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Social Media in the Classroom

Edited By Hana S. Noor Al-Deen

Social Media in the Classroom provides a comprehensive resource for teaching social media in advertising, public relations, and journalism at the undergraduate and graduate levels. With twelve chapters by contributors from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, this volume provides original scholarly work which encompasses a wide range of methodologies, theories, and sample assignments for implementing social media. This book is an excellent resource for preparing students to transform their personal skills in social media into professional skills for success in the job market.
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Chapter Eight: New Technologies for Social Media and Public Relations Education

Technology in education has enhanced students’ learning environment and prepared them for their future professional careers. New technologies have been used to “accommodate student needs, promote student learning, and better prepare students for a digital society” (Zhao, 2007, p. 312). While classrooms of the past focused on overhead projectors (1950s), photocopiers (1970s), and VCRs, computers, and the Internet (1990s), the 21st century has been marked by the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on. New technologies such as tablets, smartphones, and wearables (e.g., smartwatches and Google Glass) in addition to evolving computers have facilitated the use of social media. The relationship between technology and social media is symbiotic. “New media” are operationalized and referred to in this chapter as the combination of social media platforms with the synergetic technologies that facilitate their use.

The new media continue to reshape the way we think, learn, work, and communicate. A nine-year longitudinal study by Wright and Hinson (2014) found that “various new, emerging and social media have brought dramatic changes to many aspects of public relations practice.” Breakenridge (n.d.) posed that social media have revolutionized the way public relations professionals approach communication programs and campaigns. She states, “today, social media requires that we expand our KSAs [knowledge, skills, and abilities] for continued success in our public relations roles.” This is perhaps evidenced by the emergence of social media dedicated courses for public relations majors, now a required course at many universities. For ← 131 | 132 → public relations students entering a competitive job market, understanding new media is a particularly important skillset. Indeed, Dishman (2014) argued that social media is the “new skills gap.” She found that 90% of jobs in 2015 “require information and communication technology skills” with social media adding a projected $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. Many companies recruit Millennials to fill these positions because of the widespread assumption that they are fluent in new media, which leading social media educator Dr. William Ward described as “a mistake” (Dishman, 2014).

Research demonstrated that the inherent digital savvy of the Millennial generation is lacking in evidence (Hargittai, 2010), and systematic differences in abilities and the ways new media are used were present across groups of individuals. Students require training to effectively use new communication technologies and tools in the completion of tasks (Baan & Maznevski, 2008; Charsky et al., 2009; Rheingold, 2008), especially when it comes to using these tools as a strategic function of public relations (Anderson & Swenson, 2013; Gallicano, Ekachai, & Freberg, 2014; Miller Russell, 2007). Public relations educators of social media (and those who have integrated it as a major component in their courses) have struggled with issues of divide. Students do not enter courses with equivalent levels of new media experience, and public relations educators have been forced to bridge the gap between the most and least skilled students in their courses. A public relations instructor may easily have students enrolled in the same course who do not have accounts on major social networking sites (e.g., Facebook or Twitter) and lack relevant technological proficiencies, alongside students who maintain brand pages with communities of followers in the tens of thousands.

Public relations educators of social media perform several pedagogical functions in the classroom. Not only must these educators teach new media skills, but also they must be flexible enough in their teaching approach to inform both the least and most skilled students of new media. And, that is to say nothing of the actual teaching of public relations strategy as related to social media. So, the purpose of this chapter is (a) to explore the interdependent relationship between new communication technologies and social media, specifically as related to public relations education; (b) to discuss the issues of divide among students and pose how educators may best identify and bridge this gap for effective teaching of public relations and new media; and (c) to teach students how to strategically integrate new media into public relations campaigns. ← 132 | 133 →

LITERATURE REVIEW

An Operationalization

Many terms are used to refer to the new communication technologies, platforms, and tools that have evolved to be included in our understanding of social media. More often than not, terms are used interchangeably. Thus, it is important to begin with an operationalization of the key concepts used to distinguish these emergent platforms and tools. Safko (2012) defined social media simply as “the media we use to be social” (p. 3). Social media refer to platforms that allow users to connect, engage, and interact. Key examples boasting billions or multimillions of active users include Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) explained, “Web 2.0 is a term that was first used in 2004 to describe a new way in which software developers and end-users started to utilize the World Wide Web” (pp. 60–61). They added that Web 2.0 platforms and technology define (and were defined by) social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

The rise of new technologies and tools are inseparable from discussions of social media. For example, mobile technologies have facilitated the ease of access and frequency of use of social media. Mobile technologies have transformed the way we communicate and receive information both with and without respect to social media. Recent data suggested that for the first time in history, mobile Internet access has surpassed desktop computer access, and wearable technologies such as smartwatches and Google Glass were gaining mainstream attention (Lipsman, 2014; O’Toole, 2014; Perez, 2014). At present, wearables generally function in similar ways as mobile smartphone devices, allowing users to access the Internet, email and text messaging, mobile applications and social media separate from physical constraints. The major advantage of wearables is the convenience of access; that is, users are able to use the devices to a large extent hands-free. Analysts predicted that the convenience of wearables would eventually allow for the technologies to supplant “traditional mobile” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

Looking forward, the term new media may more rightly encompass both the social and technological aspects of the evolution of Web 2.0 in the classroom. According to Logan (2010), “new media refers to those digital media that are interactive, incorporate two-way communication, and involve some form of computing” (p. 4). Yet, the New Media Institute explains that the concept is amorphous, and thus, difficult to define.

Loosely, new media is a way of organizing a cloud of technology, skills, and processes that change so quickly that it is impossible to fully define just what those tools and processes are. . . . Perhaps in searching for a suitable characterization for this network of tools and ideas is the idea of limitless possibility. Limitless possibility for communication, for innovation, ← 133 | 134 → and education is certainly a fundamental element that shapes our conceptions of new media usage. (Socha & Eber-Schmid, n.d.)

The State of New Media and Pedagogy

Although difficult to define, it is important for college educators to understand the prior experiences of incoming students and shortcomings of these experiences with respect to new media. In the United States, computer and Internet technology are widely accessible for educational purposes, yet there is a shortcoming in the implementation of these and other tools for instructional purposes. Prior experience predicted attitudes, abilities, and activities regarding new media (Ha & Shin, 2014; Hargittai, 2008, 2010).

Studies of new media use in higher education found that 100% of surveyed colleges and universities use social media for some purpose, with YouTube videos and blogs cited by faculty as the most frequently used for instructional purposes (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014). Faculty members generally believed that “the interactive nature of online and mobile technologies can create better learning environments” (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013, p. 6); however, 65% reported that digital communication has increased the number of hours they work, and 48% said that digital communication has increased their levels of stress. All things considered, 41% of faculty indicated that they do use social media “frequently” as part of their teaching (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013, p. 26).

According to Seaman and Tinti-Kane (2013), the most frequently used social media for teaching among higher education faculty were blogs/wikis, podcasts, and Twitter. Moreover, for blogs/wikis, faculty were more likely to require students to be content creators; with regard to podcasts, blogs, and Twitter, faculty were more likely to require students to be content consumers (read, watch, and listen). This seems to reflect current scholarly thought on the integration of new media into college curriculum where new media have been generally used to facilitate discussion in the classroom as well as serve as a reflection tool (Abe & Jordan, 2013; Elavsky, Mislan, & Elavsky, 2011).

New Media Users

A particularly important consideration for universities and educators was identifying and understanding the student users (and nonusers) of new media technologies and tools. Today, the typical college-aged student represents those most likely to use new media tools. The Millennial generation (18–29 years old) represents a generation that outnumbers their Baby Boomer parents by more than five million and who are defined by an Internet and media landscape that permeates nearly ← 134 | 135 → every facet of their daily lives. Prensky (2001) termed this generation “digital natives” with reference to the fact that Millennials are natives of the 21st-century digital language; non-Millennials or typical faculty members may be referred to as “digital immigrants” (Prensky, 2001; Bull et al., 2008). Millennials represent the heaviest users of new media with some 81% using social networking sites and 95% using the Internet (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi, & Gasser, 2013a; Madden et al., 2013b). Recent studies showed that 81% of college students use mobile technology such as laptops and smartphones (Belardi, 2015). However, Millennial users of the Internet and social media represent just the beginning of the new media revolution in education. In the next five to 10 years, universities and educators will see the widespread emergence of new technologies, namely in the form of wearables, in their classrooms. These new media technologies paired with the forthcoming Generation Z students will present a whole host of new challenges and opportunities.

Emergent Technologies

New media use and adoption change rapidly, but educators are not often early adopters. Until recently, desktop computers were the dominant method for accessing the Internet. However, the rapid growth in mobile technology has changed the landscape. Today, Internet access via mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets is more frequent than access via desktop computers (Lipsman, 2014; O’Toole, 2014; Perez, 2014). For the first time in history, mobile usage accounted for 60% of all Internet consumption. The Pew Research Center predicts “by 2020, a mobile device will be the primary Internet connection tool for most people in the world” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p. 67).

More recently, the emergence of wearable technology has drawn widespread attention among individuals and educators alike. These devices perform the same functionalities as computers and smartphones but come in the form of glasses, watches, and bracelets. Wearable technologies work as a practical extension of the human body; that is, they augment users’ reality. Augmented reality refers generally to a computer-mediated altering of users’ real-world environment and experiences.

The implications of wearable technology and augmented reality in the classroom are many. For example, augmented reality allows for simulations and training exercises that may be valuable for public relations educators in the form of a crisis communication scenario. There is also the potential for holding class via augmented realities where the students and instructor are not physically located in the same place. However, an important consideration that may come sooner than later for educators is the potential for violations of the instructor’s policies, dishonesty, or cheating. Already students may audio record instructors via smartphones without their knowledge, and wearables may allow for video recording with little capability ← 135 | 136 → for the instructor to recognize they are being recorded. Further, the ability and temptation to access Internet content will be great with imperceptible wearable devices in the form of glasses or watches, for example.

Issues of Divide

More than ever before, educators are seeking to harness the current state of new media for pedagogical effectiveness. Although Millennials represent “digital natives,” universities and educators should be cautious about generalizing about students’ abilities. Hargittai (2010) posed that despite widespread use, Millennials’ digital savvy was not grounded in evidence. Further complicating the matter, research found systematic differences in how individuals use the Internet in their everyday lives with respect to access, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and experience (Hargittai, 2004, 2010). Hargittai (2010) explains, “internet know-how is not randomly distributed among the population, rather, higher levels of parental education, being a male, and being white or Asian American are associated with higher levels of Web-use skill” (p. 92). These variables are often inherent considerations for curriculum development, yet new media skills are often considered standard among Millennials in today’s college classrooms.

Colleges and universities may better focus overall public relations curriculum development with empirical-based considerations about their students’ understanding of new media technology and platforms. For example, community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or those serving large numbers of nontraditional students may particularly benefit from a reexamination of student expectations surrounding new media. Accordingly, educators may better employ a valuable approach to technology-based course content and activities with an understanding of the digital divides that exist within their classrooms. Of particular relevance, research has found significant differences in academic performance as related to technology use (Jackson et al., 2008). Moreover, it is worthwhile for future communication professionals to understand the audiences they (or their companies) would engage with in social media spaces.

Hargittai (2010) stated, “people who have grown up with digital media are often assumed to be universally savvy with information and communication technologies. Such assumptions are rarely grounded in empirical evidence” (p. 92). Even when controlling for a host of other variables, however, people differed in their online abilities and activities (Hargittai, 2010). Hargittai (2008) similarly found that individuals with more usage experience were more likely to be users of new media. “Unequal participation based on user background suggests that differential adoption of such services may be contributing to digital inequality” (p. 276). ← 136 | 137 →

Further, differences in how users expect for new media to be used are also apparent in the literature. For example, Ha and Shin (2014) found that although students felt favorably toward social networking sites, they were still cynical about its use as a method of learning. This slight aversion was found to be the result of older students who were less willing to engage in educational interaction with the use of new media. Younger students did not harbor the same aversion, which was suspected to be due to familiarity of past experience with technologies.

METHOD

This chapter used an applied case to demonstrate how findings of a pretest and posttest measure may be implemented in the public relations classroom to bridge the new media skills gap. This approach allows for public relations educators to identify and evaluate new media skills as well as public relations strategy as applied to social media. The course employed for examination in this case consisted of 150 undergraduate advertising-public relations major students at the junior level or higher. The course content focused specifically on social media and public relations. Advertising-public relations students were given a pretest and posttest measure to assess issues of divide in the classroom. At the conclusion of the course, the issues of divide measure were administered again. The posttest administration allowed the instructor to compare results to the pretest to determine if abilities had improved between both the lowest- and highest-ability students.

Advertising-public relations students were also assigned a mid-semester team project. Students of varying new media ability levels were placed into groups and tasked with analyzing an organization’s social media presence. Teams were then assigned to analyze and/or propose the integration of two social media sites and one mobile application into a campaign for the organization. The instructor was flexible as to which organizations were selected and, as a result, whether students focused on analyzing existing social media being used or proposing the integration of new social media. The purpose of the assignment was to further bridge the new media abilities gap both through collaborative engagement with classmates holding various ability levels and exposure to multiple new media. The assignment further sought to make clear the strategic implications of new media for public relations campaigns. Siemens (2005) proposed connectivism as a learning theory for the Digital Age. The theory emphasized how new media have created opportunities for learning and sharing information. Siemens (2005) explained that behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism were developed during a time when learning was not affected by technology. Connectivism emphasized the importance of learning as a process of connections to information (as opposed to the knowing of information). Downes (2007) explained, “at its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is ← 137 | 138 → distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.” In other words, pedagogical approaches using connectivism would facilitate the identification and navigation of effective networks. Connectivism poses that new media facilitates networks of nodes and connections wherein knowledge is kept, as opposed to within each individual. Thus, the process of identifying and navigating these networks is most salient.

For the social media course under analysis, the instructor first implemented quantitative pretest and posttest assessments to identify significant “issues of divide” among students enrolled in the course. Student teams in the course were also tasked with proposing how new media could be strategically integrated into public relations campaigns.

APPLICATIONS

Public relations scholars have advocated that new media be used in the classroom because of the prevalence of these tools in the industry (Miller Russell, 2007; Waters & Bortree, 2011; Waters & Robinson, 2008). Although Millennial students may represent those most familiar with new media technologies and tools, there have been systematic differences among groups regarding their attitudes, abilities, and activities of use. Further complicating the integration of new media into public relations education is the fact that even when Millennials do know how to use the technology, they need training to learn how to use it as a strategic public relations function.

Pretest and Posttest Assessment

Early in the course, students were asked to indicate the extent of their familiarity with specific social media platforms and new technologies. Students were also asked to evaluate their perceptions of self-efficacy and identify the ways they currently use new media. A pretest measure was administered online at the beginning of the course (see Assignment 8.1). Student data were aggregated so as not to reveal any identifying information, and results were presented in person during the following class meeting. The instructor then led students in discussions about issues of divide based on results of the pretest measure. The instructor asked students to break into small discussion groups where they shared their different ability levels with regard to new media. This created an initial understanding of the different skill levels among classmates. Ideally, for the less-skilled users, the presentation of the assessment results demonstrated their job-market “competition” for public relations positions that emphasized social media skillsets. Likewise, for the more-skilled users, the ← 138 | 139 → presentation helped encourage a tolerance and understanding of skills-based new media course content, with which they may already have familiarity. For example, the student who already managed brand pages with tens of thousands of followers would be less likely to need basic information about how to use Twitter. However, the skilled users were much more understanding of such course content, and even willing to help classmates reach learning objectives, when they realized how advanced their skillsets were. Indeed, Elavsky et al. (2011) similarly found that the use of new media in a large-lecture course generally resulted in positive outcomes overall. They state that

Twitter dramatically altered the in-class communication patterns, reconfiguring the discourse therein into multiplatform engagements by which online/offline utterances intermingled, stimulating new trajectories for deliberation that significantly expanded the scope and potential of the class discussions beyond traditional contextual parameters. Fostered almost singularly by student input, the Twitter stream discourse deepened and extended the class potential for engagement with the course themes in novel ways (p. 225).

The implementation of a pretest assessment identified potential issues of divide, and the presentation of the results of assessment fostered mutual understanding and a collaborative learning environment.

Further, the instructor was able to focus efforts accordingly for both the most- and least-skilled students, tailoring the class to bridge the skills gap. Outside of class, the instructor divided students into two relative groups based on assessments of their abilities: low- and high-new media skills. Throughout the duration of the course, the instructor was able to address generally the different needs of both groups. For example, in discussing Twitter, the instructor asked a high-skill student to demonstrate the basic how-to information during the class meeting. The remainder of the class was dedicated to discussing Twitter as a tool for public relations, presenting case study examples and best practices. The instructor would make reference to the different groups with regard to the emphasis they should put on activities and assignments. The high-skill group, who already were active on Twitter, were tasked with focusing on their personal branding and message strategies for the course, while the low-skill group was encouraged to “get their hands dirty” by live tweeting an event and following industry influencers. To be clear, there was no demonstrable difference in the assignments given to students; however, the students were often reminded that the onus to develop a successful online personal brand was on them.

Also during the class meeting where pretest assessment results were presented, the instructor broke students into small groups (four to six students each) and asked them to discuss their individual differences with regard to new media uses, attitudes, and abilities. Students discussed their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Issues of divide that were assessed and presented quantitatively to students were now afforded ← 139 | 140 → context. For example, students realized that not all classmates had equivalent experiences or backgrounds. Not all students had laptops that were advanced enough to bring to class because they were too heavy or had low battery life. Some students took notes on their mobile phones, while others did not own a smartphone or preferred to avoid the distractions of new media and took notes with paper and pen.

Students’ attitudes toward new media also differed. Students without accounts on major sites like Facebook or Twitter had privacy concerns or just didn’t see a need for it in their personal lives. Students addressed their comfort levels with communicating with instructors and classmates via new media. Discussions further gave rise to salient issues of privacy and the mixing of the personal with professional. The new media have redefined the student-instructor relationship, while allowing for new communication channels to communicate course content. For example, Waters and Bortree (2011) found that public relations students with higher levels of communication apprehension were less likely to communicate with their instructors outside the classroom, but more likely to communicate with instructors via social networking sites with greater frequency than those students with low levels of communication apprehension.

McCorkindale (2013) detailed that public relations educators were increasingly integrating new media into their courses and connecting with their students to demonstrate emerging communication strategies. However, she states, “balancing personal and professional use is important because instructors may represent best practices for their students.” Privacy for both students and instructors remained a major concern for the integration of new media into the classroom (Lewis & West, 2009; McCorkindale, 2013). Many educators and students remain hesitant about blurring the lines between their personal and professional lives, so addressing these issues at the onset of the course has been essential for mutual understanding and respect for others. Again, this also brought to light for students the various issues organizational stakeholders would perceive in engaging with their company (or clients’ companies) via social media.

Finally, at the end of the semester, the instructor asked students to again participate in the quantitative assessment. Using the data, the instructor was able to determine if students of different levels had improved in the areas most relevant to them. For example, the students who were already at a relatively high level of new media technical skills were able to improve on communication strategy, campaigns, analytics, evaluation, etc., in a new media context. Likewise, students with low levels of new media technical skill were able to improve on understanding the actual platforms, tools, and technologies. For the purposes of data analysis, low- and high-skilled students can even be separated into groups for the performance of statistical difference tests.

The implications of this approach are two-fold. First, instructors are able to refocus efforts where they notice deficits in future course offerings. Public relations ← 140 | 141 → educators should seek to address the appropriate mix of new media technological and technical skills while addressing appropriate public relations strategy as related to social media. Instructors should also be flexible enough in their teaching approach to inform both the least and most skilled students of new media.

New Media Campaign Integration

In addition to ongoing assessment, the instructor sought to further bridge new media ability gaps through a team-based assignment where students of varying ability levels collaborated on a public relations campaign proposal. This assignment simultaneously focused on the strategic role of new media for public relations, reinforcing the idea that new media use for public relations should move beyond the tactical level to connect with overarching organizational goals and objectives (see Assignment 8.2).

Students were first divided into teams of five. The instructor divided students of various skill levels evenly among teams. The instructor asked that the students give their newly formed public relations firm (i.e., their teams) a name. This created a greater sense of shared purpose and cohesion, despite disparate ability levels. Students were then asked to select an organization (on a first-come, first-serve basis approved by the instructor). Organizations could be large or small; local, national, or international; corporate, nonprofit, or governmental. Student teams were then tasked with (1) analyzing the organization’s existing use of social media and (2) strategizing and proposing the integration of new media for the organization to communicate with a specified audience. The culmination of this project resulted in a team research paper and Prezi presentation. Student teams presented their work to their classmates, which allowed for exposure to various new media in a strategic public relations context.

This assignment would best be executed as a mid-semester or final course project. This would allow for a pretest assessment and discussion of abilities to have already occurred as well as new media course content that contributes to an overall understanding of the strategic role of new media for public relations campaigns.

DISCUSSION

This chapter conceptualized “new media” as the intersection of social media platforms and the technology that facilitates them. For public relations education, this has been a particularly salient issue that was best addressed through the pulling together of existing secondary literature to provide a comprehensive description of the new media user and issues of divide that arose in the classroom. Using a pretest and posttest assessment, discussion exercises, and a new media campaign integra ← 141 | 142 → tion assignment, students quickly realized that their classmates come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of attitudes, abilities, and uses with regard to new media. This fostered an environment of mutual understanding and collaboration from the onset of the course.

Beyond facilitating a better learning environment, public relations students need to be well-versed in new media as part of their future professions. Understanding the issues of divide among their organizational stakeholders facilitates more effective communication programs and campaigns. The new media campaign integration assignment reintroduced the idea of understanding stakeholder uses of new media as part of an overarching campaign strategy. Moreover, public relations professionals are considered the “corporate conscience” or ethical counselor to management for their organizations (Bowen, 2008; Ryan & Martinson, 1983). Thus, it is valuable to task students with discussing individual differences that give way to conversations about diversity of attitudes, abilities, and uses as well as issues of privacy.

It is also valuable for the public relations educator to identify and evaluate issues of divide. By realizing the differences in attitudes, abilities, and uses among students, the instructor may tailor the course to bridge the new media skills gap. The instructor should construct course content and activities according to student skill levels, both with regard to new media technical and technological skills and public relations strategy using new media. Students should be familiar with the latest technological devices as well as social media tools, and instructors may use the pretest and posttest assessment to continually evaluate effectiveness in their courses.

Although the assessment is not unique, the addition of technology and issues of divide to social media knowledge and skills paints a more comprehensive picture of students’ actual abilities. Public relations educators may also engage students in the following supplemental course assignments: (1) the identification and discussion of traditional and new media theories; (2) a class discussion about how issues of divide affect communicating with different audiences; and (3) the required use of new media.

The identification of traditional and new media may facilitate the connection of theory to practice. Traditional theories may be applied to a new media context (e.g., media richness theory) and compared to new media-based theories (e.g., connectivism) for a discussion of the public relations implications.

The issues of divide are important considerations both for educators and public relations professionals who may seek to communicate with audiences. A class discussion of diverse stakeholders allows students to identify characteristics among diverse publics with whom they seek to communicate. This brings to light the importance of strategy in connecting new media to the audience. For example, using YouTube to communicate with the 65 and older demographic might not be appropriate.

The required use of new media is recommended. For example, not only does maintaining a professional blog and Twitter account allow students to produce ← 142 | 143 → portfolio samples and connect with industry professionals around the world, but it also exposes them to the new media tools used by public relations professionals today. This facilitates training and experience using these tools as professionals before they enter the increasingly competitive job market. Moreover, comprehensive social media management training exists at no cost for educators and their students (e.g., HootSuite University). Instructors may integrate such training and certification tools into coursework, further bridging the new media skills gap both within and outside the classroom.

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ASSIGNMENT 8.1. PRETEST AND POSTTEST ASSESSMENT

       Please respond with your agreement to the following items from Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (5).

       In general, I would consider myself to have a strong understanding of the following social media in regards to being both (1) an observer/reader of the media and (2) a creator or maintaining/posting to the media.

       

        1.   Analytics Services (Klout, HootSuite, Google/Facebook/Twitter Analytics, Web Traffic Analyzers)

        2.   Audio Creation/Sharing Sites (Audacity, iTunes)

        3.   Blogs (Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger)

        4.   Forums or Message Boards (Reddit)

        5.   Geo-location (Foursquare)

        6.   Microblogs (Twitter)

        7.   Photo Sharing Sites (Pinterest, Photobucket, Flickr)

        8.   RSS, Feed Readers (Really Simple Syndication)

        9.   Search Engines (Google, Bing, Stumble Upon, Facebook Graph Search)

      10.  Social Networking Sites for Personal Use (Facebook)

      11.  Social Networking Sites for Professional Use (LinkedIn)

      12.  Social News Sites (Flipboard, Zite)

      13.  Social Bookmarking Sites (Delicious, Digg)

      14.  Video Creation/Sharing Sites (YouTube, Vimeo)

      15.  Virtual Worlds and Gaming (SecondLife, World of Warcraft)

      16.  Wikis (Wikipedia)

       In general, I would consider myself to have a strong understanding of the following technology:

       

      1.    Internet

      2.    Laptop

      3.    Smartphone

      4.    Tablet

      5.    Wearable technology

       In general, I perform the following activities on the Internet:

       

      1.    Informational use/research, banking, reading, searching for jobs

      2.    Recreational use/entertainment, games, gambling, fun

      3.    Communication for professional purposes

      4.    Communication for personal purposes

      5.    Other (please specify) ← 146 | 147 →

       In general, I understand how new media are used for the following public relations activities:

       

      1.    Campaigns

      2.    Strategy

      3.    Research

      4.    Evaluation

Demographic Information

      1.    Gender

      2.    Race/Ethnicity

      3.    Parents’ highest education completed

      4.    Average hours/week spent on the Internet ← 147 | 148 →

ASSIGNMENT 8.2. NEW MEDIA CAMPAIGN INTEGRATION PROJECT

Overview:

       In groups of five, students will select an organization (on a first-come, first-serve basis and approved by the instructor). Organizations may be large or small; local, national, or international; corporate, nonprofit, or governmental. Students must then (1) analyze the organization’s existing use of social media and (2) strategize and propose the integration of new media for the organization to communicate with a specified audience.

       This project must analyze and/or integrate a combination of at least two social media sites and one mobile application. A five-page paper detailing the aforementioned criteria is required as well as a group Prezi presentation. Note: This Prezi makes a great addition to your online portfolio, and can be posted to your LinkedIn profile.

Research Paper:

       Student teams are required to provide brief introductory information surrounding the organization, itself, and conduct extensive research on the current organizational use of new media. The research paper should provide adequate background and introductory information so that an unfamiliar reader would get a sense of the organization and its current new media efforts. Students may answer questions such as the following:

           What social media platforms/apps is the organization using?

           With whom are they seeking to communicate using these media?

           What kinds of content are they posting?

           How is the organization effectively using new media?

           How is it ineffectively using new media?

           Which new media are the organization not using?

       Next, based on the concepts and skills learned in this course, students should strategize and propose the integration of new media for the organization they’ve selected and aimed at communicating with a specified audience. A good starting point for this is to consider the goals of the organization and their existing new media use. Now, consider how that organization could achieve those goals using their existing new media more effectively and/or using additional social media tools. Consider the unique wants, interests, and needs (WINs) of the audience you’ve identified.

           How can we use new media to achieve the organizational goal(s) while addressing the audience’s WINs?

           Are there additional social media tools that the organization should be using?

           Or, should your strategy be more related to improving the current use of new media tools (for example, improved content)? ← 148 | 149 →

       You might set goals for the campaign and consider how those would be evaluated for effectiveness too. In what ways does your proposed campaign enhance the organization’s current new media use, strategy, or overall goals? And so on.

       The combination of the existing social media analysis and proposed campaign integration should result in a research paper that addresses a combined total of at least two social media sites and one mobile application. Otherwise, be creative and have fun with your campaign proposal! For any of you that hope to work as professional communicators in the social media world, you will likely work as part of an agency that pitches campaign ideas to potential clients. Only the most creative and strategic ideas get the client’s business.

Prezi Presentation:

       As a result of extensive background research and collaborative efforts aimed at a creative, strategic campaign proposal on behalf of their organization, students will produce a Prezi presentation (www.Prezi.com). The focus of your Prezi is to (1) give an overview of the organization and its current social media use and (2) present your team’s proposed new media integration campaign.

       The information presented in your Prezi should result in a five- to seven-minute presentation. Whenever appropriate, the information presented should be supported by research and citations you’ve found as part of your research (using APA format).

       Your team should also consider the following: color scheme; use of appropriate fonts; use of graphics and visuals; and strategic use of videos, charts, and graphs. Be sure everyone in your team has completed the Prezi tutorial.

       You will send the instructor a web link to your Prezi set to public view or exported in PDF format. Also note that you can download Prezi presentations to your desktop. For the presentation portion of this project, you’ll need to be sure that each team member has access to a copy of the presentation. ← 149 | 150 → ← 150 | 151 →