In higher ed, the unit of analysis that matters most is the course. We spend lots of time talking about professors, or students or curriculum or technology - where we should spend more time talking about the course.
I'd like to share with you one example of a really innovative course format, one that I think can be scaled to other institutions without large investments in enterprise platforms.
Spencer Striker at University of Wisconsin at Whitewater teaches a cutting-edge course called Social Media Optimization & the New Web. The course teaches students how to engage with online communities, take control of their web presence, and stay on the cutting edge of this fast-moving space. The course requires students become ‘power users’ of social media web applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube. Students stay on top of the most current social media news and trends by reading, reporting on, and thinking critically about the industry’s breaking news. Students learn — in the trenches — how to build an influential web presence in an energetic, creative, and collaborative environment.
Students are asked to think critically about the industry's deepest trends by looking at the work of a variety of social media and technology theorists. And what's really cool, is that sometimes these Internet heavy weights will actually Skype into the classroom for 15-30 minutes to answer questions. To date, the Internet gurus who have video conferenced with this class in south central Wisconsin include:
Craig Newmark - founder of Craigslist
David Meerman Scott - author of the New Rules of Marketing & PR
Guy Kawasaki - author of The Art of the Start
Zadi Diaz - host of Epic Fu
John Batelle - founder of Wired
You can see a photo stream of a selection of the recorded interviews to date here.
Spencer has also recorded the interviews for eventual publication on YouTube. The class talk with Craig Newmark is already live:
And here are some more pics from the class talk with Craig Newmark, who Spencer reports was extremely friendly with the students and generous with his time. Spencer Striker is a young faculty member and researcher worth checking out (and perhaps inviting to keynote your next conference!) You can find Spencer at the following destinations:
Let me know if you have similar stories of innovative courses.