How Critical Is A Social Media Curriculum?

I recently read a post titled Why Social Media Curriculum is Critical in Schools. I read it because I actually do wonder about whether social media is worth including in the curriculum. Whether it is "critical" is something I question. This comes from someone who will be teaching a graduate course this year on social media. But, that course will examine the use of social media in the larger/business. Using it in the classroom is very different.

That article is concerned with K-12 classroom which have their own issues with using technology and especially with social tools. Many schools have policies restricting not only access to sites online, but also teacher/student interaction. The majority of schools try to prevent access to the sites students use to communicate socially, thereby banning the use of these sites to communicate in an educational setting.

One unfortunate result mentioned in the article is that "most schools have banned students from accessing authentic communication hardware or software, positioning school as a place where socialization is kept to a minimum, learning is teacher directed, and conversations are teacher, rather than student, driven and/or maintained."

There already is a social media "curriculum." But, it's outside schools and it is being "taught" without the involvement of teachers

Is there really a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in schools when it comes to social media? That policy extends into higher education where many educators also look the other way when it comes to their students communicating, collaborating, and connecting online.

Back to the starting question: Do we need a social media curriculum? Looking through the comments on that post, you can see both answers on both sides:

Would things be the same if we replace the words "social media" with "after school activities"? Would the concern be the same if we replaced "Twitter" with "skateboard park" or "Facebook" with "shopping mall"? Why is is that educators are thinking that just because this is where the kids are spending time, that suddenly we have to be there as well?

I will stand firm in my belief that unless there is A CLEAR EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVE teachers should not "friend" their students on MySpace, Facebook or Twitter and even then it should be with special account reserved for that purpose.

Thank you for the article. I shared it with my staff, but had to use email since Facebook is, of course, blocked at school. I've come to believe the mantra for schools is, "We block any site that might be of any interest or use to anyone at any time."

Social skills can be effectively developed by a face to face classroom conversation, involvement in community events, athletics teams, arts, musical ensembles, and many co-curricular activities. These skills are transferable. Lets educate for enduring knowledge and skills; knowledge and skills that are not limited by present or emerging technologies.

Well said - integrating social media will really do wonders in engaging the students. Another great point - it's not about the tools, it's about the process. Whatever the actual tool may be, the point of the curriculum should be to show students how to use new collaboration technologies in the future and manage themselves online.

Designing for Social Media Readings


My little social experiment in asking the world to suggest textbooks for the online graduate course I am teaching this summer is over. I had set up a disposable web page that ran for 90 days and, because all "Disposable Web Pages" are time sensitive, it disappeared yesterday.

Of course, I have archived the contributions that people made to the book list.

The projected audience for the course (which is part of the MS in Professional and Technical Communication at NJIT) are grad students majoring in PTC (designers, technical writers etc.) and those in management, communications, media, IT and design. The course will look at how organizations can use social media as communication tools for marketing, education & training and community building.

Making the "textbook" selection process itself a social media project seemed appropriate. There are not really many choices from the traditional textbook publishers in this area. Books and readings in social media are changing so fast that you can take several different approaches to it.

Since I am planning to have students each select a book that applies more to their own interest in social media, I wanted a good number of titles.

There were 16 revisions (3 by me) with 20 books suggested

Here is what the list looked like the night before it disappeared:


If you'd like to suggest a book - click the edit link, and enter the password social. Please identify your book suggestions by TITLE, AUTHOR and include a brief blurb about the book's focus if possible. If there's a link to more about that book, that would be great! [11 of the 19 had links - I added links to the others]
Thanks for your suggestions!

  1. What Would Google Do? - Jeff Jarvis

  2. Power Friending - Amber MacArthur

  3. Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices - Christopher Locke

  4. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations - Clay Shirky

  5. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies - Charlene Li

  6. Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations - Amy Shuen

  7. Designing for the Social Web - Joshua Porter

  8. The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future - S. Craig Watkins

  9. Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience by Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone - patterns, principles, and best practices for starting a social website - More of a design focus than a book on what sites are buzzing right now (so it might be relevant longer).

  10. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler - Benkler is a law professor at Yale University AND he has also made the entire book available for free download at

  11. Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. - Mitch Joel - a business focus on using Net marketing, esp. free tools and services

  12. Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee ~ Web 2.0 for the enterprise

  13. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation - Tim Brown

  14. The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business (From Publishers Weekly) Hunt, cofounder of community-marketing consulting firm Citizen Agency, presents the hows and whys of accruing "whuffie," her word for social capital in the Web 2.0 landscape. Introducing a wide range of post-blogosphere social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr, Hunt clues in marketers to the possibilities with online success stories, influential voices and winning strategies. Detailed, practical profiles of networks and related tools make this a valuable, illuminating title for anyone looking to the ever-expanding realm of online social life for business success.

  15. The Cluetrain Manifesto - though ten years old, the authors' 95 theses about the networked marketplace probably make more sense today. Observations about business in America and how the Internet will continue to change it.

  16. Visual Thinking  by Rudolf Arnheim - more for art students perhaps - all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading.

  17. Building Social Web Applications: Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site -  by Gavin Bell

  18. The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success - Safko

  19. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins.  This book puts web 2.0 technologies and trends into a much larger historical context of participatory culture.

  20. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green

Here's another list of related books that I found on a post at

  1. Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li's Groundswell

  2. Ken Auletta's Googled: The End of the World as We Know It

  3. Shel Israel's Twitterville

  4. Chris Brogan and Julian Smith's Trust Agents

  5. The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging

  6. David Meerman Scott's New Rules of Marketing & PR

  7. Paul Gillin's The New Influencers

  8. Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge's Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

  9. David Kirkpatrick The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that's Connecting the World (Jan 2010)

  10. Tim O'Reilly and Sara Milstein's The Twitter Book

  11. Bob Garfield's Chaos Scenario

  12. David Meerman Scott" World Wide Rave

  13. Adam Penenberg's Viral Loop

Designing Social Media Reading List

One of my projects for thus spring is creating a new course for summer session. It is an online graduate course for the Professional and Technical Communication program at NJIT called "Designing Social Media."

Picking a "textbook" and readings in social media is tough because it is changing so fast that it will be very challenging to stay current. I'm not planning on one textbook, but rather I plan on having each student select a book that seems relevant to their interest in social media. The target audience includes grad students majoring in PTC, management,communications, media, IT and design. The course will look at how organizations can use social media as communication tools for marketing, education & training and community building.

I decided to go social - as in crowdsourcing - for ideas about books to use in the course.

I asked last April for readers to contribute to a presentation that I was prepping for a conference and I created a collaborative web page at which was set to expire (dispose of itself) after a pre-set amount of time. You can read that earlier post and see that it was fairly successful. There were 19 revisions made to the page - which is not overwhelming, but they were good responses and there was no vandalism or spamming.

I set up another "disposable webpage" on the topic "Designing Social Media Readings" and invited readers back in the end of December to participate by contributing titles of books on social media that they think would be appropriate readings for the course.

So far, there are 18 books that have been suggested by 11 people other than me. Some has given short blurbs and provided links to book information (such as on One title is available free online.

The list will dispose of itself on March 22. Of course, I will copy the content before that (Reminder to Ken) to use in the course, and I will post the results here on the blog.

There's still time for you to participate. All you have to do is go to the page at and click the EDIT tab at the top. The Editor Key (password) is social

Please identify yourself, even if it's a pseudonym. Add your suggested book title & author to the list. If you have a few extra moments, please add a line or two about the focus of the book.

There is additional information about the course being posted to my NJIT site.
The clock is ticking and my disposable page is time sensitive and will self-destruct on  .

Short Attention Span URLs


A post on the NYT's Bits technology blog titled "‘Controlled Serendipity’ Liberates the Web" caught my attention because of the serendipity reference and because it referenced several URL-shortening services that I was researching online., the URL-shortening service, has people clicking millions of their links in social networks like Twitter and Facebook and e-mail. Last week, processed 599,100,000 clicks, its highest number since starting in July 2008.

Many URLs now have multiple doppelgängers because of this aggregation of “controlled serendipity” with others and they with us. Are we really all human aggregators now?

URL shorteners like are getting a lot of traffic. (By the way, I am not a big fan of the .ly domains which is the Internet country code for Libya.) One reason for the popularity of these services is Twitter with its 140 character limit. Many site and blog URLs can easily eat up most or all of the 140 character limit if you want to add a link. The shorteners can knock it down to about 12 characters by providing a redirect.

One problem is that if one of these services goes away, it will leave behind all the redirects that have been created - which would be millions of links for any of the popular services.

People can also use these shortened links to disguise the destination of a link. If you wanted to find out about consumer services from the Better Business Bureau, I could send you to or to They look pretty much the same and neither gives you a clue as to where you are headed. One of them does go to the BBB, the other goes to a store link.