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    « All candidates are equal, some just a little more equal | Main | Steve's HR Tech: Hitting the Road »

    Majoring in Facebook

    Saw this article via a Tweet from the really cool folks at Socialcast,

    Oshkosh creates new social networking major

    Classes will revolve around technology, publicity, outreach

    The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is creating a major in social networking. The course of study, expected to launch in 2010, is meant to provide students both the technical and 'business' perspectives on the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Program designers are trying to attract students to Oshkosh that might not have previously considered the school.

    The full article can be found on the Badger Herald site.

    Most every college has elements of social networking interspersed among various programs. Public Relations, Internet Marketing, Graphic Design, Journalism, and Advertising programs all typically include aspects of social networking. Curiously, most courses of study in Human Resources have not incorporated much social networking content.  My HR Technology class does include some discussion of internal and external social networking in the contexts of recruiting, performance management, and workforce collaboration, but truly even my class does not spend nearly enough time on the topic.

    I have wondered in the past if I should try and create an entire class in the HR program to concentrate completely on social networking and so-called Enterprise 2.0 technologies, and now that Oshkosh is pioneering with an entire major in the subject, I think it is time to re-visit my idea and try to get such a course created and delivered.  I had a guest post last week on the Fistful of Talent where I took the position that current and future HR leaders have to get educated in this area in order to be in position to leverage these emerging technologies effectively.

    What do you think, should a Human Resources program have a dedicated Social Networking course?

    And if so, what specific topics should be included?


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    Reader Comments (11)

    In my Intro to HRM class this semester, I am having my students blog, use Twitter, use LinkedIn, and SHRM Connect. We'll see how it goes.

    September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterakaBruno

    Matthew - Thanks for the comments, I have done some assignments and activities using Twitter and Blogs in my HR Technology class with mixed results. I do think one of the problems is that in may program, I am definitely an early adopter, so the students are not at all familiar or comfortable yet with their application in a educational or business setting. Please let me know how your class goes, I would be very interested to know.

    September 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    hi, steve.

    first, your blog is great. i'm always learning from it and am intrigued about what you'll publish next.

    i saw your note above. isn't it perfect that you're an early adopter? that means your students benefit from your experience and that you're broadening theirs -- a perfect college course, no? would it make sense to expand the course content to social media, not solely social networking? and to integrate the topic into other courses so students can readily see the intent and application? if, as most of us believe, 2.0 is with us to stay, then students need to incorporate it into their coursework, internships, and ultimately, their careers. giving them a leg up in a safe, learning environment seems like just the ticket to me. curious to hear what others think.


    September 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfran melmed

    I must agree. New tools make new strategies possible. The real tragedy of the baby boom era HR people in particular (but older Xers are guilty too), is that by not understanding the technology, they rob themselves and the company of a comprehensive HR strategy that can literally begin to reach every single employee. I have recently worked for a particularly unenlightened HR "professional" who just did not get technology at all. Until technology is seen as a tool, every bit as much as social skills and benefits expertise, HR will continue to whine (yes whine) about not having a seat at the table.

    Meanwhile, IT will continue to dominate HR IT. This is another tragedy of sorts because IT people do not ask the right questions when looking at HR technology. They can be very out of touch with the human/technology interface, and certainly do not look at it as a tool for creating a new business culture.

    September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterT

    fran - Thanks very much for the kind words, I really appreciate them, feedback like that is very inspiring. I think you are 100% correct that the concepts and technologies of 2.0 really should be woven in to the entire Human Resources Program. One of the things that I have found (ironically) is that the various professors and instructors don't really do a good enough job of collaborating and communicating in order to make this 'weaving' of ideas systemic throughout the program more likely.

    T - Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am intrigued by your comment that 'IT will continue to dominate HR IT'. It is an interesting thought, and I think one that I would like to explore in more detail in the coming weeks.

    September 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Fran took the words right out of my mouth - expanding beyond social networking into social media and not only how to use it (fear of the unknown keeps people away) but how it can be used. The apps will change but the principles of connection, transparency, collaboration will remain the same. The tough part for me was trying to picture the different types of apps - it can be so overwhelming sorting through what's available and deciding what best fits your needs. I spent a lot of time following links, enrolling in stuff and then never using it. Knowing what some of the core "must have" tools are may be of value followed by the next tier of cool stuff. Whatever you come up with, it will be great!

    September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Rosendahl

    Lisa - Thanks very much for your comments. I do think you describe very clearly the conundrum facing many HR leaders when facing an almost overwhelming amount of technology options. I think going forward HR will almost be forced to gain this expertise particularly in the areas of collaboration and knowledge and expertise sharing. It is really important for the lasting success of both the HR department and the organization overall.

    September 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Hi Steve
    This is a bugbear of mine, which I blogged about recently - implicitly calling for HR to up their learning on all things 2.0 http://hubcapdigital.ning.com/profiles/blogs/just-how-20-is-hr Everyone is aware of these things, but being aware of climate change doesn't seem to affect daily lifestyles too much. In that sense, it has to start with education. The problem with the education system though is by the time these things filter down into text books, they're out of date. (Personally I think this is the biggest challenge facing education full stop). Our fledgling Ning site is a teaser for a human capital library and community (Beta launch end of this month) devoted to bringing together those things HR needs to know now, rather than what they might pick up on sites like the CIPD (im in the UK) in two year's time. If you are gunning to create HR tech courses on social networks, are you also interested in making them online? Or filming them as open courseware so we can post them up on our site?

    September 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Shaw

    Hi Stuart - Thanks very much for the comments. I think you make an excellent point about HR education (and really most 'formal' education programs) being pretty much out of date by the time the curriculum is developed, packaged, and delivered. There is a tremendous amount of turnover of content in my class, and admittedly it can be quite difficult to keep things 'current'. I think your idea of opening up more educational content to the community is an interesting one, and something I have been thinking about for some time. The main barrier I have seen (and have not really arrived at a good solution) is the separation of content and context. I have in the past posted presentation, course overviews, etc, but the content absent the classroom discussions and give and take falls a bit flat. But I do think that using more video and podcasts would be a great alternative. Please be sure to send me the link to your Ning site once it launches, I would be interested in seeing what you are creating. Thanks again.

    September 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Hi Steve
    Sure thing on the invite. It's a free, non prof, though don't mention that to the boss - he's a 76 yr old 'retired' former EAP provider who wants to change the world. Oh, one thing I thought I'd add. My boss is also - next year! - opening a free courseware publishing site, with a difference. Instead of you doing all the work - which costs time and money - teachers to get their students to do it. Students bring the cameras, film, edit, collect notes and then have a place where they can debate them - you just facilitating and encouraging, adding resources where necessary. We're taking the model from dScribe at Michigan - https://open.umich.edu/projects/oer.php and other places, but making it available and abc easy for any teacher to set up and manage. Why not get them to be the class Spielberg? PS Speaking to the guys at the Open Courseware Consortium early this year, they said the biggest cost barrier to this stuff was the admin time taken to get clearance from journals to use their stuff in lectures - don't know how you sit on that debate?

    September 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Shaw

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