Ryan Holmes 2012-10-09

    “总体而言,高等教育系统没能通过任何有意义的方式,让学生们掌握必备的数字与社交技能。高等教育,比如商学院,需要改变以往的文化,”雪城大学S.I.纽豪斯公共传播学院(Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications)的威廉姆•沃德教授如是说。

    沃德负责教授COM 400“不可不知的社交媒体”和COM 600“雪城大学社交媒体理论与实践”两门课程。目前,在美国一流大学中,仅有为数不多的几门有关社交媒体的学分课程,其中就包括沃德教授的课程。沃德教授在Twitter上的账户是@DR4WARD ,已有约10,000名粉丝。他非常清楚增设这方面课程的紧迫性。他说:“获得社交媒体认证的学生得到了更好的工作和实习机会。精通社交技术的学生在就业市场很受追捧,比其他学生具有更大的优势。”

    统计数字让他的说法更具说服力。虽然美国的失业率一直在8%左右徘徊,但从2011年至2012年,要求社交媒体技能的工作岗位增加了87%,今年年初仅一个月便有13,000个。《财富》500强(Fortune 500)公司中,73%的公司拥有Twitter账户,66%有Facebook主页。从建立客户关系,到用于全球员工之间的联络等,美国企业正在争先恐后地将社交工具应用到公司的方方面面。分析人士估计,新社交技术可以产生的新价值约为1.3万亿美元。

    然而,虽然公司渴望有效利用社交媒体,却苦于缺乏这方面的专业人才。《哈佛商业评论》(surveyed by Harvard Business Review)调查了2,100家公司,其中使用社交网络的公司中,仅有12%认为自己有效地利用了社交媒体。调查结果显示,公司迫切需要能够从根本上改善公司经营状况的社交媒体专业人才。沃德称:“有效利用社交可以提高生产力,节省开支和时间,改善员工的积极性和满意度。这将是公司在文化层面上的一次更大的转变,将改变完成工作的方式。”但高等教育却一直没能迅速填补学生在这方面的知识空缺。现在,许多大学在利用社交媒体招生,比如哈佛大学(Harvard)在Facebook上有160万粉丝,但很少有大学将社交媒体引入课堂。即便开设了社交媒体课程,也只是独立的、或者选修课,而不是有效整合到整体课程安排当中。沃德声称:“数字与社交媒体技术不仅仅适用于社交媒体课堂,而是可以跨学科、跨专业应用。教师必须改变研究、学习、沟通和合作的方式,并且在课堂上为学生做出表率。”


    其他一流大学也开始跟进。纽约大学(NYU)、哥伦比亚大学(Columbia)和华盛顿大学(University of Washington)都推出了大量有关社交网络、营销与学习的本科课程。哥伦比亚商学院( Columbia Business School )与哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)则推出了社交媒体营销课程。新英格兰学院(New England College)甚至推出了综合性社交媒体MBA。新英格兰学院招生办公室主任黛安•雷蒙德对近期《美国新闻》(U.S. News)的一篇报道予以了反击,她解释说:“我认为,这是一个非常专业的领域,不能只开设两门课,然后对学生说:‘就这样了。’社交媒体中有太多发展趋势,太多元素。”

    (信息披露:在线品牌管理服务提供商HootSuite正是笔者的公司。我们提供名为HootSuite University的视频网络课件,其中包括业内领先公司的在线研讨会和在线测试。目前已被20所高校采用。)

    "Overall, the higher education system is failing to prepare students with the needed digital and social skill set in any meaningful way," says Dr. William Ward of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. "Higher education, like business, needs a culture shift."

    Ward teaches COM 400, Social Media U Need 2 Know, and COM 600, Social Media Theory and Practice at Syracuse. His offerings are among only a handful of credit-bearing social media courses offered at leading universities today. For Ward, who goes by the handle @DR4WARD on Twitter and has nearly 10,000 followers, the imperative for more courses is clear. "Students with social media certification are getting better jobs and internships," he says. "Those who harness social communications are in high demand and have an advantage."

    The numbers back him up. While U.S. unemployment hovers around 8%, job postings requiring social media skills rose 87% from 2011 to 2012, topping 13,000 in one month alone earlier this year. Among Fortune 500 companies, 73% now have company Twitter accounts and 66% have Facebook Pages (FB). Corporate America is racing to apply social tools to everything from building customer relationships to connecting teams of employees around the world. Analysts estimate that $1.3 trillion in value stands to be unlocked by new social technologies.

    But while businesses are hungry to tap social media, they lack the expertise to do so. Among 2,100 companies surveyed by Harvard Business Review, a meagre 12% of those using social media feel they use it effectively. The result is an exceptional demand for social media professionals who can boost the bottom line. "Social communication done well increases productivity, saves money and time, and improves engagement and satisfaction," Ward says. "[It's] a part of a larger culture shift changing how work gets done."

    Higher ed, however, has been painfully slow to step up and fill the knowledge gap. While many universities use social media to recruit students -- Harvard alone has 1.6 million fans on Facebook -- few have brought it into the classroom itself. When courses on social media are offered, they tend to be stand-alones or electives rather than integrated into a larger curriculum. "Digital and social skills can be applied across majors and discipline, not just in a social media class," Ward says. "Faculty must change how they research, learn, communicate, and collaborate and model this behavior in all their classes and for their students."

    At Syracuse, Ward's students are already "social natives," having grown up with Twitter and Facebook. But his courses like COM 400, Social Media U Need 2 Know, elevate social networking to cold, hard science, with an emphasis on practical business applications and measuring return on investment. Assignments include 20 weekly tweets and posts, tracked with a dedicated class hashtag. Influence meters like Klout measure reach and effectiveness of messages. Meanwhile, class lectures and online seminars and videos dissect how to cultivate a following on Twitter, LinkedIn (LNKD) and Google+ (GOOG).

    Other elite universities have started to follow this lead. NYU, Columbia and the University of Washington, among others, have introduced extensive undergraduate coursework on social networking, marketing and learning. Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School offer social media marketing courses. New England College even offers a comprehensive social media MBA. "I think because it's such a specialized field, you couldn't just give two courses and say, 'Here you go,'" explains New England College dean of admissions Diane Raymond, defending social media education in a recent U.S. News report. "There [are] just too many trends, too many elements."

    (Full disclosure: HootSuite is my company. We provide video-based courseware calledHootSuite University composed of webinars from industry leaders and online testing. It is currently used at 20 colleges and universities.)