While spring is in the air and most people are thinking of summer, at Kane Consulting we’re already in “Back to School” mode.
For the past year, we’ve been working with Concordia University in Saint Paul, Minnesota to develop a curriculum for their new social media certificate program, which we’ll be launching at the end of August.
Since social certificate programs have such a horrible reputation (often deservedly so) and are so controversial in our industry right now, we wanted to take a moment to fill you in on the details (and ask for your help).
In a nutshell…
The Concordia program consists of 21 weeks of four-hour classes – taught by a faculty of experienced educators and social media practioners (all with Bachelor or Masters degrees in marketing, communications or PR), including members of our KaneCo team.
Our goal is to walk each student through the full life cycle of the social media communications process – from strategy to implementation to program monitoring and measurement.
(Yes, we know this is a challenging thing to teach in a linear fashion. It’s been the kind of puzzle that has been keeping us up at night).
As part of the program, students will read books by industry leaders that we know and respect including: Brian Solis, Jay Baer, Amber Naslund, David Meerman Scott, Olivier Blanchard and Mark Schaefer, as well as ebooks, whitepapers and many, many blog posts (yep, some of the curriculum will be developed in real time as we’re teaching the classes…another addition to the “thoughts that keep us up at night” list).
Additionally, as part of the program, students will apply what they’re learning to project work for a paid or pro bono client of their choosing in order to gain some practical insights into the classroom theory.
Even though we’ve tried to cross our “t’s” and dot our “i’s” with this program, we’re well aware that this is still going to be a bumpy ride and could conceivably even backfire on us.
As we’ve learned from past experience, while the majority of the people who sign up for this program will likely use the information to do their jobs better, invariably others will go on to deputize themselves as social media gurus and become our competition. And ironically, some of them could beat our firm out of work someday because they have received a certification in social media, while we have none.
But we’re going to do it anyway because…
- Teaching is a way to give back to our community while also improving our own skills, and we like to do it.
- It will help expand the pool of educated candidates that companies (including our own) can choose from for open social media positions.
- If we don’t, someone else will.
You can’t change things by sitting around hoping to change things.
Sure, we’d prefer it if all institutions provided social media education by fully integrating it into their existing marketing, communication and PR curriculum, and brought in skilled educators to teach it who have both a deep knowledge of existing communications process and theory as well as up-to-date practical experience working with the latest technologies.
But that’s not happening, yet.
Right now a void exists, and a lot of sketchy people have been more than happy to step in to fill it.
And that’s not good…
- Not for educational institutions like Concordia, who aren’t in this to make a quick buck, but to keep their institutions relevant, their curriculum comprehensive, and their reputations secure.
- Not for the students, who are currently opening businesses in the hundreds based on the mistaken notion that the mastery of a set of tools and a piece of paper will translate into a lasting career in field that isn’t actually a field — just a communications tactic that supports existing ones.
- Not for our industry, who has to continually fight the perception that all social media people are unqualified snake oil sales people, gussying up a fad in order to sell clients marketing glory in three easy steps.
So, instead of just sitting around being bothered by the sorry state of social media education, we decided to step into the void, too.
We can’t promise to know all the answers, but we can promise to work closely and thoughtfully with our institutional partner to ask the right questions. And, we hope that our own social community will be supportive of us along the way.
We’re diving into uncharted waters here and we’ll need your help – whether it’s Skyping in to share your perspective, guest lecturing on the unique challenges in your company’s work with social media or doing informational interviews with students once they’ve completed the program.
In the end, we hope it will be a good learning experience for all involved.