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Fall 2010 - Course plugged

Destination Purdue > Fall 2010 - Course plugged

Course plugged into social media

By Chelsea Nord

Ali Nord

Photo by Chelsea Nord

Ali Nord, a student at Tecumseh Junior-Senior High School in Lynnville, Ind., uses her mobile phone to get the latest information. A Purdue course explored how to communicate more effectively with social media and new technologies.

@katkuy12: tweeting in class . . . classic (1:02 PM Feb 1st via web).

How does the informal aspect of a tweet match up against the formality of a university classroom?

Social networking Web sites are enormously popular. Consider Facebook — it was launched in February 2004 and now claims 400 million users. Businesses have taken note of social media and are looking for graduates who can effectively use these new technologies.

"There are many different ways to tell a story besides by printed words," said Jane Natt, clinical assistant professor of communication.

And new technologies require new ways to tell those stories. That's why a number of agricultural communication majors took a class that focused on new, emerging media.

Sammy Sisk, a senior agricultural communication major from Danville, Ind., took the class and said she has already been able to use the skills she learned.

"I was the director of promotions for the Purdue Grand Prix Organization and one of the big aspects was being able to advertise to our students through Facebook," said Sisk. "I managed the Facebook and Twitter pages and they allowed us to network with potential race sponsors as well as being news sources to promote our race."

Some of the subjects covered in class include social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and how businesses are starting to use them in their marketing strategies. The class also learned digital media production methods for audio/video segments and podcasts. Throughout the semester, they learned how to use these communication skills in their careers.

"I will be working full-time for a seed company in their marketing department," said Sisk. "They are really excited about my knowledge of social media and I am looking forward to applying my knowledge out in the real world."

The instant nature of communicating through social media is something companies can't get from traditional newspapers or magazines. So, businesses are looking closely at these new means of communication.

Katherine Kuykendall, a senior agricultural communication major from Richland Center, Wis., said that learning about new media was more applicable to a future job than any other class she took at Purdue.

"Everyone is interested in promoting their business," said Kuykendall. "Most of the people using social networking are, in fact, not communications professionals, but people within organizations who feel they need to connect with their customers."

Kuykendall added that social media represent new ways for businesses to make these connections and that social networking will only continue to grow in the future.

Businesses are experiencing how quickly social media innovations are moving from the margins to the mainstream and are using these new techniques to keep up with the competition.