Surveys keep telling us that younger generations are more likely to use new communications channels—though to someone who came of age after its introduction, it's not new technology, is it? Adults over 40 are less likely to use blogs and social networking, while the under-25 set is assumed to live in MySpace, Facebook, IM, and text and probably thinks of email as a way to communicate with old people. Whether you buy the stereotypes or not, young adults have another advantage: some of them are learning about how social media affect marketing in class.
Faculty teaching social media
Toby Bloomberg writes about the Information Technology Marketing class at the University of Delaware, where her blog is on the assigned reading list. In addition to reading the required blogs, students will create their own blogs, blog the class, use Bloglines, and contribute to Wikipedia articles. Instructor Alex Brown also posted the course outline, which features many of the usual topics in marketing and social media.
Walter Carl uses blogs in his Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication and Advanced Organizational Communication classes at Northeastern. I'm sure a few minutes with the blog search tools would uncover more class blogs. The point here is not so much that faculty have adopted these tools for their class, though. They're bringing topics that generate so many blog posts in the working world into the classroom. For their students, there's no conflict between what they learned in marketing class and today's environment.
Students filling the gaps
Over at Syracuse University, the Newhouse New Media Series started this week (via Toni Muzi Falconi). In an independent study project, student Eric Hansen has organized discussions of social media and PR, including some high-profile guest speakers. The series blog includes handouts, links, and—coming soon—recordings of the sessions. The series also has its own Facebook group—because a student organized it, perhaps?
Jeffrey Treem put together a discussion and a wiki on blog writing for PR while he was a grad student at USC Annenberg. The interesting part of this one is that Jeffrey solicited contributions to the wiki from bloggers and practitioners in advance of his talk, so the outline became an example of the benefits of social media.
Digital natives at work
Youth doesn't automatically make today's students net-savvy, but they do have the advantage of being in school after the effects of social media have appeared. Graduates of these programs aren't going to view social media as a new challenge when they go to work; it's just the way things are, and they will have used the tools since they were in school.