By Peter Hagemeyer, Chattanooga, TN—Whether a distraction from homework or class or a tool to help students get in contact with each other, social media has become one of the greatest time consumers among young people.
The undisputed king of social media is Facebook, and recent research has found that the average person spends eight hours per month on Facebook, and usage among college-age people is even higher, according to Mashable.
University professors are responding accordingly, using sites that were previously small networks of friends as powerful educational tools.
Communications department professor, Michael Andrews, is one of such educators.
In his Media Writing I class, students create Twitter accounts and follow major news outlets to keep up with current events and analyze the bias present in each post.
“Even the Associated Press has created it’s 1234 reporting form including Twitter,” he said.
This approach involves first a tweet, then a brief synopsis and finally a complete story followed by a forward look, he said.
“The advent of smart phones has enabled the instant sharing of information, and the immediacy of social media is a very powerful thing,” Andrews continued, “We try to teach our students about appropriate formatting and uploading in order to best reach our audience.”
Slightly less popular, but still widely used platforms such as Tumblr are also growing in use.
Women’s studies professor, Sheena Monds, has students use Tumblr as a journal for the week’s discussions, Rachel Davis, a Knoxville freshman.
Tumblr’s blog-esque set up has allowed past communication classes to create highly customizable blogs, while still allowing an option to follow and comment on other users’ posts through a common engine, Andrews said.
Professors have also utilized Twitter’s instant updates in a very helpful way.
“I had Anthony Parsley for management 1000 during fall 2010,” Kayla DeLong, a junior from Maryville, Tenn., said. “It was an online class, so he used Twitter to remind us when assignments were due.”
In a day and age in which it is expected for companies to have Facebook and Twitter pages, workers have risen to specialize in the usages of social media.
Many large firms have begun to hire dedicated employees to manage the company’s social media outlets online, as well as handle various problems that may arise, such as maintaining a solid viewer base, making learning to use social media in a University environment an ever-increasing benefit.
With new and exciting platforms such as Pinterest, Sgrouples, Instagram and Path, there are large and very valuable places open in the future’s social media marketplace, and many University professors are using their classes to encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities.