The other day I participated in a Twitter chat regarding social media education and training. As an individual who operates a social media training and consulting business, as well as teaches a social media course part-time at a local college, I have many unique perspectives and experiences from which to draw upon.
During the chat I tweeted:
— Jennifer Baker (@JenniferBakerCo) September 24, 2015
I received a reply from a fellow Twitter chat participant that “higher ed isn’t about specific tactics, more about strategy, hands on skill dev and resource delivery.”
While I agree wholeheartedly that higher education should focus on analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, but how do you develop a program dedicated to a topic that is consistently in flux?
As I mentioned, my perspective is coloured by my views of social media, and perhaps I am too close to the subject matter. Let’s take a minute to step outside my world and investigate an alternative industry: medical science.
Firstly, I know very little about the medical science sector; my formal education peaked in grade 11 biology. What information I do possess, has been acquired through the media’s perspective of latest-and-greatest medical breakthroughs, which seemingly is daily. A new drug. A new procedure. A new technology. A new doctor. A new disease. A new research project.
If this is the case, how does a professor teach a subject, like medical science, that is always changing? Sound familiar?
This brings me to the instructional design process, specifically the concept of sequencing, which is the “efficient ordering of content in such a way as to help the learner achieve the objectives.” Having taught social media since 2009, I have significant experience sequencing information in a logical format. This is the part of my job that consumes the most time, thought, and energy. With my experience, I have developed the ability to anticipate questions and problems, given the material that is being discussed. When sequencing concepts, I have found that ordering by familiarity, teaching the most familiar concepts before moving on to more remote, is the most effective method of adult learners.
That said, regardless of subject matter, the basic building blocks of knowledge are essential, which is why courses like Marketing 101 and Biology 101 still exist. While learners may be unenthusiastic with the simple information and concepts, it engages their past experiences and enhances the learning experience.
We live in an ever-changing world. As a result, it is important we learn basics skills related to a subject (e.g. Social Media 101) before pursuing highly specialized subject matter (e.g. Conversion Tracking Pixels in Social Media Advertising). You have to learn to walk before you can run.