The increasingly important role of social media in commerce, communications, and public relations have made the former pastime of technophiles a must-have skill in the workplace. And there’s a burgeoning industry of continuation courses that have popped up in response.
In an article in the New York Times this morning, instructors from major universities, community colleges, and online schools discussed how their curricula have expanded to include instruction in social media skills, Web design, search optimization, and Web analytics for professionals in a wide range of industries.
Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, for example, holds a weekend of lectures, panels, and workshops with guest lecturers from venture capital firms and media companies like Facebook that attracts applicants other than journalists, in one case a doctor and emergency disaster preparedness official for New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In other cases, students can work toward professional certificates, as with the University of San Francisco’s course in Advanced Social Media. But it’s not like passing a bar examination or earning a teaching credential. The courses spanned weeks, not years, and so far, it doesn’t take a license to use social media at work.
Mediabistro’s Carmen Schneidel had some insight on classroom demographics. “In general, the digital natives are earlier in their careers, and they are not the ones taking these types of classes,” she told the New York Times. “It tends to be people who are very accomplished in their careers but are new to social media. It is an interesting mix.”
This presents a rare opportunity for younger professionals or those who are in transition to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the gainfully employed in a classroom setting. Schneidel mentioned that one of the benefits of taking the eight-week online Social Media Marketing Boot Camp, which is currently in progress, was that students would instantly have an online network of other professionals to keep in touch with after the class was over.
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