps and mishaps in every class.  We discuss and debate the NOW – the good, the bad and the ugly.  The curriculum is fluid, ever changing and never boring.

Podcamp Toronto 2013 

The session: Wow!  There were many educators and members of faculties of various post-secondary institutions from around the GTA attending this session and the sentiment in the room was not what I expected!  Some said they had been trying to push through a similar curriculum to that of UofT’s for the last two years with road blocks to approval or uncertainty about how to draft the content of the courses.  One person said they finally got their curriculum approved, but too little, too late – it is now outdated.  Martin Waxman stated that it only took UofT about four months to get its new certificate up and running – it started this January 2013.

Be Nimble

Advertising and marketing communications traditionally took months to plan and execute a campaign, but with today’s environment – one has to act quickly and remove the cumbersome layers of approvals and decision making.  This is evident in Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” ad – probably about 20 minutes from conception to execution.  If you want to survive in this fluid environment, you have to be nimble and adaptive.  This is exactly what the University of Toronto is doing with its new Certificate in Digital Strategy & Communications Management.

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3 thoughts on “Social Media Goes to College

  1. It was a great session, good to read your thoughts on it! I found it really interesting to hear other people’s feedback on having a university course on this subject.

  2. […] last post mentioned that I’m attending University of Toronto’s Digital Communications Strategy and […]

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