Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 8th, 2009

Ge a Graduate Degree in Social Media

If the title caused your eyebrows to be raised, then you should sit down before reading the rest. The internet has been appropriately buzzing over the past few weeks after UK-based Birmingham City University announced a graduate degree program in social media will soon be offered. College students will be able to earn a degree based on their working knowledge and ability to use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Bebo.

The program is offered as a one-year course in social media, teaching students how to blog, publish podcasts in addition to leveraging social networking sites as communications and marketing tools. The design of the program is to study the way people are using social networking sites and using it for marketing purposes. However, the course isn’t all browsing and tweets. The program will focus on the business use of social media and leveraging the technology for commercial gain. It will not only explore the techniques of social media as a creative industry, but will also seek to contribute innovative research and knowledge to the networking sites for potential use. It was structured to meet the university’s academic standards of fundamental criteria for a Masters level program, featuring lectures, seminars, research workshops, presentations and field trips. To earn the Master’s in social media, students will be required to complete either a social media production project or an original research 15,000-word dissertation.

Naturally, there are many critics of the program. Many see social networking sites as nothing more than distractions and recreational behavior for the digital native generation. In fact, many critics feel this program is nothing short of appalling. At the same time, the generation of digital natives are wondering why anyone would need a course, or program to learn how to socialize online. There is also a question as to who will be teaching these courses. Are there any college professors who have a degree in social media themselves? Some criticize that the students are going to know more than those responsible for course content and instruction.

With such a highly-evolving industry like social media, there is new knowledge appearing everyday. The developments in social media are occurring so rapidly that the program could be outdated by the time the first class starts. Either way, social media skills are an important tool in tomorrow’s business landscape. If you don’t have a clue, it may be time to do some research of your own. Developing innovative and low cost communication strategies for your business could be a crucial element missing from your overall marketing umbrella. Don’t allow your company to be left in the dust of technology, learn how to socialize and network online and begin your immigration to digital "savvy-tude".

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