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The Twitterized Classroom – Bringing ‘social’ in to the curriculum.

by Jonathan Barrickimage

I recently taught a Marketing Strategies class at my alma mater, Georgian College, for their Snow Resort Operations program. I was tasked with injecting more life in to the curriculum and making sure that students got as much exposure to the current state of marketing as possible. Hence, a great deal of time was spent discussing the applications and, more importantly, the implications of social communications for business. It was at this time that an idea was formulated to bring social media in to the classroom. Not just in discussion or in a slideshow, but in real-time and with student participation.

I made it clear at the beginning of the course that usage of social communications during class would not only be accepted, but actively encouraged. I wanted them to feel comfortable with the fact that if they hear something that resonates with them: Share it. Post it to your wall, Tweet it, whatever. There are a few reasons I encourage them to do this:

1 – It reinforces their learning: If they feel the desire to share something, it’s far more likely that they’ll remember it.

2 – It’s permamently archived: Once you put something out there, it’s there forever.

3 – It’s easily searchable: Whether they need to find the info again to study from, or a friend/classmate wants to use it as a reference, it’s easily findable.

4 – It helps them start to build up their personal brand: By sharing the stuff that they agree with, disagree with, or have an opinion about, they begin to showcase what their business personality is. The more they share, the easier and more clear it is for others to know what you’re all about.

The second step I took to incorporate “social” in to the class material was to co-ordinate a special event with @samfiorella and the team at @senseimarketing who manage the #bizforum weekly Twitter chat. I proposed a ‘special edition’ of the #bizforum chat that would occur during class hours and would focus on topics relevant to Social Media usage in the tourism/recreation industry.

This concept of conducting a live Twitter chat during class with some of the top business minds in Social Media provided several benefits for everyone involved:

a) The students got to see what Twitter (and all types of Social Communications for business) was REALLY capable of, and it broke through the typical stereotypes associated with it

b) They got to interact with some of the most vibrant business professionals on the specific topic they were studying at that time

c) The Twitter participants got to discuss a topic that had not been previously discussed in any #bizforum chat

d) #bizforum and the team at @senseimarketing built up some great goodwill with the students, the college, and the Twitter community

Here’s a screencap of the Hashtracking report gathered at the conclusion of the in-class #bizforum Twitter chat:


Overall, the inclusion of a live Twitter chat in to the class curriculum was a tremendous success. It gave the class a newfound appreciation for just how powerful these new communications tools can be. It gave them an opportunity to directly communicate with and learn from dozens of experienced business professionals. It gave them real-time feedback on what’s happening in the Tourism industry TODAY – not just when the text book was written.

Social Media in the classroom doesn’t have to be the distraction that it is currently perceived to be. It can be an amazing enhancement to the learning environment, PROVIDED the instructor and institution chooses to use it as such. Of course, HOW you use social in the classroom is entirely dependent on a series of factors such as the nature of the topic, the students’ comfort level with social communications, and of course the existing school policies.

That being said, it is crucial that educators come to terms with the fact that social communications are not going away. Learning effective ways to engage in these channels early in the education process of the next generation of business professionals will be a major advantage once they enter the post-college world. I’d encourage all educators to consider the potential benefits of incorporating social communications in to the classroom in whatever capacity makes sense for their institution.

Special thanks to @samfiorella, @senseimarketing, and everyone who participated in the special edition #bizforum chat we conducted!

#bizforum regularly occurs every Wednesday evening at 8pm EST

This post originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

3 Essential Twitter Chats for Business

by Jonathan Barrick

Twitter Chats let you get info, insight, and real-time interaction with the brightest minds in the Social Media universe.

Twitter chats are an invaluable source of insight, discussion, and debate. If you’ve never participated in one, they can be quite overwhelming! The stream of tweets in a Twitter Chat is actually more like a class-5 rapid. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to actually read every single tweet that goes through on a certain hashtag, but for the most part, the real gems of discussion will undoubtedly appear more than once as they get retweeted or quoted, so the key topics are always easy to spot.

Twitter Chats typically recur on a weekly basis, same day, same time, and cater to a very wide variety of topics. There are chats for any subject of interest that you could possibly have, and I’d like to point out three key Twitter Chats that anyone in business can definitely benefit from. Here are the ones that are 100% worth a look:

#bizforum – The newest of these three, Bizforum has been operating for a couple of months so far, and the results have been (in my opinion) incredible. Bizforum takes the form of a Twitter debate, posing a topic to the group each week, which consists of 4 sub-topics discussed throughout the chat. Things can get heated, as the moderators encourage you to avoid the ‘It depends..’ point of view in favor of stating your opinion and your reasons why. It’s a rapid-fire learning experience that brings the best of both sides of an issue in to the limelight.

#bizforum recurs every Wednesday evening, 8pm EST

Moderated by @samfiorella and the team at @senseimarketing – more details here: http://socialroadmaps.blogspot.com/2011/05/bizforum-is-born.html


#brandchat – If you have any questions about branding, this is the chat that will answer them. Brandchat has been operating longer than I can remember, and has a substantial following including some of the greatest minds in the world of branding. Topics change each week, but the overarching subjects fall in to one of four categories that rotate each week including Small Business Brands, Personal Brands, etc. #brandchat is a great chat to get involved in if you’re working to build a brand of any type. The content that gets shared here is always top-notch.

#brandchat recurs every Wednesday morning at 11am EST
Moderated by @brandchat and the team over at http://brandchat.info


#blogchat – One of the longest running Twitter chats in existence, Blogchat is the brainchild of Mack Collier. It’s focus, of course, is Blogs and everything to do with them. In addition to simply providing solid tips and great advice for bloggers of all skill levels, Blogchat actually reviews blogs throughout the chat discussion that have been submitted by anyone who wants their blog looked at. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from the best, and get tips to take your blogging efforts to new heights. If you’re a veteran blogger, or a newbie, there is always something that you will learn here and be able to apply for immediate results on your blog.

#blogchat recurs every Sunday evening at 9pm EST
Moderated by @mackcollier – more details at http://mackcollier.com/social-media-library/what-is-blogchat/

I’d encourage anyone looking for a forum to throw around new ideas, get advice, tips, and help for anything related to business in the online space to check out any or all of these Twitter Chats. With the quality of discussion I’ve experienced personally, and the great ideas that present themselves every week, I’ve got the distinct feeling you won’t be disappointed!

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com