Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Social Media: Some Thoughts on Curriculum

Posted on | March 22, 2011 | No Comments

Social media are sets of Internet and mobile platforms and tools that facilitate meaningful exchanges and value creation between individuals and with groups and organizations in both the commercial and public spheres. While the earliest tools included blogs, bookmark sharing, forums, podcasts, tagging, and wikis; new applications available through platforms like Facebook, Hulu, Second Life, Twine, and Xbox Live suggest that the creative capacities of social media are only beginning to be explored.

Social media has been embraced by users and organizations, both commercial and non-commercial. It is used around the world to connect with friends and families, share information about concerns and interests, and mobilize others in activities. Enterprises are increasingly using social media techniques to engage people in their discussion forums about services and products and to get customers to be active agents in promoting their brand and offerings. Non-profits and grassroots campaigns have embraced social networking to influence election results, interest people in public policy discussions, and facilitate social change through democratic involvement.

Social media has been part of our curriculum for the last several years. I redesigned the foundation courses for the BS in Digital Communications and Media degree in 2005. I included two courses that cover social media, the Digital Media Management I and II series taught by Igor Shoifot of (now living near Silicon Valley and teaching for UC Berkeley) and Collaboration Technologies that has been taught online by Kristen Sosulski. Last year I developed some ideas for an MS in Social Media and more recently a 2 credit course that would provide an introduction to the promises and perils of social media. The MS didn’t quite fit into the mix here yet but the small course, which seemed almost more difficult to conceptualize, will be taught in the summer of 2012. In any case, I thought I would share some ideas I had for developing a curriculum framework for teaching about social media.

These are the general areas that I think should be considered in a program on social media.

  1. New developments in social media technologies and techniques;
  2. Key communication and economic attributes that power this medium, including important metrics;
  3. How social media can be used as part of an organization’s communications strategy;
  4. Key skill sets and knowledge students can acquire for entrepreneurial innovation and employment in this area;
  5. Legal, privacy, and other unfolding social concerns that accompany this dynamic new medium;
  6. Issues of social change, citizen engagement and democratic prospects;
  7. Research implications of social media and the theorization and methodological skills needed to conceptualize research projects.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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